Today I'm excited to welcome author KC Finn to the blog to talk about the first book in her Caecilius Rex series, "The Atomic Circus."
First, a little about The Atomic Circus
A story is never a good story unless it starts with a murder. The more unusual the murder, the better the story, generally speaking. Meet Caecilius (KAI-KILL-EE-USS) Rex, a young detective in the not-too-distant future, a smog-filled post apocalyptic world riddled with crime and conspiracy. When a new case quite literally falls at Rex's feet, he teams up with his neighbour and associate Kendra Nai, an ex-army sergeant recently dismissed, to investigate. Little do they know that the events of The Atomic Circus will be the first step to solving the case of a lifetime.
1. What inspired you to write about post-apocalyptic Europe where your characters are running around in gasmasks to protect themselves from the poisonous air?
Being a British writer, I love to showcase Europe as my setting in all my books. Because the United States has such a wealth of successful science fiction writers, a lot of stories set on Earth are often set in an American context. I think giving the tale a European flavor centres it in something real even though the world I’ve created is very different from the one we know right now. It doesn’t mean I don’t have plans for the other continents of this world though ;)
The decision for the post-nuclear world inhabited by poisonous smog comes from my love of classic noir detective tales. The world today is so pollution conscious that the smoke-filled streets with mysterious sleuths in long black coats have become a thing of the past, so a contemporary setting for Cae’s adventures couldn’t have had the right atmosphere. I had to create a concept that would bring the smoke and shadows back to Earth and give the criminals somewhere to hide: enter post-apocalyptic!
2. The Atomic Circus has both a great plot and fascinating characters, but would you classify your writing more as plot driven or character driven?
Thank you for that, I’m very glad you thought so! I have a very specific process when it comes to writing any of my books, whatever the genre. The characters come to me first; they sometimes spend several months (occasionally years) living in my head before they make it onto the page. Kendra actually came from a totally different story that I started when I was a teenager. Cae and Damian were a few drafts of a chapter some two or three years ago (Damian was about 20 years younger in that original draft). So I knew these characters very well and what I needed was an appropriate setting to put them in, then the plot became evident once they were assembled there. I know what makes them tick and the kind of challenges that need to be set before them for them to really show off who they are. So it’s character first, plot second, but I have a long time sussing out both before I would really say I become confident enough in a story to call it a book.
3. Can you tell us a little about your main character, Caecilius (KAI-KILL-EE-USS) Rex, and how his past has shaped him?
I’ll see what I can tell you without spoiling it, because Cae’s discoveries throughout the four parts of the series are the main arc that continues from book to book. Suffice to say the man is both physically and mentally damaged by a huge traumatic event in his past. He is only 25 when the story begins but his experiences have made him seem old beyond his years. There’s a darkness to Cae and a bitterness when you first meet him, but he’s also extremely determined, intelligent and thorough in his work. Despite the unfair and frankly horrific things that he’s been through, he still believes in justice being done and I think that’s at his core no matter what other emotional transformations he goes through. Most of the fun in inventing his character was in creating his flaws and connecting them to past events to give a really clear picture of how he becomes who he is, obviously you need all 4 parts of the tale to see the full journey, but I think it’s a very satisfying one by the time you get there!
4. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict Cae faces in this book.
When we meet Cae in this book he has recently befriended his new neighbour, a 28 year old army sergeant by the name of Kendra Nai. She has recently been discharged from her military post and relocated to Cae’s hometown of Dartley, but she’s had a lot of trouble filling the void that now exists after ten years of regimented military life. So when an incinerated body falls from an incredible height with traces of a mysterious drug, Kendra jumps at the chance to join Cae in his quest to find out exactly how the body came to be and who’s responsible for this bizarre murder. From there, readers will be led to The Atomic Circus itself, a truly criminal place that only offers trouble for inquiring minds! There’s plenty of death and drugs, but nothing is sensationalized or too unpleasant. I like to think that everyone can enjoy this kind of mystery without having to feel sick to the stomach from a whole lot of gore!
5. What do you hope readers take away from The Atomic Circus?
Hopefully a strong introduction to Cae and Kendra and who they are as young people struggling to live in this toxic world around them. I’d like people to acknowledge that The Atomic Circus is the beginning of a much bigger story that expands in the following 3 novellas, a story which I hope sets the stage for bigger and better things to follow it. I will give you this little gem too, just between you, me and the internet: the big bad villain of the whole series has already made an appearance in The Atomic Circus. The savvy among you may already have your suspicions!
6. Now for a few fun questions! What song best describes your writing style?
Music plays a big part in my writing and I find each different series that I do takes on a different collection of music! I never have just one playlist for getting into the writing mood! For Caecilius Rex it’s always been nineties and noughties alternative rock, bands like Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco provide my writing mood for Cae and Kendra’s adventures!
7. Night Owl or Early Bird?
When I wrote The Atomic Circus and its first sequel Counterclockwise, I was very much a night owl, but my writing style has totally changed in the space of a year! I am definitely an early bird now; I like to get a good 2 hours of writing in first thing before the rest of the household wakes up!
8. Skittles or M&Ms?
Can I be bad and say neither? I’m not really a sweets kind of person, I much prefer savory snacks! Monster Munch all the way!
9. Who are your favorite authors?
As ever, I will bow down here to the brilliance of the true master of storytelling: Vladimir Nabokov. If I can even be a tenth as compelling as him by the end of my writing career I will have done my job well! More recently I’ve been enjoying the works of great independent authors such as Michael G. Williams and Amy Freeman, whilst also discovering the genius of my fellow writers at Clean Teen! You guys are telling some pretty amazing stories and I’m enjoying discovering them one by one this winter!
10. Can you tell us about your future projects, including The Mind’s Eye?
Whoa! This is a big area as 2014’s going to be a huge year for me! First off in connection with Caecilius Rex, the fourth and final part of Cae’s story, entitled ‘Lachrymosa’ will be released the first week in March, shortly followed by a re-release of all 4 novellas in one handy anthology volume on March 9th: the complete story is released on this date to commemorate The Atomic Circus’s original release and my debut as a writer.
I am also delighted to be following this up with my first release from my new publishers Clean Teen Publishing: a paranormal/historical adventure called ‘The Mind’s Eye’. This is a very British tale about a young disabled girl evacuated during the Second World War who hones and experiments with her psychic powers to get a better look at the war around her. This is the first book in the Synsk series, all the books feature teen characters with the same kinds of psychic powers but they are set at different times in British history. The second installment ‘Leighton’s Summer’, set in 1945, will be released shortly after ‘The Mind’s Eye’, followed by a third volume set in 1961 in the early autumn/fall.
In the world of my other independent books, fans can expect two novellas (June) and a full length novel sequel (October) to my best-selling urban fantasy tale ‘The Book Of Shade’. The much anticipated follow on to the time-travel adventure ‘The Secret Star’ is also on its way to you this August, entitled ‘A Stitch In Time’.
Get your copy of The Atomic Circus and KC's other books today.
Check out the book trailer for KC's upcoming novel, The Mind's Eye
Meet the Author
Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it'd be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first three novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga, the time travel adventure The Secret Star and her new urban fantasy epic The Book Of Shade.
K.C. Finn has also recently been welcomed into the fold at Clean Teen Publishing as a debut Young Adult author for 2014 - look out for her epic Paranormal/Historical Adventure The Mind's Eye, coming early 2014!
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.