Today I am joined by Christopher Kokoski, author of Dark Halo. If you haven’t been properly introduced to Chris, let’s rectify that now…
Christopher was born in Kansas, the son of an Army Ranger and Black Hawk pilot. He grew up in Kentucky and Germany, and graduated from Murray State University in 2002 with a degree in Organizational Communication. He spent the next three years laboring over his first book, Past Lives, while getting married to his college sweetheart, having a beautiful daughter, and more or less finding his stride in life.
He currently lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, Kentucky as a national trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences on a wide spectrum of topics including communication, body language, cultural sensitivity and influence. Other notable activities include writing articles, short stories, novels and training materials for national and international audiences.
Christopher continues his passion and dedication to writing by working on additional novels, including a sequel to the Past Lives series. His most recent book is the standalone paranormal thriller, Dark Halo.
Welcome Chris, take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.
I was born on an army base in Kansas and grew up in Hopkinsville, KY and Darmstadt, Germany (two wildly different places, but both wonderful). This overseas experience broadened my perspective of the world, of culture and of life. Many people who know me now are surprised to hear that I was chronically shy in high school where I ran track for one year, played the trumpet for all four years, had a really great group of friends, made lots of silly teenage mistakes, learned to snow ski and play hacky sack. After graduation, I attended college at Murray State University (Go Racers!), where I majored in communications and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Strangely, I didn’t write much in college. Only after graduation did I plunge back into writing short stories, novels and nonfiction books. My first published novel was the first in the Past Lives series. My latest novel is the standalone, Dark Halo.
Tell us about your writing process?
Typically, the first thing I do is work out a basic plot, setting and characters sketches for structure. Next, I write the novel slowly (500 words or less per day slowly!). Since I’m also a national trainer and coordinator for a non-profit, I write early in the morning (6 am early) for about an hour, focusing on each sentence and each word. This process takes longer to write the first draft, but often saves me time in the revision stage. After finishing my first draft, I let the story sit for a few days or weeks before conducting my first revision. Once I’m satisfied, I send this revised version to a few people I trust for further edits. While I wait for their responses, I come up with a title, back cover blurb and possible ideas for the cover image for the book. When I receive the edits, I read, reflect on and compare them, making the changes with which I agree.
That’s quite the process! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I really enjoy espionage, spy or secret agent thrillers. I have some ideas cooking for a possible series and maybe a standalone or two in this type of genre. We’ll see what happens!
Oohh, what a tease! Tell me about the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
The Bible, for perhaps what are obvious reasons. None of my fiction books are in the Christian genre, but spirituality is such a big part of my life that these ideas, symbols and concepts often weave their way into my writing. As a Christian, there is no other book that has and continues to influence me more.
To Kill a Mockingbird. This is the first novel I read that I remember really enjoying. The story planted seeds that blossomed into a love of reading.
The Breakout Novel Workbook. I’ve also read the book, which is good, too, but I’ve fallen in love with the workbook. I use the exercises and principles to plot every story I write.
Techniques of a Selling Writer. This book is one of the best I’ve read on writing techniques. It’s helped me enormously.
Scene and Structure. A student of the person who wrote Techniques of a Selling Writer wrote this book. The ideas are similar, but I like this one because it is simple and easy to understand and apply immediately to my writing.
Interesting choices. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
If I could cast Dark Halo, I might have Matt Damon play Landon Paddock and Chris Hemsworth play the angel. I like Kate Beckinsale for Lucy. I’m not sure about who might play Katie, Frank or Gina. Any recommendations?
What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
You mean after “happy dancing” and waking up the neighbours with loud screams of delight? Call everyone I know to celebrate.
Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
Happily, I leave most of my vices for the characters in my stories. If I have any left myself when it comes to my writing, it is coffee, if that even counts, and I’m slowly transitioning into drinking more tea.
Oohhh! I love tea! It’s my go-to drink when I’m writing. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Truthfully, I’m usually writing or thinking about writing. While I’m thinking about writing, I am a national trainer and coordinator for a non-profit agency that currently helps fathers reconnect with their family and children after incarceration. I also have a beautiful wife and daughter of my own.
Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.
This short excerpt is from the sequel in the Past Lives series, which is tentatively scheduled to be out sometime in 2013. I hope you enjoy it.
Prisoners clamored against the corroded gates of their cages, eagerly regarding her shame and suffering with nothing short of pure delight, hissing and spitting through the bars, human projectiles of germs and pestilence that flung through the air like silky bags squirming with hundreds of agitated baby spiders. A few inmates issued long, continuous strings of admirably creative profanity, comparing her, among other things, to various lower life forms, vomit, feces and other human waste.
Cold and bitter emotion stirred deep in her chest, but she held it at bay, barely resisting the urge to raise her head, to show them what lay behind her crystal-blue eyes, to let them glimpse the vicious hell she was about to visit upon them.
Great excerpt – thanks for sharing it! Now it’s time to take a quick sneak peek into Dark Halo…
Thirty-five-year old Landon Paddock has deserted his wife and daughter, abandoned his business, and secluded himself in his late parent’s southern Indiana ranch. But he’s barely lapsed into a drunken coma when a mysterious, winged stranger appears during a violent lightning storm, chasing him out into the maddening night with his estranged 15-year old daughter.
As layer after layer of reality is dissolved by a series of violent encounters, the only way to survive might be for Landon to band together with the family he destroyed to make one last stand against a sinister army of unthinkable magnitude.
Don’t forget to join my next week when I will be joined by Michael Williams!