Interview with Kevin Bohacz, Author of Immortality
I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a dreamer in every sense of the word and in every aspect of my life. Besides dreaming up all my novels, I am a lucid dreamer and my dream life is wildly prolific. In the past three years I have recorded over 5000 dreams in my journal, and well over 300 of them were vivid hyper-real lucid dreams. I’ve had as many as 17 dreams in one night. I never try to control my lucid dream journeys. I let them unfold and develop on their own. To me controlling a lucid dream is like trying to control life instead of fully experiencing it here and now. I literally feel like I have two lives. One life in this material reality and a second life in dream reality.
When did you begin writing?
I started writing in the late 1980’s. My first novel, Dream Dancers, was published in 1993. I have been working as a fulltime writer for over 4 years. I’ve completed 4 novels and am currently working on three new ones.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I write all the time. Writing is my essence, my passion. It is my very life. To me writing is like breathing—it is vital sustenance for my soul. A day without writing is… well… unimaginable. I never have writer’s block and writing without exaggeration has actually saved my life. Not very long ago I was widowed at a young age. My wife, my best friend of 17 years died in my arms while we looked into each other’s eyes. In the time that followed, when I was drowning in grief, I could hear my wife whispering to me, “Write my love… Write.” So I wrote. I wrote so hard that my arms grew sore. I wrote so hard that I gave myself tendonitis. My writing saved me from grief that was dark enough to crush the life from me. I completed my forth novel Ghost of the Gods in an amazingly short period of time while also simultaneously working on my new novels.
What is this book about?
The epic tale of my bestselling novel Immortality and Ghost of the Gods was intended from the beginning to be a two part story about many things: physical immortality as well as nonphysical immortality, love, the end of an old world, lucid dreams, and inexplicable mysteries answered while exposing the darker sides of human nature to the antiseptic of bright sunlight.
The tale of Immortality was first and foremost created to be a wild and twisting road that will keep you guessing until you reach the very last word of the very last page. Yet at the same time it was intended to be highly thought-provoking. Woven through the tale are deep philosophical ideas, but these ideas are an integral part of the mosaic and so they serve to reinforce the action and suspense. The professional reviews of both my novels confirm this... Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review: “Bohacz provides mind-bending portrayals of factions vying for power and reflections on the essence and fragility of humanity. But philosophical concerns never obtrude on the fast-paced plot…”
What inspired you to write it?
The short answer to your question is the inspiration comes from my muse. The longer answer is my novels come from daytime dreams as well as nighttime dreams. When I am writing it really does not feel like I am creating the material. It feels like I am watching daydreams that come from somewhere other than me, and I am merely typing as fast as I can to capture the daydream that is unfolding before my eyes. For all four novels I have written, I first created thousands of pages of meticulously detailed background material. Once I feel the characters have become like friends to me, I sit down and start writing. Invariably, in a short time the characters stage a revolt and the story takes on a life of its own veering off in directions I never planned. In the end I typically use about 1% of the meticulously detailed background material. Thousands of years ago the Greeks and Romans thought that all creative people were merely channels for muses. I truly cannot figure out where my stories come from. Out of a process of elimination I have decided they come from some Jungian collective awareness that we might as well call a muse!
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
My first novel, Dream Dancers was conventionally published in 1993 in a deal closed by the agent I had at that time. In 2003 when Immortality was completed, I assumed I would be able to get it published since I was already a published author. I soon found myself waist deep in rejection notices from both agents and publishers. All the rejection notices basically said, “We are sure this is a wonderful book but we don’t have the time to read a long manuscript by an obscure author.”
I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals, including more than one famous writer, had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure, but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality.
In 2007, Immortality took off, becoming a bestseller. Using my bestseller success as bait, I was able to sign with an agent who had represented a smattering of NY Times bestsellers. My agent proceeded to shop Immortality to all the big publishing houses. My wife, Mazelle and I were deliriously thrilled. This time the responses from publishers were very different from when Immortality was unpublished and I was un-agented. Across the board the feedback was surprisingly similar, “We love the book, but who are you?”
What the publishers were really saying was I had no massive following. I did not have a million readers chanting in unison, “We want to buy more books by you…”
Fast forward to 2010, Immortality was still selling very much like it was in 2008, constantly hitting the top 10 of its genre and never falling below the top 50. In fact 2010 and half of 2011 was one of my best grossing periods ever. By now my agent had done all he could and given up six months prior in 2009. He loved Immortality and was very frustrated and baffled by his inability to close a deal. It was then that I was contacted out of nowhere by a veteran NYC agent who was a senior member in a super-agent firm. This agent told me they had read Immortality and loved it! This agent was convinced they could sell the book. Mazelle and I were wildly excited and told the agent to go for it. This new agent got the book read by a different group of more senior editors. This time the responses really threw me. The feedback I got was essentially, “We love the book, but why should we buy it when you have already sold the heck out of it?”
At this point I felt like I just could not win. Years ago, I didn’t have a big enough following, and now that I had a following, it seemed the publishers wanted something more. They wanted an unpublished book. I explained that 95% of the copies of Immortality had been sold on Amazon, which meant that I had tapped less than 50% of the potential market for a book in this genre. So while it was a bestseller, the lion’s share of the meat was still on this bone yet no publisher was interested in the feast. With fractional market penetration I had made a pile of money, but there was many times more to be made if a big publisher would get behind the book. Yet it now felt like with regard to attracting a publisher, success was my worst enemy.
Today, three years later I now have a new amazing NYC agent from a top firm who has closed deals for other indie authors in exactly the same “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament as me. In the last six months I have received glowing critical reviews, including Publisher’s Weekly who has awarded STARRED reviews to both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods. There is interest from Hollywood in making Immortality into a movie. I have every confidence that this time we’ll succeed in finally getting a solid publishing deal.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Amazon is the preferred venue, and they do have an exclusive on the e-book editions of all my books for now. Paperback editions of all my books are distributed by among others Ingram (the world’s biggest book distributor) so in theory you can buy them anywhere.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
I am working on a techno-thriller supernatural thriller titled Dream Signs that will be out later this year. At the same time I am working on another techno-thriller supernatural thriller titled The Bridge and it will not be done until sometime next year. I have a powerful emotional connection with The Bridge, more so than with any other novel I have written.
Is there anything you would like to add?
To all my readers, thank you for making my dream come true and to everyone else please take Immortality and Ghost of the Gods for a test drive! I promise you a thrilling ride that you will not forget.