Meet an Author — Kent Davis

Kent Davis is an actor, a game designer, and a teacher. He lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife and a wily dog ninja named Bobo. Kent Davis teaches in the Honors College at Montana State University, a fact by which he is constantly surprised.

How does writing a sequel compare to working on your first book? Do you have a plan laid out for the entire trilogy, or are you figuring it out as you go along?

It was thrilling! It's one thing to chart out a single story from beginning to end, but in Book 2 the characters sort of took off on their own. It was kind of like that sweet spot in a relationship, where you feel comfortable enough around each other to start revealing your true selves and how you eat ice cream in the middle of the night and hold fiercely to strange superstitions. Everyone does that, right? I had several epiphanies while writing The Changer's Key where a character would take off in a completely unexpected direction or reveal some mad, hidden depths that I never expected. It was a lot of "Oh, so that's who you are." Weird, but beautiful.

There has definitely been a plan laid out for where Book 3 will end up, but the path is winding and still subject to drastic and delightful change. Ruby and her crew have full veto power over what they'll try next: they independently come up with much more interesting solutions than I could ever plan out for them.

Do you have any writing rituals? What helps you get those creative juices flowing?

It's very challenging to write at home. I'm distractible to the nth degree. I do most of my work in an office space at the Emerson, and before that I kept many of Bozeman's coffee shops solvent through a truly massive Americano purchasing program.
As for the juices flowing, I do have a set of clear-out-the-cobwebs songs I use to get right for writing. I will not list any of them here, because they will embarrass me.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Find the writers who you just can’t do without and study their stuff. Drill down to the page, the paragraph, the sentence, the word. When I first started writing I took pages from Ursula LeGuin, George Martin, and Terry Pratchett and I typed them out into blank documents and tried to figure out the why of their choices. You can discover out a lot about writing by channeling whoever you think is great. 
At the same time, trust yourself and don't be in too much of a hurry. I think one of the difficult myths of American culture is that brilliance just flows out of some people onto the page or the stage or the screen. I don’t know anyone who just rolls out of bed and channels something finished and astonishing. I don’t really think I’d want to, either, because that would make me jealous and full of self-hatred. For me, making something good usually starts with something bad. If you accept the bad as part of the process and keep making it a little bit better and then a little bit better and just do not stop you’ll eventually get to something that works. I’d like to think that could be comforting for anyone starting to make things, no matter what their age.  
Also, if anyone tells you there’s only one, best way to do it, run away screaming.

What is something you wish you’d known about publishing when you started this process? 

I’m just blown away by how hard people in the publishing industry work. Weekends, holidays, late nights. It’s possible that one of them who I will not name has discovered some sort of time-slowing pocket dimension. I suspect that I may just have gotten very lucky, but my agent, my editor and also pretty much everyone who works at my imprint are just ferocious, tireless, book-loving berserkers. I wish I’d known that, so I could have gotten deeper into the book business before I did.

Which books are on your to-be read pile right now? 

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, about a jillion things by China Mieville, Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson, a re-read of Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School books, and The Tiger by John Vaillant.

What is a book that you have pretended to read but haven’t really?

This is an awesome question! Stegner. I love the little I’ve read, but I’ve totally nodded and waggled my eyebrows significantly through numerous Wallace Stegner conversations….

If you had to recommend one book that everyone should read, what would you pick?

I’m not sure I’d call any book a universal match for all humans, but hoo doggie, I do love If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
A Riddle in Ruby #2: The Changer's Key Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062368379
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 27th, 2016

A Riddle in Ruby Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062368355
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 6th, 2016