Please welcome author Kevin McLeod

Author Bio:  I was born and raised in Scotland. To be precise I was born in Hamilton in 1975. (a year my oldest daughter thinks is close to around the time Vikings invaded Britain; that's how old her dad is.) Then when I was very young we moved to Dunblane where I spent most of my years until I was roughly 20. After some travelling around I have landed back in Hamilton with my wife Kathleen and our two amazing daughters. They do say you always go back to where it all started one day.


Having had two personal brushes with death; both far too early in my life if you are asking for my opinion. I decided it was time to follow my dreams, not be afraid anymore and let my creative side out.


I have always loved writing and have written many short stories. One day I will publish these stories (re-written and tidied up of course) for everyone else to read. I knew in my heart that I wanted to write a novel and I had many ideas competing to be first out the hat.(I have to wear a hat these days, I am bald and it gets cold in Scotland) I did write a book, as yet untitled, but chose not to release it after I had the idea for The Viking's Apprentice. This new idea grabbed me and I began writing. Inspired by my daughters and especially my oldest who loves to read. I wanted to write a story they could read and enjoy sooner rather than later. A story aimed at younger readers, but that could be enjoyed by everyone.


Two years of hard work, re-writes, edits and learning about the industry came to fruition when the Viking's Apprentice was released on Amazon on 28th March 2013 and has been number 1 in it’s genre in America, UK and Canada. Book two, The Master’s Revenge was published in September 2013 and has also hit the number 1 spot in those countries.


I am so thankful for everyone who helped and supported me throughout the creation of The Viking's Apprentice. I am grateful for the new friends I have met on the journey.


My proudest moment as an author so far came when a school teacher contacted me to say that my book, The Viking's Apprentice, had inspired a 10 year old non reader to begin reading. This child went from hating reading time and not joining in to looking forward to it and being unhappy on days when my book was not being read. I have since had the chance to visit that school and speak with the teacher and all the children who read my book. A great experience for me, and for one that I am very grateful.


Book title: The Viking’s Apprentice


Brief Synopsis:

Campbell's Cove is a town steeped in a rich history of adventures involving dragons, witches, knights and Vikings. History tells the story of one Viking warrior who rose above them all to claim the ultimate prize.


The stories tell us this Viking had many adventures. He fought dragons and witches. He protected our world from all manner of evil including the mighty Tolldruck. The Viking did not stop until all the evil had been banished from this world…


Hundreds of years later strange things start happening in the town. Could the Viking stories be true? Has the evil returned? Who will protect the people?


Peter always spends the first two weeks of the summer holidays at his Granddad’s magnificent mansion in Campbell’s Cove. Granddad is a great story teller, and the mansion has more secrets and stories than anyone could imagine.


This year Peter is bringing his best friend, George, and their holiday turns into an adventure the children will never forget. Peter must face a future he could never have dreamed of, and learn of a past that has been kept secret for hundreds of years.


A fight for friendship and survival, and a struggle against an ancient evil that takes them into the caves of Campbell's Cove and beyond.


Personal

What do you do to relax when you are not writing?

I have two dogs that take a lot of walking and I also have a large collection of toys which I add to all the time. Just last week I purchased a 1967 Corgi bat mobile in great condition. I also collect movie posters and have loads in the attic under lock and key! We also can’t forget movie night with my girls, how often do you think my choice makes it on to the screen?


What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?

Stephen King inspired me to write with his book The Eyes of the Dragon which was written for his children who were growing tired of his horror books. It’s an excellent read.


Current work

What or who inspired you to write your current novel?

My children gave me further inspiration as does Scotland, it’s history, folklore and it’s landscapes.


Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.

1) The town of Campbell’s Cove is actually a real place. The village of Furnace (where my wife is from) on the West coast is the street layout for it.

2) The character of Charlotte is based on a photo of my wife when she was 9.

3) The Viking’s Apprentice was originally called The Campbell’s Cove Mystery but this didn’t tell the reader enough about what was inside. The name change happened the month before publishing!


What research did you need to do for this book?

I had to do some research into Vikings, their culture, long-ships and Norse language at the time of the Vikings. I also researched Scottish folklore and dragons!


Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?

As I’ve said above Campbell’s Cove is a real place called Furnace in Scotland. Charlotte is based on a photo of my wife. Granddad in the book is based on my gran who was an amazing storyteller.


Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.

I am just finishing the third book in the series called, Journey to the Other Side which should be available this summer.


Writing/publication process

What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?

I have my whole series mapped out and each book fits into the series. I change as I go though and a lot of the detail in my writing comes out at the actual time of writing. I begin writing a scene and it might go somewhere completely different from where I intended as I realise the characters would not react how I initially envisaged it.


What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?

I need music, my favourite is the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I need to be alone, I don’t even allow the dogs in the room when I write.


What prompted you to self-publish your current book?

I did lots of research and I couldn’t see what benefits going with a traditional publisher would give me for the money they were taking. I had two offers and turned them both down. If you take the time to go it alone then you have more control and get more reward for your work.


What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?

1) Finding the time, with a day job and two daughters.

2) Learning about the business, realising that you don’t need an agent or publisher to make it now was a massive step.

3) The confidence to press that publish button. There is always the worry that maybe you’re not good enough, but thankfully the reviews and emails etc say differently.


Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?

I go for a drive or take 20 minutes away from my writing and not think about it at all. I find that taking myself away from my writing environment lets my mind go and find the answer while I do something else.


What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?

Never give up, and believe in what you are doing. Writing a book is tough and if you achieve it celebrate that achievement whether it sells one copy or 1 million.


Genre

What genre does your book fall into?

My book is for children 8 and over and falls into the fantasy genre.


How did you get interested in this specific genre?

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King was in this genre. Also having two young daughters I wanted to write something for them to read.


You as a reader

Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?

1) Stephen King, I think I’ve covered this!

2) Dennis LeHane, an amazing story teller, Shutter Island is stunning.

3) R J Ellory, A writer who can transport you into his world and you don’t want to come out until he is finished with you.


What was your favourite book as a child?

The BFG and then The Eyes of the Dragon.


What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?

The Hunger Games, my wife bugged me to read it for about two years and I finally did and I loved it.


What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?

Shutter Island. It’s simply an amazing book, but read it before you watch the film as the film is a poor version and would ruin the read!


Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?

I love my kindle, I love having lots of choice with me all the time. However I still love going to a bookshop and spending hours looking through all the books.


Hollywood is calling

You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?

I have thought about this a lot. Granddad would be played by Billy Connolly or Alan Arkin. Billy as he is Scottish and Alan as he is such a good actor and now fits into the granddad age range. For Peter and George I think two unknown actors would be best to begin their legacy with my series.


The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?  

Daft Punk without a doubt, the Tron Legacy soundtrack is genius.


Favourites

Drink –  Coffee

Meal – Baby back ribs

Holiday destination – Menorca or Tunisia

TV programme – The Thick of It

Film – Shawshank Redemption or GlenGarry GlenRoss or Office Space

Method of travel – car

Sport – football


How can people connect with you?

Website/Blog: www.kevinmcleodauthor.com

Twitter: @bannon1975

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thevikingsapprentice



Where can readers find your book?

Smashwords

iTunes for books


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