Title: Canis Major (Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series)
Author: B.R. Kyle
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Tumblr
Publisher: B.R. Kyle via Smashwords (though I want to add here that I had a lot of help from Kim)
Format and Price: E-Book at $1.99
About The Author:
B.R. Kyle is an emerging feminist writer from Melbourne, Australia. B.R. Kyle has previously completed a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing and is currently completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries. She writes and blogs about a wide range of topics, mostly book reviews, mental health, feminist rants and her adventures into accidental cooking. Pushing Boundaries will be her first novel.
About The Book:
James McKenzie, a computer programmer and karate enthusiast, with the help of his best friend and private investigator, Justine Jones, is tracking down local corrupt police officers. Together, they convinced the Gangs and Organised Crime Unit of Specialist Crime & Operations that the Acker family are worth investigating. With a little luck, James and Justine may meet their goal for an arrest and conviction.
Except there has been a snag. James’s grandmother Rosemary decided to lease out their spare room in a university exchange student program, and there’s a possibility that the student may be caught in the crossfire.
Beth Smith, an future primary school teacher is traveling to the UK for the first time. She just wants to leave her family drama back home in Australia, especially since her family has only a theoretical concept of personal boundaries. She wants nothing to do with James’ complicated family drama or his and Justine’s under-cover drug investigation.
Nobody knows the Ackers like James and, in his experience, in his experience, bullies don’t go down without a fight and he’s not convinced that it isn’t going to go horribly wrong. After all, it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you.
I don’t think I’ll be able to get to a point where this is not weird for me, but perhaps with time and experience, the uncomfortable feeling I associate with blatant Self-Promotion will become easier to tolerate. So… let’s get this party started.
Author Q&A Session:
Where were you born?
I was born in Gosford, New South Wales, although I have spent the vast majority of my life in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria.
When did you start writing?
As in general writing way or a more serious writing way? For years I wrote terrible fan-fiction (well it wasn’t terrible per say, more mediocre, which I think is worse). Then I failed to get into any TAFE or university courses straight out of secondary college, which meant I had to apply and work in shitty retail jobs, but it gave me time to think (a lot of time to think). About what I wanted to do and what kind of skills I had at my disposal. Unfortunately, I tend to think of myself as the kind of person with a specialized skill-set and most of those skills revolve around books.
So, I looked into TAFE courses or short courses I could do. Although, during the Certificate IV and Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing, I was like “Yeah, I’d like to write novels but I don’t think it’s possible.”. I figured short articles or blogging would be possible, but a whole novel? It didn’t seem like it was possible. It was only after I finished the course that I began to take the idea of “I could write, edit and publish a book” seriously. And, look at me now, Mwuhahahahhaha!
What was your early inspiration?
I’m going to assume this question is regarding my novel Canis Major. I’ve probably mentioned this a lot but the early inspiration for this novel was that I had a problem with the depiction of Autism which was presented in the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I have autistic friends and I have autistic relatives and none of them acted like Christopher (Disability in Kidlit provide a detailed review of all the problematic aspects involved in the book).
I also wanted to discuss family dynamics, like the role of The Eldest Child and how the eldest is sometimes held to a higher (and sometimes unfair) standard in comparison to the younger siblings. But I didn’t want to demonize the elder child or the younger child, or pit them against one another, I wanted to try and present both sides of the complicated situation.
Do you have educational or professional experience in writing (outside of publishing your book)?
I have completed a Certificate IV and Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing, and hopefully I’ll be graduating with the Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries this year.
What other books have you written (if any)?
This is my first novel, although I am planning on writing at least four volumes in the Pushing Boundaries series
What books have most influenced your life?
To be honest, I’m of the firm belief that all books (the good, the bad and the ugly) are influential, so for me, this would be impossible to decide. But if I were to pick which books have influenced the Pushing Boundaries series, I’d have to say the various memoirs written by autistic people that I’ve read, such as Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison and Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate by Cynthia Kim.
Also reading posts written by autistic people on Tumblr and watching Youtube videos involving autistic people have also been super influential. What I’m trying to say is that, with a topic like mine, I don’t think it’s possible to gain information from just one medium or just one person. Just as an example: Cynthia Kim and John Elder Robison are very different people with different experiences and I felt I needed to explore further.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I tend to develop my plot along the idea of I must do terrible things to my characters so that they react in the way I want them to, this is the tricky part, because with Pushing Boundaries. my characters are turning around and going “I wouldn’t do that” or “I would put some effort into avoiding a conflict like this” and if I ignore character developement, it’s a forced source of conflict and therefore not as interesting as it could be.
Most of the time, during my re-writes, if I put some thought into it, there was a better way of doing what I was trying to do. In fact, because of characterization, I had to change one small plot element which had a HUGE domino effect on the rest of the story. The Pushing Boundaries series is looking like a predominately character orientated novel (which I struggle with). I usually write plot orientated novels instead, so this has been a BIG learning experiment for me.
We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
I’ve already gone into this with James and Beth via the Beautiful Books blog-posts, check them out at your leisure, or not, it’s totally up to you.
A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/them?
It depends on the villain in question, I know some villains better than others, while Mark Acker is supposed to be one of the main villains, he’s more of an aloof cold character who doesn’t emotionally attach to things. A lot of time, Mark Acker is just going through the motions, and doesn’t particularly care. As a result, I feel as though I don’t know him well, unlike other antagonist characters, such as Donoghue. Donoghue is scared little man who, under different circumstances, could easily have been in the exact same position as James.
In terms of character, there’s not really a lot of separation between Donoghue and James, and it is something Donoghue is well aware of (James, on the other hand, can’t see any similarities between the two of them at all). Interestingly enough, there’s also a lot of similarity between Donoghue and Beth, and Beth becomes aware that, under different circumstances, she could have turned out just like Donoghue. But in terms of understanding Donoghue or being able to channel his character, I think that’s going to be tough, because ultimately while I can give an explanation as to why he does the things he does, it’s difficult for me to get under Donoghue’s skin because I find him so repellent.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building within your book?
Unfortunately, I have difficulties with describing a physical setting or a physical object that doesn’t exist in real life, when describing something I usually pick an object or a place that exists in real life as a point of reference. For example, I have a rainbow slinky, so a rainbow slinky has been featured in my novel. However, this can sometimes back-fire, such as when I had to describe a Councillor’s office. I’ve described a Councillor’s office in my novel the same way I’ve seen a Councillor’s office in real life and it turns out a Councillor’s office shouldn’t look the way I’ve described it.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Characterization such as internal dialogue, thoughts and emotions were the hardest. I knew what my characters were feeling but it was so difficult for me to put those feelings into words.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
If I had to pick one, I think the prologue chapter was my favourite chapter to write, it’s the chapter where I get to introduce Robert and the reader to the McKenzie family and I also really enjoy writing chapters featuring Robert and James interacting.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
There are way too many things to list here. I learned important stuff about characterization, the editing process and how to self-publish on Smashwords. Those are all huge topics on their own.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I try to participate in NaNoWriMo every year in November, though this year I get the feeling I’m not going to make the 50K word mark. I also participate in the “Beautiful People” monthly writing prompt organised by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In.
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Honestly, I think it’s a little too early to tell, I think I might have a better idea of the over-arching message at the end of the series (I also think this might be a better question to ask the reader rather than the writer). My only hope, at this point, is that there are people who are willing to read it and enjoy it, anything else is a bonus. But if I could narrow it down to themes rather than messages, I suppose the overall theme is that everyone has a breaking point, you can only keep up “the mask of normality” for so long, and there can be long lasting affects of pushing someone too far.
What are your future project(s)?
I plan on writing three more volumes, I’m supposed to be working on Scorpius Volume II at the moment, but I’m not (I keep getting distracted).
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I don’t know, I don’t want to be anything else, being an author/writer is more than enough but I suppose I could be a librarian.