Greeting gals and guys! I was able to catch up with Keys of Candor: The Red Deaths co-author(s) Casey Eanes and Seth Ervin recently. They both, graciously, took a stab my 5 Questions…
CC: Co-Authoring…it was clearly a success but what is the process like? I imagine the two of you sitting opposite each other looking over your laptops taking line by line…
CE: Co-authoring has been nothing short of an amazing experience. I attribute a large part of the book’s success to the fact that it was co-authored. Seth and I agree that alone we could have never achieved this story. The best way to explain the process we use is that it is like a tennis match where we bounce the story back and forth. Normally, we will take turns and write anywhere from 500 to 2,000 words at a time and then pass the story over to co-author. So if I open a chapter I may write several pages and then send to Seth. He will go over what I wrote smooth edges and do minor edits to what I wrote and then add several more pages of his own. I then look over his work edit it and polish and add more on. The process goes on and on until eventually we have a great story.
SE: Coauthoring is something that I wouldn’t engage in unless that other person you are working with is someone you trust. Casey, is a brother to me, and though we are not biologically related, we’ve been through too many things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he has my best interest in mind. The joys of having a coauthor is that it doesn’t all rest on you, and that there is an engine of consistent motiviation to propell you forward. This is really important, because The Red Deaths wrests on the cold corpses of many false starts, some really ugly drafts, and a lot of effort that was the biproduct of Casey and I just figuring it out.
CC: How long have you two been developing Candor?
CE: We spent three years on the first book, The Red Deaths. This is our first ever published work and though we have started working on some side projects, Candor has been our favorite project and it has gotten the lion’s share of our attention. We are thinking about Candor every day. So I guess one could say we have been crafting and creating the world over three years and we are still learning about Candor. That is what is so fun about writing. We don’t have preset notions or ideas. We allow the story to morph itself so our world has really taken on a life of its own and surprised us at times. I know some people might think that is corny but it is true.
SE: What Casey said.CC: Did you drawn from anything modern day or from your own lives when creating this story?CE: I know each of us had our own inspirations so I will speak for myself that I drew from a myriad of other stories that I loved as a child or teenager such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. But I was also inspired by real life events. I don’t want to give a lot away if someone has not read the book, and because a lot is yet to be revealed in our next book, but I also drew a lot from the Holocaust and the atrocities that occurred against mankind at the hands of the Nazis. Also, as a Christian there are themes or ideas that I draw from my faith, not just about good but also about evil. One of my favorite scenes to write was probably one of the most disturbing in the novel, when Hosp finally meets Abtren. To me it was a metaphor for times when we as people fall into situations and get ourselves deeper and deeper into pain, trouble or despair regardless of the cost. To be completely honest about that scene, the thought in the front of my mind was the struggle so many men have with pornography and how so many men despite the destruction and pain it causes in their marriages or lives they just can’t seem to step away, just like Hosp could not stop. I wanted an image that illustrated that type of struggle we all face with trying to escape our own demons but somehow continually getting pulled back in and that scene really brought it to life for me as a writer.
SE: I wouldn’t say that anything from The Red Deaths was pulled from my reality, but it was definitely inspired by other pieces of art and other stories I’ve enjoyed. For instance, I was the kid who always secretely rooted for the villians. Casey said that Star Wars inspired him, well I’ll let the cat out of the bag and admit thatDarth Vader was always my favorite character. I never enjoyed stories where villians were evil for evil’s sake becaue I felt like that was disrespectful to the character in a story. Everyone is the hero of their own story; period. I wanted to make sure that our villian was complex, dillusional, and self-absorbed with his own greatness, but in his mind his motives are never evil. I think that there is a lesson in that. Evil is far more subtle than we give it credit, and anyone of us at anytime can become a monster in an instant. The same applies to being a hero. At any given moment we can become selfless and heroic. All of these things are fluid, and what has always facinated me is what makes people choose to go down the roads they walk on. The Keys of Candor series is just one way of me trying to figure all that out.
CC: What can we expect from your next book, Sea of Souls?
CE: Well, we are still uncovering the story, but I can say things are getting darker. Our beta readers told us that the ending of The Red Deaths felt pretty bleak and honestly things will keep getting worse for a while, but don’t give up on Candor. Also, I can say readers can expect to learn more about some of the secondary characters from the Red Deaths. Since we spent so much time on Kull, Willyn and Seam we now have time to dive deeper into some new or old characters. We also had a lot of people tell us they loved the book but wanted more world building, even if it had made the Red Deaths 700 pages. Sea of Souls won’t be 700 pages but there is more world building going on and without saying too much the world will expand in the next installment.
SE: The reader of Sea of Souls is going to learn more about the mythos of Candor, especially when it comes to the Serubs, the Keys, Aleph, and Candor itself. You can count on there being many twists, and revelations to keep those pages turning. Secondary characters will play larger roles in this book, and you’ll be sure to see more of them such as Ewing and Adley but there will also be some other new faces to meet.CC: As I read The Red Deaths, I could easily see it being the beginning of quite a long series. How far do you see it going? OR are you taking it book by book?
CE: This is one of our most common questions. We plan to write at least three books though we know the story may dictate more. However, from the story we have plotted and the pace it is currently moving we feel that this current story will be resolved within three books. However, I have admitted before that now that I have written the first of the book I have a lot of curiosity about the world before The Red Deaths and getting to see how things really went down the first time around with our friends behind the glass.SE: Three books are planned for now, but there might be more. We want to be sure to cover everything that is in this current story arc, but Candor doesn’t end necessarily with a trilogy. I’m sure Casey and I could go back to this setting should we find another tale to spin in this universe. Right now, though we feel we have so much to do that to think about another book makes us feel a little crazy.