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Friday, January 17, 2014

Kenneth W. Cain interview pt 1 of 3 (Beginnings)

Do you see yourself as primarily a horror writer? 

I do.

Why horror? What do you think draws you to the field?

When I was young, I was terrified of the dark. I imagined all sorts of ghosts and ghouls standing in the shadows, waiting to get me once I dared to close my eyes. Ultimately, I think horror is a bit of a nightlight for me, as it allows me to recognize these evils. Knowing is half the battle.

Is that how you envision your stories then, little lighthouses warning of rocky shores ahead? Or something else?

Not every story ends up that way, but some do when all the pieces fall together just right.

How did you first start writing?

I think it was 4th grade when a teacher read us the folklore of Baba Yaga. The story fascinated me, and I wrote my first piece that night. I believe it sounded very much like the story my teacher had read, though, so I wouldn’t refer to it as a success.

Did you have teachers, friends or family encouraging you along the way? 

My biggest supporters, other than my wife, have always been my father and my brother. My dad always supported me up until his passing last year. And although many of my family members always cheer me on, my brother has been quite insistent that I was going to do great things. My wife reads everything I write, and has that ability to be completely honest about her thoughts on stories. She's the one who consistently has gotten me to plant myself back in this broken writing chair. If not for her, I'd likely have given up by now. She's helped me find staying power. I'm very grateful for what support I do have.

In Peter Adam Salomon's blog, you said you had to learn not to listen to naysayers. How did you manage to tune them out?

For me, this was a difficult obstacle to overcome. When I decided to focus on writing, so many people told me I’d fail. This is one of the reasons I didn’t pursue writing as a career earlier on in life. Over the years, I’ve become the sort of person who won’t accept this “I can’t” attitude. I’ve always believed I can achieve anything as long as I work hard enough.

But I’ll warn; the naysayers tend to stick around in most cases. And the more successful you become, the more they grow in numbers. If you let it get to you, it’ll break you down. I came into writing a bit naïve, but I’ve learned what I need to do to make the most out of this career, and I’m determined to keep the pedal to the metal.

What is the story behind your first sale? What breakthrough in seeing fiction was required?

My first sale actually never came to fruition. The book fell through, and after a long period of hearing nothing, my story was finally released. Once I had my story back, I reevaluated what I had. For some time, I held on to the story and did nothing with it. But when I saw an opportunity at the right press, I took a shot, and was grateful to finally find a home for the story. I think taking the time to rework my story, even after that failed acceptance, was key in getting my first true sale.

Ah, so what would you advise a new writer in such a regard:  Don't be too eager to publish? or does it not really matter since you can correct mistakes later? 

I would say exactly that, don't be too eager. I think a lot of authors are rushing matters with self-publishing. Self-publishing isn't really something you want to go into without doing some research. There is a way NOT to do things. What I have learned is that this process of receiving so many rejections is just that, a process. It teaches you how to reevaluate your work, as well as how to become a little hardened. You know when you're getting closer, and those rejections can sometimes dig in on you a little deeper. If this is happening to you, everything is working as intended. Keep writing and submitting.

As to correcting past mistakes, that's kind of a separate answer. Yes, sometimes you can go back, but not always. I've done so, and actually have just recently in fact. But the more time you spend dwelling on the past, the less time you have to venture forward. It's all about progress.

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