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  • Writer's pictureKristopher Ackoury

Five Things About My Writing

Here are five things I’d like to share about me and my writing. If you know me already, I doubt you’ll be surprised. If you don’t, I hope this gives you an idea about what you’re in for if you read my stuff (whenever it finally comes out!)

1. Michael Crichton Sparked My Interest in Writing

My father came home with The Lost World by Michael Crichton when I was in third grade. Like most boys my age, I’d been obsessed with the first Jurassic Park movie since it came out a couple of years earlier, and I could barely contain myself. It took me a while to read, and I definitely skimmed some of the brainy, non-dinosaur stuff, but read it I did. It was my first experience losing myself in the pages of a book. I still vividly remember most of the scenes, some dialogue, and the page on which my favorite character died (315, RIP Eddie!). I read Jurassic Park next and couldn’t believe how much they’d left out of the movie (why wouldn’t you have a tyrannosaurus attack a raft in a river? Come on, Spielberg!). The second movie’s disappointing arrival reinforced what I’d heard people say all my young life: the book is always better than the movie.

So, of course, young me decided I needed to be just like Michael Crichton and write dinosaur books. And I did! Even then, I don’t think I ever suspected I’d actually write novels one day. But now I see that these two books sparked what would eventually become Fear of the Sky (and its sequels).

2. I Craft Stories Like I Craft Music

I played bass in rock bands when I was younger and always preferred writing originals to playing covers. Sure, covers are crowd-pleasing, but there’s nothing like creating something of your own and nailing its performance for all seven of your fans. I always loved the challenge of creating something for an audience to enjoy. I wanted to invent unique hooks that stuck in heads and choruses that whisked people out of their days’ worries for a bit. I liked writing surprises that rocked, and I loved setting up themes that would pay off in epic bridges or outros.

Needless to say, when I started writing stories, I felt right at home. Ratchet up the tension? Set up the payoff? Keep people guessing as to what’s to come next? Make it all worthwhile at the end? I’m in!

3. I’m a Biologist, and It Impacts My World Building

I originally went to school to be a high school biology teacher before heading to LSU for graduate school. There, I studied the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on bacteria in salt marshes (you’re jealous, right?).

Needless to say, I have always been fascinated with the natural world. In many ways, it’s stranger than fiction. Sure, there are dragons and all kinds of fantastical creatures in Fear of the Sky, but I wrote them in a way that felt grounded to the biology teacher in me. I want them to play by our world’s rules as much as possible – to feel like they might be hiding in the unexplored patch of forest down the street. Another way I like to explain this is that I prefer my dragons feel closer to the tyrannosaurus from Jurassic Park than Smaug from The Hobbit. Likewise, I prefer limiting my characters to regular mortal folk who won’t survive if they can’t think or wield a weapon (even if some of them have gills because that’s totally biologically possible!).

This is part of why I prefer to write worlds without magic. Honestly, I am still surprised by how few fantasy books I find that don’t have a whiff of magic in them. There’s so much fun to be had building worlds out of the same “stuff” our world is made of!

4. Fatherhood is Central to My Stories

I’m the father of four children, and there is no greater adventure I’ve ever undertaken. Given that the main characters in my first two books are fathers, it’s easy to put myself in their shoes when they ask themselves: What am I willing to sacrifice for my children? How do I need to be better for my sons? How do I feel if a dragon will eat my only daughter beneath the next full moon?

I write for as broad of an audience as I can, but other fathers are one of a couple of subgroups of that audience that I always keep in mind. Apparently, fathers don’t read very much these days (google “men don’t read” and you’ll see what I mean), and that’s a shame. I hope what I’ve created can pull a few more fathers into libraries and bookstores in the years ahead.

5. I Love Religious Themes in Fiction

All the gods and religions in my stories are made up, but I take them very seriously. There’s nothing trivial about peoples’ sincere pursuit of the Divine, and the same goes for all of my characters and their ideas about their world. Whether they believe in one god or another or no god at all, I love having them grapple with fundamental religious questions like: How do I respond to opposing religious views? Why do I really believe what I believe? Has evil taken root in my soul? These are among the most important questions real people ask themselves, and I find them among the most compelling my characters can ask themselves.

I mentioned earlier that fathers are one of a couple subgroups of my potential audience I keep in mind when writing. Another subgroup is religious-minded individuals. I’m a proud Catholic who would love nothing more than for fellow Christians to feel at home while reading Fear of the Sky, but I tend to write about fundamental questions and ideas that will (hopefully) resonate with anyone who has ever honestly sought God, regardless of their faith tradition.

Thanks for reading! I hope to share some good news regarding Fear of the Sky soon. Bonus pic of kindergarten me and my dad for getting this far:

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