Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I grew up a total comic book kid in Philly. My grandfather would bring home comic books from the recycling business, with pages missing, and my brother and I just devoured them. Between comics and movies, I’ve totally loved the sci-fi genre my whole life. Catwalk actually made his debut in 2001 in the “Independent Voices 3” comic book. He’s just finding his way to novels in 2013.
What inspired you to write this book?
I spent over 20 years as a musician. It’s hard to describe the amazing feeling of sharing something you’ve created and exposed to the world, and to have it received with excitement and enthusiasm. It’s cool when it’s a three-minute song. It’s really something when it’s a character and a universe that you’ve been working on for years. Cat’s been prowling around in my brain since the 90’s.
Please tell us about your latest release.
This release, “Catwalk: Messiah” is the origin story of Leon “Catwalk” Caliber. He’s a former DC cop who goes out to what was once Los Angeles to lay low, take up some odd jobs, and live among the less fortunate residents. When a madman starts creating cybernetic versions of the Four Horsemen, Cat is the only one who can stop him and save the city.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Many of my main characters come from research. The supporting characters are all fair game. I’ve turned people I’ve met into lawyers, a brother-in-law, a gun runner, a medical technician, and a mortician, to name a few. If the evidence in a case calls on something that actually happened, I will stay true to the case file. That’s the exception. Oh, and if someone dies a particularly gruesome death, they’re probably based on someone who offended me or a family member.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
I really love the first chapter. I wanted to just dive right into the action. This is the first time many people will meet Cat, and I wanted to hit the fast lane with the pedal to the metal right away. I have some fantastic writers who guide me and help me with edits. I think that chapter was re-written a dozen times.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
I wrote the second book before I wrote this one, but I felt it introduced too much of the universe outside of the character. “Messiah” then became the origin story. In book two, “Lineage”, I have a scene set where the Manson Family murdered Sharon Tate and friends in Beverly Hills. That was a pretty dark piece of research.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
In order to figure out some of the acrobatics of a character with cybernetic legs, I started taking classes at Urban Evolution, our local parkour gym. It’s addictive. Parkour is essentially urban gymnastics. If you’ve seen “The Amazing Spider-Man”, Andrew Garfield does a ton of parkour in that film.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The setting defines the characters to an extent. The story begins in 2033 in Nitro City, the moniker for what Los Angeles has become. Geo-stabilizer technology has been perfected, eliminating the threat of earthquakes, so the rich companies began building up. The richest of the rich live in the ivory towers and the poor commoners live Downtown. Cat has decided to make Downtown his home and scrape out a living doing dirty work. Cybernetics have become the new style and the new power. Everyone has some form of artificial
enhancement. Cat’s cybernetics in particular are a big part of the story and the character.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
That’s a challenge that comes up when writing a series. How does the writer balance the material for new fans and those who are familiar with the characters and the world. My goal is to recap just enough that new fans get the characters while making each book strong enough on its own. I’m fortunate that several of my writer friends have the same challenge and we can bounce ideas off one another for support.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
My blushing bride, Stacia D. Kelly, is also my writing partner. We can bounce ideas off of one another, or even bounce one another around, sparring in the gym, doing martial arts. (That’s a great way to write and re-write fight scenes if you’re stuck on the mechanics.) She has a book titled “Muse” that helps writers overcome writer’s block. She actually presented on that topic at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta one year.
Do you write in different genres?
I do. Stacia and I are writing a very different story, focusing more on the supernatural than the technical side of sci-fi. It’s totally different than the Catwalk stories. I’m also working on a poker-themed set of zombie short stories.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
I don’t. I do make sure to check with my readers and writer friends to ensure that each character has their own unique voice. I don’t want people to hear me to the point that they’re pulled out of the story.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I believe life without music would be the definition of Hell. I’ve been a singer and musician for most of my life, playing everywhere from New York to Las Vegas. I’m also the indie movie guy, reviewing books and movies for www.horrorview.com. I love hockey, sci-fi, traveling, and goofing off with my son. He definitely has my sense of humor, but fortunately, he also got Stacia’s smarts.
What was the last amazing book you read?
J.T. Bock released her first Ultra Security novel, titled “A Surefire Way” earlier this year. I can only describe it as a superhero fantasy romance, think “The Princess Bride” meets “X-Men: First Class.” She created some amazing imagery in that story, and set up what should be a very fun series. (The first chapter is included in “Catwalk: Messiah.”)
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
I really enjoy reading while I travel. I can get through several books on a trip. Ever heard the flight attendant telling the guy in the window seat to power down his Kindle for the tenth time? Yeah, I’m that guy.
What can readers expect next from you?
“Ichi”, the first book in the Samurai Sisters will be released in October. It’s lighter than the Catwalk material, with some police procedural, some romance, and a whole lot of neat supernatural goings-on. I really enjoyed writing with Stacia, and I think readers will enjoy it.
Where can readers find you on the web?
www.nickkelly.com is my blog, facebook.com/NickKellyAuthor, and Amazon.com. I love tweeting with people, so hit me up at @Nick_Kelly.
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Here’s the prologue. I think it sets the wheels in motion well:
“Okay, Sweetie, open your eyes.”
Leon “Catwalk” Caliber takes a long drag off of his cigarette. The voice on the vidscreen triggers the same sick taste in his throat as the first time he pressed the play button. The series of events on-screen remains the same: the awkward smile of the girl in the frame, the sweet and self-absorbed tone with which the man just off-camera delivers his dialogue, the slight, excited shaking of the camera as she looks up at him. Once again he asks the young girl which hand holds the coin, even though only his left hand is extended. She’s nervous. Her shoulders are pulled up, and her arms are tight to her body. She shifts to accommodate the tight fit of her school uniform. She blushes, the ghost of Shirley Temple, complete with pigtails and storybook innocence. She giggles and touches the back of the man’s gloved hand with a finger. She’s correct.
It’s the right hand that wields the bone saw.
Catwalk stops the recording. The glass next to him is empty, the bottle of bourbon almost the same. The dull glow of the paused recording is the only light in the loft, save a few blinking sensors from the bay that hosts his motorcycle and gear. He stares mutely at the image on the screen. He already has the rest of it memorized. The girl survives for another two minutes and 17 seconds. She doesn’t suffer long. Thank whatever God she believes in that she doesn’t feel what happens next. This killer doesn’t keep his victims alive along. He saves the mutilation and sex acts until after they’re dead. He doesn’t get off on torture, just the rush of ending a life … even that of an eight-year-old girl.
Cat takes a hold of his whiskey tumbler, mindlessly raising it to his lips. The lack of liquid distracts him from the screen. The video was an unexpected test. Someone hoping to remain anonymous had paid a deposit for his services. The instructions were simple. Watch the video. Find the killer. Get vengeance for the victims. Get proof. Get paid.
His yellow eyes return to the screen. His lips curl into a sneer. After watching the recording once, he was willing to do the job for free. That feeling amplified each time he watched the girl die. Cat chuckles out loud. He’s curious at his reaction. This chit never bothered him before. Why now? Why her?
He stands and walks away from the screen. He needs a break. He stands and stretches. The muscles along his arms and sides are sore. His legs and spine don’t protest. They’re hard-wired into his nervous system. Thanks to modern cybernetic technology, he can leap from the sidewalk to the top of an apartment complex, and outrun most of the commercial vehicles on the market.
The benefits aren’t without a curse. His immune system has never quite solved the riddle of his experimental cybernetics. Treatment is painful and expensive. He could use the money this job would bring in.
Catwalk stands in front of one of the windows, listening to the endless clamor of sirens, screams and gunfire in the distance. He’s chosen a nasty part of Downtown. It’s dangerous, but it’s very private. As a professional hitman, that’s worth the risk.
Running his hands through his jet black hair, he ties it into its customary ponytail. He never had the chance to remove his jacket once he got the transmission. Instead, he watched the recording the first time, completely submersed in it enough to tune out everything else.
He looks over his shoulder at the custom-crafted, armored helmet resting on the counter. The triangular yellow cat’s eyes stare back at him. Cursing under his breath, Cat walks toward the helmet and the armored motorcycle behind it with cold intent.
There’s work to be done.
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Leon “Catwalk” Caliber Series
Leon “Catwalk” Caliber Series
Number of pages: 249
Word Count: 70,266
Cover Artist: Heidi Sutherlin
Nitro City, 2033.
Leon "Catwalk" Caliber left his cop job in DC behind, heading to the City of Angels to earn a living off the grid. He took a few odd jobs that called for his particular skill set – extortion, espionage, and the occasional hit – and managed to carve out a niche for himself among the Downtown dwellers.
All the changed when a new breed of MetaHuman cyborg appeared on the streets with explosive violence. Cat’s quiet existence is sent into turmoil when he finds himself right in the crosshairs. He must evade the assassin squads sent by a vengeful pimp, uncover the origin of these mysterious new mechs, and keep the cops off of his tail. Simple enough, except that the cybernetic technology that powers his body threatens to sever his humanity at any moment. Can the killer with a conscience find a cure, solve the case, get the girl, and live to see another day?
About the Author:
Nick grew up on sci-fi, horror flicks, Dungeons and Dragons, good music, and recycled comic books. He has been published internationally as a comic book author and musician. He’s spent over half his life on stage from New York to Las Vegas. He is outspoken, supportive, and willing to take a good kick to the ribs for the right cause. When not touring the world, Nick lives at home with his blushing bride (and co-author), Dr. Stacia Kelly, their son, and a rotating roster of cats and dogs.