Artist and author Kevin James Breaux is about to be snatched up by Dark Quest Books for his Fantasy novel Soul Born, making it his first published novel. Before he becomes famous and it all goes to his head, let's interview him about his horror, his fantasy, and his art. He writes short stories and novels about zombies, vampires, and fairies with equal ease, and his artwork can be seen in Zombie CSU: The Forensic Science of the Living Dead and They Bite!
What's a typical writing-day-in-the-life of Kevin James Breaux like?
Basically I like to break my writing into two hour segments. If I have editing to do; that is normally done first and as early in the day as possible. Normally I work at my writing from 10-noon and again noon to 2pm. If I'm lucky and there are not too many distractions I will try and work later in the day as well, but that's normally less structured, kinda like guerrilla warfare style writing; mobile and hit and run.
You tend toward thriller-styled horror and urban fantasy in your writing. Are there differences between the two?
I like to write stories that are character driven. I started off as a fantasy writer, because it was what I knew from growing up playing all the RPG games. Then after being challenged to write outside my normal comfort zone, by Jonathan Maberry after joining his chapter of the HWA, I realized I could do what I wanted in almost any genre. I tend to lean towards things of the fantastic nature. Thriller-Horror and Urban Fantasy are, in my opinion, very closely related. Both deal with subject matter outside our daily reality. I would love to write a comic book story some day, something with super heroes.
And artist, too! How did that happen?
I grew up drawing. When I was in high school I was determined to work for Marvel Comics. Over time, I befriended some comic artists and submitted samples to various companies, but things never panned out. Suddenly I was in college, art school, and discovering my teachers seriously frowned on comic book art. Like many other artists I was very hard on my own work, always angry that I could not place what I saw or imagined on paper. After a while I started to try photography and graphic art. While those forms of creativity brought me closer to what I wanted, had yet to reach the level I wanted. It was during college I realized that writing was the only creative outlet that allowed me to fully develop and realize the scenes in my head.
Is it a chore to portion time between art and writing?
Not at all. When I am commissioned to do art jobs I fly through them. I do not over think my art work now, I just let it happen. I guess you could say art and writing, for me is like having two different cars. You have the 4x4 that you go off the road with and drive through the mud, not a care in the world. Than you have the sports car, you wash and wax each week, and only take out of the garage when you want to show it off. But man, when its out, you rev the engine and speed down the highway.
When did writing become a career for you, and what were the highs and lows along the way?
Writing became a career to me about two years ago when I started selling short stories. I realized, hey, people like my stories, and I love writing, why not give it a shot. When people ask me what I do, I have a long and short answer. Short answer is...Professionally I am a Network Administrator, but that's just to make money. What I really want to do is be a full time author.
Which authors are your favorites, and how have they influenced your work?
To be honest... I like writers with styles like Joss Whedon and Max Brooks. I read a lot of Anne Rice and Agatha Christie growing up, guess that's my foundation, and might explain why I like to add mystery and thrills in my work. Frank Miller is one of my all time favorite writers, and he writes comics. I think Whedon influenced my smart-ass side. He also helped me learn how to develop my characters and make them fun. Frank Miller has taught me how to form my plots and twist my stories around. As far as fantasy goes, I worshiped Weiss and Hickmen's Dragonlance books as a kid. I grew even more fond of them when my parents gave me the Art of Dragonlance book. Being able to see all these new painting of my favorite characters just brought me closer to them.
Now tell us about your artistic influences. Who are your favorites and why?
Again I would say Frank Miller's art has been a big influence on me. All the Sin City books, are so perfect and beautiful in black and white. Almost like old block print art. As far as the old masters, I'm a big fan of Alphonse Mucha, his work is so detailed, I could stare at if for hours. I love his use of positive and negative space. Oddly enough its his delicate colors that draw me in; which is the total opposite of Frank Miller's bold contrasting black and white.
Tell us about the monsterkid in you. Growing up, what were your horror and fantasy influences?
I watched Excalibur probably a hundred times growing up. It was, to me, the perfect fantasy story. I imagined myself as nearly every character, each a new world of heroism to discover. When I was in elementary school my friend gave me a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons books and I carried them around everywhere. I loved to draw from the pictures more than anything. As I grew older that same friend taught me how to play. I enjoyed all games of "pretend" so it was natural to imagine myself as a knight fighting trolls and dragons. I was never big into horror movies until I was in college. When I was younger I was fascinated with all things fantasy, whether it be comics, Japanese animation or movies. I like to see the fantasy world more than read it, because of being an artist I guess, I just preferred visuals. I also leaned toward playing RPG video games that were fantasy in nature, like Dragon Warrior, Dark Wizard and Final Fantasy.
Do you have a favorite Halloween memory you'd like to share?
I stopped trick 'r treating at an early age because my parents would always go with me. No matter how disguised I was, I would always hear "Hi Kevin." when my neighbors would open their doors. Little did I know at the time, it was because my parents where standing on the street. Anyway, it ruined it for me. So in middle school I set up ambushes at my house to scare the kids coming to my door. Now that brought the fun back. As an adult, my fondest memory was the year my wife and I spent Halloween in Gettysburg doing ghost tours. Gettysburg is a great place!
What are your plans for this Halloween, by the way?
Having just moved, I am still just getting used to the area. So I might be home this year doing nothing. Well, not nothing, Halloween is my dog's birthday. Please don't judge... LOL!
What are you working on?
I am trying to find an agent or publisher for my first urban fantasy novel, One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. Of everything I have written, this one is my favorite. It's the story of a spoiled rotten fairy girl who gets caught up in the middle of a whole lot of trouble when a man who is trying to enslave humanity, with a drug he is selling as a cure for nicotine addiction, needs her wings as a final ingredient. She and her friends, a mummy and a vampire try and stop this man while avoiding discovery by the human world. Sounds crazy, I know. I always wanted to write a story about fantasy and horror creatures living in the modern world. I like to think of it as Joss Whedon, meets Sookie Stackhouse in a summer blockbuster movie style story.
I'm also writing a new zombie short story for an anthology and developing another novel about "the girl next door" being dead.
What's the one question you would love to be asked and what's your answer?
I love it when people ask me about my stories. Anytime you get a question that is clear to you that the person asking it has read and enjoyed your work; that makes my day.
Of Course, I would love to hear TOR Books say " Kevin we want your novel." Now that would be real nice.
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