Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Hey Fiona. Thanks for this opportunity.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Clifton Kenny, I am 57.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am originally from Burlington Vermont.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I studied science, music, and education. I taught high school science for 20 years, now I’m loving retirement in sunny San Diego where I write and give music lessons. – In between dog runs on the beach.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am having fun helping a new young writer in our little group, Clifton Kenny Publishing. Emerson Gamble is authoring the first installment of our YA series, titled Bad Luck Zach. It’s fun to just be supportive and throw my two cents in here and there as an editor/publisher/mentor.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I can remember back in my school days, the long writing assignments that made all the kids groan were always something I could rattle off easily. In high school, college, and grad school, I got a more than a few comments from professors that I should be a writer. I always brushed it off. Once I realized my adult ADD was not going away, I started writing when I had to wait for my girls to get ready to go out, when I couldn’t sleep, and when my wife was busy working on her master’s degree. An odd reason to start writing maybe, but the bug bit me hard, and I just kept at it.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I remember when I got a preliminary copy of the first edition of Reflections in the mail, and on the back cover it was stamped “PROOF.” I snapped a pick and posted a cheesy line about having proof that I’m a real author. That was the moment!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I remember being on long runs when my imagination would wander. I would people-watch, and wonder what traits they got from their ancestors, what stories their family line might hold, and how it would make a good book. I’m a closet history buff and a science fiction fan, so those elements were fun to explore. Once the plot kind of took off in my head, the northeastern edge and theological philosophy just seemed to fit perfectly based on places I have lived and experiences I’ve had.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I just kept it simple and went for less is more. Shane’s ability needed a name, and I like the alternative definitions of the word reflection.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t know that I have a specific style, but one element that is important to my writing is authentic dialogue. I want my characters’ voices to be raw and real; if they used slang, improper grammar, or didn’t pronounce word endings in that area or time period, I want the reader to see that. This can make for a lot of research when characters from different time periods speak different versions of old English. I also like to develop characters whose intelligence might seem surprising or unlikely to most readers. Homeless vets, tough kids from the ‘hood, shy awkward types . . . it always feels rewarding to reveal their hidden intellect.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I used some of my own teenage experiences to sketch out Shane’s life. I had a paper route, I was the youngest, and lived in Boston and the Vermont islands. I also definitely resurrected some memories of high school and college friends, those times when being an almost-adult can be very R-rated. I had a friend with four brothers whose house earned the title of ‘Hotel,” after their family name due to overnight parties that were frequently held there, so I borrowed that dynamic of an innocent good-hearted kid being immersed in the older teens’ party scene. I also took from experiences playing soccer in a seriously competitive soccer town, and being moved up early to be the youngest on the team.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have not had to travel for my writing yet, but I have focused on places I have lived in a few different projects. If my writing ever supports more traveling, that would be sweet!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I found a connection by networking with friends of friends. They connected me to a great artist in a company called Serebral 360. I am very happy with it!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have promoted some book blurbs on social media in the past with the hash tag #historyplusscienceequalsfaith. I think faith in God, fate, kharma, the universe and most religions can embrace science as an evolving, best possible way to explain miracles with irrefutable evidence. –And that history can explain the human condition and give validity to countless generations of faith. The lead characters of Reflections portray the viewpoints of history, science, and faith in a way that creates a balanced equation. It’s enlightening to see how intertwined these elements can be.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
The most recent addition to my list of favorites would be R.J. Palacio. Otherwise I lean on the classics like C.S. Lewis, J.D. Salinger, mixed with some historic fiction and nonfiction, some musician types’ autobiographies, and a few graphic novels here and there. My all-time favorite book has got to be Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I remember reading that in high school because I had to, and discovering like, hey! This dude is real! Finally a genuine character I can relate to!
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The San Diego Writer’s/Editor’s Guild or SDWEG recommended my manuscript of Reflections for publication through their manuscript evaluation process. They also published a short story of mine in their annual anthology titled The Guilded Pen. That story is currently in the works to become a children’s book with a very talented illustrator on board, so I am pretty psyched about that project!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Sure, but more of a second career, and/or retirement project. I started in my late forties, and was surprised how much I really loved it. The learning curve takes a while before it ever turns a profit. It’s an exciting, interesting journey, and it lets me dream big dreams, but they take time.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That is a tempting question because of this dilemma: I didn’t start writing with selling a ton of books in mind. I started writing because it is really fun to write selfishly. By that I mean writing stories and characters that are intriguing for me to imagine, design, research, and develop. A novel that has a young athletic teen with a supernatural ability, genuine friends, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction elements, a party house, a handful of R-rated taboo scenes, and a theme of developing religious faith amidst good versus evil sounds like a blast to read… to me. And it was a blast to write, but I’m not sure if it is mainstream enough for everyone to want to run out and buy a copy. –With that being said, I guess my answer is . . . hell no! I wouldn’t change a thing. The minute I try to market the mainstream, it stops being fun to write.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned so much! Another reward for writing projects that require a lot of research – I get to flex those lifelong learner muscles. I was surprised how events in American history I researched now have more current, alternative possible explanations that were never in the age-old, patriotic textbooks we learned from growing up. It’s like every thing now has a Zinn-ist slant if you look for it. I have also noticed that truly good science fiction is based on a fair amount of true science, so it was cool to research genetics and mapping the human genome to back up Shane’s ability.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Maybe a Grayson Russell or a Daryl Sabara could pull off The Shane Sullivan character. He needs an old-school kind of persona to fit in to 1970s New England culture, with a young look that holds a hint of wisdom. It also depends on how tall they are.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write what you love, otherwise what’s the point?
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
A Reflections sequel, our YA premiere titled Bad Luck Zach, part three of our short story series The Navigator, and our first children’s book are all in the works! It’s an exciting time at Clifton Kenny Publishing. J You can follow us on social media links found on the blog here:
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m on Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, good stuff. Oh, and I just read Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons to my Grandson. Man, that cat is cool! It’s all good!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not exactly, but one early memory of a first chapter book I read on my own was when I read Charlotte’s Web. It was unforgettable to get to the end of that story and get a lump in my throat when Charlotte died. What a connection for a young reader like me to feel genuine sadness for an old dead spider!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I like goofy comedies, Adam Sandler-type movies for a good laugh. The San Diego Padres make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet all my great grandparents. I love how stories keep our family line alive, and it would be amazing to get perspective on how my family existed a century ago. This fits well with the theme of Reflections, and Shane’s ability to see people’s family history through their ancestor’s eyes. I even mentioned my great grandparents in the dedication. It’s fun to wonder about where, or who you came from.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play guitar, a little piano, a little bass, and I have a group of soccer buddies for pick-up games. We try to stay in shape. Try being the key word there.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love Star Trek shows and movies, Marvel and DC shows and movies, and Star Wars flicks, to name a few.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like Baja cuisine, Italian food, the color blue for my baby blues, and many genres of music including Celtic folk rock, classic rock, blues, jazz, and jam bands; namely the Grateful Dead and Phish.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would play out and try to be a musician.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
This dude married up, worked hard, and had fun.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Here it is: https://cliftonkennypublishing.wordpress.com/ Thanks a ton!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/clifton-kenny/id1042901277?mt=11 ALL iBOOKS EDITIONS ARE CURRENTLY FREE!