Kell Inkston is the author of numerous fantasy and Sci-Fi series – Nocturna League, Courts Divided, Substation 7, Voidstar Empire, Breath Series, and the upcoming Soot Knight.
I discovered this author a little over two years ago and fell in love with his writing and his amazing original stories. My love for his unconventional writing style, satirical expression and symbolism only grew over the years and now I can’t imagine my life without Kell Inkston’s books. I love this author immensely. His books not only entertain and make me smile, but also puzzle me, take me to unimaginable places and make me think. He is a true treasure of the book world and I could not be happier that he agreed to come back and answer more questions about himself and his work.
Q1: Welcome back! It’s been two years and you have been busy and working on existing series and new series and upcoming series and books, it is a lot and I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. Can you reflect on your past two years of being an author? What changed since our last interview?
A1: Hi Ira. It’s even more of a pleasure to talk to you now that all this time has passed! That’s the first thing that’s changed for certain. I’d like to thank you for the lofty introduction and having me here once again.
My past two years have been some of the most difficult years of my life (both personal and professional reasons) as well as my most challenging as an author. I have so much on my table to juggle these days, it seems almost miraculous to me that I’m able to balance everything and still get anything of value out. I’ve pushed out a huge amount of fiction (in comparison to my usual pace) during the last two years, and I’m happy that people are starting to take notice. Wouldn’t you believe it that I have a group page, active website, and even a few plants in my garden?! I’m clearly moving up in the world, and I’m even more looking forward to the next few years where I can really start knocking objectives out of the park.
It seemed so long ago already that I was strapped for cash and could hardly pay up to get Bloodkeep’s cover done, but here we are, painting yet another brick to be laid down. Things are looking up, we all just have to keep working hard and doing the best we can.
Q2: Do you feel like you’ve achieved your writing and publishing goals for the past two years? I know what you said in your interview two years ago, so I kind of suspect I know the answer, but I wonder what your thoughts are on this.
A2: Hehe, your memory may be better than mine. I got a lot out that I wasn’t expecting, but there were also a lot of things that I couldn’t push out in time, even if they are 80%-90% complete. I’ve realized I have a tendency to set lofty goals and then brew coffee and lazily read philosophy on the floor. I get it, I’m super juvenile at times, but I really am committed to building an expansive literary universe that spans genres and, eventually, mediums. Graphic novels, video games, music, movies, even world domination: all of it is within our reach so long as we continue to follow our dreams!
Q3: I don’t even know where to start with your new books. Perhaps Nocturna League is a good starting point. What is your continuous inspiration for this series? You’ve not only published five more books in the series but completely revamped the series and converted them into two box sets of five books, one of which is already out and the second one is coming soon. What made you decide that?
A3: I love the ocean. I don’t get to spend much time near it due to my job (last time I’ve put my feet on a beach would be a little under five years) but the thought and feeling of it still walks around with me. Now, I wouldn’t say I drive around in an aquamarine Prius proudly displaying a Salt Life sticker or anything like that. It’s more of subconscious connection, I’d like to think, not necessarily about one part of the sea, i.e. swimming, surfing, the animals, etc, but more like the whole ocean, the absolute thing of it all.
That said, I’m a little miffed at myself for prepping an outline for only 20 episodes as it were, because my ideas for episodes outnumber the planned material greatly. I feel like I have to sacrifice some ideas for creatures and stories that are just as good as the ones that make the cut by this point. Who knows, if Nocturna League does really well in the following years perhaps I’ll consider writing a side series that takes place in The Eversea… or what’s left of it after The Captain and Co. have had their fill…
Look forward to it!
As for why I decided to release them as box sets: I realized that smashing them all into much larger boxes would simply make it more easily digestible for readers, and make more economic sense. Rather than charging readers $5 for five episodes ($0.99 x 5) I could simply give them five episodes for something closer to 3 or 4 dollars. Either way, it would be cheaper for them, and I would make more money off of amazon.com’s royalty scheme. It also gave me the much-awaited opportunity to update the series’ covers. I love the old covers, but I’m afraid they just weren’t moving sales they way they should have. The goal is to be read first and foremost, after all.
Q4: Courts Divided is progressing as well, book 2 is out and book 3 coming and even book 4 was announced, and on top of that you have released many short stories featuring minions. Can you tell us more about this series?
A4: I hope you’re as excited as I am!
Courts Divided is my longest running series now, which is incredible because books are coming out so slowly for it. I mean, I’ve had Nocturna League out a good bit later, and the word count is nearly twice as much as Courts Divided.
This year that’s going to change, promise!
We have not only The Scar, the Courts Divided side novel coming out, we also have Bloodkeep, one of the coolest books I’ve ever written, period!
It’s got blood, it’s got a keep, it’s got Knight Order crawling through vampire sewers infested with violent animals! It’s got so so much going for it and I’m super excited that I’ll finally be able to share it with you all. It truly has been a labour of love.
The short stories with the Minionry and Royal Knights were all fun side projects I wanted to do. I knew kellinkston.com needed some more content going for it, so I figured I’d do that, pad out the universe, and write a hilarious story all at the same time. Three birds with one stone is good enough for me, I think.
Q5: Your newest series Substation 7 was an amazing surprise! It is scary, unexpected and original and I loved it! Still reading some books but what I’ve read so far blew my mind! What was your inspiration for this series and the characters featured, especially Carrie?
A5: I’m super glad you liked Substation 7! Thinking back the core inspiration was old dungeon crawler RPGs on the PC and Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno. The thought of going deeper into a forbidden dark for an enlightened purpose was always an attractive thematic to me, but what really got the ball rolling was a dream I had. Originally the idea started with the 7th substation being one that wasn’t supposed to exist, and instead would lead somewhere supernatural, so I workshopped it over some months into the story we have now.
As for Carrie, it (or he, if you prefer) almost didn’t make it into the story. I knew I needed a foil character for Clare delving deeper, and I juggled a few potential ideas. One idea was for her to talk over the chat stone far more often with Wayne, but I felt like that would start to grate on the reader after he started begging her to return. I also thought of giving Clare a “pocket pal” a type of companion computer whose state would start corroding as they got deeper; I figured that would have been a cool way to make a character that was originally a source of comfort into a source of dread.
I fought between all the ideas but eventually I decided to go the opposite route. Instead of having something originally helpful and warm, I wanted to start with a machine that could initially be seen as threatening. After all, Carrie could hurt Clare if it wanted to, and easily! I wanted to change the dynamic between the two into a positive one, despite how nastily Clare treats it at the beginning. I can’t really blame her; in a situation like that I’d be tempted to be mean to a robot, too.
I’m going to leave a little out of my answer because book 4 still isn’t out, and the final twist on Carrie’s character is a serious doozie. I think I made the right choice.
Q6: You have also announced a new series that should start coming out toward the end of this year Soot Knight. Without giving spoilers, can you tell us a bit more about the series and the characters that we are going to meet?
A6: Soot Knight is going to be awesome, I’m telling you.
It’s going to take place long, long before even Courts Divided, which itself takes place thousands of years before Nocturna League.
In it I’ll detail some incredibly important events and characters that effect the world severely later on in the books. I’ll introduce you to Rondi and her ten knights… many of which you’ve already met or have witnessed the effects of.
You’ll be acquainted to Mort and Effie, two ridiculously fun characters who have wonderous chemistry, a brand new pantheon of gods with a likeness that you’d never expect, and some really, really cool fights.
This one is going to have a pretty dense romantic vein, and it’ll definitely be more overt unlike my previous titles. Chaos and Love for instance is a continuously running thing, but you never quite tell what they’re making of it. It’s clear both of them want something, but the two of them have a lot of luggage they’re carrying around.
With the romance in Soot Knight it’s going to be a little more simple, but also more subtle. I hope you’re looking forward to it.
R6: Of course I’m looking forward to it!!!! Can’t wait to read it!!!!
Q7: Your Sci-Fi series Voidstar Empire has been on hold for obvious reasons, but I am curious if you are going to continue it next year and what are you planning for the characters. The Captain is my favourite and I want to read about him regardless of where. And also, you’ve had a couple of short stories in the same Voidstar world. Will there be more?
A7: I love Voidstar Empire, yet I think it’s my least favourite of my series overall. It was always planned, but I was mostly using them as an experiment to try and break into the market. It’s not that the books are bad, they’re not, but the timing felt off. Perhaps if I published them sooner or even later I would have had different results. It’s no matter, though, once people catch up with one of the series they’ll want to read the rest, especially with so many familiar characters in it.
Voidstar Empire probably will not be continued next year, as I already have my entire set of projects slated out for 2021, but rest assured, it will be finished so long as I breathe.
I really like the Voidstar Empire short story. I really felt like I did a lot of things right in it, and I was charmed by all the reviews saying how much they hate Cole and yet are rooting for him… just as planned… *evil laughter*.
That said I love the setting because I love sci-fi universe a good deal. You can do just about anything in a high science setting, and I really like that kind of freedom it prescribes. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if more Voidstar shorts came out. There was a lot of ideas I wanted to try, and it would all make sense considering the amount of time that passes in-canon between the mainline novels.
Q8: Then there is the short stories series Breath which is set in its own world and I must admit I quite enjoyed them. Will you ever be back to that series?
A8: Yes! I was thinking about them this morning, I kid you not. Paper remains one of my favourite shorts ever (maybe even top three) and am committed to finishing the series. To anyone who’s a big fan of the Breath series rest assured, them all staying free is the current plan. It feels good not to have to write for money and just enrich people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, I try to do that with all of my books, but Breath holds a special niche for me in that it’s purely for them. I believe wisdom should be freely available, and if I may be so bold, I think there’s a few lessons worth looking into within that series.
Q9: What is happening here? I found this announcement on your RoyalRoad page, and first of all congratulations! Can you tell us more about this? What can you tell us about that series and when can we expect it?
A9: Oh goodness, looks like you’ve found me out.
Yes, as detailed in my author note Xtreme Force has, in fact garnered interest from a publisher. Perhaps “interest” is an understatement by this point: they’re definitely publishing it.
I’m afraid I can’t fill you in on too much due to typical NDA rules, but I can at least tell you the story.
Xtreme Force was a side project I started some years back, focusing in on the corrupted states of masculinity we find in society today. Despite what people say, this is a delicate topic and something that can toast more than a few behinds if you hit up the wrong crowd. I felt like this would be the right starting place, though. I want to be able to make satire that actually cuts to the heart of the question, rather than sneakily dancing around it: these guys are fictional, but they’re going to be more real than most guys you know.
The whole thing is very tongue-in-cheek, but overall the series is about the development from self-serving traits to the true ideals of the “mature masculine”. I think most people will interpret Xtreme Force as a mindless penis-filled romp of violence and naughty words, but I know a select few will be able to parse out the nuggets I’ve hidden in each of the main characters.
It’s going to be a fun time.
Q10: What have you planned for the readers in the next year or two? You’ve certainly raised your fans’ expectations, as you’ve done so much more than you planned in the past two years. In your last interview you made some promises and you fulfilled them and then some.
A10: It’s been a shocker.
For what is perhaps the very first time I’ve truly outdone myself, and I’m not even close to finishing. We’ve seen a lot of books come out, haven’t we? I can expect the pace to hopefully increase over the years to come, but that all relies on how well I can manage my schedule.
For the next two years I plan on:
-Finishing Substation 7
-Finishing Courts Divided
-Starting AND finishing Soot Knight
-Seeing Xtreme Book 1 and 2 published (Hopefully!)
–Continuing Nocturna League
-And *Maybe Zone Start* finishing Breath *Maybe Zone End*
It’s going to be a bit, but I know it’ll all be worthwhile. I want to make something that will not only stand the test of time (however uselessly) but more importantly give a message that’s worth reading to anyone who comes in contact with the works.
Thanks so much for having me, Ira!
This beautiful quote came about in one of my conversations with the author and I had to add it here because I love it so much.
More about Kell Inkston and his books can be found on Goodreads and the author’s website. Additional work by the author is also available on RoyalRoad. Adn you can join the author’s group on Facebook.
List of complete works of Kell Inkston
Bloodkeep: Courts Divided Book Three
Voidthrone: Courts Divided Book Four
Mystic Vengeance (Soot Knight Book Two)
Certain Vengeance (Soot Knight Book Three)
Insurgence (Voidstar Empire #3) – Announced
Emergence (Voidstar Empire #4) – Announced
Ascendance (Voidstar Empire #5) – Announced
Sci Fi Short Stories
Other work by this author featured here: