Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Firstly, thank you for having me. I deeply appreciate the opportunity. My name is Kenneth W. Cain. I’m 47, but at times I feel much older.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, but these days I call Chester County, PA home.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I started college at Shippensburg University inPA as a math major, having had some propensity for numbers I guess. But things don’t always work out how you think they’re supposed to. I was very good at math, but I loathed the reality that everything seemed to be so finite. So I started drifting through various majors: psychology, sociology, English, art, and many more. I didn’t find a lot of success at that college, though, and eventually ended up back home, attending West Chester University, where I graduated and pursued art and creative writing.
My home life is all about my family, very much how I was raised. Family is everything, and my wife, Heather, and my children are my priority in life at all times. I can be very outgoing, but ever since I started writing, I’ve sort of become more withdrawn. I enjoy my time alone and the writing process, every step of it. It’s become a bit of an addiction I suppose.
I’ve written and edited for several presses and zines, and continue to do so. Crystal Lake Publishing is my latest family, and it’s such a great small press. I’ve also done graphic design and cover artwork for many presses, having spent twenty plus years as a lead designer for pre-press operations. In all, I’m “write” where I want to be at the moment.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Coming October 1st, I’ll start work editing an anthology for Crystal Lake Publishing,Tales FromThe Lake Volume 5. It’s a large undertaking, so I’m nervous and excited all at once.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at a very early age after one of my teachers read a rendition of Baba Yaga to the class. I remember being so fascinated by the story, and I think my roots in dark fiction are right there in that moment. I kept writing, going from short stories to comics and back to shorts, all throughout my schooling. I got away from it when I became a graphic designer, as I had to put in long hours each day, seven days a week to move up the ladder. Getting married and having children only made for less time. I guess it was sometime around 2007 that I started dipping my toes back in the water. But the tragedy of 9/11 put everything in perspective for me, and I decided then I wanted to do something more with my writing. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I fell back in love with writing and editing. That was when I really dug inand tried to refine my craft.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’d say it was that moment, maybe about a year and a half ago when I was really getting started with my latest collection, Embers, that I started seeing something I liked in my fiction. Once things start to click, it comes fast, and the pieces fall together like some complex Lego creation. Now,I find my writing improving daily, seeing the lines more clearly, creating better scenery, layering and dialogue. It’s all about finding that unique voice inside myself and allowing it to come out.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
You know, I’m not really sure. I can’t recall why the idea popped into my head, but I can remember envisioning a strange relationship between two brothers, one a normal heartbroken man and then his brother who is evolving into some alien creature, how that strained their relationship. I’ve actually recently received the rights back to that trilogy, and I’ve been cleaning it up some and creating new covers and titles for the trio. The first book should be back in the wild soon, and I have to say, it’s been an absolute pleasure revisiting these characters. It’s quite the enlightening process editing an older work.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Originally the first book was titledThese Trespasses and sold through Post Mortem Press as part of the Saga of I trilogy. I think that title came out in the story at some point, from a character named Sheila’s perspective. But, having revisited the book, I believe I’ve taken that wordage out. Now the first book is tentatively titled Alien Born,and it’sBook 1 of The Infinite Cycle.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I tend to receive a lot of comparisons to the older TV shows like The Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond and those writers. But those writers are far better than I, so I’m humbled whenever someone mentions anything like that. But I’ve also sort of embraced that comparison to a degree, wanting to delve deeper into the unknown of our world and others. The challenge for me is getting enough layering and subtext into the story for the reader to see the clues and figure things out for themselves. I want the reader to participate in the journey. That’s an important keyto telling a successful story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m always pulling in bits and pieces of my life, almost like seasoning a steak. Let’s face it, there’s no greater story than your own, because that in itself is differentfrom every other story out there. Our experiences, our wants and desires, all the successes and the failures, too, it’s all unique. That’s the beauty of it. I want that realness, the thin strands that thread my story to reality. But the fantastical elements have to be equally convincing or everything just falls apart. So I work very hard at seeding in plenty of the real to make the unreal more credible. But it’s a different formula for each story, so there’s no real percentage value in my case.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have, several times actually. You have to do your homework. That’s a big part of creating a real story, no matter how supernatural the elements are.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Ben Baldwin did the cover for Embers. I’m quite fond of his work. Many of my covers are my own work, manipulating stock photos along with some of my own artwork included. I’ve also used Philip R. Rogers in the past, for the artwork on my first two collections and various alternate covers for past editions of the Saga of I trilogy.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s some of that in there, certainly with my novel, United States of the Dead. Yes, it’s that obligatory zombie novel many of us have. But there’s a deeper message in the story. The main concept with that novel is that nothing really ever changes. Like bad dogs, us humans can be smacked right across the nose for being bad, and we just never learn. Not that I condone hitting a dog or even a human, so don’t take that as anything more than a cheesy comparison. The point being, we just keep making the same mistakes, over and over and over. It’s a sad reality and a big part of that plot.
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?
Ever since he broke onto the scene Joe Hill has been killing it. I also enjoy his father’s work. Really, who doesn’t? But Joe’s got the right chops. I dig everything he puts out. Some other folks that have really captured my imagination lately are Ken Liu, Damien Angelica Walters, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Kealan Patrick Burke. They’re all such great writers.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Ben Eads was the very first person I met in the writing community, and he’s always been one of my biggest supporters. There have been others as well, too many to list. The writing community as a whole is very supportive, and I’m appreciative of every single person that’s been part of moving my writing career in the right direction.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, very much so. I believe you have to treat it as such–have a deeply profound appreciation for the craft–if you want to grow as a writer. It’s a job, a difficult one.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m very proud of Embers. The work that went into that collection up front, before I ever sent it out for submission, was intense. I really hit my stride in there somewhere, and have kept it up ever since. So no, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Most certainly. It’s very much a “the more you do it, the more you learn” type thing. And my final revisions for Embers were a pretty big hack and slash. It’s a confidence thing, where the more confident you become, the more you can stand a little taller when you reach that publication stage.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Wow. That’s a really tough question, and I suppose much would depend on what book or story was being cast. But I’m quite fond of Idris Elba as a strong male lead. For a female lead, maybe I’d pick Anne Hathaway. I’m not sure. There are so many great actresses and actors out there I’d likely have a lot of trouble picking just one.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Patience. It’s the greatest advice ever given to me.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
With life being so busy these days, I’m deeply appreciative of every single person out there who takes time out of his or her busy schedule to read my work. You all rock!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Stranded by Bracken MacLeod. So far, so good.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Hmm, well, I was really into comics way back when, I even had subscriptions to many of them, which is where I first encountered sea monkeys by the way. Remember that? Some don’t consider those or comic collections like Garfield as books, though. I had a lot of difficulty reading when I was younger and required special classes, so that’s what I started with. But I remember reading the books The Karate Kid and The Last Starfighter before the movies came out. My mom was trying to encourage me to read more, and I suppose she did right by me in doing so, as I continued reading longer and longer works after that. I read a few by Jack London back then, and I’m sure dozens of others, but I honestly can’t remember what titles I read at what point in my life. Let’s just put it this way, I’ve been on many good adventures from as early as I can remember.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Almost anything. It’s two emotions I don’t think humans treat themselves to enough. There is nothing like a good laugh. Or even a good cry. So what if I cry while watching cartoons. I’m only human.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Any of my favorite authors, for sure. I’ve heard Joe Hill is amazing to talk to. Some people are just great conversationalist, and I love to meet people like that. I really just enjoy meeting people in general, though it may not always seem like it, as I’m kind of a nervous person at times.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve had coral reef and/or marine/fresh/brackish fish tanks for a very long time, back since my teens. It’s a hobby I’m getting out of at the moment, though, so I’m a bit heartbroken about it. But I want to put more focus into my writing, so it’s a necessary evil. I also collect baseball memorabilia and play guitar. Well, I used to. Hopefully I can find time to get back to strumming the strings now and then.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, Ash vs. Evil Dead, all those sorts of shows. The new It was amazing.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love, love, love seafood. Love it! Red is my color of choice, always. I’m a lover at heart. And Pink Floyd is my favorite band. I could listen to their music all day, every day.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Ugh! Good grief, that’s so hard to say. Maybe I’d start growing body parts on the backs of mice so I could sell themat the black market for thousands of dollars. Hmm…
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I’m with stupid à (Just kidding, Heather!)
A picture of a shovel on the tombstone with “Chicks dig me” right below it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Absolutely. Readers can connect with me and stay up to date with all my latest releases and more at https://kennethwcain.com/
Amazon authors page
Thank you so much for inviting me. I really enjoyed this.
Kenneth W. Cain