Did you read space-themed books as a kid? Interests pique at young ages, and a book might be the thing that turns someone into a future outer space fan. We spoke with Kielen King, an artist who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to create such a book. Ion the Young Shuttle tells the story of a space shuttle traveling the universe learning, exploring, and having fun. Mr. King has a prolific creative career, but this his first entry into the realm of children’s books. We asked him about the book, his other work, and his thoughts on creativity more generally.
Where did the idea for Ion the Young Shuttle come from?
I had been thinking of writing a children’s book for a number of years. The idea of giving kids something to read/engage their imaginations has always been something I considered doing; I just finally made myself sit down and come up with an idea. I think the shuttle concept was just something that came naturally as I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction, space ships, and technology. Ion simply made sense from the standpoint of creating a character that children from all sorts of different backgrounds could attach themselves to without any of the preconceived notions that come with making a human character of any gender or ethnic background. It allows him to be fun and engaging regardless of who you are or where you come from.
How, if at all, does Ion tie into your other work, particularly all your musical pursuits?
I probably gave this away with my previous answer, however, it’s loosely tied to my other works with the inclusion of spaceships and intergalactic adventures. My musical projects were definitely geared towards an older audience, so outside of a handful of songs, there wasn’t a ton there for young people to really take in. The first single from the first of my sci-fi albums was very adult in nature with NSFW language. I think having that sort of “irreverent” feel endeared a lot of adults to the project, but it certainly was not optimal for including young listeners. The Ion project allowed me to change my approach a bit and do something family-friendly. Older fans have so much to choose from and those choices are not always ideal for children to take in. I would love for this to become something that parents and children can add to their collection of fun space-related items in their home.
What advice do you have for creatives interested in science fiction, or for creatives more generally?
That’s a tough one. Honestly, creators have so many different motivations for what they do, it’s difficult to give advice that actually pertains to all their world views or approaches. I guess if I have to give an answer, it would be this: Know what you want to accomplish. I’ll explain. Whether your goal is to create a thing you’ve always thought of, be “the first to do ‘x’”, or “the best at ‘y’”, or even “the only person who does ‘z’ with whatever approach” – know what that is and do that. Do it as much as you can, want, or need to (and none of that “MUST do ‘x’ amount of ‘y’ every day for success”). Find a creative pace and rhythm that allows you to create your best. Financial success may or may not find you, but be comfortable and confident in knowing who you are as a creative and what you want to do and be that person. You will run into so many people who are interested in telling you how to be your creative self, but the thing that makes you unique as an artist is the willingness to tune all of that out and make your art the way you want the world to see it.
Side note to that: Google it. (Seriously.) You may have a fantastic idea, but learn to google phrases that resemble or describe your idea. Nothing feels worse than realizing someone has already had your idea, story, title, character, etc. (and probably done it fairly well), except possibly being accused of plagiarizing someone else’s idea. Frankly, some of the best artistic inspiration comes from realizing you’ll need to alter your concept if you truly wish to be original.
Apologies for being long-winded in my answer. I guess I had more thoughts on that than I realized…ha ha!