Ladies and Gentlemen, Confessions of a Reviewer welcomes you to Part One of our interview with an author who is new to ourselves, possibly new to some of you as well.
Please welcome, Kenneth W Cain!
Kenneth Came to our attention when we were given an advanced copy of his new collection, Embers, which is out at the end of this week. Trust us, this is one book you need to have!
In Part One, tonight, Kenneth tells us all about his life in general and his writing and influences.
In Part Two, tomorrow night, he will be telling us all about Embers and more general stuff, and of course will take on The Ten Confessions.
Friday evening, launch day, will have Confessions hosting our review of the collection and we will give you all the info you need to pick this little beauty up.
Nothing left to say at this point other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!
CoaR – So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general? Who is Kenneth W Cain and what is he all about?
KWC – First and foremost I am a father and a husband. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia on my twelfth birthday. Up until we moved, I fell victim to a group of bullies, which led to a troubled start. As such, it wasn’t until much later in life that I found some sense of confidence, though I’ve always collected my thoughts better on paper than in voice.
I love all things creative, as it’s the truest form of expression. I’m passionate about all artwork, though I tend to gravitate to impressionism. For me, there is nothing like sitting down next to warm fire, igniting my soul, and spending time with my family. I also coach baseball, which is my favorite sport.
CoaR – Do you have a pay the bills job?
KWC – I write full-time, which was the BEST choice for paying the bills! Kidding aside, back when my father first started getting ill, my wife Heather and I had to make a choice for one of us to leave our job, so we could see to the care of our children. Heather has always loved her job, so the choice was easy. I volunteered to take a layoff, which ended up being the right choice as the company went under six months later. I’ve been writing ever since, but I do supplement our income by selling home grown live corals.
CoaR – Why writing? Why decide on it as a career?
KWC – I don’t know that I actually ever chose writing as a career so much as it picked me. I mean, I took several writing and story structure classes throughout my education, and I did fancy reading and writing, but I never thought to write as a means of income. At some point, when I neared the end of my career in graphic design, we were extremely slow at work. That was when I started jotting down a story bit by bit. I would email short sections of the story home, where I would put them together. It ended up being a mess.
Eventually, I was writing every day. Then, at some point a couple years back, everything started clicking. My approach to writing became more serious and focused, which you’ll notice through the body of my work.
CoaR – Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
KWC – I jot down little notes in my iPhone throughout the day. Most don’t make sense a few days later, but every once in a while, one connects with me. Perhaps I’ll take elements from my past or from my personal fears, or maybe a few other details, and they’ll fit together like a puzzle in my mind. I’ll have a beginning and some semblance of an end, and I’ll embark on a virtual journey. In this way, I get to know my characters as I move through their world. I always let them drive the action, which often makes for pleasant surprises. But I enjoy the stories that write themselves best.
Once I’m done, I’ll let the story rest before I take an axe to it. Usually, in my first edit, I’ll build upon what I’ve written. I liken it to adding flesh to bone. After that, I work on refining the story, moving parts around to make better sense, and cutting a good portion of the story in most cases. I’ll keep running the story through edits until it feels complete. Even then it’s hard not to pick at my prose like a scab. I always find something I want to change, but at some point, I have to let it go.
CoaR – Which do you prefer to write, the short stuff or novels?
KWC – Both actually. I never go into writing a story with long or short in mind. I let the journey decide. Often, they’re short, which is just how it works out. But several are too complicated for a short story and need more detail to get the entire story. Again, most of the time my characters are at the wheel. They tend to let me know how little or how much story they require.
CoaR – So, on your website, there are tabs for Collections, Comics, Long Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Nonfiction, Novels, Short Fiction…..is this all your own stuff? Have you been writing since you were three?
KWC – I really only got started on my writing career somewhere early on in 2011. At one point that year I had several stories sold at a small press. They’d even been edited, but I hadn’t yet been paid. The press went under, and I panicked. I nearly threw in the towel right then, asking my wife what I should do with all “these old tales.” That’s how I ended up with my first collection.
I’d written some other work and sold quite a few in the meantime, of course. I write quite a bit as you can see. At some point, I created all those self-published kid books with my children in mind, trying to help them address their fears or get them started with some basic knowledge.
I also wrote erotica under the pseudonym Samantha Quick for a while, but eventually I grew tired of those stories. That was when I decided to finish those stories under my real name, so I rewrote what chapters I’d already put out there and removed the erotica before I finished them up. At some point amidst that chaos, I lost faith in my ability to make it in this profession.
As luck would have it, I received a message on my Facebook wall from Gene O’Neill, saying he’d enjoyed These Old Tales. This gave me some momentum going forward, and if not for him, and then Mort Castle, I might not have moved forward with my writing. So, I am quite grateful for those two men, and what they’ve done for me. I learned to love the process and stopped worrying about all the rest. Now, I have this passion to improve on my writing, wanting only to write the better story with each new tale. That’s my driving force.
CoaR – That leads me to ask this as well, on your authors page on Amazon I counted about fifty-five different titles including anthologies. Do you ever get rejected for anything or do you have some sort of Midas touch in getting submissions accepted?
KWC – I have virtual mountains I’ve created of my rejections. There are a lot of them. Too many, I guess. Much of that came of impatience, especially early on. As a new writer, you finish a story and say “This! This is the one!” But, of course, that rarely ends up being the case, especially if you’re not looking to give your work away for free. But as I’ve evolved as a writer, I’ve started receiving feedback on stories. Sometimes it’s something as simple as “good story but not for me” or as complex as examining certain parts of the story. Whatever the case, I’ve always taken that feedback to heart, realizing it’s only one person’s opinion but addressing those concerns all the same as I see fit.
What you see on Amazon is a ladder with many, many rungs. I’ve been climbing for six long years, and it’s been a gruelling ascent. But I’m still a long way from the top. I have more patience now, and I’m seeing a clearer line through my stories. My goals have changed, so as you follow that progression of stories (if you take the chance) you should see me growing as an author. Some authors take all that old stuff down, but I’ve decided to leave it out there. No one becomes great at any profession without some bumps and bruises. And I’ve taken my lumps, but occasionally I’ve hit on something, too. Those moments have worth to me, and for some readers, too.
CoaR – I heard recently in a podcast you did that you use your wife. Heather, as a litmus test for your stories and you have a “wife says this sucks” folder. Do you ever ignore her and put something out that she doesn’t like?
KWC – Heather is great at being honest. So much so that at times it’s hard to believe when she disagrees with me on a story. And she does, quite often. But, I’m getting what I asked of her. I wanted her to separate from the “I’m proud of” wife and focus on being the tough reader/editor. I want to hear the worst. If she can’t be honest with me about that, then I can’t improve the story. As such, much like rejections, I take her opinions to heart.
I think I’ve only ignored her advice once and pursued a story she didn’t like. That story did well, too. Which goes to prove my earlier point, that this is only one opinion. I very much appreciate everything she says, but in the end, it’s me writing these stories. I alone have to make the hard decisions.
And yes, there is a special folder I keep, but the actual name is The folder of lost dreams. But recently, and I don’t know why, I’ve redone my folder structure and renamed that folder z-Unfinished Stories. It’s not quite as fun a name, though, so I may have to rethink that.
CoaR – Have you ever thought of renting her “this sucks” skills out to other authors? Sounds like you could both make a fortune at this?
KWC – Ha! That would be something. I will say, I think she’d impress quite a few authors with her skills. Everything I’ve learned at this profession, I’ve passed on to her. She’s a wealth of knowledge and can really separate herself well. That said I’m not sure she’d have the time. I keep her folder chock full of stories, so she’s always got something in there to read. For instance, right now I have about twenty short stories, two novels, and a novella cycling in and out of her folder. That’s quite a bit of work. Again, I’m most thankful for her wanting to get involved.
CoaR – How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
KWC – I sort of answered this above, but I’ll expand on that some. I jot notes into my iPhone, but I also take pictures and screenshots of things that move or interest me. I sometimes take voice messages to remember the way my mind wants something said. I have a folder for that media, and it’s gotten out of control. Many of those ideas have been expanded upon in my z-Unfinished Stories folder. There are one hundred and forty-one stories started in that folder. There are four hundred and forty-one ideas in my unsorted story ideas folder, which doesn’t include the thousands I’ve entered into a database. So, I’m a bit disorganized with it all, but once I write something down it tends to stick in my head, so that helps.
CoaR – What’s is like working with Crystal Lake Publishing?
KWC – Joe and his staff are top-notch. They’ve all been so great. It’s by far one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far in my career.
Well, unfortunately that is all we have for Part One of the interview.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for Part Two when Kenneth will be talking about his new collection, Embers, and taking on The Ten Confessions.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
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: