Kevin Gibson is a busy guy. A regular contributor to LEO Weekly and Louisville Music News, Gibson is also a member of local band The Uncommon Houseflies. On September 27, they will play at Molly Malone’s, 3900 Shelbyville Road, for “Love Your Guts,” a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation benefit. But that’s not even why the Highlander wanted to talk to Gibson! What caught our attention was his first novel, “The Liberation of Crystal Hill” (Bearhead Publishing) – part ghost story, part coming-of-age saga – told with sharp wit and eerie imagination. Gibson takes a short break from all his creative endeavors to give us the low-down on the book.
HIGHLANDER: So, when did you start writing “The Liberation of Crystal Hill?”
KG: I began writing the book back around 1994. It took about a year or a year and a half, and it actually started from a single short story. I liked the narrator’s voice, so I had the idea to write a series of short stories told from his perspective. Before long, the stories began to intertwine, and I realized I needed to go ahead and make it a full-blown novel.
HIGHLANDER: This is your second book, you published some short stories earlier. Your writing seems to have a lot of elements of horror. Is that something you set out to do?
KG: Actually, that’s just what comes out most of the time when I write – either horror or humor. Sometimes both at the same time, now that I think about it. Hmm. I wonder what that says about my psyche?
HIGHLANDER: You started out as a journalist. Is the creative writing process different from journalism?
KG: In journalistic writing, you are telling a true story about a person or people. It’s a challenge to not only get it right but to make it interesting for other people to read. With fiction writing, if something doesn’t fit, you can just make up something else. Of course, some journalists do that with their non-fiction writing, so there you go.
HIGHLANDER: How would you describe your novel to a potential reader?
KG: It’s an emotional story, not just a ghost story. In fact, most people are surprised about how the story revolves around the young protagonist’s family and the struggles he faces. He deals with a ghost and the effect this perceived angry spirit has on his hometown and his life, but his major struggle is in trying to hold his family together.
HIGHLANDER: What are your future plans? Is there another novel in the works?
KG: I am currently writing a zombie novel – it’s a different take on zombie lore. I have long been a fan of George Romero’s zombie universe and always wanted to write a zombie book, but I knew I had to come up with a fresh idea. I think I finally have, and I hope to have it completed and published by this time next year. I think it is a sustainable premise that could spawn more books. We’ll see.
HIGHLANDER: I heard you were in a rock band too. How do you juggle all of these creative pursuits?
KG: I juggle them all by not sleeping much. But, yes, my band is called The Uncommon Houseflies, and we are about to record a new CD, probably in October. Our songs actually have some elements of darkness mixed with humor, so it doesn’t stray far from my fiction.
HIGHLANDER: You have been a longtime critic for LEO and other publications. Does being a creative person yourself make you tougher or more understanding when it comes to judging other people’s creative output?
KG: I think it makes me more understanding ... When I write about an album, a movie, a play, a restaurant, or whatever, I try to first find something good about what I am experiencing, and I also try to see it from the perspective of the person who created it. I try to open up to what the creator was trying to do or trying to make other people feel or experience, and then I try to accept it for that, rather than filter it through any preconceived expectations I might have had. It isn’t always easy – especially if a deadline is involved.
Kevin Gibson’s first novel “The Liberation of Crystal Hill” is available online at Amazon.com (in hard copy and electronically), and at bearheadpublishing.com. It’s also stocked locally at A Reader’s Corner, Destinations Booksellers and Karen’s Book Barn, and can be ordered from Carmichael’s and other bookstores.