From the haunted hills of Kentucky to the halls of med school, Dr. Kyle Alexander Romines is an incredibly imaginative writer. After publishing his first book while a medical student, Romines has continued to successfully balance his careers in medicine and print. One of his more recent novels is Drone, which merges Titans and science fiction to create a love letter to the superhero genre. Wanting to learn more about his background and Drone, I was able to interview Romines for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved experiencing? Are there any you still revisit?
Kyle Alexander Romines: I was very shy as a child. Books were my friends. Like William says in Westworld, “I used to live in ‘em.” I devoured RL Stine’s Goosebumps series. The lean, fast-paced approach he used in those stories is something I’ve tried to capture in my writing. I want to keep the reader wanting to turn to that next page.
I also had a deep love of comics and superheroes. Drone, my new superhero novel, is a love letter to the genre. There are multiple Easter eggs tucked into the book that reference my fondness for those stories.
Other childhood favorites include the Harry Potter series and Jeff Smith’s graphic novel Bone.
Yanes: On this note, when did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career as a writer? Was there a moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Romines: I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I was the kid doodling in the back of the class. Eventually, I had so many stories spinning around in my head that I had to find some way to get them out. I’m not an artist or a filmmaker, but I could write down my ideas.
Writing is like a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the better you get at it. It took me several attempts before I completed a full, book-length manuscripts, and four finished books before I was good enough to merit publication.
I mentioned above that I was a shy kid. In the end, books were my salvation. Through being an author, I have traveled to many unique places and made countless new friends. I’m a more confident person today because of my writing.
Yanes: Given that you are from Kentucky, how do you feel the culture and geography of the state have influenced your approach to writing?
Romines: Although Drone and my fantasy books aren’t associated with Kentucky, my supernatural mystery series—The Keeper of the Crows—is set in rural Kentucky. The hills, forests, cornfields, barns, and rural countryside helped shape and foster my imagination.
Yanes: You were in med school when you released your first novel. Given how difficult med school and releasing a novel are, why did you decide to climb two mountains at the same time?
Romines: It wasn’t easy. I completed The Keeper of the Crows (my debut novel) in 2011 and spent years submitting to agents and publishers. Finally, in 2014—during my second year of medical school—I received an offer of publication.
I won’t lie. It was a stressful period trying to juggle my studies with the editing process. Medical school made it difficult to fully invest in a social media presence or website due to the sheer time demands. It meant sacrificing a lot of my social life; if I wasn’t working in the hospital, I was home writing.
But more than medicine, writing is my true passion. The stories will come whether I write them down or not. I wrote Drone at the end of my second year of medical school. At the time I was studying for an eight-hour must pass exam. It was a pretty crazy time, to say the least!
Since medical school, I have completed and published many more books. I have eight books out (more coming soon) in fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, and western. It’s been quite a journey.
Yanes: Since you are immersed in medical technologies and research, is there any cutting-edge medical science you know you will include in a story one day?
Romines: Absolutely. I have plans for medical thrillers down the line, but I work my medical knowledge into my other books as well. Drone features knowledge I gained about neuroanatomy, and my fantasy series depicts infection and disease in a medieval setting.
Yanes: Your most recent novel is Drone. What was the inspiration for this story?
Romines: First and foremost, Drone is a love letter to the superhero genre. I wanted to tell a story that honored superheroes and all that comics meant to me.
The premise of Drone is the government gets their hands on a superhuman and turns him into a drone they can use to further their own ends. My protagonist—the drone pilot—hates superhumans, but when he discovers the government is up to no good, he must question everything he believes about the nature of heroism.
I’m very interested in the world around me. The questions posed by drone technology are timely and important. The idea you can press a button at one end of the world and blow up a village at the other, or even the implication for privacy alone, is fascinating.
Drone was also inspired by monster stories. Many of the superhumans in my books are beyond “good” and “evil.” They’re forces of nature, like a hurricane or tornado. When they battle, humans better get out of the way, because the devastation is immense.
Yanes: Drone features the Titans of Greek myth. Why do you think these mythological beings still resonate with story tellers after thousands of years?
Romines: In mythology, the Titans came before the gods, and they were powerful and destructive “primordial entities.” In Drone, the superhumans are immensely powerful forces of nature. Only one is close to even resembling a superhero in the traditional sense. Like I said above, when these creatures meet in battle, the destruction unleashed is like a natural disaster. But like the Titans of old, at the end of my story (SPOILERS) the Titans are the forebears of the gods, a new generation of superhumans with more limited but traditional powers.
Yanes: From the initial idea for Drone to its completion, how did the story evolve for you? Specifically, were there ideas present in the beginning that you either dropped or focused on in rewrites?
Romines: Some of my books—particularly those in the fantasy genre, which requires a great deal of research—take months to complete, but I was lucky enough to catch lightning in a bottle with Drone. I wrote all 350 pages in around a month. The story kept poring out of me. With few exceptions, I wrote every day from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed for a month (I was on break from school at the time) until the book was finished.
Some ideas—the origin of the Titans—I intentionally left out for future installments. I have a direct sequel to Drone called Titan in mind, and a spinoff series tentatively titled Superhuman.
Yanes: When people finish reading Drone, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Romines: Drone is dedicated to anyone who believes in heroes. It’s an optimistic book about hope even in dark times.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Romines: This year I will be launching the first four books in my Warden of Fál fantasy series. I am so excited to see how readers react to these books. I’ve invested in some of the best cover artists, mapmakers, audio narrators, and character illustrators in the business to bring this sweeping vision to life.
Five kingdoms. Five kings and queens. The High Queen rules over all, and her wardens keep the peace between the realms. Most of the wardens are beloved heroes, but my protagonist (Warden Berengar) is hated and feared. He’s also the most dangerous man in all five kingdoms. I can’t wait for readers to meet him.
Each book takes place in a different kingdom, with a different story, but the books also tell a greater story taken together.
This series, inspired by my visit to Ireland, has it all: monsters, magic, and mayhem.
I’ve already released the first two installments in paperback—the kindle launches in April—and I’m floored by the initial response. You can find them, and a short story prequel to the series, on my amazon page.