Kerry Alan Denney aka The Reality Bender
D.O.B. July 31, 1961
Born Jacksonville, FLA; moved to Atlanta, GA 1973
A little about yourself, ie your education, family life, etc.
I’m the author of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror thriller Jagannath (Permuted Press, February 3, 2015) and the paranormal thriller Soulsnatcher (Lazy Day Publishing, April 2014). My brand is The Reality Bender, because that’s what I do in all my work: I bend reality, blending elements of the supernatural, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and thriller genres… even when the voices don’t compel me to. I’ve also written and published several short stories and poems, some of which won awards, and all of which can be found on my author website at http://www.kerrydenney.com.
I’m a big time dog lover, and love incorporating dogs into my stories. My eight-year-old Golden retriever Holly Jolly is a professional Therapy Dog, and has been for four years. Holly and I participate in a R.E.A.D. program (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) with two local libraries. We go to the Gwinnett County Mountain Park Library Branch two Saturdays a month for their “Doggie Tales” program, and the DeKalb County Sue Kellogg Library one Saturday a month for their “Read to Rover” program. Holly and I sit in the children’s section, and kids come up to the dogs and pet them and read to them. We teach kids how to properly approach an unfamiliar dog, and also how to improve their reading comprehension skills (the kids, not the dogs). The kids absolutely love Holly, and she loves them too! She’s like a furry four-legged rock star every time she strolls into the library.
I’m also a veteran professional performing and recording musician (guitarist) with 30+ years experience. I’ve written, recorded, performed on, engineered, and produced four CDs of guitar-shredding rock-n-roll, all of which can be found on my website in the “Music” drop-down menu under the “more…” tab.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My new post-apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror thriller Jagannath: published Tuesday, February 3rd, e-book now available, paperback available 2 to 3 weeks after release date.
Jagannath: The Monster From Your Nightmares is HERE! Facebook online Book Release Party Saturday, February 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. EST (1 to 4 p.m. PST), with awesome award-winning hostess Leslie Whitaker bringing fun, wacky contests and attendee participation, including five $10 Amazon Gift Card and seven FREE e-book giveaways.
Jagannath 2015 Virtual Book Blog Tour Extravaganza Monday 2/9 thru Monday 3/9, with lots more giveaways—seven FREE e-books and five $10 Amazon Gift Cards—interviews, guest blog posts about my work and unique madness, reviews of the novel, and loads of fun.
For Georgia and surrounding states, I’m a featured author/ vendor at The Dahlonega Literary Festival Saturday, March 28, where I’ll be signing and selling copies of both Jagannath and Soulsnatcher. Plus I’m on the verge of discovering the secret of faster-than-light travel, but I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to share it. Humanity may still not be ready for that: we have to stop killing each other first, and learn that we are custodians of our planet, not conquerors.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I was about eight. I wrote because I had to get the stories in my head out on paper. Now I write because I can’t not write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Officially, at age 15, when I won First Place in a high school short story contest. I still have the plaque on my wall of awards.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Primarily the urge and need to tell the story and share it with the world. But also a deep love of storytelling, and the desire to make my big dream come true. Also because the voices compelled me to, and threatened fierce and swift retribution if I didn’t.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I believe I do. I love delving deep into my characters’ heads, because they’re very real to me, and their stories demand to be told. Although my plot concepts are vastly different, they’re all mainly about the strength, resilience, and determination of the human spirit, selfless courage, and ultimate triumph and redemption amid overwhelming adversity and mind-boggling terror.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title Jagannath?
Thanks for asking! Jagannath [júggə naát] is a Hindu deity, literal translation “lord and master of the world and universe.” It’s also the origin of the word “juggernaut,” a relentlessly destructive, crushing, and pitiless force. This fit my monster The Reaper in Jagannath perfectly. When I did the research and discovered this, I thought, “Eureka and voila! That’s it. That’s my title.” It could be no other.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. As I stated earlier, my novels are all about the indomitable human will not only to survive, but also to prevail and thrive. I’ve often been told I make my characters really come alive in readers’ minds, create realistically vivid imagery, and make the readers care about the protagonists—and make them love to hate the villains. The main message is selfless courage and sacrifice, loyalty among friends, and compassion and mercy along with a defiant determination to stand up for others who cannot fend for themselves.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well, it IS fiction, but then again, who is really officially authorized to say what’s real and what’s not? What’s mostly realistic is the characters, who act, speak, and respond like real people instead of over-the-top personifications of classic stereotypical heroes, heroines, and villains. They all have flaws in addition to their strengths. Sometimes the bad guys are misanthropes who love puppies and kitties. The matters of the human heart, mind, and soul are realistic. However… who’s to say the monsters under your bed, the ghouls in your closet, the invading aliens from beyond this world, or the fiends from your nightmares are not real? In a world of infinite possibilities, anything is possible…
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
LOL, don’t tell anybody, but “yes” and “yes.” Not so much anyone or anything specific, but an amalgamation of people and events. As a writer, I’ve trained myself to observe people: how they act, facial expressions, gestures, posture, reactions, attitudes, speech patterns – including dialectic/ vernacular and colloquialisms – and how they comport themselves in a crowd of strangers versus being among a small group of close friends. Also, I’ve learned to be a good listener. You can’t learn about other people if your jaw is always flapping, nor can you learn about them if all you’re thinking about while they speak is what you want to say next.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life? a mentor?
Hard to say. There are so many. My earliest favorites as a kid were anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Carson of Venus, the Pellucidar series, etc.) and Kenneth Robeson (the Doc Savage and The Avenger series), along with Maxwell Grant’s fabulous The Shadow series. The wonderful, marvelous stories of Ray Bradbury. Anything by Kurt Vonnegut. Five of my favorite novels of all time are The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon, Watchers and From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz, and A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. But there are so many other wonderful stories, classic and modern…
As for a mentor, my great friend and fellow published author Lynda Fitzgerald. We’ve been in a great critique group together and have been friends for five+ years now. Lynda’s constant support, enthusiasm, and encouragement kept me persisting and persevering to get published during the times it seemed like publication was an impossible dream, and I’m forever grateful to her for it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m an author. Who has time to read? Kidding. I’m currently reading Between by awesome colleague Clarissa Johal, and thoroughly enjoying it. But with all my current marketing campaign strategies lately, it’s hard to make time to read. I manage to do so, but I have to carefully divide my time between promotions, reading, and writing. I need to spend more time writing in order to feed my Creative Jones!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Often! Most particularly, Justin Cronin’s The Passage. What a fantastic read, and amazing writer. And Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 completely blew me away. That guy is a far better writer than his famous father, hands down. In fact, he’s a far better writer than a lot of famous seasoned veterans in the publishing industry.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m currently rewriting my very first novel. It’s a great idea and concept, with an excellent cast, but full of amateur writing mistakes. I’m also writing a new supernatural thriller, and shopping my most recent novel for literary agent representation or a publisher.
All that along with the endless marketing campaign strategies and tactics for Jagannath. Who has time to sleep, lol?
When I finally get my Time Machine, Teleportation Chamber, Cloak of Invisibility, and Crystal Ball repaired and out of the shop, I will be able to resume my primary project: ruling the universe and all parallel dimensions.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Hmmm… well, there’s Lynda Fitzgerald, but she’s basically surrogate family. Several friends have stood behind me and supported and encouraged me to persevere and succeed, my best friend in particular, Mike Marjenhoff, to whom I dedicated Jagannath.
I also want to thank The Atlanta Writers Club, and their current president Valerie Connors as well as their most recent president Clay Ramsey, along with many members of the club, for their support and encouragement.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Well, I *do* have a very wild and vivid imagination, so yes. Hell yes. And I’m turning it into one.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. All my work is thoroughly edited numerous times. I sometimes let them sit unattended for a few weeks or even a month while I work on other projects, and then come back to them with a fresh perspective and ideas for improvement or revision.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes: When I first saw my ABCs on a chalkboard. That clinched it. Along with Green Eggs and Ham.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
No, sorry. All I can tell you is that it’s about life, death, love, hate, terror, and triumph. I seldom speak with anyone, even close friends who love my writing, about works-in-progress. It rarely helps, and often interferes with the creative process.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing per se, no. Promotion, hell yes. I can do it, and have learned a lot about marketing in the last two years or so, but I’d rather just write and have my full-time assistant handle the promotions. No, I don’t have a full- or part-time assistant. Yet. 🙂
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
With so many great writers to choose from, that’s a tough one. But for my long-term favorite over an esteemed career, I choose Dean Koontz hands down. I love his work because he really knows how to make me love his characters. That is also paramount in my writing. The greatest plot idea or story concept is nothing without great characters that you care about.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
So far, only in my mind. But oh, the amazing places I’ve been and the magnificent things I’ve seen while on those journeys!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
An extraordinarily talented digital artist named Dean Samed aka Conzpiracy Dean of Conzpiracy Digital Arts designed the Jagannath cover, of which I’m very proud, and honored to share with anyone. Anthony Walsh created the Soulsnatcher cover, which I also love.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your books?
Actually starting them with an irresistible “bang.” Once I get started and “in the zone” and my muse takes over, my stories and characters practically write themselves. Sometimes, after hours of working straight through some chapters and/or scenes, I’ll look back at what I’ve written and think, “Wow! Where did that come from?”
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Mostly I learn how to improve my writing skills and hone my craft with each new novel written. I also love how creating different types of characters helps me make them more real with each successive persona I create. Sometimes I think some of my characters are already “out there,” and just waiting to invade my mind so I can write their stories.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, the same advice I was given by a favorite author (Robert R. McCammon) many years ago when I asked him how do I get my work published: Keep writing, keep submitting material now matter how many rejections you get, keep improving your craft, and never give up. Quitters never win anything. If you don’t have thick skin and the ability to let rejection roll off you like water beading on a good wax job, you’d better find a different vocation.
Basically, I recommend that other writers adopt what I call my “Triple P Philosophy”: Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes: I love reading a great story, and I know you do too. We love becoming engrossed in the characters and worlds of our favorite stories, and feeling the real world disappear as we get blissfully lost in them. So I say: I hope you check out my work, and happy reading!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. But it was probably Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, or The Little Red Engine That Could.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh? Anything funny, clever, or witty, especially a play on words or a twist on a standard concept. I love a good laugh. Nothing cleans out the pipes better, and laughing is healthy and makes me happy.
Cry? Losing a loved one. That’s happened too many times already.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet, and why?
I would love to meet Mark Twain! He was one clever, funny, intelligent man. We could chat for hours without ever running out of things to share.
Fiona: What do you want written on your tombstone and why?
“Here lies Kerry. Man, that dude sure knew how to have fun.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Besides playing guitar, I love playing fetch with and walking and hiking with my Golden retriever Holly Jolly. Other than that, writing pretty much occupies all my time, and I’m perfectly happy and content with that.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Well… I do love The Walking Dead, not because of the zombies, but because the characters are so real, and the writing is superb. And the Mariska Hargitay show is a favorite (aka Law and Order: Special Victims Unit). I like Haven, NCIS (the original), and Leverage too. And of course The Twilight Zone, a timeless classic. Otherwise, I don’t watch much TV. I’m too busy writing.
I have a lot of favorite flicks, too many to mention. The Serpent and the Rainbow is a favorite, and Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness, and especially The Thirteenth Floor, a truly remarkable and amazing movie and story.
Fiona: Favorite foods / colors/ music
Food: pizza, Chinese, Cajun, Italian, seafood, cheese. Best sandwich in the world: a gyro on pita bread packed with fresh lettuce, juicy tomato, onions, and slathered with zazeeki sauce. Second best sandwich in the world: a BLT on wheat bread, packed and stacked, don’t hold back on the mayo, and extra bacon with more bacon. I love me a good greasy cheeseburger and greasy spoon too, especially the Awful Waffle (aka The Waffle House). Mmmm, a ham, onion, and cheese omelet with bacon, sausage, and hash browns or grits on the side, and biscuits with sausage gravy… gotta go now. The Awful Waffle is calling me.
Colors: the whole spectrum. Including some colors I’ve seen outside the spectrum in rare but treasured out-of-body experiences.
Music: mostly progressive rock, but I have such an eclectic list of loves: classic rock, Celtic, some symphony (especially Vivaldi), modern rock, Flamenco, Irish folk, the list goes on and on. Being a six-string shredder myself, I also love the guitar heroes: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, John Petrucci, Michael Angelo Batio, Steve Morse, another endless list.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Not a writer? Impossible. But I was a professional musician for 30+ years, and I did always want to be an astronaut when I was a kid. I grew up on the Apollo program. And don’t tell anyone, but sometimes late at night I am a UFO Captain. And Righter of Wrongs.
King of the Universe would be cool too. It’s good to be king.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
And for the authors out there, I also do author interviews and post them on my blog. For detailed info on how you can have your interview posted, go here: http://www.kerrydenney.com/request-an-author-interview-guidelines-and-policies.html
Thanks so much to Fiona McVie for conducting this interview with me, and special thanks to all my friends and readers for helping make my big dream come true. You all rock my world!