The Novel Approach is so proud to be a part of the Kickass Anthology tour, a project conceived of to raise funds for Eric Arvin’s ongoing recovery.
Contributing to the anthology are authors Keira Andrews, Connie Bailey, Sophie Bonaste, Tara Bluhm, Michael J. Bowler, A.L. Boyd, Jade Crystal, Catherine Dair, Fiona Fu, Nancy Hartmann, JP Kenwood, Mia Kerick, Jackie Keswick, Eleanore Pavelle, Kate Pavelle, Jonathan Penn, Tali Spencer, Taomi, Rayne Vogel, Brandon Witt; with a very special forward written by Eric’s sisters Angela and Amy, who agreed to answer a few questions and are here with us today, along with their sister Stephanie and their mom Pat.
Enjoy the Kickass interview, read Eric’s message to you at the end, and then be sure to enter the Kickass Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a pretty Kickass prize — a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
TNA: First of all, welcome and thank you all for being here! I’m thrilled to have you with us today. I’ll start with the easiest question first: who contacted you about the Kickass Anthology, and how did you end up getting involved in the project?
Angela: We are absolutely excited to be here. Actually, I got an email from Kate Pavelle asking me and my sister Amy to write a forward for the “Kickass Anthology”. Needless to say I was excited and nervous, but I knew with some direction from real writers we could make it work. After that, I then received an email from Kate asking me about the interview. Again, nervous. I needed some direction, but after talking to Brandilyn, and her introducing me to Lisa, I was surer of doing the interview.
TNA: Has it been a surprise to your family at all that the M/M reading and writing community have rallied around Eric and TJ? What were your thoughts when first Grand Adventures was put together, and now the Kickass Anthology?
Pat (Mom): I have come to know about many of the people in the M/M reading and writing community over the years through Eric telling me about them through the conversations he had with everyone over the computer. I was able to go with Eric to the Albuquerque GRL. I met a lot of wonderful people there, whom I had heard about over the years, and many new names.
When Grand Adventures was put together, and now Kickass, it was such an overwhelming experience to know there were so many wonderful people who would take so much of their time to help him. I know he feels really loved and it inspires him. As his mother, I am so grateful for all the support for him.
Angela: When this first started we, as a family, came together like we always have, and we knew we had each other so we could get through this, but when the M/M community rallied with us and came together as they have for Eric, TJ, and his family it was so amazing. I have never seen such a rally of people come together so fast for one of their own. I had only seen this with family, and to see the M/M community, writers, readers, and strangers come together so fast, there are no words to how it made me feel. When Grand Adventures came out I was teary eyed to see that writers, some who had never meet Eric, were willing to take time to help him, and now Kickass came out and I see the same thing. It is AMAZING!!!! I realize that the word “family” is a lot broader than I knew.
Amy: I wouldn’t say it was a surprise necessarily. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community that are some of the best people I’ve ever met. It made sense to me that the M/M reading and writing community would be as kind. My family and I were all very touched and appreciative when we learned of both Grand Adventures and Kickass. We can’t say thank you enough!
TNA: Angela and Amy, you each wrote a lovely note of introduction at the start of the anthology, sharing some of your favorite memories as one of seven children. Knowing you must have loads of fun stories about growing up in such a large family, are there one or two more you might consider sharing with us? (If you want to tell something funny/embarrassing about Eric, we promise not to tell. ;-) )
Angela: We use to play a game as kids growing up called “shark”. We (seven of us kids) would get on a twin bed, and one would be the shark on the floor. The point of the game was to grab someone off the bed like a shark and drag them to their death : /. Well, being kids it is every man for himself. So, to get to the point, Eric the comedian would always kind of be the sacrificial lamb. There was never a dull moment growing up.
Amy: There are plenty of stories, but one that always makes me laugh is something he did in college. Apparently, one night after having a bit too much to drink, he decided to change his voicemail greeting. He had the brilliant idea to sing the chorus of Rocky Horror’s “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me”. Of course, he had forgotten that he had put in an application and was waiting for a call from a prospective employer. The caller sounded very confused and slightly freaked out by the voicemail recording and didn’t call back. Apparently he didn’t learn his lesson, because the next time he got a bit intoxicated and decided to change his greeting, he changed it to something involving a tiny bit of profanity. Only this time it was mom who was leaving a message. That voicemail greeting didn’t last long at all.
Stephanie: I remember one time when we were riding to school on the bus. Eric was probably seven, I was around six. We were both sitting in the front seat, and Eric suddenly sneezed. Now, it was kind of like a slow motion horror film, where you want to look away but your brain keeps telling you not to all at the same time. To my horror I look around and yes, there it was… a huge, long, slimy booger on Eric’s jacket sleeve. We both just sat there in horrified shock for a few seconds. When that wore off I started to slowly work my way to the edge of the seat, and DAMN that wall!!! Eric, in the meantime, took his arm and wiped it up against the side of the seat. Problem solved.
TNA: Does Eric ever run story ideas by you, or ask your advice about characters? How much do you know about his books before they’re finished and sent to the publisher?
Pat (Mom): Eric is usually very secretive about his writing. Usually, the first time I get to read his books is when they are published. There is no favoritism for his one and only mother! ;)
Angela: Eric never really asks our advice about ideas or characters. He has these ideas in his head, and they work. There might be a dream or a story one of us tells him, and he might add it with a twist in a book, but I honestly don’t know much about what he has written until it has been submitted. Then he will explain the idea around the book.
Amy: He doesn’t really run the ideas by me. We have talked about stories before: both those that have already been published, and others that have been written. I did tend to know more about those that I made the covers for. We’ve also talked about how he visualizes the people/ places in his book a lot. We would occasionally bounce ideas off each other for his books and my photography.
TNA: Do all of the Arvin siblings write, or did Eric decide to keep the storytelling gene all to himself?
Angela: I don’t know about everyone else, but I am no writer. I like to write stories but nothing compared to what Eric writes.
Amy: He is really the only writer. I’ve written out a few poems over the years, and enjoy writing on occasion, but he is the one with a true talent for it. We all have a bit of an artistic/ craft gene. However, our oldest brother enjoys landscaping and gardening, while another enjoys carpentry and construction. As far as the girls, Stephanie enjoys drawing, while Angela loves to craft different things, and I enjoy drawing, crafts, and, obviously, photography.
TNA: Of all of Eric’s books, do each of you have a favorite? If so, which and what makes it a favorite?
Pat (Mom): I love Subsurdity because I love Terance. He’s one of my favorite characters. It’s a lighter book than many, but there you go, I just love him.
Angela: I don’t have a favorite. Each book he has written is new and different in one way or another. There might be one that draws my attention better than another, but they are all great.
Amy: I can’t say I have a favorite, but I do have a bit of a special place for Azreal and the Light Bringer. I love the themes and imagery throughout it.
Stephanie: I have two favorite books of his. One is Subsurdity and the other is The Rest of Illusion. Subsurdity because it’s just freakin’ hysterical. The Rest Is Illusion because it was the first of his books I had ever read, and I loved the characters and the style of writing.
TNA: Amy, your cover art for The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men and Azrael and the Light Bringer is stunning, and captures the essence and tone of the books perfectly. Did you read the books, and then take the photos specifically for the covers, or was it more a lucky accident that the images fit the stories so well?
Amy: It’s funny actually. I hadn’t read any of the books except for a little of Azreal and the Light Bringer. The first cover I did for Eric was for the Rest Is Illusion and was done completely by accident. Eric had been looking through some of my photos one day and had said that a picture of a tree I had taken reminded him of his book and asked to use it for the cover. He told me later that when he was writing The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men, he had thought of having me do the cover since it was part of the series, but he hadn’t actually brought it up to me. It wasn’t until later that I was actually drafted to do the covers. I had a friend who models, and we like to go out and just do random, fun photo shoots. I had done a shoot with her out in the woods, which had a bit of mystical feel. When she posted one of the photos, Eric saw it and commented on it, thinking it was a magazine or high fashion shoot. When he realized it was my work, he pretty much told me right there that I was doing the cover for Mingled Destinies. He loved the original photo he saw so much that I shot the photo again with a male model for the cover of Mingled Destinies. With Azreal, I actually talked with him and took an idea he had drawn up that he had always pictured for the cover, and translated it into the book cover. I had a few other ideas that I shot as well, but I pretty much knew that his idea was going to be the cover as soon as he told me it.
TNA: At the risk of getting too mushy and gushy, I do want to say that Eric’s friends and fans love to see his videos pop up on Facebook, and we’re all kind of awed by his strength of spirit considering everything he’s been through over the course of the past year. Plus, we love his hats. :-) As a family, what has this experience brought to you? Have you learned anything new about your brother and yourselves in 2014?
Angela: We have always been a close family. I think you never know how important family is until you need them the most. We as a family have had good days and bad, but we have each other. I have learned life throws you curve balls and as bad as it looks, sometimes you have to stay positive. Eric once told me, “Think positive and positive things will happen.” How can I argue with that? But what he didn’t know is that I would be throwing his own words back in his face. :) I have learned that Eric is more than a brother to me; he has become one of my best friends. He has also taught me not to sweat the little things. Little things are not important. Family, that’s what is important.
Amy: As a family we have lots of experiences with doctors and surgery. That being said, this experience has really reinforced how much we mean to each other. Throughout the entire year, we have never put ourselves above Eric’s health and comfort. I unfortunately work a lot, and live an hour away, but I try to get up to see Eric whenever I can. My aunts and another brother go up to visit and help whenever they can. My mother is there 24/7 for Eric, and my sisters and another brother are there every day, doing what they can. It can be hard, but it is for Eric, so that doesn’t matter.
TNA: Thanks again so much for being here today, ladies, especially on such short notice. If Eric has a message he’d like to pass along to readers, we’d love to hear it! And we’d also love if you’d pass along our love and best wishes to him as well.
Amy, Angela, Stephanie, and MOM: We can’t say how much we appreciate all that you all have done for Eric. He truly appreciates it and is amazed by the kindness and generosity of his readers. Words can’t express how much it means that so many people care for him, and are willing to help Eric, so we will keep it short and sweet. Thank you all so much. We will never forget your kindness.
Eric: THANK YOU…there are no words to express how much you all mean to me and my family.
Eric Arvin is Kickass.
Even a kickass hero needs a hand from a secondary
character, and Eric needs that extra power boost right now. This anthology is a volunteer effort organized by Eric’s fans and fellow writers in order to help him raise funds and help cover the cost of his high-tech recovery. His wicked sense of humor is intact, but his body needs a bit of help.
These stories are meant to inspire. They’re a warm hug, a wave from afar, a wink and a nod. Discover new authors and graphic artists as you, too, get revved up to slay whatever ails you!
12/13/2014 – Boys in Our Books – Kate Pavelle
12/15/2014 – Kimi-Chan Experience – Jade Crystal with Eleanor Pavelle
12/16/2014 – The Novel Approach – Pat (Mom) Arvin, along with sisters Amy, Angela, and Stephanie
12/18/2014 – GGR Reviews – JP Kenwood with Fiona Fu
12/19/2014 – Rainbow Gold Reviews – Jackie Keswick with Tara Bluhm
12/20/2014 – On Top Down Under – Nancy Hartmann
12/22/2014 – Joyfully Jay – Sophie Bonaste
12/23/2014 – Prism Book Alliance – Brandon Witt with Catherine Dair
12/27/2014 – MM Good Book Reviews – Mia Kerick & Michael Bowler
12/29/2014 – Love Bytes – Keira Andrews with Connie Bailey
12/31/2014 – JP Barnaby – Tali Spencer
1/2/2015 – Hearts on Fire Reviews – Jonathan Penn with Taomi