We had the pleasure of interviewing Iain Reading – who is best known for the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, a young adult series of adventure mystery stories. He is also the author of the dragon of the month club, a middle grade fantasy series, and The Wizards of Waterfire.
At what point did you consider yourself a full time writer?
Hmmmmm. I suppose once I finished the SECOND Kitty Hawk book and put it out there, then maybe I knew that I was an author for-real.
Do you have a writing routine?
I have a dream of a writing routine…. it would consist of renting an apartment somewhere exotic and going for walks every day and night to figure things out in my head and then sitting down in-between to actually write. Otherwise, at home I suppose I sort of do the same, in-between those annoying things like my day-job and life, etc.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The actual writing has sometimes been very fast – a matter of weeks, on occasion. But thinking things through and figuring everything out BEFORE setting pen to paper takes a lot longer.
Do you research settings, characters types, or topic for your works?
For the Kitty Hawk series (where she’s flying around the world) I DEFINITELY do research for settings. My favourite thing is to make an excuse for myself to actually visit a place that Kitty Hawk will be visiting and have a vacation under the guise of “book research”.
Do you belong to a writing group or do you have trusted others who read your drafts?
I have a couple of trusted friends who I have read my books and give me feedback. But to be clear, these are VERY trusted friends – not even necessarily close friends – but when it comes to books and editting they are in the VERY trusted category.
Do you have books you read for inspiration?
There is a lot of history in the Kitty Hawk series, so I read a lot of history books to learn and research.
Do you write in multiple genres?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that “urban fantasy” is a different genre than “young adult mystery – female sleuths”. But no in the sense that they are all kind of young adult to adult books.
Do you ever have epiphanies while writing?
Definitely yes! There have been times where I’ve stopped in mid-sentence and thought… what?!!??? In an unpublished fantasy book of mine I was busy writing away and trying to hook the main character up with a boy from another school nearby. And suddenly, the next thing I knew was realizing…. wait….. is he the BAD GUY?!???
What do your novels start with, a plot, a character, a central question?
I think mostly they start with a character, followed by plot and if I’m lucky there might arise a question in there somewhere.
Do you see reoccurring themes in your fiction?
Exploration seems to be a recurring theme. My Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series focuses on a young female pilot who has decided to fly around the world. She visits different places and solves mysteries. And in the process she explores the world and readers explore with her. Similarly, in my Dragon Of The Month Club series the two main characters explore a world of books, drawn from real life books. It’s almost like Kitty Hawk as they travel from one book world to the next, exploring.
Do you have a favorite book out of the books you have written?
My current favourite is The Dragon Of The Month Club – followed close second by Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the Titanic.
What is the story of getting your first book published? Did you have an agent, did you send to multiple publishers, etc.
Sadly, no publishers or agents were ever interested so I had to publish my books myself. A proud self-publisher, am I.
What questions do you frequently get from teacher and librarians? From students?
One of the most common questions is what inspired me to write. And the answer is the main character of my first series – Kitty Hawk. It was this character and her ambitious plans to fly around the world that really inspired me. I could see that there was a lot of adventures out there waiting for her, so I had to actually write them in order to find out what happened.
What do you try to accomplish when you visit schools or conferences?
My main goal is always to connect with people, particularly anyone who is interested in my books or has enjoyed reading them, or who is interested in trying to do what I am doing – writing and self-publishing books.
What jobs did you do before becoming a writer and do any of them influence how or what you write?
I’ve had a lot of jobs. McDonalds. Pizza Hut. Right now I work for the United Nations. That is my “day job” for the moment.
Do you have any advice or suggestion for other writers?
My advice (for whatever it’s worth) is always this: Write the book you’re capable of writing – don’t try to write a book you are not capable of writing.
Do you get many letters or emails from your readers?
Never enough of them! Send me more! I always try to respond.
What book have you read over the last year that seems to stick with you?
Stephen King’s The Shining. I had never read it before and had the misfortune to read it while staying in a big hotel in Toronto where the closet had a light inside that randomly switched on and off in the middle of the night, thus totally freaking me out. That experience led to me re-reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and I was very interested to read in his new foreward to the book that this was the book he thought was his most scary.
What question would you love to be asked about your work that no one thinks to ask?
I think I’d like to be asked whether I would recommend the process of writing and self-publishing to people. Because the answer would absolutely be yes. I think that anyone who has a book inside them waiting to come out should go for it. Write it. And that’s not to say just write it and throw it out there. But put some work into it. And heart into it. And yes, money into it, and make it the best book you can possibly do. And don’t worry if it’s not timeless fiction for the ages. Write the book you can write.