Monday, February 4, 2013

Author Guest Blog & Interview/Giveaway: No Greater Illusion by K. Baskett

Creating interesting characters

There are fewer things more frustrating than reading a book with characters that feel like cardboard cutouts. One-dimensional characters take the reader out of the story and make it hard (if not impossible) to form any connection with the protagonist. When you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care about what happens to them either - which means that, in a nutshell, you don’t care about the book.

Every author wants to avoid that sort of feedback. Of all the constructive criticism that is handed out to the author, nothing is more disappointing than hearing that readers could not identify with the players in the story. As a writer, it is my responsibility to transport the reader to another place, walking alongside “people” who feel real for the short time it takes to read their story. So what is the best way to create multi-faceted characters?

Each character should be completely fleshed out, and there are several ways to do this. I like to create a full character profile for everyone in the story (both major and minor characters alike). The profile includes the complete demographics, physical description, occupation, personality traits and even background for each character. I even go as far as exploring what sort of childhood they had and how that shapes their views of the world. The more details included in the character profile, the greater the guarantee that the characters will feel well-rounded and robust.

The interesting thing, however, is that although I create a full and complete profile for every single character in the story, I do not include the majority of the finer details within the novel itself. I may know in my head that the protagonist, Tealia, loves the color blue and chamomile tea, can’t sing, and enjoyed a safe (although lonely) childhood -- and yet never mention any of those things at all in the novel.

So why should you go through this entire exercise if you won’t even use the majority of those details in the story? It is because this is what makes the characters come alive to you, the writer. And they have to be alive for the writer first if the reader has any chance at all of feeling they are real.

Tealia shapes up to be a complete individual in my mind because I know so much about her. This is what allows me to tell her story so well - and it also prevents Tealia from feeling like any other character in the book. It is hard to explain how this even works, but it’s something about what the writer knows, even if I don’t always share it, that makes the characters and the story come together and feel authentic.

I knew that I had succeeded the first time I discussed my novel, No Greater Illusion, with someone who had just finished reading it. As we rehashed some of the events that took place in the story, I realized that we were talking about the characters like they were real people. It felt like we were gossiping! This, more than anything, let me know that those characters in NGI had uniqueness and depth.

Creating full character profiles is quite a large upfront investment, but one that pays off supremely in the end. And when you are writing The Next Great American Novel, you don’t want to cut any corners -- right? ;-)

A number of unacquainted adults, from various walks of life, routinely enjoy the benefits of residing in a nation where liberty and justice are among its chief luxuries. Having different statuses of education, income, and ethnicity, all are suddenly forced to cope firsthand with the "domino effect" of America's vitriolic reaction to the assassination of an auspicious female presidential nominee, Gov. Ceinwen Jarvis. In a day and time where the advancement of technology allows one's voting status, banking information, and even medical history to be accessed by microchip scan, they quickly realize that America - as well as their own lives - will never be the same.

Describe your book in five words or less.

America unveils its greatest illusion.

How did the ideas for your books come to you?

The core concept of No Greater Illusion is an idea that I have toyed with for many years. I remember in college, I used to always start debates by asking hypothetical questions to other people, presenting them with various scenarios and trying to learn more about them and their viewpoints based on their responses. It always interested me how people could be so sure about something that they have absolutely no control over. Consider this: Are you sure the sun will rise tomorrow morning? If you are, think about why. Just because the sun has always risen each day, doesn’t mean it always will. And what would you do if it doesn’t?

Without giving the story away, the events that take place in No Greater Illusion are situations that really are not far-fetched. I wanted people to see precisely how their worlds could be turned upside down, despite any comfort and assurance they are fortunate enough to have presently.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I want readers to examine the things they take for granted in this life, and ask themselves if anything is guaranteed.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?

The hardest part for me is sharing my writing with other people. I know that sounds crazy, right? But I tend to write in a silo, and I will not allow anyone to look at my work until I consider it complete. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t even tell people what No Greater Illusion was about when I was still writing it! I would say, “I am writing a book,” and when someone inevitably asked what it was about, I would just smile mysteriously and gaze off into the clouds, mumbling something about telling them later.

The easiest part for me was the outline. You don’t even want to know how many previous “novels” I have started and subsequently abandoned in my life before finishing No Greater Illusion. The reason is that 1) I never felt I had a compelling enough story, and 2) I had no idea where I was going with it in the first place! I believe I was able to finish No Greater Illusion because I finally had a clear destination in mind and I mapped out how to get there. The only thing left to do was just fill in the details. Without an outline, I am sure NGI would still be half done like all the others before it.

What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?

I am currently starting rough outlines of my next novel, about an engaging, likable young man who is facing some large obstacles in his life and chooses an unconventional way to solve his problems. During his journey, he will be forced to make tough decisions while his integrity and moral code is tried at every turn. What he ends up doing may surprise you, but as the reader you will be with him from the start.

I also write short stories. Do What Must Be Done is the first one, and can be found on Smashwords. It explores what happens when mild curiosity about someone else turns dangerous. Additionally, I am working on a second short story called The Golden Visit - still in the very early stages; but I can tell you it is about a man who is willing to do anything for his wife. All of my short stories, will always be offered as free downloads.

Why did you choose to write for specific genre?

Honestly, I did not choose to write a Dystopian novel. I just had a story that I wanted to tell. As part of the publishing process, I had to select a genre, and I mulled over that for more time than you would believe, vacillating back and forth between Thriller and Science FIction. Yet, neither one seemed quite right. When I came across the Dystopian categorization, I knew right away that it was the best choice for No Greater Illusion. So I guess you could say that I didn’t choose the genre: it chose me!

What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?

I wish I knew... No Greater Illusion is my debut novel, so I don’t yet have a slew of readers waiting for the book to release. In fact, I have been seen around town chasing potential readers to tell them about my book. Building a fan base is something that I knew would be a long and (sometimes) discouraging experience. Every writer has this dream that they will release their debut novel and it will explode into an overnight sensation. I am still holding out for the “sensation” part, but as for the “overnight” aspect..... not so much. ;-)

What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

The question would be, “Do you agree with the saying: ‘do what you love and the money will follow’ ?” and my answer would be a resounding no. That is a beautiful sentiment but unfortunately for most of us, it simply is not true. The wonderful thing about it though, is that if you are truly doing what you love, you don’t care anything at all about the money. And that much, I believe with my whole heart. The two things I love are teaching and writing, and I would do them both for free. I have, I still do, and I always will. Satisfaction, happiness and enjoyment are reward enough.

What was your road to publications like?

It was daunting at first - the sheer amount of things that had to be done was simply overwhelming. As an independent author doing everything myself, it felt a bit impossible in the beginning. I knew from the start that I wanted to self-publish because I strongly believe that a writer shouldn’t have to sell the rights to their labor of love in order to get it in front of readers. Still, it takes an awful lot of work to get a manuscript from a laptop to a paperback. Even so, I would not change a thing about the experience; and looking back on it now, it really didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would to get everything done. The first time I held the finished copy in my hands gave me a sense of accomplishment like nothing else I have ever experienced in my life. I call No Greater Illusion my single greatest achievement and my contribution to the world. And sometimes I laugh when I say that last one, because I don’t want anyone to think that I have delusions of grandeur... but in my heart I know it is true. And so, with a humble spirit, I offer my contribution up for your enjoyment, or your scorn; but either way the experience is now yours.

Quick Facts
Release Date: November 30, 2012.
Genre: Dystopian Fiction (Science Fiction / Techno-Thriller / Suspense / African-American Fiction)
Formats: Paperback, Kindle.


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The Author

Jack of all trades, master of none - save for the art of procrastination - K. Baskett lives by the motto, "Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow." K. firmly believes that you aren't really interested in the author's hometown, spouse, children or pets, and has therefore decided to spare you the details. No Greater Illusion is the author's debut novel.
Learn more about the author at:

An Excerpt

THAT NIGHT, I BECAME an eye witness to murder. The cop who pulled the trigger might have claimed it was “self-defense” or “protection from an imminent threat,” but all I saw was a 90-pound woman brandishing a lug wrench that was almost too heavy for her to lift.
“Conspiracy!” she yelled at the top of her lungs and used all of her might to swing the weapon at a nearby car, shattering the driver’s side window.
“Stand down,” ordered the nearest police officer in a booming voice, as he and countless others surveyed the entire riot scene unfolding before us.
“Never. We want justice,” the lady screamed, successfully breaking out the rear passenger’s side window this time. The officer made a move toward the woman and she turned to him, struggling for purchase as she raised the lug wrench over her head. A crazed expression morphed her face into a vacant wasteland, so that she appeared to be gazing at and through the officer at the same time, eyes and mouth sloping downward, gaping. She looked to be coming straight from the office, dressed conservatively in a pencil skirt and high heels, which I noticed because they were so inappropriate. Skinny as the tool in her hands, she posed little to no physical threat and could have easily been subdued by some other method, so I was surprised when the police officer drew his gun.
“I’m warning you. Stand down,” the officer growled, his eyes two hard pebbles of flint, sparking as he aimed the gun squarely at the woman’s heart.
She moved with no forewarning and surprising quickness. Like a lioness, she pounced, and got close enough to the officer to be able to see the color of his eyes before he fired his weapon. It was nothing like in the movies. His gun made more of a popping sound rather than a loud bang. In all the noise it could have been mistaken for something else, like a car backfiring or a tire exploding. She collapsed instantly, freefalling, slamming to the pavement with so much force her body seemed to bounce once before landing in a final thud, facedown, her fist still clutching a tool used for changing flat tires. Her entire back was a mass of gore from the exit wound, blood so dark it looked black in the low light, soaking her smart silk blouse and pooling around her body in an ever expanding puddle.
Even in the midst of the mayhem, there seemed to be an almost pure silence that descended over the immediate circle of people surrounding the woman’s corpse. Their stillness attracted even more attention than the gunshot and the crowd around the fallen woman grew. The officer began to slowly back up, a look of dread on his face. He spoke into his shoulder radio, “Two-forty-eight requesting backup at Sixth and Watson. Code thirty. I repeat: I need units at Sixth and Watson, immediately.”
The officer’s call for backup shifted the crowd’s focus from the dead woman to him.
“He did it,” someone spoke clearly from the group. “The cop.”
The officer continued to step backward, gingerly almost.
Another yell came from my right. “Ol’ racist ass cop!”
The crowd closed in and began to slowly advance toward the officer. I stood on the perimeter, not sure if I wanted to get involved.
“Fall back,” the officer ordered, pointing his gun into the crowd now, aiming in the general direction from where the slur came.
Various shouts rang out in response, more people getting agitated now and too many of them yelling at once to clearly decipher any one phrase.
“I will not hesitate to discharge my weapon,” he warned.
We see that, I thought. Obviously he was ready to pull the trigger yet again.
The closer the crowd got, the more the officer seemed to be losing his aura of authority, his confidence getting smothered by fear, his eyes now showing uncertainty where before there was boldness. Not a soul had responded to his call for backup. The city’s police force was sorely understaffed and everyone knew that in this chaos there weren’t nearly enough officers to go around. The gun trembled slightly in his hand as he pointed it at the closest target, a young black man in his early twenties advancing to the front of the crowd. He was shirtless, wearing nothing above the waist but several large black tattoos, his athletic body coiled with intent.
“Crooked cops,” the young man stated passionately, as a matter of fact. “I fucking hate the police.” He glanced back at the others and raised his voice with that last statement.
They thundered their hearty agreement.
“So what we gonna do about this racist motha fucka?” the young man snarled, having assumed leadership of the crowd by their earlier assent.
“Don’t try me,” the officer shrieked. He made another useless call for backup, panicked and on edge. The crowd had backed him into a wall and like any cornered animal he was ready to attack.
“Grab him!” The suggestion came in the form of a growl.
The young man sprang forward, all that tension uncoiling from his chiseled muscles in a single smooth leap. With a wild look in his eye, the officer pulled the trigger. In his agitation, he actually missed the young leader and instead his bullet found someone else who screamed out in agony as their flesh was torn. This indiscriminate shooting incited the crowd even more, and in the time it took the cop to fire another shot into the group, he was completely buried under a pile of angry bodies, swarming around him like bees to the hive.

Follow the Tour!

Feb 1st: Black Lion Tour Blog: Introduction.
Feb 2nd: 
Oh Chrys!: Guest Post
Feb 3rd: Coffe Bean Bookshelf: Review.
Feb 4th: Books, Books the Magical Fruit: Interview and Guest Post.
Feb 5th: 
Bookshelves of Dreams: Review and Guest Post.
Feb 6th: Love in a Book: Top Ten List.
Feb 7th: BK Walker Books: Interview.
Feb 8th: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews: Interview.
Feb 10th: 
My Devotional Thoughts: Review and Guest Post.
A Novel Idea Live: Interview.
Feb 11th: A Book Lover's Library: Guest Post.

                 A Novel Idea Live Blog: Guest Post.
Feb 12th: 
2nd Book to the Right: Review.
Feb 13thBookworm Lisa: Guest Post
Feb 14th: Black Lion Tour Blog: Wrap- up.



  1. Great post! I loved the interview and "the question she always wanted to be asked" lol.

  2. Sue - thank you for hosting me on your blog and taking the time to give me such thought-provoking questions. I really enjoyed doing your interview.


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