Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee
Author Names: Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee
Author Bio: The writing duo of Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee have been life-long friends since high school in Manhattan, Kansas. (Affectionately known as the Little Apple, which was a much better place to grow up than the Big Apple, in our humble opinion.) We love reading, baseball, cats, role-playing games, comics, and board games (not necessarily in that order and sometimes the cats can be very trying). We’ve spent many hours together over the years (and it’s been many years) basically geeking out and talking about our favorite books, authors, and movies, often discussing what we would do differently to fix a story or make a better script. We also loved playing games, generally role-playing games, but also board games and card games, and would spend hours talking about why a particular game was fun or not, and what made the games fun to play. Coy lives with his wife in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife and son in Tijeras, New Mexico.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
Our most recent work is our novel, Wrath of the Fury Blade, which just recently won the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Book and Best eBook. Wrath is a police story set in a fantasy world. Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria must stop a serial killer who is using a powerful magic sword to kill prominent citizens in the city. On a normal day, this might be a routine task for Reva. However, she’s just been saddled with a new partner who is not up to her standards and has to deal with the “assistance” of the King’s secret police – the Sucra – who have their own agenda.
2. What personal challenges do you face as writers?
Geoff: Actually, finding time to write. I work a full-time job, and I am senior partner in a publishing company, so finding time to actually do writing on my own material can be hard. I am lucky that I can write almost anywhere so I tend to do a lot of writing when I am waiting for my son at his martial arts training.
Coy: Time is always the biggest challenge. Having a job takes up a lot of time that I would rather spend working on our novels.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Geoff: Getting from the idea stage to the first draft. I have lots of ideas for stories, but getting them out and making a little bit of sense in a first draft is difficult at times. I can also stumble wanting to make sure all the little details are right first, so I spend a lot of time doing research for something that is really a small part of the story instead of actually writing.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Geoff: Writer’s block. (grin) I mean, I’ve already given up sleep and a meaningful social life, so why can’t I give up something that will help me out? ;-) Seriously, I’d be willing to give up my day job to become a better writer. Being able to focus on my craft all the time, as opposed to just when the moment is right would be a big help. Plus I’d be able to spend more time learning (and doing) the hard stuff like marketing. (So if anybody out there wants to become a patron and give me a yearly stipend to cover my mortgage, utilities, gas, food, insurance, etc. I’m willing to talk.)
Coy: Wait, you think that we need to become better? Yeah, so do we. I think if I had to choose only one thing to give up, I’d 100% give up not winning the lottery. That would allow me a lot more time to practice.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Geoff: Other than forcing us to step into high gear right away to get the next book out our writing process hasn’t changed a lot. I still focus on putting out a first draft and then hand it over to Coy for his critique and the first major edits. Once that is done we will sit down together (usually over Facetime) and go through the book together, often reading aloud, to make sure everything is working.
Coy: You can apparently never do enough proofreading and editing. I now make multiple passes through sections, reading through multiple chapters to gauge the flow of the narrative and see how we can improve the pace or continuity.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
Geoff: Completed? Just two – both are the sequels to our first books. Untouchable is the sequel to our first novel, Unremarkable. Unremarkable is the story of Saul, an everyman who gets caught up in the events of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. Saul then finds himself suddenly in the cross-hairs of “Bugs” Moran, Al Capone, and the Feds and each group wants something from him. While that’s bad enough, Saul then learns that vampires are not just the stuff of myth and legend. Untouchable continues to tell Saul’s story as he has begun working for Eliot Ness and tries to take down Al Capone.
Our other work in process is Joy of the Widow’s Tears which is the next Constable Inspector Lunaria adventure. An ancient necklace, purchased as a gift by sailors in a far off land, takes possession of an elf, compelling him to spread the faith of Dreen, the god of pain and suffering. As he begins to build a deadly undead army, Reva’s life becomes more chaotic as her boyfriend, Aavril, returns from a trade journey with upsetting news. As Reva deals with events in her personal life, she must also try to stop the undead from taking over the city.
Beyond those two books, I have several other ideas that I hope to work on, including more genre-blending with a fantasy/spy thriller series, a historical military/supernatural story, and a YA series of mysteries.
Coy: I have one project in the works, which I am the primary creative writer for, but I’d rather keep the details to myself on that for now.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Geoff: I read them all when I get them. The good ones I repost and share as widely as I can. The bad ones I just try my best to ignore. I know that not everyone will like what I write, and bad reviews are part of the business. I just wish more people who read and like my books would post even a short “It was great” or “I really liked it” review just to counter-balance the bad ones.
Coy: I read them all, and I try to see bad reviews as constructive criticism whenever possible, if the reviewer is generous enough to provide any details. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect everyone’s opinion regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I have to admit that there’s a lot of pride that I feel when we get a really positive review, but that’s offset by the disappointment that I feel when we get a negative review.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes, we have a few Easter eggs in our books. In Unremarkable there are a couple of winks and nods to older vampire films and the vampire mythos in general. In Wrath we make references to Dungeons & Dragons lore, mentioning some of the early adventure modules developed for the game and name dropping Gary Gygax who was one of the creators of the game. Without D&D, Wrath may never have been written as the setting for it came out of our D&D campaign world.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become better writers?
Geoff: I am friends with several authors – you can’t throw a rock in NM without hitting an author. My “best” writing friends include indie authors who write in several different genres, including Sabra Brown Steinsiek (Romance), Eric Michael Craig (Science Fiction), Zachry Wheeler (Science Fiction), Jessica Smith (writing as A.E. Lowan – Urban Fantasy), Ricardo Victoria (Science Fantasy), and Angella Cormier and Pierre C. Arseneault (Horror and Supernatural). With all of them I use them as a sounding board, running ideas past them to get their feedback, and using them as beta readers for our books and short stories. They provide great feedback and a lot of constructive comments. They also provide great ideas and suggestions on how to market and promote our books, and they are a wonderful support network to just talk about writing and geek out with.
Coy: Geoff. That’s pretty much it.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Geoff: Start writing sooner and stick with it. I have been writing stories since I was in high school, and even took a writing course from Sci-Fi author Lee Killough when I was in college, but I was always too hard on myself and never applied myself to the craft like I should have. So I gave it up for a long time and now I realize that was just time wasted when I could have been writing and developing my craft.
Coy: The winning lottery numbers are…
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Geoff: Thinking that you have to “write every day”. I think that’s a myth and it can lead people to stressing out over their work because they are not always writing. Writing fiction is an art, and sometimes you need to step away from your work to let your mind relax and recover. I have found that by writing periodically, once or twice a week, I am usually more productive because I know that I’m not forcing myself to write. This keeps the writing enjoyable since I can step away if I’m not in the mood, or the ideas just aren’t there. By doing this I will usually find solutions to stubborn parts of my story, or a sticky plot point that I wouldn’t have discovered if I’d forced myself to write.
Coy: Try not to get bogged down in an attempt to make everything perfect the first time. Or the second time. Or the third time. Once the words are in place, it’s much easier to fix them than it is to build new ones.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
We don’t think there is one best way to market a book. It takes many different approaches, and even then you may not find results. For us it starts early, with sending out books to reviewers to get good feedback and reviews that we can use to promote the title. It involves doing newsletter mailings with special pricing for the book. We use websites like freebooksy.com and manybooks.net to send out ebook promotions. It also takes searching out bloggers, vloggers, interviewers, etc. to help spread the word and get your story out there – not just about the book, but about who you are as a writer. And it takes doing in store book signings, appearances at conventions, and other places to meet the public and tell them about your book. We don’t think any one of these is the “best” way to market, but all of them taken together can give you the best chance of success.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
Geoff: The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. Yes, I write fantasy and speculative fiction now, and I have read many books in many different genres. I read a lot of fantasy as a kid, and then moved to science fiction in high school. But Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is my favorite because I read them with my mom and they were some of the first books that I read all the way through by myself, so there is some sentimental attachment there. Plus, they are just a lot of fun.
Coy: The Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series by Robert Arthur, Jr. I identified a lot with the Jupiter Jones character, and I really liked the idea of a close-knit group of friends that got together and solved mysteries. They’re a more serious version of the Scooby-Doo gang.