Saturday, March 21, 2020

Indie Author Interview: B.T. Keaton

Indie Author Interview with B.T. Keaton - Author of the Science-Fiction Novel Transference.

B.T. Keaton was raised in the U.S. of A, and is always reminded of the wonder of his youth whenever he visits East Tennessee. Transference is his debut novel.

Interview with B.T. Keaton

Author B.T. Keaton
Author B.T. Keaton
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
B.T. Keaton: Firstly, thank you so much for having me. This is really a privilege. Well, my writing background probably began in school. I don’t have a BA, nor a Masters or anything fancy like that. But I always liked researching and writing term papers. It was just something I naturally may have had the knack for. Looking back on my high school days, I definitely had a sense that I had a way with words because my European History teacher Mr. Trotter would always expound gleefully on the points I made on his essay exams. I also grew up reading comic books, and my dad had an extensive library in the house too. So, I suppose you could say my writing simply stemmed from the fact that I had wonderful teachers, and because I was exposed to great stories.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I probably toot Tolkien’s horn far too much (is that even possible?) but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I adore everything he’s done. The Silmarillion is definitely my favourite work by him. I also love The NeverEnding Story, and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Anything by Vonnegut. I mentioned comic books earlier, and I never get tired of reading Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross… Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller… and Bone by Jeff Smith. I would say all of those writers (and artists) were and continue to be influences on me. But my direct influences would be my family, and friends, and all the people who I have loved throughout my life. I really just wanted to make my late parents proud with this book, and if they were still alive they’d probably find a few unsavory things in the pages… but I know they would’ve been tickled pink by the whole thing overall.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Ooo, that’s not an easy one to answer. I’m not sure… I don’t know if it’s a decision I made consciously. It’s one thing to be captain of your own ship, but it is the sea that’s really in charge, isn’t it? So, you know, I’m not totally sure how to answer that. I suppose when I decided to publish Transference, that’s when the moment truly came to fruition. But I think the title of “storyteller” probably suits me a bit better. “Writer” makes me sound distinguished. And I’m definitely not distinguished. (laughs)

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Sometime between 1989 and 1990 I recall that I drew half of a comic book based on the Ninja Gaiden video game with a school friend. I might’ve co-written it too, but I’m not sure. Anyway, somehow, between the two of us, we made copies of this thing and distributed it throughout the school! I can’t really remember now what came of it, but that was probably the beginning.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I wish I was that organized. A lot of writers can bash out a few thousand words a day. I’m happy for them… and envious at the same time! (laughs) I recently read an interview with Neal Stephenson about why he shies away from social media or something to that effect. Almost everything he said lined up exactly with how I am. If I know I’m going to be distracted today, I can’t write. If I know I’m going to be distracted tomorrow, I can’t write. I need a very clear space in which I’ve only got one or two things going on at once. And hey, I’m just like everybody else—I’ve got a job, and bills to pay, so the “pressure” of that really keeps me in a place where I’m, sadly, almost totally unable to concentrate on being creative. My brain is constantly working overtime though, and thinking of new ideas… but when I sit down to write at 5 or 6 pm after I’ve gotten off work… I can’t focus because I have to cook dinner, or I’m simply exhausted from the day. I’d love to release a new book every 6 to 12 months, but it seems I’m just not that “kind” of writer. I always joke that I should be unemployed, because then I’d have no distractions! (laughs)

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
There’s a keyboard, a mouse, a monitor, and a computer… and usually I just stare at all four of them. They must all have developed a peripheral complex. (laughs)

"The hardest part is getting through the middle part of the story."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
I don’t find that it’s easy, but I do enjoy the hubbub of it all. There’s this space that you can get into, a rhythm which can happen… and the writing “flows” out of you quite easily, or at least for me the words can start to flow rather quickly. That’s the best part. The hardest part is getting through the middle part of the story. Almost every time I write anything, I know the beginning, and I know how it ends. So, it’s getting from one point to the other that proves challenging. I think a lot of other authors have that same issue.

"[...] have told the story you wanted to tell, that’s when you know it’s done."

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When people would say “write for yourself” I never quite understood what that meant. I think it means you should be writing something that satisfies you. Almost every author is a perfectionist, and even when the book is finished we could probably tweak things here and there until the end of time, if we were allowed to do so. But if you feel you achieved what you set out to do, and have told the story you wanted to tell, that’s when you know it’s done. So, it might be clich├ęd, but the joy is truly in the writing.

Brandon, please tell us a little about your Speculative Science Fiction Novel Transference.
Sure. The story takes place in the future, at the end of this century, with the world as we now know serving as the basis for the past. Decades earlier, mankind discovered a technology which allows for the “transference” of a human soul from one body to another. So, human beings can now, in theory, live forever. The process itself falls under the complete control of the Church and its prophet—Jovian. Those who refuse to serve Jovian are then sent to a mine to extract the very substance needed for transference to actually work. Things sort of kick off when a prisoner within the mine kills a warden, and then, just before his execution, he claims to be someone else entirely—someone thought to be long dead. Events are then set in motion, of course, and the ball starts rolling and… well, I shouldn’t say anything else for fear of spoiling it! (laughs)

Transference (B.T. Keaton)
Click to Read an Exerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
The original idea came from a sort of half-assed attempt to write a movie script back in 2010. Or a “spec” script, as they say. I let that sit for a few years, fleshing it out in my mind, and then decided at some point in 2012 that it should be a full-length novel. I sought an editor by the name of Pat LoBrutto, and he and I worked on the book together until it was finished in 2013. Then for some odd reason, well, I just dropped it like a hot potato. (laughs). Looking back, I think I was afraid of its failure… of disappointing people in my life, and myself. Anyway, the inspiration really begins with my late father’s love of sci-fi. Dad loved Star Wars, and he had a massive collection of books… and after he passed away I looked inward for a long time, you know, trying to find a way to honor his memory in a big, big way. I think I’ve pulled it off. Maybe. (laughs)

Who do you see as your target audience?
Would you believe I had never heard “target audience” until after I wrote the book? (laughs) So, yeah, I wrote it with no target audience in mind. I don’t know if that’s been to my detriment or not as of yet. But really, I did consciously make an effort in the editing process to make it a sci-fi book that would appeal to both men and women.

What makes your book special?
Transference is definitely sci-fi. It’s fantasy, too. But for me that’s not what it’s ultimately about. It’s about family, sacrifice, and love. I am not a parent myself, but I had two very wonderful, loving parents. And through them I partially know what it’s like for a parent to love their child more than anything else… and so, the strength of that particular kind of love, and how it can overcome even the seemingly most powerful things in the world is what the book is really about.

"[...] made the book available for people to enjoy as the true form of success."

How would you describe the success of your self-published book(s) so far?
Transference is the only book I’ve published at this point, and in terms of sales I think it’s done fairly well? I wouldn’t want to boast in any way, but I have sold close to 600 copies—that’s the eBook and paperback combined—since its release date in January. I have nothing else to compare that to, or judge against, but I suppose it’s not bad for an unknown author? I will say this also—I no longer count sales as “success” but rather having finished the project, and having put aside my fear, and made the book available for people to enjoy as the true form of success. But, hey, if sales are a by-product of that, then all the better! (laughs).

"[...] stick to your guns "

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
I try not to give advice because I’d never want to steer someone in the wrong direction. I always love it when people say, “You know what you oughta do?” when their lives are obviously in just as much disarray as your own! (laughs) How funny. But yeah, nah, to be serious, I think it’s very important to stick to your guns on certain things, and on the other hand be open to the constructive criticism of others. Whether that includes your editor, or beta-readers, or whatever, they can and will make your work stronger.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’ve got a time-travel novel roughly half-way in the bag. But there’s elements to that I haven’t worked out, so I’m just sitting on it for the time being… I wanna get it right, so I’ve had to take a step back from it. Also, I’ve written three different children’s picture books, and I really love those, but I only have the cover art finished. Picture books pose a financial problem because you’ve got to pay an artist to render the entire thing, not knowing whether a publisher will want it, or even like what you’ve done. And I could self-publish those as I’ve done with Transference, but I may have to win the lotto before I can pull that off. (laughs)

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I hope book stores will not disappear. But we are living in very strange and uncertain times when there’s no telling what might happen from one day to the next. I think everything is cyclical though… look at vinyl records. That format was mostly dead for about 20 years, wasn’t it? I mean, okay maybe it wasn’t dead-dead, but it had been usurped by cassettes and CDs. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I have no memory of vinyl being in music shops. And now you’ve got all these old (and new) aficionados popping up because, well, it is a better format than digital. The “big chain” stores have limited their selections greatly, or gone the way of the Dodo entirely, but here in New Zealand we still have some great indie record shops, bookstores, and such.

"I need the physical paperback in my hands."

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Oh no, I’m much too tactile for that. (laughs) I need the physical paperback in my hands. If I do read anything digitally, I prefer a PDF file on my computer at home.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I hope to one day arrive at that place where I’m a full-time writer. But, I’m also realistic, so I have to be okay with it if it never happens. I know that I’ve been strangely fortunate in my life, so whatever comes, even if it’s “bad” is just fine by me. When I’m not writing, I’m at my 9 to 5, or I can often be found soaking in the bathtub. (laughs)

"[...]  I would absolutely love to do comics [...]"

Would you ever consider writing a comic book?
Actually, about five or six years back I wrote a mini-series which was intended to be 10-issues long, and I submitted it to Dark Horse Comics. It revolved around the son of Death, and what his life might be like as an ordinary boy, just going to school and trying to make friends. It was meant to be a sort of cross between the movie Fright Night and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. Maybe not the most original idea I’ve ever had, but it sure was fun to write! So, yes, I would absolutely love to do comics if that opportunity came along.

How can readers connect with you?
Just scream at me at the top of your lungs if you pass me in the street. (laughs) No really, I’m happy to chat on Instagram, and my username there is “keatonisbatman” or you can go directly to my website and email me:

Thank you very much for the Interview, Brandon.

About the Book Transference

Transference (B.T. Keaton)
Click to Read an Exerpt
When everything you believe about civilization is a lie, the ultimate power is truth.

By the end of the 21st century, mankind has discovered the secret of eternal life. Human souls can be moved from one body to another through the process known as transference. Control of this new technology has fallen under the dominion of Jovian, a powerful prophet and head of the Church which governs every aspect of existence.

Banished to a mining colony on a distant planet for lawlessness is Barrabas Madzimure, the king of thieves. Only when Barrabas faces execution does he claim that another man committed his infamous crimes decades earlier. The authorities are suspicious.

Is he the Madzimure of legend and a potential threat to Jovian's new world order, or just another victim of transference?

- "Transference by B.T. Keaton is quite the accomplishment... something magnificent is attempted and then successfully pulled off. I respect a person that aims for the Moon and then arrives there in spectacular fashion." - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Transference on Amazon

Link to the eBook Transference on Amazon

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