Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview with Kevin Finn, co-author of 'Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition' - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED? On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003, now extensively revised and re-edited, and with a new Afterword from the authors. On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price. In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both. History CAN be altered …

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What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m most proud of being selected as a mentor for the American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program.  Being asked to share your insight and knowledge with those pursuing your chosen career is an honor and a privilege.  If I can somehow influence just one aspiring screenwriting, help them benefit from something I’ve learned along the path, be it large or small, then my participation in the program is rewarding and worthwhile.  I like to pass on the knowledge I’ve garnered from others, to help others, to pay it back in the best way I can. Sharing.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
My upbringing gave me the discipline and work ethic a writer needs to turn a hobby into a career.  Writing isn’t a part time gig, a weekend occupation or a flight of fancy. It requires discipline and dedication, the will to plant one’s butt at a desk and work at creativity.  Like my father before me, I never miss a day of work or a day of school.  Now, I never miss a day of writing.  I treat it like a job (though it’s the greatest and most fun job anyone could ever have).  If I don’t go to work every day, I let someone down.  Myself.  I don’t allow that.  I show up. I deliver.  I’m the employee my writing counts on. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing seriously when I was 16, and because I had stories I wanted to tell.  Stories I crafted from inspiration culled from movies, sports or even real life.  I saw things and wanted to write about them.  I imagined things and wanted to write about them.  So I did. I saw all these larger than life tales playing out on my television or in the movies, or in the newspapers of the day, and I wanted to craft the tales that inspired me, to inspire others. 
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I loved great stories that stirred emotion in me.  I felt inspired by great movies I’d seen, and wanted to write movies like that.  I was touched by real-life events and wanted to capture them for history, as I ‘d read other writers do.  Most notably, it was the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s stunning gold-medal victory in the 1980 Winter Olympics that really propelled me.  I was home in bed with severe pneumonia throughout those Games, but that team’s triumph and perseverance just struck a nerve in me.  I wanted to be a part of that kind of history, to call it as a sportscaster and write about it whenever it happened.  The stage was set.   
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
One of my first creative writing assignments in 10th grade was about a great event I’d witnessed.  I wrote about a Yankee game I’d attended, a game that went down as a ‘Yankee Classic’.  I got an ‘F’ on that assignment because the teacher thought I’d plagiarized my account from newspaper.  I had to bring in a note from my father and the ticket stub from the game to convince the teacher I’d given a first-hand account.  The ‘F’ was changed to an ‘A’ and I was on my way.
What inspires you to write and why?
Great stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things always gets me going.  I think it this the mark of a great storyteller, to be able to capture one person’s raw emotion or experience and spin it into a tale everyone wants to see or read.  I find inspiration in rooting for the underdog who overcomes all odds, the common man who exceeds expectations.  These are the stories that can inspire others to achieve great things, and I simply want to share them and inspire others with them.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I love a good thriller.  It’s such a complex yet broad genre, combining action, drama, human emotion and intrigue.  Crafting a good thriller is always a challenge but the personal reward for a job well done knows no other.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Forward to Camelot was actually my first novel, and it was inspired by my youthful reverence for John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy’s tale was one of courage and character, of overcoming great physical odds to achieve something few have known but everyone aspires to.  I always looked up to JFK as a larger-than-life figure, a leader among men.  I wanted to be him, to know his character, to perhaps even live some of the adventure he had lived.  Having the chance to make him breathe again, in the pages of a daring fictional thriller, and share his legacy with a generation that was not familiar with it, well, that’s all the chance I needed.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
My writing was influenced by many factors.  I wanted to do something no one else had done before, and with Forward to Camelot, Susan Sloate and I craft a unique blend of fact and fiction to spin a new twist on the most tragic day of the 20th century.  I didn’t want to let my partner down after she showed such great faith in my ability.  I knew we had a great idea and wanted to make it a reality. 
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
The hardest part about writing a novel is the discipline needed to simply plant your ass in a chair before a desk and get the words on paper every single day.  It’s easy to slack off when there’s no real boss looking over your shoulder.  You can create any excuse to not write at any given moment, but the only person you’re fooling is yourself.  Shutting out the distractions of life, love, and whatever else is the biggest challenge any writer faces.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Writing Forward To Camelot taught me a lot about checking my ego at the door when collaborating with another writer.  Truth is, in any partnership, you’re going to be re-written and you can’t take it personally.  Any choice that is made has to be done for the good of the story and it is very hard for a single writer to surrender creative control of their work to someone else.  There’s going to be battles, and sometimes you’re opinion is correct and sometimes your partner is more correct.  More often you’ll have to come to a compromise that benefits the story and characters.  If it sounds easy, you’ve never been locked in a room with a writer.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
It already is. 
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Well, I tend to write long on a first draft and then whittle it down piece by piece to where I want it.  I have a hard-nosed style reminiscent of Damon Runyon or Mickey Spillane, so it’s perfect for thrillers or dramas that just sort of hit you in the gut. 
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
I’m a great editor, so I can really trim a long piece down to a solid, readable core without losing any of the important elements of story.  I like to keep a story lean and tight, so a reader can move through  it quickly.  I’m also very good at creating the small, emotionally powerful moments for a character or characters, the kind of moments that a reader can keep with them long after they’ve finished the book. 
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
My passion for writing and my passion for inspiring others who want to pursue their dreams.  I’m straight and to the point, and sometimes it may hurt someone’s feelings, but keeping things simple often eliminates the distractions or excuses that can dissuade someone from pursuing their dreams.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I’m straight and to the point.  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I also don’t believe in tiptoeing around a subject or event.  I’m not one for bullshit, I don’t want to have my time wasted nor do I want to waste anyone else’s.  Also, despite my discipline for writing every day, I tend to procrastinate by becoming involved in too many projects at once.  If I like an idea, I’ll take it on and often to the detriment of work already in progress.  That’s a really bad habit--sometimes you’ve got to say ‘no’ to keep yourself focused on what you really want.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
I have several but among my favorites is the ancient Chinese proverb that says “Not having a goal is worse than never achieving one.”   You’ve got to know where you’re going or you’ll never get there.  Then there’s Billy Wilder’s epitaph, “I am a writer, but nobody’s perfect.”

Susan Sloate

SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

Kevin's author pic       After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television. His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014. For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit  

Pump Up Your Book, Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins December 11 and ends on December 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, December 26, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting us today - it's great to be here!