Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Kieran Shea. He is the author of Koko Takes a Holiday (Titan Books, 2014).

Kieran Shea's fiction has appeared in many publications including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, and Crimefactory. He has been nominated for the Story South's Million Writers Award twice. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.


- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

Guilty pleasure? Making up dialogue while observing strangers. Ambitions? Live long and prosper. Best concert? Rolling Stones October 23, 1997. Favorite book? 92 in the Shade by Thomas McGuane. Favorite movie? Jaws. Favorite TV show? Outside of hockey, maybe Archer and The Venture Brothers. Sports played? Lots of water-based stuff—I swim in the ocean a lot. Pets? Had a cat or two; they left. Foods I crave? Believe it or not Vegemite on toast with avocados. People I admire? Truth-tellers. Favorite song to sing in the shower? She’s a Lady. Coffee or tea? Both. Last meal? Duck confit.

How’s that?

- You've written short stories before Koko Takes a Holiday and they've been published in many different anthologies. What kind of stories were they?

Mostly dark crime fiction—people doing deplorable things to each other for personal gain or revenge. It’s a popular form, and the crime and mystery scene is where I cut my teeth. As Mickey Spillane once said, there are more salted peanuts consumed in this world than caviar.

- Have any authors, novels or stories been a source of inspiration to you when you wrote these stories?

Not specifically. When writing, inspiration comes from things that either annoy me or I find fascinating. Typically I leap off from there with all the “what ifs….”

- What kind of fiction do you normally read? Are there authors you'd like to recommend to your readers?

I think it’s important to cultivate variety. Westerns, mysteries, biographies, thrillers, memoirs, history…I like a good mix on the nightstand. As for recommending anyone, lately I’ve been pushing Ron Currie, Jr. and Megan Abbott on everyone I know.

- Your debut novel, Koko Takes a Holiday, will soon be published by Titan Books. What inspired you to write it? Have you always been interested in science fiction?

Koko first appeared in a zany short story I wrote for the now shuttered online magazine Plots With Guns. A year or so after it was published I was working on a crime novel and a writer friend suggested I expand the Koko short story into a novel. I was skeptical because up until that point I hadn’t written a lot of speculative fiction, but it turned out this writer friend of mine was right.

- What can readers expect from Koko Takes a Holiday?

Normally I say it’s swashbuckling adventure about a retired female mercenary running a whorehouse on a manufactured archipelago 500 years in the future who’s boss tries to kill her. I then step back and wait. In about three seconds I can tell if they’re totally stoked or overwhelmingly appalled.

- What kind of a character is Koko?

Strong, clear-headed, deadly, proactive, beguiling, loyal, and funny. Knows how to make a mean cocktail.

- What would you say to readers who are thinking about reading Koko Takes a Holiday?

I am confident that there’s something in it to offend and delight everybody. It’s not your daddy’s sci-fi.

- What are currently working on?

The sequel…Koko the Mighty. I’m also batting around a couple of ideas for a heist novel set post-singularity.

- Is there anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your readers.

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