I remember growing up and waking up early every Saturday morning to catch my favorite superheroes cartoons. They were so cool, powerful, and nothing can stop them. They are always fighting bad guys and thwarting evil schemes. I used to record the fight scenes just so that I can watch them over and over again.
Now that I’m grown up, I still enjoy my superheroes stories, but I’m more interested in how these heroes became who they are today. An also, I enjoy being reminded that though they may be powerful, but that doesn’t make them immune to all the day to day issues that we experience as humans.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview Kipjo K. Ewers, author of the EVO Universe series, which features everything that I enjoy about superhero stories!
Michael Pang: Kipjo, can you tell us a bit about your background?
Kipjo Ewers: I am a first generation Jamaican-American from Mount Vernon, New York. I attended Catholic school from elementary school through college. After college, I worked in New York City for about a year or two as a temp. I even worked for the Yankees at Yankee stadium as a security guard and was fortunate enough to shake Yogi Berra’s hand on opening day after he helped raise the flag. I have since worked for several Fortunes 100 and 500 companies, which ranged from the technology, pharmaceutical, and banking industry. I was blessed to grow up in an era of the most awesome cartoons that ever existed like G.I Joe, M.A.S.K, He-Man, Thundercats, Voltron, and Transformers just to name a few. I was a geek and a nerd before it was cool to be one, and I wasn’t ashamed of it one bit. I love anime, and watch it even to this day. I was also a practitioner of the martial arts studying Tao Kwon Do and Kōga-ryū Ninjutsu. I haven’t practiced in awhile, but I still know some of my forms.
M.P.: I hear you. I’ve been a geek and a nerd my entire life! So, I can definitely relate to the love of fantasy cartoons and anime. Where and when did your writing journey begin?
K.E.: I have been telling stories since I was seven. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Green, encouraged me to keep telling stories, and said I had the potential to become an author one day. I actually started writing in my late teens. The first story that I wrote was titled, Armageddon Bioborg. It was basically a story about a cyborg killer whale that goes on a rampage – I never finished the story. Later I helped write two comic books with my younger brother, who is currently an artist, just to see if we could do it. One was titled Letterman, which was inspired by the rap song done by K-Solo, and the other was a martial arts comic called Warriors of Jin. The books were extremely detailed, but nothing came of them. They’re still at my parents’ house and look pretty cool after all of these years. After college, getting and maintaining a job became my priority in order to pay the bills. I would write as a hobby for wrestling e-feds, basically like fantasy football leagues without the huge payout. I did win some actual championship belts as trophies, which was cool. After getting back into comic books in mid 2011, and going to my first New York Comic Con in 2012, I started writing a profile and storyline which would evolve into my main character, Sophia Dennison, and her origin story. I self-published my first book in 2013 titled The First, and I haven’t stopped writing since.
M.P.: It’s always cool to hear about authors who go back to their passion and make something truly amazing out of it. Wow, so you’ve been a storyteller since the age of seven! The best authors are always great storytellers! I’m sure along the way, there must have been some great authors who have helped you sculpt your writing style. Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
K.E.: James Luceno and Brian Daley, who wrote the Robotech novel series, are considered my two favorites. I read all of the novels, and they were better than the actual anime in my opinion. As far as influence, I have to say Geoff Johns’ run with the Green Lantern series, more specifically, the Blackest Night series inspired me to take to the keyboard and write seriously. His telling of one of the darkest moments in the Green Lantern lore was both amazing and flawless. After I read the series I was like, “I want to tell stories just like that!”
M.P.: What a great list of authors! I can definitely see the influence so we all know that authors spend a lot of time pouring their hearts out into their work and life tends to get in the way. What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
K.E.: I still work a regular nine to five office job. So, my typical day consists of waking up at six o’clock in the morning and getting home around the same time in the evening give or take how my commute goes. I usually get to write in between my lunch break and when I get home from work after spending time with the Mrs., and on the weekend. It’s a lot to do in between regular work, household duties and now promoting the first two novels, but I have a lot of support from my wife, who is currently my business manager. We find a way to make it work.
M.P.: I think that having support from family is definitely key to persevering as an author. So, I’m curious, how did you come up with the idea for your novel series (EVO)?
K.E.: The concept for the series actually began as a comic book. After getting back into reading comics, I came up with a challenge for myself to see if I could write an origin story for a superhero that was both original and iconic. If I’m being honest, I wanted to write a female character that if someone was to put her in a battle debate against the likes of Superman, there would be a ton of legitimate arguments as to why she could kick his butt, or at least fight him to a standoff (laughs). So, I started first with character development, creating Sophia and her back-story. Next, I created an actual comic book script for the first issue and started searching for an artist. Unfortunately, my project either was passed over because they (the artists that I contacted) were either committed to other projects or, they felt it was not a project worth working on. Others were requesting astronomical fees before they worked on the comic, which I could not afford at the time. I was frustrated and on the verge of giving up, until one day my wife turned to me and said, “Kipjo, you are a writer. Why not just turn it into a novel?” At first I thought it was a crazy idea, but after mulling it over for a few weeks, crazy started to sound like a great idea. So, the material for the comic was converted into the first three chapters of the novel, which was then expanded into a twenty-six chapter book – The First.
M.P.: So with the current success of your book series, are there any thoughts of going back to having a graphic novel version of the book series created?
K.E.: It is one of my dreams to publish an actual graphic novel or, comic book series based on the books on the shelves of comic books stores to bring in new readers. It’s currently not in the forefront right now because in between promoting, I am currently working on finishing two books for 2016. However, it’s definitely something my wife and I hope to pursue once the timing is right and we find and lock down the right artist. We are currently forecasting that we will be in this position around July or August of next year. So, stay tuned.
M.P.: What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
K.E.: I believe that at its core, The First series is an original story line that has something for everyone. If you are into superheroes and want to read a story that does not sound like a copy of any other hero story out there, it has that. If you want characters that you can feel for and be emotionally invested in, it has that. And if you want a story that will make you pause and think, it offers this as well. In a nutshell, the characters in my novel do a lot of “god like” things, but you can find the human aspect in all of them.
M.P.: Definitely tempting for a comic book fan right here! I know it’s usually hard to pick a favorite child (or at least, admit to it out loud), but which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
K.E.: Sophia is definitely my favorite character. Her evolution was extremely fun to write. I love the fact that in battle she’s a badass powerhouse to be reckoned with, but when she’s not pounding a bad guy’s face in, she’s a big, emotional softy with her own set of insecurities. She reflects me best, because I am a big guy, but I’m also a softy at times. I watched movies like “Up” and “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, and was a blubbering mess.
M.P.: That definitely sounds like a very dynamic character! I love meeting authors that have a lot of passion for their work and their characters. It always makes the writing process fun. Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
K.E.: There were a lot of scenes that I loved writing honestly. If I was to name my top three, number three would be some of the fight scenes, especially with Sophia. It was fun displaying her abilities and building her up as a true heavyweight who is not to be messed with. The second would be the scenes in EVO Uprising where she helped people. In those scenes, she doesn’t just swoop in, save the day and fly away. She actually helped people in ways that regular heroes don’t, which is what makes her extremely unique. Number one would be the scenes where people revealed their vulnerability. I always want the reader to understand that aside from the amazing abilities each of my characters display, that at the end of the day they are human. They make mistakes; they love; they hurt; they fall; they get scared; and they have problems and/or issues like anyone else. My best examples would be Sophia’s interaction with her daughter and family. In those moments you’re going to forget that you’re reading about a woman that has these amazing powers and abilities. Instead, you’ll see the person who has issues and problems that she has to deal with – problems and/or issues that you, the reader, may relate to. Those were my favorite scenes because some of them were so moving that I got choked up while writing them.
M.P.: Sounds like a book that I’d really enjoy! I love stories that tell of amazing super heroes and their powers, but also remind us that they are also just people. Who also deal with similar human issues that we deal with in our daily lives. What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
K.E.: Well first and foremost, I hope they find the stories entertaining and it sparks the reader’s desire to want to see where I take the story. Aside from that, I hope my novels will inspire discussions. To make people think about the state of the world, society, and are we as the human race living up to our fullest potential based on that state. The running motto of the series in “Evolve or, Die”. I believe that even though we as a society are technologically advanced, as a species we have stopped evolving based on the way we treat our planet, and most importantly, how we treat each other. I feel that if we don’t get to a state of mind where we see one other as a part of one race, the human race, we’re in for darker days and a cliff that if we go off, we’re not likely to survive. This great divide where we constantly define ourselves based on country, religion, skin color, gender, age and wealth has proven to be more hurtful than helpful to us as a species. It is something I believe we need to desperately change in order to evolve and become better human beings as a whole. So, if my novels can open people’s eyes and start that conversation, let’s just say that’s better than any award or notoriety I can ever get.
M.P.: Wow, I definitely hope that the readers have that take away! What are your hopes for this novel?
K.E.: It would be nice if it was picked up to be adapted for a movie down the road. I think that’s every author’s dream, to see his/her work played out on a large screen for all to see. It is definitely mine anyway.
M.P.: I share that same dream with you, my friend. I mean, how cool would it be to walk into the set that was built based upon the setting in your book that came from your imagination! What do you have in store next for your readers?
K.E.: In 2016, I hope to complete and publish two novels. The first is the creation of a spinoff series surrounding the origin story of a character from my second novel EVO Uprising. It will be titled Eye of Ra, and will answer a lot of questions that the first two books did not address. The second book that I am working on is titled Fred and Mary, a supernatural romance comedy with a bit of a twist. In addition, the audio books for The First and EVO Uprising will be published and available for purchase through Tantor Media in January 2016. Both audio books are available for pre-order on Tantor Media’s website and at Audible.com or, Amazon.com. Finally in mid-2016, we’re planning on creating a comic book series based on The First novels for those comic book fans out there. We welcome everyone to sign-up for our newsletter and/or join the EVO fan club on the EVO Universe website to receive regular updates. There’s going to be a lot to look out for from EVO Universe in 2016.
M.P.: Sound like 2016 will be a very exciting year! I’m definitely looking forward to that! Thank you so much for sharing with us your story.
If you are interested in Kipjo’s amazing book series, please check out his website below…
Connect with Kipjo through Social Media
· Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoEwers
· Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/evo.universe/