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INTERVIEW with author Nick Kelly:
Sometimes I meet talent and think, “Wow! This person has their s**t together. Look at everything they’ve accomplished.” And then they amaze me even more by adding to their growing list of achievements.
Nick Kelly is such a person.
I could say “author” Nick Kelly, since I’m focusing on his recently released novel, Catwalk: Messiah but that hardly covers the extent of this man’s ability.
Nick, your bio on the Horrorview.com website describes you as a musician and writer. Digging a little deeper, I discovered you are also a lifestyle coach/trainer and public speaker. How do you manage to juggle all your many hats? And what drives you to keep multi-tasking?
Thanks, Deb. I appreciate the kind words. I think everything I do is born from music. My love of the stage, and telling stories, and making people laugh…all of it goes back to spending half my life on stage as a musician. I’ve expanded that to coaching and training people on everything from entrepreneurship to online safety. I simply find something that I find fascinating and share it with as many people who will listen!
Your tag at Horrorview is “Catwalk”. How did you come up with the name? Should I assume the lead character in your book, Leon “Catwalk” Caliber, exhibits some of your personality traits?
The Catwalk character existed long before I joined the staff at Horrorview.com. I became the indie film (and book) guy over the last few years, so I get to view and read the works of many unknown authors and filmmakers. It’s a great gig. Cat and I share a number of personality traits, though I’ve never been a hitman. We share a love of motorcycles and driving fast, loud music, cutting edge technology, and the Pandora’s box that is human potential. I think he’s some of my traits to the absolute extreme.
You’re published in comic books and other types of media. Why write a book? How does your approach to writing a book differ from a comic book?
I grew up on comics. Back in Philly, my grandfather (for whom I’m named) owned a trucking company and a recycling business. He would bring us tons of comics, including Star Wars, The Uncanny X-Men, and The Amazing Spider-Man, to name a few. Comics were a passion my whole life (and still are). Catwalk’s first appearance was in a comic titled Independent Voices 3 which launched on September 11, 2001. It failed miserably in the States, because it was a violent story made public at a time when we were all reeling from a violence we’ve never experienced before. The comic actually serves as a prequel to the book.
Writing a comic can be very different from writing a book. I find my process to writing a novel is very comic-like. I visualize everything. I storyboard. Even writing books, I still write as if the ultimate product will be a comic or a movie.
Catwalk: Messiah has been described by reviewers as dark, futuristic, sci-fi, dystopian, steampunk . . . even detective noir. How much research was involved in world building, and what made you decide on a cybernetically enhanced main character for your post-apocalyptic tale?
I think the universe introduced in the Catwalk stories is a distinct, if pessimistic, possibility. Think about everything we do with our smart phones – which are so much more than phones, let’s face it. Technology advancements in the next decade are bound to lead to expanded nanotechnology and potentially cybernetics, and that is an amazing thing. Think about how different life could be for a wounded veteran if the technology could replace a limb and give him back full use of an arm or a leg.
The Catwalk tone is all about telling the story set in that realm. He’s a super-charged private eye working in a realm where technology is not just acceptable, it’s stylish. Think Bionic Man meets Phillip Marlowe.
This is the first book in a series. How many installments do you envision? What can we expect from Book Two?
I actually wrote Book Two (“Catwalk: Lineage”) before Book One, but it wasn’t an acceptable origin story. It expanded the universe too much. So, I went back and wrote this one to introduce Cat to the world. I have the first four books basically finished up, with a skeleton in place for Book Five. Book Two is going to introduce some very fun new villains who I think fans will enjoy. One is based on my older brother. Is that dark and subliminal somehow? Is it wrong to put your anti-hero against a crime lord you based on your brother? I’ll let the readers comment on that.
You are currently co-authoring the Urban Samurai series with wife, Stacia, as “NS Kelly”. How does that work – two authors living under the same roof and contributing to the same project? How do you resolve creative differences?
Stacia has her own series, The Goddess Chronicles, beginning with “Phyxe: Goddess of Fire.” Her series are more fantasy and romance. With the Samurai series, starting with “Ichi”, we sort of meet in the middle. Her lead character is a 1,000 year old samurai, and my character is a homicide cop who needs to see everything in black and white, who believes nothing supernatural until he gets attacked by a demon.
Writing together has been a really fun experience. We approach the writing process very differently, but we challenge one another well, and the criticism is always constructive. We’ve worked together at a number of different jobs, so we know how to get along in a professional environment. Plus, the plotting sessions in the hot tub are a nice plus.
(Stacia and I actually joined fellow authors Phillipa Ballentine and Tee Morris to discuss this topic. Check out the podcast: http://www.theshareddesk.com/2013/07/23/episode-24-collaborating-couples-wbtr/)
And now, what can you tell us about “coaching those new to the entrepreneur’s lifestyle?” How did coaching and speaking evolve from the many facets of your world? Also, please feel free to include websites, contact information, etc for any readers who wish to learn more about your services.
Most of us have been educated on what it takes to be a great employee, but not to be a successful business owner. Stacia and I not only write together, but we also are business partners in a health and wellness business. She is a holistic health coach with a Ph.D. I jumped on board when our product line added a healthy, all natural energy drink (see: exhibit A. “musician”). As we’ve grown our business, I’ve embraced training folks on what it takes to build a business, gain self-confidence, and help build their brand. I’m scheduled to speak for a “Steps to Success” event on September 28th in Fredericksburg, VA. Anyone can attend and simply reach out to me for an invite. I’m happy to do virtual one-on-one coaching also via Skype (Nicholas.a.kelly). My site is www.nickkelly.com, I’m @Nick_Kelly on twitter, and I’m on Facebook as facebook.com/NickKellyAuthor. I love meeting new friends in the virtual world, so please don’t hesitate to hit me up!
Thank you, Nick, for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure!
NOTE TO READERS: I’ve included a Spotlight on Catwalk:Messiah following this interview. Also, Horror fans will enjoy the musings from this witty, talented and profound man at http://www.horrorview.com/. I encourage you to check it out!
Number of pages: 249
Word Count: 70,266
Cover Artist: Heidi Sutherlin
Nitro City, 2033.
Leon “Catwalk” Caliber left his cop job in DC behind, heading to the City of Angels to earn a living off the grid. He took a few odd jobs that called for his particular skill set – extortion, espionage, and the occasional hit – and managed to carve out a niche for himself among the Downtown dwellers.
All the changed when a new breed of MetaHuman cyborg appeared on the streets with explosive violence. Cat’s quiet existence is sent into turmoil when he finds himself right in the crosshairs. He must evade the assassin squads sent by a vengeful pimp, uncover the origin of these mysterious new mechs, and keep the cops off of his tail. Simple enough, except that the cybernetic technology that powers his body threatens to sever his humanity at any moment. Can the killer with a conscience find a cure, solve the case, get the girl, and live to see another day?
“Okay, Sweetie, open your eyes.”
Leon “Catwalk” Caliber takes a long drag off of his cigarette. The voice on the vidscreen triggers the same sick taste in his throat as the first time he pressed the play button. The series of events on-screen remains the same: the awkward smile of the girl in the frame, the sweet and self-absorbed tone with which the man just off-camera delivers his dialogue, the slight, excited shaking of the camera as she looks up at him. Once again he asks the young girl which hand holds the coin, even though only his left hand is extended. She’s nervous. Her shoulders are pulled up, and her arms are tight to her body. She shifts to accommodate the tight fit of her school uniform. She blushes, the ghost of Shirley Temple, complete with pigtails and storybook innocence. She giggles and touches the back of the man’s gloved hand with a finger. She’s correct.
It’s the right hand that wields the bone saw.
Catwalk stops the recording. The glass next to him is empty, the bottle of bourbon almost the same. The dull glow of the paused recording is the only light in the loft, save a few blinking sensors from the bay that hosts his motorcycle and gear. He stares mutely at the image on the screen. He already has the rest of it memorized. The girl survives for another two minutes and 17 seconds. She doesn’t suffer long. Thank whatever God she believes in that she doesn’t feel what happens next. This killer doesn’t keep his victims alive along. He saves the mutilation and sex acts until after they’re dead. He doesn’t get off on torture, just the rush of ending a life … even that of an eight-year-old girl.
Cat takes a hold of his whiskey tumbler, mindlessly raising it to his lips. The lack of liquid distracts him from the screen. The video was an unexpected test. Someone hoping to remain anonymous had paid a deposit for his services. The instructions were simple. Watch the video. Find the killer. Get vengeance for the victims. Get proof. Get paid.
His yellow eyes return to the screen. His lips curl into a sneer. After watching the recording once, he was willing to do the job for free. That feeling amplified each time he watched the girl die. Cat chuckles out loud. He’s curious at his reaction. This chit never bothered him before. Why now? Why her?
He stands and walks away from the screen. He needs a break. He stands and stretches. The muscles along his arms and sides are sore. His legs and spine don’t protest. They’re hard-wired into his nervous system. Thanks to modern cybernetic technology, he can leap from the sidewalk to the top of an apartment complex, and outrun most of the commercial vehicles on the market.
The benefits aren’t without a curse. His immune system has never quite solved the riddle of his experimental cybernetics. Treatment is painful and expensive. He could use the money this job would bring in.
Catwalk stands in front of one of the windows, listening to the endless clamor of sirens, screams and gunfire in the distance. He’s chosen a nasty part of Downtown. It’s dangerous, but it’s very private. As a professional hitman, that’s worth the risk.
Running his hands through his jet black hair, he ties it into its customary ponytail. He looks over his shoulder at the custom-crafted, armored helmet resting on the counter. The triangular yellow cat’s eyes stare back at him. Cursing under his breath, Cat walks toward the helmet and the armored motorcycle behind it with cold intent.
There’s work to be done.
About the Author:
Nick grew up on sci-fi, horror flicks, Dungeons and Dragons, good music, and recycled comic books. He has been published internationally as a comic book author and musician. He’s spent over half his life on stage from New York to Las Vegas. He is outspoken, supportive, and willing to take a good kick to the ribs for the right cause. When not touring the world, Nick lives at home with his blushing bride (and co-author), Dr. Stacia Kelly, their son, and a rotating roster of cats and dogs.