Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Interview with Iain Reading PLUS Excerpt

Happy Hump Day, everyone. It sure feels like the week is dragging. Well, to me anyway. Let's try and perk things up with an upbeat interview. Today we're chatting with author Iain Reading about his Kitty Hawk Series.

Welcome to We Do Write, Iain. Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing?

I am actually still quite new to all of this and have only been writing books for a little more than a year thus far.

Tell us about Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.  What's the story about?

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the first book in a series featuring a super cool teenaged pilot named Kitty Hawk who has this big idea that she wants to fly around the world.  Or should I say that she will soon have this idea, after finishing her first adventure up in Alaska and the Yukon where she stumbles across a band of gold thieves and is swept along across the rugged nature and history of the land of the midnight sun.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

The first thing that came to me was the idea of the main character herself.  Once I had that I am not sure I was much in control anymore. From that point everything almost seemed to write itself, with each new twist and turn of the story becoming clear to me as I wrote it.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

For this first book in the series I had a number of different people read the book first and got their feedback about it as beta readers.  It was very interesting for me to realise how different readers are - so much so that it made sorting through their feedback rather challenging.  What some readers disliked others liked, what some readers loved others hated.  The lesson there, I suppose, is that you should work to make a book something that you yourself are happy with and perhaps worry less about trying to make it perfect for everyone.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A combination of both, I think.  I like to have a fairly clear idea where things are going and have a good idea how to get there, but I also love the element of discovery along the way where the characters and the story lead you to places you never planned or expected.

What's the hardest part of writing for you?

Finding the space and time to actually write is always a challenge.  But I guess that has been a problem since the beginning of time.  There's a reason why living in a cabin in the woods is the ideal writing environment for many people.  There are just too many distractions otherwise.  

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

The internet, which I suppose goes against the idea of a cabin in the woods.  The internet is the epitome of distraction, but it is also full of information and inspiration.

What are you reading right now?

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The ability to freeze time, like Hiro on Heroes.  That seems to me to be the most practical super power.  That is what I look for in a fantastical super power - practicality.

What's the weirdest thing you've Googled?

Painted mountains china.  Try it for yourself.

Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably...

If I'm not writing, I'm probably working.  Sad but true.

And finally, where can people find you and your books online?

There are currently three books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series available for sale on Amazon:

Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue:

Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Iain. Good luck with the series!


As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn't possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, "Empty," they weren't kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn't worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn't the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
"Exactly," the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying 'I-told-you-so' kind of voices. "What do you do now?"
"First, I am going to stay calm," I replied. "And think this through."
"You'd better think fast," the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. "If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is.  Don't forget that you're almost out of fuel."
"Thanks a lot," I replied. "You're a big help."
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
"Mayday, mayday, mayday," I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. "This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over."
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I'd had, the friends I'd made, the beauty I'd experienced, the differences and similarities I'd discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, "my epic flight almost around the entire world," in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.
"Okay," I thought to myself. "Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through." I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I'd ever flown. Every emergency I'd ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.
Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
"It's been a good run at least," the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. "You've had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime."
"That's it!" I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began.

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