Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Indie Author Interview: Frank Kennedy

Indie Author Interview with Frank Kennedy - Author of the Young Adult Science Fiction Adventure The Last Everything.

Frank Kennedy has been writing fiction for thirty years, focusing primarily on science fiction and young adult. Previously a journalist and now a middle-school English teacher, Kennedy has envisioned being a full-time novelist since childhood.

Interview with Frank Kennedy

Author Frank Kennedy
Author Frank Kennedy
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Frank Kennedy: I’ve been concocting stories since I was a kid. I took a variety of creative writing classes in college and set a long term goal to become a published novelist. Although I had a number of close calls with agents and editors in the traditional publishing industry, I never made the right connection. However, I spent many years in writing retreats with outstanding, best-selling authors, from Terry Brooks (fantasy) to Susan Wiggs (romance). Some of my best friends were found at this retreats.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien made the greatest impressions. The Stand by King introduced me to the big-canvas story, and I was utterly gobsmacked by the expansive vision. Of course, The Lord of the Rings is the seminal work for me (and countless other writers, no doubt).

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Before I hit puberty.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. Possibly. Although I don’t remind the title, I was in 7th grade, and it involved the rings of Saturn as well as a ship going into “space warp.” I remember this story because we were asked to read some of our work aloud, and the teacher’s confusion about a “space warp” drew many giggles from the class. An embarrassing moment, but to this day, I blame her. (And yes, I can do this because I am a teacher now, and I wouldn’t openly dismiss a student’s work like that.)

"[...] arrive organically as a series of disconnected images [...]"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Although it has evolved over the years, my ideas almost always arrive organically as a series of disconnected images - sometimes from dreams - that fascinate me. I don’t know what they mean, and I usually allow them to mill around in my head for a good bit before putting them to paper. After that, all the usual prelim routines - character-mapping, outlining, world-building.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
My home office has wallpaper original to the room, circa 1990. The stencil design features waterfowl, creating a room that looks like it should probably be in a hunting lodge. It’s quite cozy. My dog spends many hours underneath my desk curled at my feet while I’m writing.

"[...] the world-building can be the trickiest."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
There’s nothing easy about this. Once it becomes easy, the results will be dreadful. However, I can maintain strong, steady momentum if I have a firm grasp on story, character, and the world. Since I write so much science fiction, the world-building can be the trickiest. I don’t want it to seem derivative (“Fire proton torpedoes!”) but it must feel real and lived-in.

"[...] creation is the highest form of learning"

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It’s a remarkable outlet for creativity and it keeps my brain firing on all cylinders. I tell my students that creation is the highest form of learning - nothing you do requires as many skill sets. As I grow older, I need to see that I can kick this imagination into gear on a moment’s notice and have fun with wherever it takes me.

Frank, please tell us a little about your Young Adult Science Fiction Adventure The Last Everything.
When I first conceived of this story about 15 years ago, I wanted to blend the real-time adrenalin of the TV series 24 with a story suitable for a young adult audience. Over the years (and many drafts), elements have changed in terms of the title itself, character motivation, and the ultimate stakes, but the central figures of the story - the three teens Jamie, Sammie, and Michael - have remained the same. This is about more than a story of three teens flung into a dark, deadly run for their lives. It’s about how they can survive the secrets that threaten to tear them apart - in the world they know and beyond.

The Last Everything (Frank Kennedy)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What I hope is that my audience will build as the series The Impossible Future develops. The second book, The Risen Gods, will literally take off right where Last Everything ends (although each book has its own special arc). This series is a race against time against increasingly improbable odds, and I believe readers who find Last Everything satisfying will be surprised - well, shocked - at the direction the story takes beyond this opening stanza.
Readers who enjoy Last Everything and want to know about the universe that is entered in Book 2 should take a look at my novel The Father Unbound, which introduces the universe of the Collectorate. Its story, told over 50 years, sets the stage for the events that unfold in The Impossible Future series. It’s a different kind of novel, written more in the style of the classics (think: Asimov), but it’s the one I’m most proud of.

"[...] asking big questions about how far humans (in any universe) should go"

Who do you see as your target audience? (see the answer above)
Although The Last Everything is suitable for a young adult audience, the story is dark - and only gets darker and more intense as it advances. This is science fiction for a broad audience, asking big questions about how far humans (in any universe) should go in pursuit of ensuring their immortality.

What makes your book special?
As a reviewer on Amazon notes, Last Everything is best read in one sitting. It’s all about forward movement from the get-go.

How would you describe the success of your self-published books so far?
I only started this process several months ago, and I’m still learning the keys to success. Really, I only ratcheted up advertising and promotions since November. I’m seeing about 500 page reads a day on Amazon, which is small potatoes, but it’s steadily growing. And that’s OK - this is a marathon. I don’t expect to quit my day job anytime soon.

"Read, read, read. Write, rewrite, rewrite."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Read, read, read. Write, rewrite, rewrite. Read some more. Write some more. Assume that most of the early stuff is garbage. Outline (use whatever format feels comfortable to you). Know the heck out of your primary characters and prepare to run your protagonist through the ringer. Easy stories are boring stories.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am currently writing The Risen Gods, the follow-up to Last Everything, with a goal to finish sometime this spring and publish by early summer.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Book stores won’t vanish, but I think it’s inevitable that most physical books will be purchased online. We tend to think that the young generations want to read everything digitally, but I’m here to tell you that is not the case for books. Most of my students read more often from physical books than eBooks. Having said that, everything else they do is digital!

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Fire.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am constantly juggling my time between the job (teaching tends to occupy about 50 hours a week), gardening, cooking, the occasional Netflix binge, and reading (I’m a news and sports junkie). My goal is to squeeze in at least 2 hours a day of meaningful writing time. Doesn’t always happen (and always my fault when it doesn’t).

How can readers connect with you?
I’d love for folks to stop by my website at frankkennedy.org and offer a comment on one of my blogs. Or, perhaps visit me on Facebook @frankkennedybooks. Just say high, like my page, offer some encouragement, and/or join my mailing list. By all means, follow me on Amazon. And please, pretty please: If you any of my works, leave a little review on Amazon. I’m not looking for 5-star glory; just a little honesty.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Frank.

About the Book The Last Everything

The Last Everything (Frank Kennedy)
Click to Read an Excerpt
The Last Everything tells the last eight hours in the life of Jamie Sheridan, a 17-year-old on the run who discovers his life is more than just a lie - he was brought here from a different universe to serve an explosive purpose that is about to come to fruition.

Jamie, whose life in the small town of Albion, Alabama, already left him disillusioned, must now face the shocking reality that people he has known all his life are hunting him down, determined he must die before the clock ticks to zero.

Facing a new, seemingly hopeless reality, Jamie must rely on his only two friends - Sammie and Michael - and a new, dark entity preparing to be born within him.

This action-oriented story takes place almost entirely within eight hours but launches a four-book saga that ensnares two universes.

- "Take a ride, folks, with this pell-mell tale of a seventeen-year-old plunged into a nightmare of being hunted by his neighbors before discovering vast galactic forces at play, with his death destined. Kennedy, as ever, writes stylishly whilst pushing the story along at a frenetic pace. Probably best read in one sitting." - Reader Review

Link to the Book

Link to the Paperback The Last Everything on Amazon

Link to the eBook The Last Everything on Amazon

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