This week’s author spotlight is of a guy who is not only a fantastic writer, but a very patient beta reader, and a great friend of mine. Please welcome to the hot seat, author Charlie Kenmore!
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
CK: I’m a pantser. I rarely outline anything. Sometimes I’ll think of a neat scene, then write a story to fit the scene. Other times, I’ll have a couple of characters in mind, then write a story to see where the characters want to go. As with any rule, the current exception is my WIP 2052 which continues to grow in scope faster than I can write. So to keep up with where the story may want to travel, I’ve resorted to white poster board to collect random thoughts that occur before their time.
SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
CK: First, I fill the iced tea glass. Next, I make sure there is a snack within reach (preferably chocolate). Then things get a little murky. For years, one of my cats would perch on my shoulder while I typed. However, we lost her last week. The other cat is willing to help, but she is too large to hold and type effectively. So going forward, there will be new rituals to observe.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
CK: As noted above, I’m a pantser. I expect the Muse to give me the story straight the first time. It pisses me off when I have this tremendous climax in mind, and the story she gives me has nothing to do with the climax. Ideas come from all sorts of sources including, inter alia, the news, the web, art, insomnia and, of course, my highly significant other—Alexx Momcat .
SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
CK: In the past, I’m pretty sure the Muse manifested herself in my little gray cat. We haven’t discussed our new working arrangements.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
CK: I’d have to say Earth Angel. The book was a birthday present for Alexx Momcat. Her birthday is July 4. In March, I was brainstorming gift ideas. A little ethereal harp music, please, while I drift back to that fateful day, Nope, did that. Nope, already has one. Nope. Nope . Nope. Hmm. She loves her paranormal romances. Why don’t I write her one? How hard can it be? By her birthday, I only had the first part finished. I was content to leave it at that, but Alexx insisted that since it was her birthday present, I had to finish the story. (Tried typing “The End” on the last page, but that didn’t go over well.)
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
CK: Grrrrrrr. I’d have to go with fantasy. I’m not a big researcher. When I need a fancy gun or car, I drop ship my research on the web.”Oh, that looks cool. Done.” With fantasy, if I can’t find what I want on a moment’s notice, I can just phase, incant, or transmogrify whatever I need into existence.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
CK: I’m a logophile. You know, a philologue. Okay, a word geek. I like to use uncommon words in my writing. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my affection for words. So even though a word may fit perfectly, with all of the connotations as well as the meaning meeting my needs on all fours, I am learning to bend to convention and use more common lexical insertions, er, words. For example, Earth Angel begins, “Blinding coruscations in utter darkness. Deaving thunder in complete and total silence.” My mother asked me what “deaving “ means. Deaving means deafening. She asked why didn’t I just write “deafening thunder”? Well, deaving has the connotation of stupefying. That is what I wanted. The thunder was more than loud. It was mind numbing. Today, however, I probably would use “deafening” (at least at the final editing stage) since it is far more common and easily understood.
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
CK: Once again, grrrrrrr. If I had to remain in my current human form, then I’d probably want to find a nice Goldilocks Zone planet and settle down far from the inter-galactic strife in my new sci-fi novel Aabharika. For loved ones, they’d get to choose one of the Six Inhabited Realms from the Seven Realms tales (including Earth Angel), but most likely I’d give them an efficiency apartment in Paradox, the Qpiad capitol that relocates throughout the various Realms. Enemies definitely get a plot of land in the middle of one of the deserts of the Sixth Realm, Demonside.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
CK: I would love to sell a lot of books and stop worrying about monthly expenses. However, if there is a way to do that without becoming formulaic in my writing, then I’m all for doing it a different way.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
CK: Don’t give up your day job. While it is possible to hit it big, and some do, it is more likely than not that your art won’t be appreciated by the masses during your lifetime. Write because it does something for you. If you make a career out of it, great. If it remains a hobby, fine.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
CK: Since I write in several genres, I am loath to decry any particular genre as “inferior”. I write fantasy and science fiction. I have a darker, nastier alter ego that writes horror and erotica. What I do look down on is work¸ regardless of genre, that obviously hasn’t even been spellchecked, much less edited. If the author doesn’t have enough pride to clean a work up before releasing it for public consumption, that constitutes work that is inferior or less meaningful.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
CK: Not guilty!
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
CK: I just finished writing a science fiction novel, Aabharika. Harper Voyager had an open call for unsolicited, unagented books of at least 70,000 words. Aabharika was a short novel. I had a second book in mind. I had to stick the second book at the end of the first one, but I got out over 70,000 words, and submitted the book to Harper Voyager.
A human derivative female detective on a far off world discovers an alien prospective client’s face in an alley. She has to discover who her prospective client was, and why she would have been hired before she is killed because of it. Her investigation takes her off world where she becomes the linchpin in first a civil war, then an inter-galactic war.
Thanks for having me. CK
There are seven parallel worlds known as the Seven Realms which are separated by a Veil, six of which are inhabited by all manner of entities, some natural, some not. But that may not be the case for much longer. The first portion of the High Sidhe Prophecy of the Sevens has been fulfilled. The Anarch has escaped from the Veil. The Anarch is one with the Veil. She can part or drop the Veil wherever and whenever she chooses. If she so decides, she can lift the Veil in its entirety. The Seven Realms will converge. The laws of physics and magic will collide head on. Unless she is stopped, there will be nothing left.
Queen Amura of the Qpiad has called for an assembly of the signatories to the High Sidhe’s Second Accords, a multi-realm peace treaty to consider how to deal with the threat of the Anarch. But an Earthside TechnoWitch and other dark forces also are seeking to control the Anarch. Prince Dzhok (now going by Jack) of the Qpiad, High Sidhe Ambassador Salash (Jack’s oldest friend and periodic lover), and Valkyrie Brunhilde set out to find and befriend the Anarch before all is lost.