Kevin M. Weeks is a writer and philanthropist. In 2006, he released a crime fiction series called The Street Life series. Book proceeds benefit the Stay Off the Streets Fund, a charitable fund to aid "at risk" teenagers who age out of foster care without a strong support structure. Read more at http://www.kevinmweeks.com.
We're proud to have him as one of our Author Sponsors for Killer Nashville 2010. Thanks, Kevin, for your support.
Killer Nashville: Hi, Kevin. Can you tell us a little bit about your books?
Kevin M. Weeks: I pen a collection of crime fiction novels titled The Street Life Series. The titles of the books follow a pattern format which is a traditional theme for many mystery novels. There are three published books in the series: (1) Is It Suicide or Murder? (2) Is It Passion or Revenge? and (3) Is It Rags or Riches? I am currently writing the fourth novel titled Is It Power or Envy?
In the series, the main character Teco Jackson travels across the globe; and readers witness how Teco responds as crime happens all around him. His innate crime solving skills become a major benefit to a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement team.
Killer Nashville: Sounds interesting! When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Kevin M. Weeks: About 6 years ago, I was encouraging a group of young adult men and sharing several of my stories with them. As a result, they in turn persuaded me to become published. Hearing their reaction was the pivotal point in my wanting to become an author.
Killer Nashville: And what led you to the crime fiction genre?
Kevin M. Weeks: I believe that I have been blessed with an intuitive gift of writing coupled with a passion for studying and solving crimes.
Killer Nashville: You've said your work is a cross between Urban Fiction and Crime Literature. Could you elaborate?
Kevin M. Weeks: Urban Fiction is centered on the criminal act and survival side of life on the streets set under an urban backdrop. Take that urban fiction theme and add the detective investigation, evidence gathering along with determining motive; then you have my twist on crime fiction writing.
Why should this matter? It is my understanding that many crime fiction readers do not necessarily read urban fiction and vice versa, my goal is to bridge the gap between readerships. I want both genres to be enjoyable to all. Library Journal states, “Think of CBS’s 48 Hours Mystery set to a street lit riff.”
Killer Nashville: That's a great tag line--and an interesting concept. Of course, a compelling detective is one of the most important elements in bringing the concept to life. How did you come up with your protagonist? In what ways is your protagonist like you? In what ways is he different?
Kevin M. Weeks: I just conjured the protagonist and main character, Teco Jackson, up. Because he faces many of the dilemmas which I once faced in life, he is modeled after me. As an example, Teco was a transient person as I was when I was a young adult; and he is driven to succeed despite the odds as I am. Perhaps his suave personality and the smooth manner in which he attracts women are more over the top than mine. (laughing)
Killer Nashville: Obviously, your personal experiences contribute a lot to your books, but what kind of research do you do?
Kevin M. Weeks: Because I highlight a different city in each book, I research facts about a location in which others might not be aware. Also, I spend a great deal of time reading about police procedures and forensics. Not until I joined the Southeast chapter of the Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA) was I aware of the various writers’ police academies. I look forward to attending one in the near future.
Killer Nashville: How about other authors? Who are your favorites, and which have influenced you most?
Kevin M. Weeks: James Patterson has influenced me the most, from his book marketing (which was a case study by Harvard Business School) to his writing style.
Killer Nashville: Patterson is famous for his outlines. Would you say you're an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser?
Kevin M. Weeks: Actually, I do a combination of both. I spend a great deal of time on my character sheets. However, once I develop a plot the rhythm of the writing begins.
Killer Nashville: What's your writing schedule like?
Kevin M. Weeks: Because I am a full-time author, my writing starts mid-morning and wraps up around 6pm or so.
Killer Nashville: What do you think you do best as a writer?
Kevin M. Weeks: While I write, I can see myself in the scene with the characters. As a result, the New York Book Festival and London Book Festival awarded me for my storytelling ability. So, bringing reality to the story is what I think that I do best as a writer.
Killer Nashville: Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
Kevin M. Weeks: The road to publication was a paved by spending a great deal of hours studying the publishing industry in order to best determine how I could positively contribute to the landscape of American Literature. I am encouraged that the best for me is yet to come.
Killer Nashville: You clearly love what you do. What's the most rewarding part of being an author?
Kevin M. Weeks: Hearing first hand from readers how my stories have impacted their lives. As an example, one reader wrote to me and said, “You inspire me in many ways that it’s still possible to pursue my dreams in the worst situations in life.” Accolades like this keep me going.
Killer Nashville: And the least enjoyable part?
Kevin M. Weeks: Overcoming those moments of writers block.
Killer Nashville: With three books under your belt and another in progress, you've obviously figured out how to beat that! You mentioned earlier that the accolades from readers keep you going. What about reviewers? What was the best review you ever got?
Kevin M. Weeks: Wow, I have received at least three: Two from Library Journal and one from The USA Book Review. They are posted on the homepage of my website at www.kevinmweeks.com. All of these book reviews confirm that I am on the right track in bridging the gap between urban fiction and crime fiction readers.
Killer Nashville: Any advice to give give to other aspiring authors?
Kevin M. Weeks: Once you start a book, don’t allow anything to hinder you from finishing it. Also realize that after your book is published, the work really begins.
Killer Nashville: Right. Many authors say marketing and promotion are harder than actually writing the book! What do you do to market your series?
Kevin M. Weeks: I have done a great deal from internet marketing, some national print ads, to cooperative marketing. Interviews like this one help tremendously. So, I want to say thank you.
Killer Nashville: What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you since becoming an author?
Kevin M. Weeks: As people asked more about my homeless background, I began to deflect questions from me towards the issues of “at risk” teens who turn 18 years old and wind up on the streets. This compelled me to establish a youth charity called the Stay Off The Streets Fund. Book proceeds benefit this fund.
Killer Nashville: If you could have three writing wishes, what would they be?
Kevin M. Weeks: One thing you learn as a writer is that Aladdin’s lamp is within you. So, I believe I am earning my way towards (1) becoming a globally known and recognized author, (2) having my books adapted for the stage, film, and/or television, and (3) becoming a motivational public speaker for youth around the world because the street life is a global issue.
Killer Nashville: Is there anything you'd like to discuss that I haven't mentioned?
Kevin M. Weeks: You have really covered everything well; and I thank you for the interview. Your readers can find out more about me at www.kevinmweeks.com. Also they can find out more about the Stay Off The Streets Fund by visiting www.stayoffthestreets.org. Peace, Kevin.