Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Gene Kendall
Gene Kendall enjoys what some might dismiss as junk culture. And free books. He’s not opposed to the tips, however. Currently, he’s contributing to Comic Book Resources’ “Comics Should Be Good” blog. His first novel is a story of loyalty and redemption, set against the death of the music industry. Poor thing.
Book Sample: “yeah, shut up.” is a story of loyalty and redemption, not comfortable in any specific genre, set against the death of the music industry. Poor thing.
In the previous century, young kids deluded themselves into thinking “musician” was a viable career path. Follow two kids from Who Cares, Alabama as they form a band, experience their big break, release an album, and disappear into obscurity. All the fun you’d ever hope to find in a fictitious account of a 1990s alt-rock band almost going mainstream. If you still think you missed the train to Mars, if you miss the lands of green and skies of blue, this could be the novel for you.
Why do you write? My motivation to write my first novel came from a conversation with someone around my age about the sea of bands plucked from obscurity and given an opportunity to possibly, maybe, but probably not, become the next Nirvana. And how those bands have virtually disappeared from memory; some of these bands, we couldn’t remember their name, but we remembered the hooks from their singles. Often the only singles the bands seemed to have.
When did you decide to become a writer? I started a blog focused on comic books in 2007, in the later days of virtually every comics fan starting his own blog. Forcing myself to write something every day was a nice habit to get into. The thought of writing a novel, even for myself, began to seem like a realistic possibility, after I’d been writing online for a few years.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? “yeah, shut up.” took around six months to write. The novel I’m currently writing has taken over a year, and remains unfinished, even though I think I might possibly be looking at the end of the tunnel. Writing a page a day, at least one page, is always the goal, but often not the reality.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I tend to write between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, with any number of gaps during the day, depending on what happens to be going on in my life.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I’d like to think that I’ve grown more comfortable with prose, and I struggle less with some of the unexpected hurdles that appeared when writing my first novel. I continue to play around with story structures — the thought of a very strict three-act outline just strikes me as too restrictive and too predictable for the reader. Those standard rules exist for a reason, though, so straying too far away probably isn’t a good idea.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? Nope. My preference is to write in total silence. I’d rather avoid any distractions when writing.
What have you written? In addition to “yeah, shut up.”, I contribute to the entertainment/comics website CBR.com. My articles can be found here: http://www.cbr.com/author/g-kendall/
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I tend to have an idea of where the story will generally go, and chapter by chapter, I compile a list of bullet points I want to hit. Often, the story takes me in a new direction, and more than a few of the bullet points are either dropped or saved for a later chapter.
Any advice for aspiring authors? I have a list of pointers for writers who want to publish through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program on my blog: http://notblogx.blogspot.com/2016/01/kindle-direct-publishing-my-experience.html
Regarding the actual craft of writing, the general advice I could offer is to write a story that is actually about something, and not just a series of connect plot points. Characters should have points of view, some you might even disagree with vehemently, and be able to articulate them in honest ways. And if you want to finish the book, make an effort to work on it every day, or close to it. Don’t look for an excuse to day dream — sit down and do the actual work.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? The main character in my novel is sarcastic, self-absorbed, manipulative, and perhaps not the best friend you could have. He’s also in possession of a certain amount of talent, however, which helps to fuel his already healthy ego. The combination of talent and ego, and a voracious appetite for content from the music industry, gets him into some trouble.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Probably the hardest part involved the battle between text and subtext. Which ideas do you outright state, and which do you allow the reader to discover? When are you being too cryptic? When have you dwelled on an idea for too long? Based on reviews, most people seem to have picked up on the concepts, while a few didn’t think I connected the dots clearly.
What is your favorite movie or TV show? Of all time? THE SIMPSONS. At the moment? Probably THE AMERICANS.
Which writers inspire you? Everyone from Kurt Vonnegut to television scribe David Milch to comic writer/artist Larry Hama.
Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? I tried to do that several times. I think it’s a critical part of the writing process. How will someone coming into this cold think about the story? Does the intro draw people in? Am I waiting too long to get to the point? Is this scene too long? Does it truly advance the plot, or play to the novel’s themes? Writers have to constantly be asking these questions, and sometimes you won’t find the answer until you’ve reread a piece three or four times.
What book are you currently reading or just finished? I finished “The Kreutzer Sonata” by Tolstoy not too long ago and loved it. I’ve also been reading various independent books for review exchanges. Some indie writers are doing impressive work, I have to say.