Lessons I Learned from my Hero by Lou Kemp – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lou Kemp will be awarding $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons I Learned from my Hero

When I began the Celwyn series in 2018, I superficially knew details about the immortal peyote-chewing magician Jonas Celwyn and the other characters. The journey since then has been educating both for me, and for Celwyn.

The Violins Played before Junstan was initially written as a 15-page story for the Mystery Writers of America anthology Odd Partners. When it was finished, I realized there was so much I could do with it. I had already two strong characters who were just beginning to mesh as dual protagonists, a mechanical bird with an attitude, a villain who had died about page 14, and a premise that opened up a world of possibilities. When I began turning it into a novel, it only took about another five pages to know it was time to back up and add in a few things.

In a short story, the action is high and timelines tight, and details had to be minimal to meet the 3000-word limit. For the novel, I began layering in the details, which also provided color and the opportunities for the plotting. Since I’m a pantster, aka writing by the seat of my pants without a plot, this stage was relatively easy: I did not have to change anything major, just go with it.

I also learned early on that I as I wrote, I naturally planted clues and set-ups for the other characterizations and the other plots for the books in the series. Not only those things were important; I also had to keep track of all of those red herrings, real herrings, and fancy herrings. I didn’t need a story board yet, or was too stubborn to use one. There is probably a lesson here.

As I wrote, I fell in love with my characters, so much so, I protected them from being injured or … drumroll … killed off. You can imagine the flak from editors and friends. The darlings/enemies you love must be in danger: lesson learned. In book 6 one of them is killed. I will miss this character.

It is probably obvious to many readers, and most authors, that a protagonist is usually an extension of the author’s ego, or soul in some cases. I learned a few good and bad things about my personality, aka Celwyn’s personality. He has changed during the making of the first 6 books and four years, and for the better overall. An example:

Celwyn realized this: At the end of book 3, Professor Kang and Celwyn get into a fight about a dangerous task that must be undertaken. Kang tells the magician that he won’t back his plan because Celwyn “can’t kill a woman unless she is directly endangering” him, and that he only would do so if someone he cared about were threatened. Celwyn argues that he’d killed dozens that morning. None were women. The plot goes on.

There will be many more lessons learned. Bartholomew’s superstitious reactions to Celwyn’s magic have evolved as he grows stronger as a character. He is less afraid. I really want to turn him into a vampire if he is ever mortally wounded (probably in book 8).

While on a mission to avenge the death of his lover, the immortal peyote-eating magician Celwyn is hired to deliver an automat, Professor Kang, to a priest. But Celwyn quickly learns that everything the priest told him was a lie. Now his ship, the Zelda, is stuck in a horrific storm and Celwyn knows he must reconsider his allegiance if he is to steer his vessel in the right direction and continue his quest.

Enjoy an Excerpt

San Francisco, 1865

Late in the evening, thick ribbons of fog moved like a living animal, breathing, then thinning to vapor before revealing the shadows between the wooden barrels that lined the docks. Beyond the Opera House’s silhouette, oily glimmers of the bay cut through the darkness, only to be obscured by the fog again.

As Celwyn neared the docks, he heard virulent cursing above the commotion from a carriage as it charged down the cobblestones toward him. When the coach drew level, the driver raised a whip above his horse. On its descent to the horse’s back, the tip suspended mid-air and snake-like, the whip shimmied out of the coachman’s hand.

The man steered the hackney to a stop. As he slithered out of the high cab, the whip followed him, wrapping around his ankles, lifting him feetfirst into the air. His cursing echoed to screams as he disappeared into the night sky. A moment later, a splash could be heard, and a satisfied smile crossed Celwyn’s lips; he couldn’t stand to see anyone mistreating an animal. The horse trotted down the street, rather jauntily, back toward the stable yard as the magician stepped around a snoring drunk and into Salty’s tattered and dingy atmosphere. Celwyn could have sworn it was the same drunk he stepped over last night.

About the Author:Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.

More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.


2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Book 1, The Violins Played before Junstan reissue with the publisher, the 4 Horsemen on 10-17-22. The 4 Horsemen will publish the remaining books in the series beginning with Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died. The companion book, Farm Hall continues the story of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother will also be available.

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Buy the book at Amazon, 4 Horsemen Publications, Book Depository, or Barnes and Noble.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Really well set up site, and user friendly. Thank you for hosting.
    As usual, Goddess does a stellar job on these tours.

  3. Bea LaRocca says

    Thank you for sharing your guest post, bio and book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading The Violins Played before Junstan

  4. The book sounds like an interesting read.

  5. Adding this book to my tbr. Sounds so good.

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