I am Kevin Bohacz the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a lucid dreamer… Welcome to my dreams. I am also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system – the ESE Engine System (circa 1978). I was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. Thank you for reading my stories and making this all possible.
His latest books are Immortality and Ghost of the Gods.
Visit Kevin’s website at www.kbohacz.com.
The short answer to your question is the inspiration comes from my muse. The longer answer is my novels come from daytime dreams as well as nighttime dreams. When I am writing it really does not feel like I am creating the material. It feels like I am watching daydreams which come from somewhere other than me and I am merely typing as fast as I can to capture the daydream that is unfolding before my eyes. For all four novels I have written, I first created thousands of pages of meticulously detailed background material. Once I feel the characters have become like friends to me, I sit down and start writing. Invariably in a short time the characters stage a revolt and the story takes on a life of its own veering off in directions I never planned. In the end I typically use about 1% of the meticulously detailed background material. Thousands of years ago the Greeks and Romans thought that all creative people were merely channels for muses. I truly cannot figure out where my stories come from. Out of a process of elimination I have decided they come from some Jungian collective awareness that we might as well call a muse!
Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?
It’s not my first published novel but I’ll tell you about my experiences anyway because I think they are relevant for anyone starting out as a writer. My first novel, Dream Dancers was conventionally published in 1993 in a deal closed by the agent I had at that time. In 2003 when Immortality was completed I assumed I would be able to get it published since I was already a published author. I soon found myself waist deep in rejection notices from both agents and publishers. All the rejection notices basically said, “We are sure this is a wonderful book but we don’t have the time to read a long manuscript by an obscure author.”
I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals including more than one famous writer had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality.
In 2007 Immortality took off becoming a bestseller. Using my bestseller success as bait, I was able to sign with an agent who had represented a smattering of NYTime’s bestsellers. My agent proceeded to shop Immortality to all the big publishing houses. My wife, Mazelle and I were deliriously thrilled. This time the responses from publishers were very different from when Immortality was unpublished and I was un-agented. Across the board the feedback was surprisingly similar, “We love the book but who are you?”
What the publishers were really saying was I had no massive following. I did not have a million readers chanting in unison, “We want to buy more books by you…”
Fast forward to 2010, Immortality was still selling very much like it was in 2008, constantly hitting the top 10 of its genre and never falling below the top 50. In fact 2010 and half of 2011 was one of my best grossing periods ever. By now my agent had done all he could and given up six months prior in 2009. He loved Immortality and was very frustrated and baffled by his inability to close a deal. It was then that I was contacted out of nowhere by a veteran NYC agent who was a senior member in a super-agent firm. This agent told me they had read Immortality and loved it! This agent was convinced they could sell the book. Mazelle and I were wildly excited and told the agent to go for it. This new agent got the book read by a different group of more senior editors. This time the responses really threw me. The feedback I got was essentially, “We love the book but why should we buy it when you have already sold the heck out of it?”
At this point I felt like I just could not win. Years ago I didn’t have a big enough following, and now that I had a following, it seemed the publishers wanted something more. They wanted an unpublished book. I explained that 95% of the copies of Immortality had been sold on Amazon, which meant that I had tapped less than 50% of the potential market for a book in this genre. So while it was a bestseller, the lion’s share of the meat was still on this bone yet no publisher was interested in the feast. With fractional market penetration I had made a pile of money but there was many times more to be made if a big publisher would get behind the book. Yet it now felt like with regard to attracting a publisher, success was my worst enemy.
Today, three years later I now have a new amazing NYC agent from a top firm who has closed deals for other indie authors in exactly the same “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament as me. I have received glowing critical reviews, including Publisher’s Weekly who has awarded STARRED reviews to both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods. There is interest from Holly Wood in making Immortality into a movie. I have every confidence that this time we’ll succeed in finally getting a solid publishing deal.
Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?
I live in Santa Cruz California, which is a city on Monterey bay about 50 miles south of San Francisco. In Santa Cruz there are still many independent bookstores and none of the major chains. This was a deliberate decision by the people of Santa Cruz. Of these independents my favorite is Bookshop Santa Cruz. They have been around since 1966 and have the feel of the kind of bookstores I grew up with. So if were going to meet and talk books what better place than a real bookstore?
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?
You mean there is something other than writing? I had no idea! For me writing is my passion, my life. A day without writing is like a day without breathing—unimaginable. I never have writer’s block and writing without exaggeration has saved my life. Not very long ago I was widowed at a young age. My wife, my best friend of 17 years died in my arms while we looked into each other’s eyes. In the time that followed when I was drowning in grief I could hear my wife whispering to me, “Write my love… Write.” So I wrote. I wrote so hard that my arms grew sore. I wrote so hard that I gave myself tendonitis but the pain in my arms did not slow me a bit. My writing saved me from grief that was dark enough to crush the life from me. I completed Ghost of the Gods in an amazingly short period of time while also simultaneously working on two new novels.
So back to your question, what I do other than writing and breathing is walk two hours a day and dreaming. Dreaming is a very big part of my life. I am a lucid dreamer and my dream life is wildly prolific. In the past three years I have recorded over 5000 dreams in my journal, and well over 300 of them were vivid hyper-real lucid dreams. I’ve had as many as 17 dreams in one night. I never try to control my lucid dream journeys. I let them unfold and develop on their own. To me controlling a lucid dream is like trying to control life instead of fully experiencing it here and now. I literally feel like I have two lives. One life in this material reality and a second life in dream reality.
Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?
I have been a fulltime fiction novelist for over 4 years. Before I became a fulltime writer I was the founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system. Before that I was a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. Thankfully all of those careers and more are behind me now that I am a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams. I want to thank my readers for making all this possible.
In your opinion, what makes a good book great?
A good story is like fine wine. I like red. You like white. Even if I am a famous connoisseur of red wine, I may think a great white wine is awful. If a reader thinks in similar patterns and rhythms as a talented author they will likely get the story, like the writing, and think the story is great. If the reader thinks in dissimilar patterns and rhythms they will likely hate the story. This is one of the big reasons why one person can love a great story and another person can hate the same great story.
So with that disclaimer firmly in place here is what I think. Plot is very important but for me the characters are even more important. I write character driven stories so I like to read character driven stories. If you do not identify with at least one of the main characters in a story then everything that happens becomes less personal. For the characters to be real three dimensional people, carefully crafted time must be spent to illustrate their background and personality. After all if you, the reader, does not care about the characters then why are you going to care about the victories and losses they experience in the plot?
Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
I wanted to be an astronaut! I wanted to work with robots and fly off on adventures in space. I built spaceships out of wardrobe boxes and climbed inside to imagine what it would be like to sail through space in a tiny capsule. So the psychologists were obviously wrong in my case. As I grew older I lost all interest in being an astronaut and eventually in my high school years began studying science to become a physicist. When I was older still, writing kind of jumped out of nowhere, bashed me over the head, and shanghaied me into a land of dreams.
Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?
End of Sleep
I – Amazon Forest: January, present day.
The rainforest had a humid, earthy smell that reminded him of home. Diego was twenty-two years old and, like most of his village, he’d spent half his life away from home. The bulldozer he was illegally operating was idling in neutral. In front of him were a half dozen control levers and gauges. With a worker’s rough hands, he compressed the squeeze-grip on a lever and pushed forward. He heard the sound of grinding gears. The tree cutter failed to engage. The huge dozer was thirty-year-old army surplus. There was a cable problem in the lever he was working. The problem sometimes caused the squeeze-grip to snap shut when the transmission grabbed. If he was not careful, the squeeze-grip could badly pinch his hand. Diego pushed harder on the lever. He could feel teeth missing in the gears from how the lever bucked back against his push. Without warning, the gears dropped into place as the squeeze-grip bit his palm. It was like a vicious dog. An angry welt throbbed in his palm. He cursed the dozer. He cursed the steaming heat. He’d drunk two quarts of water since breakfast, and lunch break was still hours away.
The rainforest was alive with insects. Diego had never seen this many in all the years he’d illegally logged the deep forests. There was a steady drone which was louder than the diesel engine he controlled. Tiny no-see-em’s, biting things, had left a rash across the back of his neck that felt like sunburn. Earlier, he’d scratched it raw but now had a bandanna tied around his neck to remind him to leave it be.
The bulldozer rocked into a depression as the cutter began chewing through the trunk of a mahogany tree. Diego fed more fuel into the beast’s engine. The dozer’s treads dug in; there was a hesitation. He could feel the strain building. Tons of steel lurched forward pitching him in his seat. Another tree tumbled, its branches snapping like rapid-fire gunshots as it crumpled into the ground. The front of the beast was equipped with a chain driven saw instead of a dozer blade. The fixture had a pair of serrated edges that shimmied back and forth like steel teeth. Pieces of shredded green leaves and bark caught on the teeth’s edges. Diego had long ago decided the beast was a sloppy eater.
The insect sounds of the forest had stopped. As far as Diego knew, these insects never stopped. He dropped the beast into neutral then switched it off.
There was silence.
Out of this stillness, a faint crackling sound rose from the distance, then disappeared, and then came again. He listened carefully. It took him a moment to realize the faraway sound was trees falling. The logging company operated a small army of dozers, far apart now; but by evening they would all meet up, connecting each of the separate cutting tracks into a solid plot. Diego swung round in his seat and gazed back. A swath of fallen tropical forest lay behind him: mahogany and cedar and even some rosewood along with countless varieties of plants and bushes. The largest trees were left standing so their canopies would hide the results of his work from the few government scouting planes that were not on the company’s payroll. Heavy tractors would come through later to drag out the good logs. He got paid by the yard for mahogany, rosewood, and cedar; the rest was trash. Today it looked like he would earn a small fortune; tomorrow might bring nothing.
He lit a cigarette and left it hanging in his lips. After starting the engine, he ground the shifter into a forward gear and moved out. He drew cigarette smoke into his lungs then exhaled through his nose. No time to rest. He needed every bit of money he could earn. He didn’t blink as a cloud of insects flew into his face as their nest was churned into rubbish by his dozer’s teeth.
The humidity was so high that water had begun to evaporate into a fine mist. A steam cloud floated through the tops of the trees blurring the upper canopy into a milky green. Diego swung the beast around in a stationary about-face. The base camp was miles behind him by the river. The camp was a dock and tents with ratty screens. Beside the camp was a tree covered clearing that at night was filled with sleeping dozers and other heavy equipment. By now, a pot of beans would be simmering for lunch. A hunk of flat bread and canned beer would complete the meal. No meat. He’d lived worse. Everything here had been secretly brought in by river barge, including him and the other labors. With luck, he could cut a second swath back toward camp and arrive by lunch. Today would fill his pocket with more than two hundred Reals… a new record.
The logging ride out of the forest turned out to be easier than the ride in. The trees in his new path were an ideal size for cutting. Diego began thinking about his wife Carla and their dream. She’d been anxious to come with him into this hell. He had kissed her and told her no… no wife of his would suffer in a place like this. In seven months, he would be a father. The foreign company running this operation was taking good care of her. She’d written last week that the company had paid for a test with a machine that was like an x-ray but used sound. The nurse had told her the baby would be a boy. Diego smiled with that memory… it was a good one. He would have a boy who would grow up to be his friend. That was a new part of the dream; the old part was still a small house outside Maceio, the coastal city where Diego was born.
Diego instinctively slowed the dozer to the speed of a man’s stride. He squinted watching a cloud of rain moving toward him along the path he’d just cut from camp. The rain didn’t appear heavy, but when mixed with ground steam it was solid enough to bring a false twilight. Nothing could be seen inside the cloud. The dozer had a roll cage. A piece of corrugated sheet metal had been welded to the top of the cage as a roof. Diego switched on spotlights. Drops started hitting the sheet metal with rhythmic pings. The humidity grew heavier. The air surrounded him like a damp towel. He pulled off his t-shirt and wiped his face with it. A storm of birds fled from some trees his dozer was about to consume. Their colored shapes moved past him at eye level like watercolor paints in fog.
Diego cocked his head to one side. He sensed something wrong. Grinding the shifter into neutral, he idled the machine. As the noise of his engine simmered down, he was able to hear the far off sounds of a dozer racing at top speed. He heard an engine revving at its highest rpm… no, it was two engines. More than one dozer was racing through the forest. This was very unusual. A hollow feeling began gnawing inside his chest. He remembered stories of odd things that happened to people alone in the forest. He heard a different sound like a wet towel hitting the ground in front of him. He leaned forward, squinting into the fog.
A bird tumbled from the air bouncing off the cab, the sound startling Diego badly. The bird fluttered, then righted itself on the ground and took off. He saw another bird fall a couple yards away, then another, and another. They would roll around a bit, then fix themselves and fly off. This was very strange… too strange. He now understood why dozers were racing through the forest. Something very bad was happening.
He shoved the dozer into gear and slammed his feet into the pedals. The beast jumped forward at top power. He heard muck spitting into the air off the backs of the tread-plates. To devil with cutting the second track. To devil with the money. He was going to get out of here as fast as this dozer could race. The treads were clanking at an accelerating pace as the beast slowly picked up speed. He disengaged the tree saw to gain a few more drops of power. He plowed through the top of a tree he’d cut earlier, then another. He was doing close to ten miles per hour. A man might run faster, but not through this brush and not for the miles that remained to the camp.
Without warning, he felt dizzy, an ill kind of dizzy. The fingers on his right hand went numb, then paralyzed. He tried to move the fingers, but they were limp. Coldness was spreading up from his hand. The more he tried to flex his fingers, the worse it got. In seconds, his entire right arm was hanging flaccid at his side. Whatever had gotten the birds was working on him. He knew it. The trees kept moving past him in a blur. He realized with an odd disconnect that he was having difficulty drawing breaths.
He thought about Carla and the baby. His jaw squeezed tight. His lips formed a grim line. He would make it for them.
The dozer glanced off a large tree and kept going. The impact rocked him. He wheezed, attempting to draw air into his chest. Maybe two miles remained until base camp. He began veering off the trail. The saw-blade snagged on a mahogany six feet in diameter. Diego was pitched from his seat. Dizzy and unable to hold on, he fell from the cab. His shoulder hit a moving tread-plate, which tossed him off the rig. He was like a paralyzed sack of meat.
“Umph!” He landed on the ground. He thought how odd it was that he’d bounced. He didn’t know people could bounce when they hit the ground. The tractor rumbled beside him. Without his feet on the pedals, the dozer had stopped. The left side of his face was a mix of blood and dirt. He tried to draw air into his lungs but failed. His mind felt like it was beginning to evaporate. His entire body tingled. He felt no pain. The muscles that worked his lungs were no longer responding. He thought of calling for help, but without his lungs he could do nothing. He gave up struggling and stared skyward at the treetops and thought of Carla. Moments later, his heart stopped beating. He felt calm as what was left of his mind faded into a warm nothing.
II – New Jersey: January
Sarah Mayfair opened her eyes. The nightmare was still around her. Her vision was not in this world but in some other. The nightmare was of underground water, great arteries of rivers and streams and lakes. Where the liquid pooled, it was cool and deep. She sensed this water was alive with thoughts, evil thoughts. A teaspoonful of it teamed with plans of death. She was floating deep under the water, staring as drowned people glided past her face sinking into the depths of a bottomless pool. Looking down, she saw a trail of countless tiny bodies slowly pirouetting as they drifted into the yawning darkness below her feet…
Headlights from a car traveled across a wall of her room. The lights dwelled on a wooden credenza, then moved on. She followed the glow with her eyes seeing reality for the first time. The simple act of seeing began to clear the veils of her nightmare. Her breathing slowed. She realized she was covered in sweat.
Outside, a subzero wind was blowing unimpeded through a forest of leafless trees and ice crusted snow. The windowpanes rattled and hummed. Small drafts snuck through the rooms. She shivered as the drafts caressed her dampened skin. She was in the living room of her home. She recognized the shadowy details of furniture and walls. Her boyfriend Kenny was in the bedroom asleep. She remembered getting up and walking out here to be by herself to think. The nightmares had grown worse, more of them with each passing week. She was starting to see the faces of people she knew in these nightmares. She sensed it was some kind of horrible parade of those who would die. She remembered Kenny’s image from the dream.
Her body stiffened. A disembodied voice was whispering into her left ear. The words were unintelligible… garbled, but unmistakably evil. This can’t be happening. She screamed out in frustration and grief at the seeds of budding madness.
What’s next for you?
I am working on a supernatural techno-thriller titled Dream Signs that will be out sometime before the end of this year. At the same time I am working on another supernatural techno-thriller titled The Bridge that will be out in less than two years. There is also interest from Holly Wood in making Immortality into a movie. Finally, I am working to get my wife’s memoir and cook book titled Fat Clothes Thin Clothes published. My wife was a famous dessert chef whose amazing creations were served in 50,000 restaurants around the country.