Meet The Howler: Featuring Courtland Lewis & Kevin McCain

The first Meet the Howler post of 2017 is here and you are in for a good time, Howlers! You have probably already heard the names of our featured howlers because they are the editors of Red Rising and Philosophy! If you haven’t alreay picked up a copy, make sure you do that ASAP. But either way you are going to love getting to know Courtland & Kevin! Are you ready to meet our new Howlers? Here we go…


Let’s start easy. Tell us a little about yourselves and Red Rising and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy). (Make sure you include how you came across Red Rising!)

Kevin: I’m an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I teach a wide variety of courses, but my research specializations are in epistemology (the branch of philosophy focused on knowledge and related concepts) and philosophy of science. I’m also a big fantasy and sci-fi fan. I typically come across fantasy and sci-fi books in one of two ways: word-of-mouth from friends or by searching online for book recommendations. Happily, the internet steered me correctly when searches led me to Red Rising!

Red Rising and Philosophy is an edited collection that explores philosophical themes related to Red Rising. Importantly, all of the essays in Red Rising and Philosophy are accessible without any prior background in philosophy, and they are particularly interesting for Red Rising fans!

Courtland: Kevin and I are avid readers, but somehow he has time for reading new fiction, so he turned me on to RR.  He suggested I read RR, and if I liked it, he suggested we do a PCP volume.  After starting RR, I knew he was right—it deserved a deeper philosophical examination.  GS and MS offered just as much philosophical content.

2. I know it’s going to be hard to pick, but who is your favorite character in the Red Rising Trilogy and why? (If you can’t narrow it down to just one, give us your top 3.)

Kevin: Too hard to pick just one! Here are my top 3:
1) Darrow (for obvious reasons!)
2) Sevro (his unwavering loyalty is inspiring, plus I love his craziness)
3) Ares/Fitchner (he’s an awesome mastermind who put the Rising into motion, and he’s pretty badass to boot!

Courtland: My two favorites are Fitchner and Mustang.  I like Fitchner because he’s rough and gruff, and he fights for what’s right.  I like Mustang because she’s a strong character that doesn’t fall into the typical gender stereotypes.  Brown doesn’t just give her a gun, and say, “Here’s a powerful female.”  She develops as someone who is smart, powerful, and wise.  I’m glad to see that she’s in charge.

3. How would you fare in The Passage? If you had to pick one Red Rising character to face, who would you pick?

Kevin: I think it would be very tough, but I’d make it. I’d pick Ugly Dan for two reasons. First, he’s a jerk. Second, since he’s not a Gold, I’d have a better chance of surviving. 🙂

Courtland: I’m sure I wouldn’t pass, unless I got real lucky.  Kevin is the jiu jitsu guy!  If I wanted to win, I would need to take on someone fairly weak or really drunk.  If I knew I was going to lose, I’d probably pick Victra—at least it might be somewhat pleasurable as I die.

4. Is there a character you wish you could beg Pierce to bring back? Or a scene you wish he had written? Now’s your chance to appeal to him and all the Howlers!

Kevin: This is a tough one! As far as bringing any character back, I’d ask for Ragnar. I think it would’ve been cool to see him develop further into a leader of the Obsidian. As far as scenes go, I’d have really liked Pierce to have written a razor battle between Lorn and Aja. That would have been awesome!

Courtland: There are several I’d like to see return, but I’d mostly like to see Fitchner.  One of my worries is that all of the leaders are so young, and even though age doesn’t always make one wise, it’d be nice to see that the new Society has some leaders with experience.

5. What are you hoping to see in Iron Gold? Is there a character or characters you are hoping to hear more from?

Kevin: I’m hoping get to learn more about the Ash Lord (and see some more battles against him). I’d also like to see a showdown between Darrow and Romulus Au Raa.

Courtland: I’m glad to hear that Brown plans on digging deeper into the characters and society.  As a person who focuses on transitional justice, I’m most curious how Brown will explain the ups and downs of how the Society transitions into their new socio-political system.  I hope the new Society will “rise” to the challenge of making life better.

6. What made you decide to write Red Rising and Philosophy? How long did the process take from draft to publication?

Kevin: Court (my co-editor) and I are both big fantasy and sci-fi fans as well as philosophers. Additionally, Court had put together other philosophy and pop culture collections (perhaps most notably, two such collections focused on Doctor Who). We had been talking for a while about co-editing one of these collections, but we hadn’t found the right focus. When I came across Red Rising I read it and thought “this is it!”. I immediately told Court about the book (at that time Golden Son had only recently come out) and mentioned that it might be a good option. After we had both read Red Rising and Golden Son, we were convinced! We put out the first call for submissions (where we asked potential contributors to send us their ideas, and we invite those with the best ideas to contribute to the collection) around October of 2015. So, the whole process took a little over a year to complete.

Courtland: Kevin suggested we do a volume on RR in early 2015.  I read RR on a trip to the Los Aneles Doctor Who Con “Gallifrey One” in February, and by the end of May Open Court Publishing offered us a contract.  We then posted a few calls for papers, and by August 2016 we submitted our final corrections.  To get it ready for publication, we read and accept/reject several proposals, and for those that we accept, we have authors make several corrections, the Editor in Chief suggests changes, and we usually spend a month or so making sure there are no mistakes.  It’s labor intensive process that takes at least a year, but if it’s done right, you end up with a nice book that makes you proud.

7. Leaving out the Red Rising Trilogy, what books are on your favorites shelf?

Kevin: Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear; Martin’s Game of Thrones books; Herbert’s Dune

Courtland: I read a lot of non-fiction philosophy books, especially on ethics, justice, and forgiveness.  As for non-fiction, I read a lot of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and other classic Sci-fi and Fantasy books.  I also subscribe to several comics.  I love most of Jeff Lemire’s work, especially Descender, Mark Millar has some great stuff, and I still keep up with Batman.

8. If you had a lifetime supply of any one item, what would it be and why?

Kevin: Money—that way I could buy a lifetime supply of any other items I might want/need. 🙂

Courtland: Tough question.  If we’re talking about a non-physical item, I would say flourishing.  I’m tempted to say free time, but I think we already have a lifetime’s supply; we just have to choose to use it.  Music, books, Doctor Who?  … it’s just too hard!

9. Ready to play a little ‘This or That’? Here we go:

  • E-book or Print Copy?

Kevin: Print Copy

Courtland: Print

  • Morning or Night?

Kevin: Night

Courtland: Morning

  • Coffee or Tea?

Kevin: Neither

Courtland: Coffee

  • Mountains or Beach?

Kevin: Mountains

Courtland: Mountains

  • Boots or Flip-flops?

Kevin: Boots

Courtland: Flip-flops

  • Introvert or Extrovert?

Kevin: Introvert

Courtland: Extrovert

  • Beer or Wine?

Kevin: Wine

Courtland: Beer

  • Chocolate or Vanilla?

Kevin: Vanilla

Courtland: Vanilla

  • Book or Movie?

Kevin: Book

Courtland: Book

  • Facebook or Twitter?

Kevin: Facebook

Courtland: Twitter

10. Did I forget anything? Anything you want to add or a question you’ve always wished someone would ask you? (You have to give the answer to the question too!)

Kevin: I can’t think of any. These are great questions!

Courtland: Good one!  I can’t think of anything.  I hope I’ve been helpful.

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