Konn Lavery Interview
Konn Lavery is a Canadian horror and dark fantasy writer who is known for his Mental Damnation series. The second book, Dream, reached the Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional books list. He started writing fantasy stories at a very young age while being home schooled. It wasn’t until graduating college that he began professionally pursuing his work with his first release, Reality. Since then he has continued to write works of fiction ranging from fantasy to horror.
His literary work is done in the long hours of the night. By day, Konn runs his own graphic design and website development business under the title Reveal Design (www.revealdesign.ca). These skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his fascination of transmedia storytelling.
What was your inspiration for the type of creature / beast / being that is your main character, Krista?
They have been an evolution in terms of inspiration. I think, originally, I came up with them for a book that I was working on in junior high and they were the villain, so I came up with this sort of creepy beast that would essentially be able to be against the humans. That’s where a lot of the backstory, especially in chapter one, comes into play where that book I wrote happened beyond Mental Damnation and the creature just started to evolve because the Mental Damnation was originally written as an origin story for Krista, but it just changed because I wrote that in high school. So it’s a good 10 years ago, so the inspiration has definitely changed. My gecko was also a huge inspiration. I had him for 12 years and he would be my writing buddy. I would write and he would come out of his little hut and keep me company, so I contribute it to him. I think the third iteration, which is this book, the biggest inspiration was feedback I’ve gotten from readers from the first edition in 2012. I got people coming up to be in book signings and they’d read the back of it, the original synopsis of the first book, and they’d say “So, you believe in the reptilians that run our government, right?” I had never heard of this, so this was the first time I had heard of the conspiracy of reptiles ruling over humans. I started reading into it and I was like “This is oddly similar, I didn’t realize there’s a whole conspiracy of underground reptiles that rule over humanity.” I thought I could piggy back on it and make it a lot of fun. And people actually believe it. That’s the latest inspiration, so there’s almost three stages to it. That’s where they came from, and their physique has actually changed quite a bit. The original telling of them were more mammal-like reptiles, kind of like the platypus. They lay eggs and have scales and have hair. They’re this weird mash-up, and they’re leftover of the evolution process of reptiles and mammals. They’re a lot like that, so they had hair, they were very human-like, but in the latest iteration I wanted to emphasize the reptilian government thing and make them more reptilian. So instead of hair they have feathers and they have more scales and their mannerisms are more reptilian, like the flickering of tongues. They’ve had quite the evolution process from the original conception of them many, many years ago.
Why make humans the bad guys?
They’re always the good guys, so I wanted them to appear bad and make them seem like they’re doing wrong. Especially in the medieval times you had all the Christian crusades, and I wanted to do my own spin on that where there’s a reason why the Christian crusades came out, and that’s where the paladins come into the story. There were dragons and they were fearful and they took it over and they’re fearful of something coming back that would threaten humanity. So I wanted to play on that where they’re just overly cautious. And, in a way, they’re kind of justified, but they’re just entirely mislead. More humans do come into the second and third books, so you get to see their perspective on things. Really get the two sides. There’s a whole subplot that’s been fun in the story because you get Krista’s journey, but then you have the aspect of the humans and the reptilians.
What would you say is your favourite scene in Reality?
I think when she meets Abesun. Yea, that’s my favourite. He’s a fun character that is kind of this myth that not a lot of people know about, and he gets talked a lot about especially in the later books. But he’s this mysterious being that not anyone knows a lot about. Krista can’t even get answers from him, and the fact that he can actually leave the underworld when the others can’t. He’s definitely my favourite. He’s an outcast amongst the outcasts. He just doesn’t fit anywhere. I quite enjoyed when she got to meet him and she made her first kill. Because she had to grow up a little bit, and she met someone that’s okay with doing it because it’s become routine for him.
You designed the layout and art for the book. Why did you decide to go against print publishing traditions and not use justification or paragraph indentation?
I think it’s because I grew up as a web kid, so I did a lot of reading online. Everything on websites was always just left justified and there was no indentation, so that’s probably the biggest thing that was an influence. But I think I’m going to start changing that in my newer books just to fall more under the traditional route and give them more of a level of professionalism. It’s not really something that occurred to me until someone brought it up, then I was like “Oh, I should probably do that.” And then it kept coming up.
When can we expect to see book 2?
September 13 it will be available. And the third should be available by February.
How did your writing process differ from the first book to the second?
Quite a bit because the original manuscript I wrote in high school, which contained all three books plus about an extra third that I’m actually scrapping. I had that for a few years, and I sent it to a publisher, it got denied, it was a fair reason it just wasn’t their genre, but I was 17 and I thought this was my one big chance to be a writer, and I took it way harder than I should have. Eventually, I got back into writing after a friend encouraged me and I found an editor that was willing to work with me. We went and looked at the original manuscript and we decided to slice it up into books because, as we were editing, we kept elaborating and it kept getting bigger and bigger. So that’s how Reality first came out. Dream was supposed to be just one sequel, there wasn’t supposed to be two, but I actually worked on book 2 and 3 at the same time. Then another author gave me some advice about the length of your novel when you’re first starting out. It should be around 60,000 words. When I brought out the first edition of Reality, Dream, and Fusion between 2012 and 2014, I was still very new and I wanted to make a good impression, and the original Dream was something like 120,000 words, and it was way too long. So I just cut it in half and that’s how the third book came to be. It was different because it was much longer than Reality, and I had this marketing idea where I wanted people to be able to read book 2 without reading book 1, so I had to tell all the lore from book 1 in a shorter amount of time in book 2, so it was really tough to fit everything that was told in the backstory and the events that happen in Reality in Dream, but it managed to work and between 2014 to now, I was selling Reality as a prequel and Dream as book 1. It actually worked really well because a lot of people would just pick up Dream and they liked it. I learned a lot from that. Where Reality was a little slower. Even with the new release of Dream, it can still be read independently of Reality.
What other projects are you working on currently?
Now that the third book is done, I have two that are in the works. Both are experimental. Kind of when I did Seed Me, that was an experiment on its own. These two new ones, I want to try something entirely different. One of them is called, the working title is, The Yellow Beheader, so it’s this serial killer on the yellowhead highway. It’s going to be a series of short stories where everyone has their own tall tale of what the Yellow Beheader does to people. I’m writing that on a really casual basis where it’s like once a week at a pub with some friends and I just write away. It’s probably going to be an anthology of 5 short stories. The other one is a, I guess a crime thriller, called #YEGman and it’s about police brutality and about this cop that gets kicked off the force because he can’t stop his urge to beat people. But he accidentally does it in a good way, but he’s kicked off the force, but people video him saving a couple who is getting stabbed and the video goes viral and it’s like “Oh my god, have you seen #YEGMan?” And the video goes really popular around social media and everybody thinks that they have this secret hero in Edmonton. It’s him wanting to do good, but also really enjoying hitting people. The first draft is about three quarters done. I just have to finish the draft, go through some rounds, send it to the beta readers, then send it to get edited, then get it out hopefully by next year horror con.
Ellen is a freelance fiction editor, book reviewer, research assistant for Simon Fraser University, marketing coordinator for WCSFA, and member volunteer for Editors’ Association of Canada. As of September 2017, she will also be a master’s student of publishing at SFU. You can contact her via ellenmichelle.com for any editing queries and at firstname.lastname@example.org for book review queries.