Confessions of my Past, Present and Future
Kenneth W Cain
Somewhere within my past, I lost myself, for some twenty-five years, but luckily (not so much for me) I’m old enough and there is plenty of past to revisit. The first piece of fiction I remember sparking my imagination was a version of Baba Yaga. I remember writing stories based on that tale for years, the latest of which ironically appears in Embers.
Somewhere around this time, I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and fell in love with space. And my mom started buying me books that were adapted from movies before they hit the theatres. Of those, I remember The Karate Kid and The Last Starfighter most. The latter of which stuck with me for a very long time, further piquing my interest in space.
From there, I got into comic books pretty heavily, subscribing to ten or so as I remember. Eventually, I took to my parents’ collection of Reader’s Digest, which they kept on their downstairs shelves. That’s where I first discovered my love for Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Finding his work led me to a local used bookstore, where the owner kept horror titles in the basement. There, among the shadows and creepy pops and wheezes from his boiler, I enjoyed short stories from greats such a Steinbeck, Lovecraft, and many others. That was also where I first found “Young Goodman Brown” in Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a book that still sits on my bookshelf.
I used to trade my college books to that store in exchange for horror novels and anthologies for years. One of my saddest memories was the day I came home from college to find that store closed. Never will my children know the pure joy in spending hours at that shop, finding within stacks upon stacks of used books that one gem that ignites your imagination.
I recently finished making my way through Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas books as well as his Frankenstein series. I’ll admit here, I have a certain fondness for the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, so those books intrigued me. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed those books, which pick up the story many years after Shelley’s timeline. Speaking of Koontz and his Odd Thomas series, I often use an example from Odd Apocalypse to speak of how best to describe setting. Odd is propelled into the future where he glimpses a world unfamiliar to him. Because of this, he has only the briefest of moments to soak in everything, and Koontz does so strikingly, though in my mind it lasted a little too long. It’s not always about what the setting is, though, so much as it is what our characters see, and how they see it. I found it a good insight into POV and setting.
Typically, I read one physical book at a time, but I’m a very slow reader. So, I add in a few eBooks and take my time with all of it. I like to read a lot of short work while I’m reading one or two longer pieces. And I usually listen to an audiobook or two while I’m working on the yard or I’m at the gym. Plus I listen to a dozen or so podcasts, many of which feature short work by many authors I admire. What sticks out most these last couple years have been the work I’ve heard at Nightmare Magazine, mostly by Damien Angelica Walters. She’s an amazing writer.
Joe Hill has been a favorite as of late, too. I absolutely loved Heart-Shaped Box. But I’m also fond of his short fiction collection 20th Century Ghosts. He’s definitely giving his father a run for his money.
My greatest desire isn’t to win awards or have billions of five star reviews.
Those things are great, and sure, who wouldn’t want that savory gravy on top of it all. What I really want is to write that one story that makes everyone think. The story that has depth beyond the words, that people can’t stop thinking about. That’s what I’ve got my mind set on, so I don’t see why that couldn’t become a reality. I’ve never been one to shy away from any goal. But I also like to see myself writing more long fiction, too.
As for reading, I expect by then my daughter will have been published.
She once told me she could write better than I do, and I remember telling her “Of course you can. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.” So, I see her writing that great story before I do, the one that leaves me in awe. I see her among those leading the field. I see a world where good writing is not determined by skin color or sex or who you sleep with, but by words and only words. And I see myself reading widely, wanting to learn more, to squeeze every last drop out of life before I find my end.
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Kenneth W. Cain first got the itch for storytelling during his formative years in the suburbs of Chicago, where he got to listen to his grandfather spin tales by the glow of a barrel fire. But it was a reading of Baba Yaga that grew his desire for dark fiction. Shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and One Step Beyond furthered that sense of wonder for the unknown, and he’s been writing ever since.
Cain is the author of The Saga of I trilogy, United States of the Dead, the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales, and the forthcoming Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. Writing, reading, fine art, graphic design, and Cardinals baseball are but a few of his passions. Cain now resides in Chester County, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.
And for more about Kenneth, visit his site or find him on social media: