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Interview with C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson’s idea book is full of potential stories, ideas he’s collected from a variety of experiences in his life. With a day job in education and limited writing time, how does he make time to write? Read on to discover his process and what he learned from the “school of hard knocks” in his publishing journey.

Welcome, Kevin. You’ve worked with middle schoolers and high schoolers. How did you come to work with these age groups? And what's the best part of your day job?
I kind of landed in middle school as an English teacher because of my certification (Middle Grades 5-9). I taught eighth grade my first year because I was filling in for a teacher who went out for the year on maternity leave. I then shifted to seventh grade and remained there until I entered administration (my last year in the classroom, I came in second in the Teacher of the Year voting; lost to a good friend of mine. Couldn’t have lost to a better guy.).

I made the jump to high school when I became an assistant principal. I did five years at the first school, then got promoted and went to a middle school. I spent the next six years at the middle school level, moving from one to another halfway through the six years. Then I shifted back to high school, and this year makes year two at that school.

The best part of my job is getting to help students prepare for the real world. Education becomes less and less like the real world every day, as laws of the land and the Department of Education encroach upon the classroom, making it easier to slack and harder to teach. So, it’s a challenge of ours to help students understand that what we do in schools doesn’t always best prepare students unless we explain why we do what we do. For example, if a student gets in trouble for something, he or she may have consequences, but they almost always pale in comparison to what they may face as a post-graduate/legal adult. Part of the “learning” in education is to help them see the bigger picture, and I often use my job as the comparison. “If I did what you did,” I often say, “how long do you think I’d have my job?” These kind of conversations often help students turn the corner of maturity. For some, it takes a few more discussions.

How do you make time for writing?
I often get up before work and write for a time. When I was at the middle school level, I would get up around 4:00 a.m. and write for two hours before I started getting ready for work. Now, at the high school level, I often still get up at four, but I only get thirty minutes to an hour. I’m usually too tired to write in the evening, although sometimes I do. Saturdays are a big day for me when nothing else is going on. I’ll get up early and can often have 1,000-5,000 written in a Saturday, depending on how long I stay at it.

You mention your “practice” novels on your website. What did you learn from those early works about writing fiction?
I learned a lot about the craft itself. Everything from formatting the pages to plot structure to character development. It’s one thing to read about a character in a book or play and analyze that character’s actions, etc., but it’s an entirely different world to develop one from scratch and make them have their own unique voice, tendencies, mannerisms, thought processes, etc.

Those earlier manuscripts also helped me kind of hone in on what I liked to write. I’ve totally transformed one set of characters from one of those stories and have taken them back to their middle school days. They now will become the basis for a young adult series. The manuscript is already done for Book 1. My readers are giving me feedback as we speak. I never would have developed this storyline if it had not been for the original story and some suggestions a friend made over ten years ago.

However, probably the best thing those early manuscripts taught me was what not to do! Ha! And I’m still learning that lesson every day.

How have you persevered in writing?
Simply, to make it a habit to write as often as possible. I don’t get to write every day, mainly because of my day job and other responsibilities, but I endeavor to be disciplined about it. Besides, I love it. I could write all day long, if I had the option.

I’ve also had to navigate some issues in the publishing process itself. As a very young, naïve writer, I was taken advantage of by an “agent” years and years ago who later was listed on the “Preditors and Editors” website that was popular back then. I’m still getting checks for reimbursement for the money I was swindled (thankfully, not a bundle) from the Texas Department of Corrections, along with all the other people she lied to, I suppose.

Then, my first publisher—who published my first two novels—went belly up. That’s been an adventure. However, through it all, it’s made me smarter and not so “starry-eyed” as I was when I entered this business. It’s funny how the School of Hard Knocks makes you a realist.

Your website has the tagline: "Where imagination meets eternity." Tell us more about what that means as it relates to your writing.
Everything I have written so far deals with a subject that becomes the umbrella under which the storyline resides. For example, in The Serpent’s Grasp, which won the BRMCWC Selah Award in 2013 in the debut novel category, the overarching theme is: What is Truth? And in this case, within the scientific world. The storyline addresses that theme throughout. As the main character, Dr. Evelyn Sims says in an article she wrote:

“One question keeps haunting me as a scientist. One query’s answer eludes me. I ask and ask, search and search, research and research, and not one scientist can give me a definitive answer. I posed the question when researching the Scopes Monkey Trial as a graduate student. I inquired when ‘Little Lucy’ was unearthed. I have combed the halls of academia, scoured the journals of science, and questioned leading experts searching for the answer to this question: Of what or whom is evolution afraid? If time is on the side of truth, then there is nothing to fear if it is truly truth we seek.”

Therein lies the storyline. Scientists who seek the truth as it relates to Creation versus scientists who cover up the truth to support a lie masquerading as the truth. A ton of research went into this book, and that’s why I included the bibliography. I wanted the reader to see that I wasn’t coming at this from a one-sided point of view. There is research on my side. There is scandal and cover-ups on their side.

For my Blake Meyer series, the overarching theme is: What is true peace? We talk about peace all the time. We plan for it with retirement funds. We build up our military to defend it. We change laws and create new ones in an attempt to legislate it. However, what is true peace? Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer, a non-believer, is on that journey right now. Book 5, A Pulse of Time, comes out Memorial Day 2020, and the six-book story, designed to be packaged like the TV show 24, ends with the sixth and final explosive volume in the fall of 2020, Devil of a Crime.

The Letters has an overall theme of: How much do the physical and spiritual worlds intertwine, separate, or even collide? While it deals with the issue of abortion, it’s not a heavy-handed book on that subject at all because I didn’t want it to be. Instead, I took an entirely different take on the subject, and several reviewers have said it is very “Frank Peretti-like,” which I take as a huge compliment. Other reviewers have mentioned it to be “A Christmas Carol-esque.” Set at Christmas, that’s probably why some felt that way too.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read, but I’m notoriously slow, so I don’t get books consumed like other people. I also like spending time with family, watching college football, and getting to the beach whenever I can. If I had a balcony overlooking the ocean, I would have everything delivered so I didn’t have to leave.

Some of your favorite TV shows feature a memorable main character or several characters. How hard was it to create your own main character for a series of books?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s more difficult than you think when you’re just reading about characters from the readers’ side of the ledger. For me, the character, like real humans, is a product of his or her life experiences and environment. We become who we are because specific and/or permanent circumstances define our understanding of how life works on a broader scale. Interactions with people, whether it be one-on-one with a good friend, small groups, or larger bodies like churches and workplace environments all help shape our understanding and tolerance for the humans and events that make up those circumstances. We consequently form opinions, biases, even prejudices, based on those human interactions which help us formulate our worldview.

My characters go through all those steps as best as I can have them do so to develop deeper, richer characters. They all have a back story. They all have been “through it.” They all have a story to tell that is unique to them, yet it will resonate with many readers as their own. For as a reader, when you care about the characters, you hope for the best. When you do that, you want to turn the page and even feel sad when the last one is reached and there is no more story left to read about “this new friend” you have come to know and love. If the reader feels that at the end of your novel, you’ve done something right.

What inspires your ideas for novels?
Wow, that’s a good one. My novels are amalgamations. There’s always two or three ideas bouncing around in my head that get woven into one rich storyline, and when they do, that’s when I know it’s time to sit down and write. Like with The Letters, it came to be as a result of discussions I had in a seminary class years ago about abortion. This thought was coupled with a discussion I had with someone years about heaven and what it will really be like versus what people “think” it will be like. The final piece to the puzzle was a conversation about how far God goes into the sinful world to rescue the lost. From these three questions came the overarching theme I referenced above about how the spiritual and physical worlds around us interact. This novel became a favorite of mine, not because it’s the newest, but because it was written to be more than just a novel about abortion. It was written, as the main character, Rachel Hamar, says in her prologue:

Where did it begin?
Or where did it end?
That is the better question.
For somewhere in the heart, during a time filled with turmoil,
A story emerged.
It’s an account that will baffle the imagination of many.
A story no one will want to believe.
It will be dubbed a legend by some.
A fairy tale by others.
A lie by most.
However, what you are about to read is a story of passion…
And a story of deceit.
A story of rejection…
And a story of redemption.
Ultimately, however, it is a story of love.
For this is my story.

Any parting words?
Like many writers, I have several plates spinning on poles. Usually, two of those poles are writing endeavors. I rarely have one manuscript going at once. I guess I’m more ADHD than I care to admit. But it helps me stay disciplined too because I’m always writing. When I get weary on the main manuscript that needs to be done by a certain time, I can take a break and work on the other one for a few days to just help break things up. That’s why my books come out in bunches.

One of the plates I’ll have going on this year is writing the screenplay (at least trying my hand at it) for The Letters. The plan is to have it done in time to have it professionally edited before sending it off to some competitions (or some people looking for screenplays of this nature, if those paths cross mine). Once that is completed, then I’d eventually like to look into the screenplay for The Serpent’s Grasp and the TV pilot for the Blake Meyer Thriller series. All while continuing to write novels! I have an idea book chocked full, so no lack of material here.


Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at

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