The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson, by Sean Kennedy
Series: Get Out, Book 1
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: April 7th, 2016
I am feeling super pumped to finally get to share my interview with Sean Kennedy with you. My friend sent me Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils for my birthday one year and I’ve been hooked ever since.
In The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson, football player Micah is brutally outed, and faces bullying and more as he strives to achieve his dream of playing in the Australian Football League (AFL)
Sean was gracious enough to let me pick his brain over his most recent title, so let’s give him a warm welcome to Just Love.
DMac: What was your inspiration for Micah? Was it more of a challenge to write someone unlike you or someone like Simon who shares qualities with you?
Sean Kennedy: Micah really just came about as a new foil for Simon, especially as he’s getting older and Dec keeps talking about starting a family. Micah, at first, acts as a nightmarish portent of what could happen if you have a child that acts out against you – but it actually ends up proving Simon has the capability of being a parent when he starts to tear down Micah’s façade and see him as a human being rather than a bad seed. I have to admit there was a lot of trepidation writing Micah – a lot of readers have criticized Simon and said he was unlikeable at times and I knew Micah was going to be a thousand times worse, so it was harder to try and let his redeeming qualities shine through at certain moments so the reader could soften towards him.
D: Have you included any of your past experiences into this book? Are any of the bullies in the book based on anyone you’ve known?
SK: I’ve never been a sporty person, but I’ve certainly experienced homophobic bullying, even when I went to school decades ago. I hung out with girls because I didn’t trust straight boys, and that immediately made you suspect. I was like Simon, though, and I survived through snarkiness and a “I don’t give a fuck” attitude which has sadly eluded me later in life. I wish I could lay claim to having a hot footballer boyfriend, but c’est la vie.
D: Why did you decide to branch out into doing more of a Young Adult novel? Was there anything you had to do differently writing this than your other books?
SK: To tell you the truth, I never intended there to be a spin-off series from Tigers and Devils. Micah was just going to be a secondary character causing drama and he’d probably only be mentioned in followups. But he took on a life of his own. Micah had a story to tell, and it was different to Dec’s as he would be ‘out’ from the very beginning of his career. I guess they’re more ‘New Adult’ as they’re eighteen at the start of the GetOut series and will be in their early twenties by the end.
It was hard getting into another person’s head, however, as I’m so used to Simon’s. I had to switch to third person narrative as I didn’t want them to sound too similar, even if they’re in the same universe. Funnily enough though, Emma’s book reverted to first person. She demanded it. It was most difficult trying to write Simon from Micah’s perspective and making sure he matched up with the Simon we know.
D: Have you gotten any feedback from the AFL community?
SK: Ha, ha! No. I think I would be scared shitless, really. But it would be interesting.
D: What would you say to someone who doesn’t enjoy sports to get them to read your books?
SK: They’re set in a sports background, but they’re really not about sport. Your mileage may vary, however. But they’re really about the relationships we form as we get older, and create new families.
D: I know you’re into Twin Peaks, but you have other geeky references in your works. How do you decide what to reference?
SK: It really comes with what you’re depicting in a scene. In real life I have a pop culture or song reference for every occasion, so I’m likely to annoy everyone by saying, “Well, this is just like…” or break out singing. So it just comes naturally. I think that’s why I bonded so spiritually with the Gilmore Girls when it was on. They spoke my language.
D: I personally enjoy the non-romantic relationships in your books, particularly the friendships between men and women. Is it important for you to include these kinds of friendships and familial relationships into your work?
SK: Yes! Nobody is an island, and the characters’ lives would ring false if they only had one or two friends and nothing else. Life isn’t like that. It’s a chaotic swirl of people. And everybody needs their friends. How else would you survive life? If anything, I’m sometimes regretful that the Tigers books are in first person narrative, because it always means Simon is present. I would like to see some scenes between other characters without his presence. I get to do that a little more in the GetOut books, but it can be a hard thing to achieve when you have such a central character.
D: Now that you have the Get Out series, do you have any plans for any more Tigers and Devils books or are you branching out for good?
SK: No, there will definitely be more. Definitely a 4 and 5, but that may be it although Simon and Dec could always pop up in short stories or novellas. I don’t want to be the only person anticipating the release of Tigers and Devils 14: Retirement Home Blues.
Thanks so much Sean for joining us today!
You can buy The Ongoing Reformation
of Micah Johnson from:
In case you missed it check out my review of his most recent work here and keep your eye out for some upcoming reviews on a future Sports Sunday!
There is no Plan B.
After being outed in an especially brutal way and briefly running away from home, Micah Johnson has sworn to get his life back on the straight and narrow. Well, not so much straight, but you know what he means.
Unfortunately the path to redemption is not an easy one. With fights at school and on the football field and an all-round snarky attitude as his number one defense mechanism, will Micah survive the school year and the training camps to achieve his dream of making the national draft and becoming a professional AFL player?
His mentor, Declan Tyler, believes in him, but Micah wishes he had the same confidence in himself. Only time will tell if the ongoing reformation of Micah Johnson will be successful.
Sean Kennedy lives in Perth, Western Australia, but his heart still belongs to his hometown Melbourne—which is also the home of Simon Murray and Declan Tyler from his series Tigers and Devils. A disciple of cult leader David Lynch, Sean is breathlessly awaiting the revival of Twin Peaks in 2016.
To connect more with Sean check him out at his website (here!).