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10 Questions for Kevin Tinto



This man might look familiar if you spend any time at Starbucks. Kevin Tinto has been to nearly every one of the coffee shops in the county — and we say nearly in case a new one just opened. Tinto does his best work under the gaze of the two-tailed green mermaid, and lately that means getting ready to be a speaker at ThrillerFest in New York City this month, where he will be discussing the success of his self-published novel Ice and possibly luring others into the wild world of writing.


What is ThrillerFest? ThrillerFest is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers, always held during the summer in New York City. If you write thrillers in any genre, it is simply the best opportunity to learn from the best authors on the planet.

How many people will be at ThrillerFest? There will be around 1,000 attendees.

What will you be doing? I will be sharing the methods I used for transforming, publishing and marketing a manuscript only my mom liked into a best seller. For established and mid-list authors, I’ll share a detailed plan on how to use the incredible resources available on the internet to promote your novel, over and above what your publisher’s plan might include.

What inspired Ice? I started writing Ice around the year 2000. I lived in New Mexico for two years and spent time in the Anasazi cliff dwellings. I wondered why these people, who lived on the mesa tops for thousands of years, suddenly stuffed themselves into these dangerous cliffs and caverns.

How much did it cost to publish the book? Publishing an indie novel with the current resources is very inexpensive. I spent $199 with Amazon affiliate CreateSpace to professionally set my manuscript and publish it. I paid Fiverr.com $5 to make my cover. That’s right. Five bucks. That is your total cost. For those writers with a manuscript in the drawer, and the idea that you had to spend thousands having books published, etc., those days are long past.

How many copies sold? Since publication in September 2015, Ice has sold more than 200,000 copies on Kindle and paperback and is nearing 2,000 reader reviews on Amazon.

Did you major in English? No. In fact I struggled through English classes, getting by with passing grades. I come from a family of writers, so I believe it is in the DNA. The key is taking a natural storytelling ability and working with enough coaches to bring it to a professional level. That is still my most difficult task. I have a world-class editor, Ed Stackler, to thank for the success Ice has had to date.

What do you do for fun? I’m an A-type personality. If it could kill you, I’ve likely done it. Most of Ice is taken directly from my experience as a high-altitude mountaineer and pilot. The readers sensed and were drawn into the story by that realism. I also spend time on the ocean outside the Golden Gate, salmon fishing, diving for abalone and spearfishing.

Where did you get your ideas? Writers play “what-if” mental games. That’s what I do. From there, I write up a one-page concept with a beginning, middle and end. For Ice research, I hopped on my Harley-Davidson and took a road trip out to the Southwest. This year I did the same for Ice Genesis, including sweat lodge and spiritual quests in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Why Marin? I grew up in Novato. After a stint working for companies like Chesebrough- Ponds and News Corporation in New York, I returned to Marin and settled in Tiburon. There’s no place on earth like Marin.

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