FantasyBookReview.co.uk chatted to Kevin in October 2008.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: At what moment in your life did you think "That's it, I am going to be a writer"?
Kevin Lane: I've been writing almost as long as I could hold a pencil. However, there was
one moment that stands out as the time I attempted 'The Big Push'.
Fall 1996. I quit my job, locked myself in my apartment for 2-3 months, and
wrote Glammenport. This was my big push to try and produce something that the
fantasy market would enjoy. I wanted the text to 'sound' right so I actually
read the entire final draft out loud. I ended up losing my voice by the end of
that! Just the same, hands down that experience has been the most satisfying
accomplishment of my life.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Tolkien or Rowling?
Tolkien. (Long live Sam Gamgee.)
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: What emotions and thoughts would you like to think your readers experience
when they read your work?
Kevin Lane: Thoughts and emotions will depend upon the story and the characters. I like to
think my stories span the gamut (love to hate, fear to wonder, etc.) One thing
I push for is getting people to reconsider assumptions they have held all their
Here is a riddle from one of my novels (Mud Puppet) that I could not figure out
when I first heard it in a different context. When I was given the answer, I
was shocked at my own narrow-mindedness:
A man is imprisoned in the tower by the king.
The prisoner is questioned about his treason, but refuses to speak.
The king has the prisoner's son brought to the courtyard.
"Speak, or I shall have your son's head chopped off!"
The prisoner remains silent behind his tears.
The king calls for the executioner.
The executioner arrives, hefting the biggest axe you have ever seen.
"Strike off the boy's head!" commands the king.
The executioner drops the axe in refusal.
"I cannot, Your Majesty, for this boy is my son!"
The most important thing is for the reader to care about a character. So many
plots have worlds 'hanging in the balance'. If the reader does not care about
the character, then the world may as well fold in upon itself. I want the
reader to be involved, on a personal level, one on one with a character- not a
spectator observing from afar. As a result, my stories are mostly about
individuals rather than factions or races or kingdoms.
My greatest hope for my readers is that they forget they are reading. Having
someone fall into the written page, to forget this is a book in their hands,
that is my goal.
My novels have been officially banned at a friend's house. He drops so far
into them that he doesn't hear when his wife is talking to him. That never
goes over well.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Hobb or Le Guin?
Le Guin. (Left Hand of Darkness, thank you!)
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Who are your main literary inspirations?
Kevin Lane: My fundamental inspiration comes from two sources. In my early years I was
drawn to the intellectual character of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. And then I
discovered Howard's Conan figure- and it has been fantasy ever since! As a
result of these early influences I tend to infuse a balance of brains and brawn
into my characters and plots. It is rare that I stray too much in one
direction over the other.
Another commonality between these two (very different!) sources of inspiration
is their length. Both authors stick to the shorter end of the spectrum: short
story to novella frameworks. It takes real talent to compress a rich
experience into as few words as possible. I'm striving for a 'less is more'
approach to my works as well. Size does matter.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Armageddon or Utopia?
Armageddon. (On a Monday.)
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Which single figure has had the greatest influence and impact on your
Kevin Lane: This is going to seem like a very odd-ball answer, but I'd have to say Gary
Gygax. Growing up we were big Dungeons & Dragons fans and I was invariably the
Dungeon Master. That meant I had to come up with story lines, characters,
monsters, tricks, traps, maps, treasures. new everything week after week! Kids
can be cruel- so early on you learn what holds an audience, and what bores them
to tears. The soul of a story is how it grabs you. If you do not have the
grab, then it doesn't matter how well (or poorly) the material is written. For
that reason I'd rather be considered a story teller than a writer. I gladly
break grammatical rules if that is what it takes to get my point across. The
title of 'writer' carries with it too many rules and responsibilities for me.
I'll leave all that to the editor.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Chronicles of Narnia or His Dark Materials?
Narnia gets grandfathered in. I haven't had a chance to check out Dark
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: What does the future hopefully hold for Kevin Lane?
Kevin Lane: I'd like to get my stories out there. My immediate future is to pass my works
around and get feedback from those who know fantasy best- die hard fans. If my
stories are worth the read, then perchance they will get noticed by a
publishing outfit. And if they are not worth their salt, then serious
reviewers will let me know in no uncertain terms (without remorse!) Either
way, I won't be giving up that day job any time soon.
FantasyBookReview.co.uk: Color or colour?
Colour! (Though my sister is the only person this side of the Atlantic who
gets it. Her life goal is to marry Alan Rickman, so I think that explains
Kevin Lane: Time is the limiting factor. When I was in high school, I had time to
read 'ologies'. Trilogies, duologies, pentologies- dodeca-ologies. I could
not get enough. The bigger the better. Bring 'em on!
But years pass. My free time is a scant fraction of what it used to be. For
me to even consider picking up a book the entire tale has to fit between two
covers. And those covers better be closer than 500 pages apart. No more
book 'X' of a 'Z'-long 'ology' for me. I'm sorry, but I just don't have the
time. So please, Proud Author, do not expect me to salivate over your epic.
I'm writing for adults who have full time jobs, spouses, possible offspring,
and high-maintenance 'fixer-uppers' they call home. With all these
responsibilities we need an occasional escape. But we cannot afford the full
trappings of an alter ego in a parallel universe. We have to slip in and slip
out on the sly. Get me my fantasy fix and give it to me quick. My lunch break
is almost over!
Kevin Lane books reviewed
Timion the Black has exhausted his options. Reckless, despicable, Timion’s own band of mercenary men turn against him, leaving him for dead in a back alleyway. Fate d...