Name – Pete Kahle
Age – 44
Where are you from? – I grew up in a small town an hour or so north of New York City called Washingtonville. Even though it was reasonably close to the Big Apple, it seemed quite rural with horse farms and county fairs, Little League Baseball and Boy Scouts.
A little about yourself, i.e. your education, Family life, etc… After flirting with a degree in Creative Writing, I received my BA in Theater from SUNY Binghamton in 1992 and proceeded to do nothing in that field.
I was aimless.
The next nine years were spent drifting from job to job: bartender, bouncer, pizza delivery before moving to Massachusetts in 1995. At this point I became somewhat respectable when I was hired as a phone drone by a heartless insurance company where I spent a couple of years as a nameless cog in the corporate machine explaining to people why their claims had been denied. Fulfilling job, huh?
From 1999 to 2001, through a close friend, I managed to finagle my way into a position at Tripod.com, a great start-up company in the infancy of the internet. The two years I spent there was the most exciting period of my life. I thought I had found my career and my purpose in life… until the company was gobbled up by a larger company, which in turn was scavenged by an international corporation that laid off more than half of the employees, including me. I found myself unemployed at the age of 31 with no prospects at all in my career of choice.
So I became a teacher…
12 years later, I teach incarcerated youths for the Department of Youth Services in Massachusetts. It’s not my ideal job, because education has become more and more corporate in the past decade, but I’m comfortable and I enjoy working with my students. I’m married with two children and I’m content… especially now that I am writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second novel, tentatively titled Blood Mother, should be out around the end of the year. I am also editing a benefit anthology called Widowmakers to raise money for fellow author James Newman, who was injured in a freak accident back in April. We have stories from Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, Brian Hodge, Elizabeth Massie, Gary A. Braunbeck and dozens of others. The book is going to be HUGE… easily 700 pages, available in ebook or trade paperback sometime in August.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Ultimately, I write because I read and ideas germinate. I’ve always had detailed plots and floating around in the caverns of my mind, but I didn’t do much about it until recently. I wrote a bit in high school, but never completed a short story until college when I took Creative Writing I as my introductory English course. Unfortunately, I was a bit too focused on the social aspect of college life and didn’t think much about the future. I started a few stories over the years, but never felt confident enough to submit them anywhere. I was deathly afraid of failure.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was always the guy who said he was going to write a novel (and I was certain I would when the time came along), but 99% of it was just talk, and it got to the point where everyone knew it was just talk, except for me. The ultimate irony is that I completely stopped talking about writing once I began my novel. It felt as if mentioning what I was doing would jinx the entire process, similar to the baseball superstition about talking to a pitcher during a no-hitter. You just don’t do it because doing so will incur the wrath of the gods of baseball who will then make certain that the next batter will hit a bloop single over the firstbaseman’s head and the no-hitter is in the shitter. That’s pretty much how I run my life.
As a result, I kept my trap shut for the first year, and I didn’t really consider myself a writer until I finished The Specimen last March. Although I had received compliments from my beta readers, I never truly felt accomplished until I began receiving positive reviews for The Specimen written by people I didn’t know.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A good friend decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2012 and I figured that I would attempt it as a personal challenge. 50,000 words in a month is an insane pace, though, so I quickly realized that I wouldn’t come close to finishing it in the allotted time with my two-fingered-hunt-and-peck method of typing. I gave myself a daily goal of 500 words and stuck to it religiously. It’s not a lofty goal, but I do have a full-time job, along with a busy family life, so it works for me
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really, although I’m sure others would disagree. I like to use vivid cinematic imagery because that’s how I imagine the action in my mind. I also use a variety of techniques to tell my story: flashbacks, inner monologues, audio transcripts, newspaper articles, journal entries, etc… Anything to add some variety.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Even before I began to write seriously, I would amuse myself with a creative exercise that I call The Bentley Little Game.
Bentley Little, as any fan of horror fiction should know, is renowned for his bare bones titles: The House, The Town, The Store… You get the idea. His titles are utterly simple, but they say a lot in those two words. Along with the synopsis on the back, you know that he is going to tell you a tale about an event that begins normally as a small problem, but gradually evolves day by day into something horrific.
The Bentley Little Game is an exercise where I come up with the most innocuous title possible and then write a back cover synopsis for a story that would fit the title. Sometimes I would use a title like The Experiment or The Well, while other times I might get a bit more ridiculous with titles like The Toilet or The Hamster. The Specimen is actually one of the ones on my list that I had yet to use in an exercise. I once read in an article that simple titles sell better, so I went with it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No overall theme. Just that morality is subjective. Nothing is ever in black and white, no matter how much you want it to be. Good people can be villains and bad people can be heroes.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Excluding the parts about alien parasites, it’s quite realistic. Each flashback in the Interludes is set during an actual event, some of which feature historic figures who have been borrowed for the plot. Ivar the Boneless is an example.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nothing specific. There are parts of me in every character I create, even the parasitic alien Riders.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The Stand by Stephen King, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and any book written by Dr. Seuss.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Wow, besides the obvious one (SK), I’d have to go with Robert R. McCammon. His ability to write in multiple genres is something I hope to be able to do some day. His apocalyptic epic Swan Song rivals King’s The Stand as my favorite book of all time, and his Matthew Corbett series deserves a broader audience.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie. It’s kept me up well past midnight the past two nights. Just a horrific idea about the Apocalypse that I wish I had come up with. DiLouie will be around for a while.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Jon Bassoff, Bracken MacLeod and Rena Mason are all names that we will frequently see in the future. Sarah Pinborough, while not new, seems to have taken her game to a new level recently. Her Thomas Bond novels, Mayhem and Murder are amazing. Here’s hoping she continues that series for a long time coming.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My 2nd novel, Blood Mother, and a short story titled “Meeting Momma” for the Widowmakers benefit anthology mentioned above. After that, I’m planning on at least one sequel to The Specimen and a number of short stories. I also have a baseball time travel novel in me that may be written sometime in the next decade.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
One of my best friends, Barak Blackburn, designed and published a super hero RPG for Spectrum Games titled Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul right around the time I began writing in earnest. Although it was in a different genre, he had the experience to empathize with me through the highs and lows of the creative process.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Most definitely, but I’ll probably keep teaching for 15-20 more years before I hang it up to write full time.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kealan Patrick Burke, a great author in his own right, designs book covers in his side business Elder Lemon Design http://www.elderlemondesign.com/. If I get my wish, he’ll design all my future covers as well.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Ending it. I constantly wondered whether I had overlooked an extremely important plot point and left it out. I had the stereotypical nightmare where I was back in high school because I had forgotten to turn in an important final project and my diploma was suspended. My sleep was filled with endless searches in my high school hallways, trying to locate my class and hoping that nobody would notice that I wasn’t wearing any pants (a common dream theme for me).
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned perseverance. My life is filled with instances where I procrastinated until it was too late in order to spare myself feelings of inadequacy
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Set a pace in words per day. Stick to it. Set a routine. Stick to it. Invest in a great cover. Network with other authors.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I simply want to thank them for taking a chance on an unknown writer with his first novel. You have helped open the floodgates and I hope you’ll stick around to see the stories that pour out over the next few years.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I do remember the first book I read twice: Kel of the Ancient River by Hans Horler. It was written in the 1950’s and translated from German, but it was the first book I recall that transported to a different time and place, thoroughly detailing the adventures of a young nomad boy n prehistoric Europe. My grandparents gave it to me when I was 7 or 8 and I probably read it 10-15 times over the next couple of years. I loved it so much that I tracked down a copy a couple of years ago and bought it to read to my children.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I am a huge fan of baseball history and fantasy football. I follow the New York Jets, but I live only 5 miles from enemy territory aka Gillette Stadium. As for baseball, I’m a fan of the Red Sox and the Mets, united by their mutual hatred of the Yankees.
For about 10 years I also used to play D&D at least once per week. Unfortunately, raising a family made it difficult to do something that requires such a time commitment, but I have always remained a geek at heart. I also collect anything related to Conan the Barbarian.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TV: Breaking Bad, Longmire, Modern Family, American Dad, Workaholics, The Following, Hannibal, CSI, Criminal Minds and Orphan Black
Movies: Se7en, Reservoir Dogs, District 9, Alien, Memento, Oldboy, Apocalypto, The Thing, The Fly, Dog Soldiers, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Devil’s Backbone, Let the Right One In, I Saw the Devil… I’m sure there are dozens more I could list
Fiona: Favorite Foods /Colors/ Music?
Foods: Anything spicy, Sushi, and strong coffee
Colors: Black and Green
Music: Volbeat, Tool, Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Johnny Cash, 5 Finger Death Punch, and Nothing More
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have enjoyed continuing to work in the internet industry and I hopefully would have followed some of my former co-workers who moved to the west coast and ended up working for Google and Facebook.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here are links to my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads