APKY/AMP: Hello Kent, and welcome to AuthorMeProfessionals for this interview. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
I began my writing career back in 1996. Inspired by Ken Burns' PBS series The Civil War, and by a Civil War artist and co-worker named Todd Price, I decided to take a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield to see for myself what all of the interest was about. I was so inspired by the sights and feel of the battlefield, that I revisited the area several times over the next couple of years. That's when I felt I was motivated to the point where I begin writing a fictional story about the Battle of Gettysburg. That story was called, "Journey Across Time". Journey was a tough sell as is all fiction today, but I didn't let a little set back such as that keep me from writing.
Around that time I asked a national columnist if he had any advice for a fledgling writer. His reply was simple: "If you must write, write." I took that to mean that if you want to write, don't let publication, or lack thereof, stand in your way. Write because you feel you have a unique way of telling a story. So I continued to write.
Just before 911, I began a non-fictional book about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I thought I would let the people who lived through that period in our nation's history tell about that historic day through their eyes. I collected over 170 stories from people all across America telling where they were and what they were doing when they heard of the attack...and how it impacted their lives-short and long term. Even the publishers who rejected Reflections of Pearl Harbor said that the book, originally titled The Date Which Lives In Infamy, sounded like a neat project. Eventually, prestigous publisher Praeger (Greenwood) Publishing picked it up for hardcover, and it's still available in paperback. Reflections became my first published work.
APKY/AMP: Great advice. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Like I said, my first published work was a non-fiction, but following that, everything after that has been fiction. I also write screenplays and have completed 7 of them to date.
APKY/AMP: Now that’s a field I’ve never worked in – screenplays. I always imagine it to be too complicated. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It depends on the novel/story. Sometimes I want to surprise the reader at the end, and other times there is a sense that resonates throughout the story that when all else fails, do the right thing.
APKY/AMP: Another positivie thought. Tell us, what have you had published to-date?
Reflections of Pearl Harbor (Praeger)
Journey Across Time (Dailey Swan)
The Second Season (Vanilla Heart)
A Different Drummer (Vanilla Heart)
Spirit of the Season (Fort Hamilton Publishing)
A Union of Souls (FictionWorks-e-book, Fort Hamilton Publishing-PB)
APKY/AMP: Quite a handful, Kent. Congratulations! Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re just starting out, PLEASE use the services of a reputable editor. What you think is great, might be less than so. In my case, I found that I had a knack for telling a good story, but structurally, I needed help. If you’re an experienced writer, it doesn’t hurt to pay for a critique. Sometimes an extra set of unbiased eyes can catch that which we can’t.
APKY/AMP: That’s solid wisdom too. Why should we buy any of your books?
My latest was adapted from the screenplay version titled Destiny’s Echo. As a result, the story moves at a good pace, and you can just see the characters evolving at a reasonable pace. I’ve read several books where the author takes forever to describe the house or grounds where the action takes place. I get it already! As a result, A Union of Souls is just 108 pages long, but is priced accordingly. All in all, it’s a good story, and like the screenplay, Heaven Can Wait, it makes all of the right turns at the right times.
APKY/AMP: Okay, sold! How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
It depends on the publisher. Hopefully an author can find an author who will stand behind them and help them out. The author, on the other hand, should be willing to put forth a little time, and even money, to promote their works. Personally, I try to do a few book signings, and as a result, I’ve managed to be interviewed on the local TV news. On occasion, I’ve run newspaper ads promoting a signing, and of course, there’s always the internet and blogs.
APKY/AMP: Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
No. I’m not sure. Wouldn’t hurt.
APKY/AMP: No it wouldn’t. J Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
At my computer which is located right off the living room. It’s usually quiet there, and everything is right at hand.
APKY/AMP: Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
I use my first two initials. I never fell in love with my given first name (Kent), and I think K.D. Richardson stands out a bit more. Sounds a little more professional. I hate to resort to gimmicks, but every little bit helps.
APKY/AMP: You can say that again. I’ve a name that far too long and hard for many to pronounce so shortened it to A P von K’Ory! J Now, do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
No agent. I used an agency once, but they charged me money and did very little in return. Another took some money-not a lot- and as far as I know, she did absolutely nothing. I noticed that both are now listed on Preditors and Editors as ‘Avoid’.
APKY/AMP: Yes, one has to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Could you tell us what you’re working on at the moment / next?
I just completed another novel/screenplay titled The Reawakening, but I plan to sit on it for a spell. It’s similar to A Union of Souls, although not too much, but I thought it would be best to let Union have its run, then I’ll release Awakenings. I’m redoing the screenplay version of The Second Season on the advice of Danny Manus, a noted Hollywood screenplay critique. He was right; what I have down works fine as a novel, but not so much as a screenplay.
APKY/AMP: Well, as I already mentioned, with screenplays I’m in the dark, Kent. Perhaps you could give me some lessons J And do you manage to write every day?
Every day, approx one hour, although sometimes up to four hours on the weekends when time/weather permits.
APKY/AMP: Give us your opinion of writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
I do occasionally which is why I always have several projects going at once. When I get locked up on one story, I switch to another, all the while, keeping the original story in the back of my head. I did that when writing A Different Drummer, and took a three month sabbatical from that manuscript, and ended up writing the screenplay Spirit of the Season. When you give them time, they will float to the surface.
APKY/AMP: Right. And do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
If I’m inspired by an idea, I play it through my head, and if it seems as if it ‘has legs,’ I begin outlining it with a beginning, middle, and end.
APKY/AMP: Uh-huh. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Names: Sometimes they’re symbolic - Neil Gates, the first person to experience time travel named after Neil Armstrong, Herman Tate, which might sound a little like ‘Terminate,’ James Downey, because his life was such a downer. Other times I give a nod to a friend as in A Different Drummer. The main character’s best friend is named ‘Smitty,’ and so was my best friend growing up.
APKY/AMP: Fascinating. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
I usually send it to an editor first. After that, I ask friends or family, but it’s getting to be a tougher sell as few people read anymore, it seems.
APKY/AMP: Right, sounds professional. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
I listen to what the editors have to say and learn from them. After that, I find that my works need less and less actual line-by-line editing. I’m still a bit lacking in structure though.
APKY/AMP: Kent, you’ll get there, seeing as you’re so prolific! Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
My first two works were on paper, but I reluctantly moved to the desktop after that. I found a convenient way to begin, then finish the script in a paperless fashion - outline!
APKY/AMP: Ha! J What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Three of my novels have been first person narratives. I liked that style because from a young age on, we all like to have someone tell a story as if they were actually there. I use the grown-up version of that.
APKY/AMP: So now reveal to us what you like to read.
I don’t have as much time to read as I’m spending most of my time either writing, or marketing my scripts. I still do the daily newspaper, but when I get the chance, I will pick up the hit du jour.
APKY/AMP: Way to go! What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
I run 3X a week, and up until recently, I skydived until I realized that my skydiving equipment and my bodily equipment was getting a bit long in the tooth.
APKY/AMP: As long as you can still write, Kent. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Google, of course, but there’s my website www.kdrichardson.com, and there is a link on that site for a webpage for each of my published titles.
APKY/AMP: Will gt there as soon as we’re done here. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I invite any and all feedback on my books. How else am I going to improve?
APKY/AMP: Right. Thank you, Kent. I now invite you to include an extract of your writing:
From A Union of Souls.
“Travis, I know you’ve packed up and all, but would you mind staying around for a little while longer, uh, until Scotty gets to feeling better. I think he would appreciate that.”
“Well, I suppose so. That is, if you're sure I won't be in the way.”
“No, I don't think you will. You've done more around here in the past couple of weeks than you have during the last seven years.”
“Well, it's too late to argue tonight. I might as well take you up on the deal. I'm going to go unpack, then hit the hay. Seven o'clock comes awfully fast.”
Travis got up from the table, put his coffee cup in the sink, then headed in the direction of his bedroom.
Laura called out to him, “Um, Travis, can I ask you something? Where did you learn CPR?”
Travis stopped and searched his memory. “I don't know. I really don't know.”
A little while later, Travis was getting ready for bed and overheard Laura talking on the phone.
“Jackie, he’s a changed man, I'm telling you. Yes, I know I said that before, but I'm serious this time. After his accident, he’s become a positive individual. Instead of being out to get us, he’s a life-saver. At least he's making an effort." There was a pause. "Oh yes, he's helping around the house, he planted a huge garden for us, and of course there was today's incident with Scotty. On top of that, he's not once raised his voice...nor his hand. This might be a new beginning for us.”
APKY/AMP: I wonder what Travis is smiling about. Thank you once again, Kent, and all the best with your works.