Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'm Shelf-ish Chats with Techno-Thriller Amazon Bestselling Author Kevin Bohacz

We welcome today techno-thriller author Kevin Bahacz, author of Immortality and Ghost of the Gods.  Kevin is here to talk about his books and how he got started as a writer. Visit Kevin’s website at

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

You mean there is something other than writing? I had no idea! For me writing is my passion, my life. A day without writing is like a day without breathing—unimaginable. I never have writer’s block and writing without exaggeration has saved my life. Not very long ago I was widowed at a young age. My wife, my best friend of 17 years died in my arms while we looked
into each other’s eyes. In the time that followed when I was drowning in grief I could hear my wife whispering to me, “Write my love… Write.” So I wrote. I wrote so hard that my arms grew sore. I wrote so hard that I gave myself tendonitis but the pain in my arms did not slow me a bit. My writing saved me from grief that was dark enough to crush the life from me. I completed Ghost of the Gods in an amazingly short period of time while also simultaneously working on two new novels.

So back to your question, what I do other than writing and breathing is walk two hours a day and dreaming. Dreaming is a very big part of my life. I am a lucid dreamer and my dream life is wildly prolific. In the past three years I have recorded over 5000 dreams in my journal, and well over 300 of them were vivid hyper-real lucid dreams. I’ve had as many as 17 dreams in one night. I never try to control my lucid dream journeys. I let them unfold and develop on their own. To me controlling a lucid dream is like trying to control life instead of fully experiencing it here and now. I literally feel like I have two lives. One life in this material reality and a second life in dream reality.

When did you start writing?

I started writing in the late 1980’s. My first novel Dream Dancers was published in 1993. I have been working as a fulltime writer for over 4 years. I’ve completed 4 novels and am currently working on three different novels. One with a working title of Dream Signs will be out later this year. The novel that will be released after Dream Signs is titled The Bridge and it will not be done until sometime next year. I have a powerful emotional connection with The Bridge, more so than with any other novel I have written.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

That had to be when Immortality became a bestseller on Amazon. In 2007 shortly after it was released Immortality took off. The paperback edition hit bestseller status on Amazon then a kindle edition was released in 2008. By the summer of 2008 Immortality was constantly ranking #1 in several of the bestselling genre categories under Amazon Kindle. It also had a consistent overall ranking across all books and genres of better than #500, and many times hit #255 or better for weeks at a time. At the same time, the print edition continued to sell briskly and was constantly ranked in the top 25 in several genres.

This tangible confirmation of my writing took awhile to fully sink in. My wife, Mazelle was proud of me and constantly kept telling me so but it really took a couple of years for me to realize that I had done it and that I could make a living as a writer. Immortality stayed on the bestseller lists from 2007 through 2013, which was a very long run.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I am currently searching for just that place... Almost everything I own is now in storage or given away. I have simplified my life. I have sold our home. For many months I have been wandering up and down the California coast living in magical oceanfront vacation homes for a month at a time looking for the best place to dream and write. I have been letting intuition lead me from place to place. I find that my intuition is far more reliable than my left brain in these decisions. This journey is exciting, creative, and beyond my comfort zone. I feel I am in one sense homeless and in another sense at home. I am uprooted... and this is all very good.... very creative. Pushing beyond my comfort zone causes all sorts of emotions to bubble up to the surface.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

We spend 1/3 our lives in sleep and no one knows with any scientific accuracy how much of that sleep time is spent in dreams. Most people think we only dream during REM cycles. This has been proven false. We dream all the time. A huge number of people including a good number of famous thinkers believe that what we call waking reality is just another kind of dream… and I feel they are probably right. The other way to look at it is that if we are always dreaming then in a very real sense our nighttime dreams are as substantive as our daytime dreams.

As I’ve mentioned, I often experience lucid dreams that are in every subjective way more real than reality. So what would I do with an extra 4 hours? I would spend it in a lucid dream reunited with my wife Mazelle. Time is often stretched in dreams. So if I am very lucky, those four hours of material time might be stretched into a day or more of dream time. Whether the reunion is “real” or “imaginal” does not matter. All that matters is what it feels like. In the final analysis, if I feel therefore I am.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Since I write what I most like to read, contemporary techno-thrillers, setting the story in a future place is out of the question. I might like to set a story largely in dreams but do so in such a way that the characters and the readers are never sure if they are in an internal or external space. “Reality” can at times feel very dreamy—take déjà vu as an example. Likewise dreams can feel concretely material as in the case of lucid dreams.

Back to your present book, Immortality, how did you publish it?

My first novel, Dream Dancers was conventionally published in 1993 in a deal closed by the agent I had at that time. In 2003 when Immortality was completed I assumed I would be able to get it published since I was already a published author. I soon found myself waist deep in rejection notices from both agents and publishers. All the rejection notices basically said, “We are sure this is a wonderful book but we don’t have the time to read a long manuscript by an obscure author.”

I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals including more than one famous writer had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality.

In 2007 Immortality took off becoming a bestseller. Using my bestseller success as bait, I was able to sign with an agent who had represented a smattering of NYTime’s bestsellers. My agent proceeded to shop Immortality to all the big publishing houses. My wife, Mazelle and I were deliriously thrilled. This time the responses from publishers were very different from when Immortality was unpublished and I was un-agented. Across the board the feedback was surprisingly similar, “We love the book but who are you?”

What the publishers were really saying was I had no massive following. I did not have a million readers chanting in unison, “We want to buy more books by you…”

Fast forward to 2010, Immortality was still selling very much like it was in 2008, constantly hitting the top 10 of its genre and never falling below the top 50. In fact 2010 and half of 2011 was one of my best grossing periods ever. By now my agent had done all he could and given up six months prior in 2009. He loved Immortality and was very frustrated and baffled by his inability to close a deal. It was then that I was contacted out of nowhere by a veteran NYC agent who was a senior member in a super-agent firm. This agent told me they had read Immortality and loved it! This agent was convinced they could sell the book. Mazelle and I were wildly excited and told the agent to go for it. This new agent got the book read by a different group of more senior editors. This time the responses really threw me. The feedback I got was essentially, “We love the book but why should we buy it when you have already sold the heck out of it?”

At this point I felt like I just could not win. Years ago I didn’t have a big enough following, and now that I had a following, it seemed the publishers wanted something more. They wanted an unpublished book. I explained that 95% of the copies of Immortality had been sold on Amazon, which meant that I had tapped less than 50% of the potential market for a book in this genre. So while it was a bestseller, the lion’s share of the meat was still on this bone yet no publisher was interested in the feast. With fractional market penetration I had made a pile of money but there was many times more to be made if a big publisher would get behind the book. Yet it now felt like with regard to attracting a publisher, success was my worst enemy.

Today, three years later I now have a new amazing NYC agent from a top firm who has closed deals for other indie authors in exactly the same “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament as me. In the last six months I have received glowing critical reviews, including Publisher’s Weekly who has awarded STARRED reviews to both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods. There is interest from Holly Wood in making Immortality into a movie. I have every confidence that this time we’ll succeed in finally getting a solid publishing deal.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

I’ve lived in almost every city and town that my novels are set in… so the answer would be that I have traveled though in some cases it was retroactive travel. In other cases I did specifically travel to the locations and stayed for several weeks so that I could absorb the landscape or is it the dreamscape? Realism in my writing is very important to me. I cannot imagine writing about a real place or even a screwdriver that I have not touched with my own hands. If I did not do this, the feel of the place could be off or people who live in that location might hit a mistake that would cause them to stumble while reading. Since my novels are mostly epic in scope they are set in a large number of locations and often include the characters traveling or fleeing through the locations.

Why was writing Immortality so important to you?

Ghost of the Gods was important to me in part because it was the completion of the story I began with Immortality. The epic story of Immortality was originally planned to be one large book but as I got farther into the story I realized that it could be broken into two pieces and that it would be far more marketable to publishers as two shorter novels than one long novel.

That said, writing Ghosts of the Gods was especially important to me because of how it saved my life or at the very least my soul. It is hard to express what it is like to be writing while your world is piece by piece demolished around you, and that is exactly what happened when I lost my best friend, Mazelle to cancer. I did not write a single page for the ten months Mazelle was ill. All we did night and day was fight to save her, and after we had lost that struggle is when I started to write again.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

The short answer to your question is the ideas come from my muse. The longer answer is that my novels come from daytime dreams as well as nighttime dreams. When I am writing it does not feel like I am creating the material. It feels more like I am watching daydreams which come from somewhere other than me and I am merely typing as fast as I can to capture the daydream that is unfolding before my mind’s eyes.

For all four novels I have written, I first created thousands of pages of meticulously detailed background material. Once I feel the characters have become like friends to me, I sit down and start writing. Invariably in a short time the characters stage a revolt and the story takes on a life of its own veering off in directions I never planned. In the end I typically use about 1% of the meticulously detailed background material! Thousands of years ago the Greeks and Romans thought that all creative people were merely channels for muses. I truly cannot figure out where my stories come from. Out of a process of elimination I have decided they come from some Jungian collective awareness that we might as well call a muse.

Any final words?

Just thank you and to everyone please take Immortality and Ghost of the Gods for a test drive! I promise it will be a wild and winding road that will keep you guessing until you reach the very last word.

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