Author Spotlight

Kevin Ikenberry


Author Interview Questions


1: Hi, and thanks for joining today. In your own words tell us about yourself, not you the author, but just you!

A:  Glad to be here – thanks for the invitation. Me? I served in the Army for more than twenty years. I’d rather be surfing than skiing even though I live in Colorado with my wife and two girls. There are a lot of writers who say they grew up wanting to write books – I wasn’t one of those. I wanted to be an astronaut, but in those days they only wanted folks with perfect vision, so I wasn’t eligible. Funny to think I ended up working at Space Camp (and managing the program for a few years), ended up working in space operations, and after retiring from the Army I still get to work with space every day. That whole retirement thing wasn’t my idea, though. I survived a necrotizing fasciitis (skin-eating) infection in 2014. For a few days, it was touch-and-go, but I made it through without losing my leg (or anything else). After I was released from treatment almost 16 months later, the Army said “Thanks for your service” and I was done.

2: Why did you decide to become an author and what’s the best part? Yeah, it’s a double-whammy of a question. So unexpected!

A:  Truth be told, I minored in English during college and thought the only writing I was destined to publish would be my Master’s thesis. While I was at Space Camp, I initially worked with the Aviation Challenge program and managed the high school program there. We flew simulated dogfights against the “trainees” and from that, we created a fictional fighter squadron with dossiers and fictitious intelligence briefings. From there, a few of us wrote short stories {Don’t ask, they’ll stay in my drawer forever} and I even merged a few of mine into a “novel” while I was mobilized in 2003. When that was done, I thought the writing thing was over. In 2009, I tell people I had a character “start talking to me.” That’s when I started writing with the idea of publishing my work.  The best part of writing is bringing the stories to life and seeing people enjoy them.

3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it and why it will capture us?

A:  I write military science fiction, but with a keen eye on humanity. Being a soldier (or airman, marine, etc) is something very different than what most folks do on a daily basis. However, we’re human. So I’ve always tended to not focus on gigantic battles and technology and really get into that four-inch space between someone’s ears instead. By doing that, I can also get into the heart and most of my works have an emotional relationship that affects the characters. Technology doesn’t scare me, either, so my Protocol War series has a bit of a cyberpunk feel.

4: Why did you choose the genre you write in over others to start your publishing career? Did others appeal to you more and you chose this? Was there a bit of choice weighing or was it rather simple?

A:  I saw Star Wars 12 times in the theater in 1977. I am a child of science fiction. My dad was a college professor and had Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein on his office shelves. Growing up, I wore out our encyclopedia collections for all things space. Writing what you know – if you follow that advice – pointed me toward military thrillers, but science fiction was my first love so that’s where I hang my hat, so to speak. I’ve dabbled in horror and even a romance novel that’s stuck on a shelf for a long time to come, but science fiction, especially military science fiction, is my home.

5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?

A: Waiting. Not every short story market is as fast to respond as my friend Neil Clarke at Clarkesworld (more than 3 days is almost unheard of) and dealing with traditional publishing means a lot of waiting and agonizing over submissions and feedback. When you come from a background of being told what to do (and then becoming that leader), waiting is a very hard thing to do.

6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?

A: There’s a lot of best parts to writing. Opening a box of your books always brings a smile. After my debut novel, Sleeper Protocol, came out. Having people find me at Denver Comic Con or WorldCon and say that they loved my work was mind-blowing. Having a supportive group of friends and fellow writers is the best thing for me personally. I know that they have my back and will not let me fall.

7: Tell us about what your experiences in the author life have been like. I don’t mean the writing aspects. I mean the daily human life. Tell us what it’s like to live the day life you do and be an author at the same time. What’s it like when people in your life and, the people you come across, find out you’re an author?

A:  When I tell people I retired from the Army, many immediately think I sit on my ass all day. My wife and I have two beautiful daughters and our lives revolve around them. My wife has a successful consulting business and I work as a military contractor. My writing life usually picks up at about 8pm every night. When I’m writing, I have a goal of 1,000 words per night. I’ve written much faster than that, but as for where I am right now with life and work, a thousand is a good night. My writing usually catches people, especially folks I’ve known for years, by surprise. I’ve been able to find a good group of writers where I live who are friends and part of our family, really. When I meet new people, though, it’s fun to see their reactions. I flew home from a summer trip to Oregon this year and the gentlemen next to me asked, “Are you some kind of writer?” I smiled and said I was and what did he like to read? He said science fiction. He bought Sleeper Protocol on the plane (thanks wifi!).
8: Writing is a hard craft and a harder career. What are the things that keep you going, both in improving the craft and enduring the downs/lows of the career?

A:  Craft is a constant learning opportunity, and it’s something I believe is known as a “perishable skill.” If you’re not writing, not being editing, and not learning from what you’re doing, you’re not going to get any better. When I started writing, I tended to take editing really personally. Now, I understand that it’s a push to get better. My editor told me this year that she didn’t worry about me because I was “good at edits.” That learning and challenging keeps me going. The ups and downs of the career thing are really about two things. I believe very simply that there is a place for everything we write – all it requires to find that place is time and heart.

9: What do you love about the genre/s you write and what others appeal to you?

A:  I firmly believe that science fiction is the art of the possible. That inherent optimism is something that’s been missing across the genre for years, but it’s why I keep writing. How far can we go as a species? As a civilization? How can we keep dreaming with our eyes open? To me, that’s science fiction. I read across genres – enjoying military history, personal management, science fiction, and the odd technical manual / textbook if I really need to get into the weeds on something. I recently read The English Patient for the first time. The movie is one of my favorites and the book was superb. I like stories – show me a good one and I’m in.

10: Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.

A:  So, Sleeper Protocol was originally a standalone novel. We were just about to finish the content edit when my editor asked “What if (NAME REDACTED) lived at the end?” I rolled my eyes and said. “Well, I really don’t know what I’d…oh…oh!” A few weeks later, I built the outline for Vendetta Protocol. We’ve named the series The Protocol War and I’m expecting four books total.

I’m also trying to find a new home for a novel. A small press in Colorado released my military SF novel Runs In The Family last year and, like Sleeper Protocol, it went crazy. Unfortunately, the head of the press had to have emergency heart surgery during the summer. As part of his recovery was the elimination of stress, and that meant shuttering the press. The rights have reverted to me (and the audiobook is still available on Amazon), so I’m working to find it a new home.

11: The writing and publishing world has changed a lot. Self-publishing, small to medium presses popping up, and things like becoming a hybrid between indie pubbing and traditional. What are your thoughts on that? Any predictions on what the future might hold? What would you like to see, both as an author yourself, and, as a consumer/reader?

A: Being a hybrid author (I have self-published some short fiction), I love the concept of being able to put my work out there and widen my fanbase (that’s a fun word to use!). My publisher, Red Adept Publishing, is a very solid company run by folks with a lot of experience in the publishing world.  They’ve published two New York Times bestsellers in the past few years. There are great small/medium presses out there that are viable alternatives for authors.

12: The always done and asked question. Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books? What are you reading now? Tell us. Tell us!

A: The two books to influence me the most as a person are Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. As a writer, I also love Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and Ernest Hemingway. My favorite writers are as diverse as my music collection – I bounce around all over the place. Right now, I’m thoroughly enjoying Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Finding a way to better handle life/work/writing/health is very important to me, and this book is full of ideas and ways to do it.

13: I’ve got to know…what’s your favorite word to use. Every author has one. What’s the word you catch yourself using a lot? We’ve all got those as well. What’s your favorite word just to say? Something where you like the way it sounds. What’s your favorite curse word, if you’ve got one and or use them? I tend to behave in public, but hit my thumb with a hammer? Yeah, I can add a few more “Uses of the Word F***.”

A: In the manuscript for Vendetta Protocol? Looked. Wow, I used that word way too much. One of my former commanders would halt conversations by saying, “Okay. Stop.” I’ve found myself using that a lot more the older I’ve gotten. A favorite curse word? We don’t want to go there. Trust me.

14: Tell us about your latest release. Or, when can we expect your next one? What are we in store for?!

A: The sequel to Sleeper Protocol is Vendetta Protocol and we’re in the final stages of edits. I expect we’ll have a publication date soon. I’m also working to re-release Runs In the Family (mentioned above) with the goal of re-publishing it this year as well. I have a novella in the Runs In The Family universe titled “Lancer One” that I’ll self-publish later this year as well.

15: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!

A: As for me, here’s where you can find me:

Website: http://www.kevinikenberry.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorkevinikenberry

Twitter: @TheWriterIke
You can find my work here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ASFBXT4

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sleeper-protocol-kevin-ikenberry

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sleeper-protocol

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/kevin-ikenberry/id808497444


Kevin Ikenberry


Bio: Kevin’s head has been in the clouds since he was old enough to read. Ask him and he’ll tell you that he still wants to be an astronaut. A former manager of the world-renowned U.S. Space Camp program in Huntsville, Alabama and a former executive of two Challenger Learning Centers, Kevin continues to work with space every day. A retired Army officer, Kevin lives in Colorado with his family. His home is seldom a boring place.

Kevin is the author of SLEEPER PROTOCOL, which Publisher’s Weekly called “an emotionally powerful debut,” and the military science fiction novel RUNS IN THE FAMILY. His short fiction has appeared internationally across various publications and anthologies. Kevin is an Active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is a member of both Fiction Foundry and Pikes Peak Writers. He is an alumnus and staff member of the Superstars Writing Seminars.

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