Part of the writing duo, Habiger & Kissee, Author Geoff Habiger says he writers to tell the stories that he wants to read and hopefully a few other people will also like them. He is also a fellow knight of the Scifi Roundtable. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
Hello, I am Geoff Habiger, one half of the dynamic writing duo Habiger & Kissee. I grew up in the wild hinterland of the Flint Hills of Kansas. I would awaken in the morning to the sounds of peacocks and roaring lions (no, really – we lived below the city zoo) and I would trudge to school, walking up hill both ways. (Again true, since we lived at the bottom of a hill, and the school was also at the bottom of a hill. Welcome to the Flint Hills.) I attended Kansas State University and got a B.S. degree in geology, which really helped me work varied careers in fast food, retail, pharmaceuticals, and publishing. I have lived in New Mexico since 2005 with my wife and son.
When and why did you begin writing?
I actually started writing stories a long time ago when I was in high school. I had so many creative ideas that I wanted to share them with others. I wrote some short stories, and a novel about a mission to Mars, but none of that was ever published and I doubt it even survives to this day. I started writing in earnest about twenty years ago, writing more short stories and another scifi novel, again, none of which were published. Around 2010 Coy and I got the idea for the Unremarkable series and we started writing it, and the ideas for it, and our fantasy series just started flowing. My goal is still the same as when I was a teenager, to tell creative stories and just share them with others.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer when I started writing that long-lost scifi novel. I figured if I was writing a story, then I was a writer, even if I didn’t publish it. I “officially” became a writer when I sold my first piece (a short RPG adventure for D&D) back around 2003 or 2004.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Unavoidable is the final book in our Saul Imbierowicz vampire trilogy. In the previous books (Unremarkable and Untouchable) Saul has gone from the eponymous unremarkable everyman who is suddenly thrust into the world of gangsters and then learns that vampires are real. In book two Saul tries to take down Chicago’s biggest gangster (and vampire), Al Capone, tracking him to Atlantic City and a climactic battle.
Unavoidable picks up about a year later when Al Capone is released from jail, but that is the least of Saul’s worries. Eliot Ness has deemed the notorious gangster off limits, while Director J. Edgar Hoover has taken note of Saul and Christian’s activities and has his own plans for the two agents. Meanwhile, a mysterious vampire master finally reveals herself, putting Saul’s family in more danger than they’ve ever been before. Saul’s life is changing again, and not for the better. The choices that Saul must make in order to save his family, stop Capone, and deal with an old threat, might come at a price too high for Saul to pay.
What inspired you to write this book?
Unavoidable is the third book in the trilogy, so the actual inspiration started with why we wrote book one, Unremarkable. The concept for Unremarkable was born from a conversation that we had as we drove back from a trip to Chicago on how the supernatural could have played a part in actual historical events. We latched on to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre as something that could be explained as part of a vampire turf war, and that led to the inevitable discussion around how powerful Al Capone really was, and why it was so hard to take him down. The pieces all just fit together really well, so we ran with it. We always planned to write this first part of Saul’s story as a trilogy and Unavoidable now concludes this particular chapter in Saul’s new life.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I have a particular writing style. I just think up the story and the characters and then try to tell something that will entertain the reader. I like to plot things out ahead of time, but also my characters will often change up the plot when the situation needs it.
As to writing with Coy, we work on the plots for our stories together. I then write the first (very rough) draft of the story and hand it over to Coy. He cleans up all the bad grammar, spelling errors, and corrects all of the dialogue to make it sound better and be true to the characters. We then work together on edits to the story before sending it to other editors and beta readers.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The title for this book came during the previously mentioned trip to Chicago when we first came up with the story. We knew we wanted the first book to be about Saul, so the natural title was Unremarkable. The follow-up book, Untouchable, was the logical sequel to it playing on the team that Eliot Ness created to stop Capone, the Untouchables. Finally, the events that played out in the trilogy came to the Unavoidable conclusion for Saul. The titles all flowed together and help tell the story.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That even if you think you lead the most boring life (like Saul) that extraordinary things may happen to you. And, when that happens, it is important that you stay true to yourself. Don’t try to become something you are not, even if you physically change (or become a vampire).
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nope. We invented everything for the characters pretty much whole cloth. We did read biographies about Al Capone and Eliot Ness to get a feel for those characters, but everybody else we created for the books without basing them on anybody in particular.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
There were a couple of authors whose works I read growing up that really inspired me, both in how to live my life but also to instill in me a desire to tell my own tales. James Harriot, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and CS Lewis were all inspirational to me to be able to tell wonderful stories. I acquired my love of reading from them, as well as kindling my desire to tell my own stories.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Even though I have never met them, I consider Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston to be mentors. Not only do they write exciting thrillers that I want to emulate in my own stories, the fact that they write together gives me insight into how Coy and I can write together. Now, among writers I have met, and learned a few things from, is Eric M. Craig. If you don’t know the name, Eric is a self-published sci-fi author and I routinely bounce ideas off of him, but mostly what I learn from him is in the area of marketing. That’s often an overlooked skill for a writer, and I am happy to have found somebody who does it well and is willing to share what he has learned with me.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
For the first two books in the Saul trilogy (Unremarkable and Untouchable) we used old photographs that we then added a touch of red (blood) to the image. When it came to Unavoidable. we couldn’t find an image that we liked that we could get the rights to use, so I reached out to the extremely talented Ian Bristow of Bristow Designs. We “met” Ian through the Scifi Roundtable group on Facebook and I immediately loved his work. Ian had already done some other covers for me and we knew that he would be able to deliver the right feel to the cover that we wanted. And he did. We love the cover for Unavoidable.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Two bits of advice: One, don’t quit your day job until you have that six-figure deal and check in hand (and even then, don’t burn your bridges when you go to write full-time). Two, don’t listen to “writer’s advice”. I have seen a lot of “advice” out there, especially on social media that is actually masking as gatekeeping. There are very few hard and fast rules for writing (basically, spelling and grammar) and even those can be bent (or broken) when the situation and story calls for it. Everything else is just opinion, so do what you want. Write how often you want, in whatever style that works for you. If you can tell a wonderful story with compelling characters, then bravo! you are a writer and now you can give “advice” to others.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for believing in our stories and supporting us by buying our books, leaving us reviews, and hanging out with us at cons and book events. Knowing that people look forward to our next story is very humbling and gives us fuel to keep writing. Also, there will be more stories coming involving Saul, Christian, Sarah, Joe, and the other characters from the first trilogy. We have more tales that we want to tell, including a couple of stand-alone stories and at least two more trilogies that we want to write involving Saul.