My guest today is author Kenneth W Cain.
Welcome to Sylv.net Kenneth, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for having me Sylv.
My name is Kenneth W. Cain and I write dark fiction. Most would classify my work as weird horror, but I prefer to cast a wide net with my writing and not pigeon hole myself into only one genre. I tend to like mashups, so dark fantasy and science fiction are pretty common in my work. Along with writing, I also enjoy gardening, drawing and painting, graphic design and formatting (a service I still provide to several authors and publications), coaching my son’s baseball teams, and much more. I try to live a pretty full life, as we aren’t long to this world.
So what made you decide to write books?
I’m not really sure. I recall sitting at work when the first idea struck me—a novel I’ve been working on for far too long entitled, From Death Reborn. It’s a story about three different characters who travel through a realm somewhere between life and death, and how they are pawns to some greater cause. My job was so slow—the beginning of the end sadly—and I knocked out 10,000 words like it was nothing. Rarely has it come so easy, and the amount of editing needed on that 10k was an immense undertaking. Fleshing that out to nearly 80k has been a labor of love. Unfortunately, that novel isn’t quite ready for publication yet, but soon.
Can you tell us what was the inspiration for your books?
My inspiration typically starts with a seed from something I know quite well. For instance, with A Season in Hell (due out September 7th from Crystal Lake Publishing) I drew from my long career playing baseball, as well as coaching. The story is about a woman playing baseball in the minor leagues back in the nineties and what she must endure just to play the game she loves. For that story I took a lot from my own personal experience, even down to the smallest details like taping up a torn muscle with duct tape just so I could play the next game.
How do you create your characters?
That’s kind of an interesting question, as they just come to me. I’ll be sitting there thinking about the story, forming the plot in my head, when the characters just sort of walk up to me. As I consider them, they too evolve, their face altering, the color of their skin, how they talk, all of it. They pretty much make themselves, and I let them drive the story, telling the tale they want to tell. After all, it is their story, not mine.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Well, as I stated above, I tend to draw from my past quite a bit. But there’s another element to the process, what I call the “what if” moment. You’ll see a lot of that in my shorter work. For instance, there’s this story in my collection Fresh Cut Tales entitled “Split Ends.” I was sitting at a pool while on vacation watching a mother furiously brush the knots out of her daughter’s hair and thinking about the “what if.” In this case, what came to mind was a disease, one the mother and daughter thought was very real, and it was but only mentally in this case. So that story is about the struggle of a mother not to succumb to that mental disease.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
With A Season in Hell the struggle was to create a realistic woman playing baseball in the nineties. And I needed her to feel real, especially since Keisha Green is an African American. I like to create a diverse world in my fiction as we live in a diverse world, and you want to get it right so as not to offend anyone. You want to enlighten people, to show them there is a bigger world out there. So, with all of my fiction, there’s always that, trying to create a realistic world, which can be quite challenging at times.
For my collection Darker Days, the challenge was more physical. I have what my doctors call ME (a rare form of fibromyalgia where you’re in pain about 70% of the time). There’s a lot of debate about the disease, which is fine. It doesn’t matter what it is, only that it is going on inside of me, and that makes writing anything a challenge. The stories in this collection were mostly written during a very tough time, dealing with that pain on a daily basis. As such, it was quite hard getting them where I wanted them.
How do you cope with writer’s block?
I’m not sure I’ve experienced writer’s block, not in the sense I couldn’t write at all. I do get a certain fog now and then due to my chromic illnesses and meds, but I handle that like I do anything in life. I push through that wall and just force myself to do what I need to do. That’s not always easy, but my thought is that if I can just get the story out, then I can fix it in edits. Sometimes that means I get out a very short, 500-word piece. Other times it’s much longer. But I always flesh the story out in edits, layering, seeding, and applying all the needed changes through many, many edits.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Obviously King. But also Joe Hill, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Gene O’Neill, Lucy Snyder, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Shelley, really just everything I read. Every story is a lesson, whether good or bad. There’s something to learn from all of it. But yeah, those authors have really had an affect on my writing.
We know what you like to write, but to relax, what do you like to read?
Anything that pulls me into the story. I really want to be part of the story, not just a bystander. I want to feel the emotions. I want something cerebral, but not so much it loses me and I have to pull out of the story just to figure things out.
What plans do you have in your writing future?
I have new editions of some older work coming out in the near future, next year I think mostly. And I’m also starting to piece together my next collection of short stories. I’m also finishing up edits on a novella, Shadows in the Storm, which is a young adult dark fantasy about the Shadow People. And I have two novels (From Death Reborn and Construct) I’m trying to finish up with too.
If you could live in any genre, what would it be and why?
Well, while I write horror, I probably wouldn’t want to exist in that genre because it’s damn scary. Ha! So likely fantasy, some place nice, with castles and dragons and a safe bed. Either that or a western. That could be fun.
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Paying the bills! Seriously, it’s not a great paying job, and it’s quite difficult getting reviews, especially when you’re climbing up the ladder. There are so many non-paying writing gigs out there so I tend to avoid those for the most part, charities excluded. I mean, there are stories I’ve put through weeks or even months of work, for a rather small pittance. It’s a lot of work for nothing, but that’s not really why you do it. You write because you have to, because you love writing, and because you can’t stop writing. It’s an addiction.
Lastly, what advice would you give to those thinking about writing a book?
To quote Shia LeBeouf, “Just do it!” That’s the hard part, getting it all out. Once it’s out, the rest is easy. But I always suggest patience. There are a lot of presses out there that will help you self publish your book for…say $5,000 or more. Most of those services are preying upon the anxious author. There are many good small presses that pay their authors and don’t charge you to publish. Don’t fall for the traps.
I would like to let your readers know that I have three books coming out this year (all three through Crystal Lake Publishing). Details for all three books follow
The first is a novella entitled A Season in Hell. Due out September 7th.
“Kenneth W. Cain takes timely social topics and explores them against the backdrop of America’s pastime. What begins as a baseball story quickly delves into something rich, deep, and dark.” – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls
When Dillon Peterson is honored for his baseball career, he must face a ghost that has long haunted him. He is transported back through his memories to a single season in the nineties that broke his heart. That was the season he met Keisha Green, the first and only woman to play baseball in the minor leagues. He sees what she goes through, what she must endure just to play the game both of them love, and this struggle leads to their friendship. As matters escalate, Dillon finds himself regretting his role in it all, as well as his career in baseball.
“A Season in Hell is a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story. You won’t soon forget Dillon or Keisha. Her struggle is as timely today as ever. A Season in Hell is also a love letter to baseball and how, despite everything, the game can still heal and bring people together who seemed impossibly far apart, and can do so through intimidating odds. A timeless story of true humanity.” —John Palisano, Vice President of the Horror Writers Association and Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author of Night of 1,000 Beasts
The second is Tales From The Lake Volume 5. Due out November 2nd.
“From the Mouths of Plague-Mongers” – Stephanie M. Wytovich
“Malign and Chronic Recreation” – Bruce Boston
“Final Passage” – Bruce Boston
TBD – Gemma Files
“In the Family” – Lucy A. Snyder
“Voices Like Barbed Wire” – Tim Waggoner
“The Flutter of Silent Wings” – Gene O’Neill
“Guardian” – Paul Michael Anderson
“Farewell Valencia” – Craig Wallwork
“A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” – Allison Pang
“The Monster Told Me To” – Stephanie M. Wytovich
“Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” – Michelle Ann King
“The Boy” – Cory Cone
“Starve a Fever” – Jonah Buck
“Umbilicus” – Lucy Taylor
“Nonpareil” – Laura Blackwell
“The Midland Hotel” – Marge Simon
“The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” – Robert Stahl
“The Color of Loss and Money” – Jason Sizemore
“The Loudest Silence” – Meghan Arcuri
“The Followers” – Peter Mark May
“A Bathtub at the End of the World” – Lane Waldman
“Twelve by Noon” – Joanna Parypinski
“Hollow Skulls” – Samuel Marzioli
“Maggie” – Andi Rawson
The third is my fourth collection, Darker Days. Due out December 7th.
“Darker Days, the latest collection of short stories by Kenneth W. Cain, delivers on its title’s promise. From the very first story readers are dragged into seemingly ordinary situations that serve as cover for dark secrets. Ranging from subtle horror to downright terror, from science fiction to weird fantasy, Cain demonstrates a breadth of styles that keeps you off balance as you move from one story to the next. There is something for everyone in this collection–as long as you don’t want to sleep at night!” – JG Faherty, author of The Cure, Carnival of Fear, and The Burning Time.
Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.
The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.
There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.
In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”
When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.
INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING STORIES:
▪ “A Ring For His Own”
▪ “Rust Colored Rain”
▪ “Passing Time”
▪ “What Mama Needs”
▪ “My Brother Bit Your Honor Roll Student”
▪ “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 1 – Henry Wentworth”
▪ “The Sanguine Wars”
▪ “The Hunted”
▪ “Her Living Corals”
▪ “Puppet Strings”
▪ “The Trying of Master William”
▪ “By The Crescent Moon”
▪ “The Underside of Time and Space”
▪ “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 2 – Gemma Nyle”
▪ “The Griffon”
▪ “When They Come”
▪ “The Reassignment Project”
▪ “One Hopeless Night by a Clan Fire”
▪ “Lenny’s New Eyes”
▪ “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 3 – Anna Kilpatrick”
▪ “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse”
I just want to say a big thank you for having me today.