My name is Del Shannon and I live in Boulder, Colorado (USA) with my wife and teenage daughter. I also have a son who is away at college.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed writing, reading and stories. I especially enjoy stories that are grand adventures where you completely lose yourself in the characters and plot. But there’s another, very prominent side of me that’s scientific and analytical, which is why I work as a civil engineer on the design and construction of dams and reservoirs. These two sides of me may seem at odds at first glance, but they actually complement each other very well.
The design and construction of something as large and complex as a dam takes a great deal of creativity because, no matter how much you plan and design and think through the hundreds of challenges and problems, there are always dozens of problems you cannot predict. It takes a great deal of creativity to solve these problems when they arise. Writing also requires a great deal of creativity, but this creativity must fit within a distinctive structure. To effectively tell a story you need to be able to design it’s framework and have a vision of what it will eventually look like – to you and your readers. In essence, you have to design and build a story just like you would design and build a dam.
I’ve learned over time to embrace these two sides of me and do my best to not let one dominate the other. My creative and analytical skills work best in tandem where one is balancing the other.
Can you tell us a little about Kevin's Point of View?
Kevin’s Point of View is a story about a 12-year-old boy named Kevin Tobin and he has a hyperactive imagination. Kevin has turned his imagination into a tool to deal with the pain of the death of his father and, while it helps him, it drives everyone around him completely bonkers. His friends and family do love him and try to be patient with his antics because they know how much he’s suffering, but they’re also driven mad by his crazy behavior.
This delicate balance exists for a year after the death of Kevin’s father, until one day a strange package is mistakenly delivered Kevin’s house. The package contains something called the influxitron and Kevin has no idea what it is or what it does. The influxitron’s owner, the very evil Devin Talon, desperately wants the influxitron back and will literally do anything to make sure it’s safely retrieved. Devin manages to track the influxitron to Kevin and is about to take it back, when Kevin and his best friend Tony escape Devin and race into the mountains. While they’re running Kevin’s imagination is transformed from an infuriating personality quirk into a dangerous foil and becomes the one thing that keeps them alive and out of the hands of Devin and his henchmen.
As Kevin and Tony continue to escape and push deeper into the mountains they begin to realize that the influxitron is something much more important than they first realized and they must solve its mystery. In the end we learn the Kevin’s very existence is because of the overwhelming love of someone we never expected.
Where did you get the idea for Kevin's Point of View?
The basic idea for the story came while I was in graduate school studying for my master’s degree in civil engineering. I was in one particularly complex class, having a difficult time understanding the subject, and my mind began to wander. I began thinking about all sorts of things and realized that I’ve been doing this, daydreaming using my imagination, nearly all my life. I also realized, while just letting my mind wander around, that all my teachers hated it when I would daydream in this way because I wouldn’t be paying attention to the lecture. I always really enjoyed daydreaming and I thought the idea of a young boy who actually used his imagination and daydreaming to solve a huge problem would be a really fun story and would connect with other kids who had issues with daydreaming.
One of the other sources of inspiration was Saturday morning cartoons. When I was a kid nothing on the earth was better than Saturday morning cartoons. I especially loved the Loony Tunes cartoons and their wild adventures. So there’s an element of cartoonish craziness in the story as well.
Lastly, movies like ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Ghostbusters’ made a huge impression on me when I was growing up. Like Kevin’s Point of View, these were grand adventures filled with narrow escapes and evil bad guys and heroics that saved the day. I loved the idea of the unlikely hero. Like the swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, the picked on and bullied Marty McFly in ‘Back to the Future’, and the geeky scientist who also believe in specters and haunting in ‘Ghostbusters’, Kevin is an unlikely hero who uses what is seemingly a huge detriment – a haywire imagination – to his great advantage.
Describe Kevin in 5 words
Loyal. Flawed. Imaginative. All boy.
Kevin has a very vivid imagination which he uses to escape from the turmoil of his father'sdeath. Imagination is a great thing that helps us escape, however do you think you can lose yourself too much in imagination and forget reality?
Absolutely. In fact, Kevin does exactly this and crosses this line much too often. Again, this is what’s so great about Kevin. He, and everyone around him, know that this isn’t a healthy way to deal with his problems, but later his imagination becomes the one thing that keeps him alive. It’s his greatest problem and also his greatest asset. I love this paradox and I think this basic premise is in everyone’s life. Unfortunately, our society has conditioned us to limit, or at least downplay, the ‘bad’ things in our lives and accentuate only the ‘good’ things. To me, this leads to imbalanced lives that have great difficulty in seeing much beyond their own perspectives. The reality is that our lives are mishmashes of things that are all interconnected and complement each other, even when we don’t realize it.
I love the cover of Kevin’s point of view. It is funny and imaginative. Who designed it and did you have much say in the designing process?
The cover for Kevin’s Point of View was actually a thank you note given to me by a student named Ruben Quintana after I visited his class. And while I’m sure I met Ruben during my visit I really couldn’t tell you who he is beyond his name. His note was included in a large stack of thank you cards from the entire class, but when I saw it I immediately laughed. Over time Ruben’s note, which said on the inside “Thank you for coming to our class. Hope you book becomes a movie.” has become a reminder of who I’m writing for. As I received rejection after rejection (literally over 100 rejections) I made it a habit of going back and reading Ruben’s card over and over because he represented an audience I knew was out there. Ruben’s card kept me going and so it was an easy choice to use it at the cover because each time I see it I’m reminded of those who want to read this story.
Why should we read Kevin's Point of view?
You should read Kevin’s Point of View for all the reasons above, but also because it’s just a fun story. Even though the story touches on the death of a parent, which is gut wrenching subject, I never wanted this to an angst-filled book. I wanted Kevin’s Point of View to ultimately be about hope and optimism and using whatever tools you have, regardless of how meager, to accomplish amazing things. Another reviewer coined the phrase ‘dramatic relief’ when she was describing the pauses of seriousness surrounding the fun in the book, and think this is pretty accurate. Kevin’s Point of View is mostly about the crazy and funny adventures of Kevin and his best friend Tony, but it also has enough of a dramatic undercurrent to lend a tone of seriousness and underpin the need for these wild adventures.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
I’ve written the first chapter of the sequel to Kevin’s Point of View and I hope to find more time to write additional chapters. The problem is my full-time job as a civil engineer is quite demanding and I work very hard just to stay on top of these responsibilities, which often doesn’t leave much room or time for writing. I’ve always envisioned Kevin’s Point of View as a series and there are details in this first book that were intentionally placed there for use in future books. If given the opportunity I envision at least 4 or 5 books in this series.
Thanks to Del for this awesome interview. Kevin's Point of View is available now to buy!