KERRY ALAN DENNEY
Author of Jagannath, Beyond the Vale, and A Mighty Rolling Thunder, plus more!
31 Questions in 31 Days for 31 Authors
When did you realize the voices in your head were telling you to write stories or go mad with them all stuck in your head?
6.523 light years ago, when my consciousness was first transferred from its confinement sphere in the Crab Nebula into this aging body here on planet Earth.
Currently, there are over a million books I want to read. I’ve read some books that I wish I had written myself. Have you read any that you wish you had written?
No, because I have too many stories of my own needing to be written. I’ll never run out of story ideas. I’m happy with praising, admiring, and respecting authors who’ve written books that have blown me away in the best possible way, but I don’t want to write their stories—I want to write my own … and so I do.
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is a close contender. My god, it’s so brilliant I’m still stupefied every time I read it.
What is your favorite book by another author, and what is your favorite book that you wrote?
That would be easy to answer if I had only read 1 to 200 books or so in my lifetime. But I can safely say with confidence that I’ve read over ten thousand books. That’s not an exaggeration. How could I choose only one from that many? How about I make a list? How much time do you have?
Dean Koontz’s Watchers is at the top of my list of perennial favorites, and has been for many years. Gah, make that three decades. Don’t try to guess my age. You would have to add “time travel years,” both forward and backward thanks to the anomalies in the Chronos Vortex and the Temporal Parallax Chamber. It could get confusing. I’m still confused about it all. I could even be negative 57. The potential consequences are disturbing. Karma requires a balance.
What were we talking about? My favorite novel I wrote? That’s an easier number to deal with—I’ve written nine novels, six of which have been published. Each of them are cherished friends whom I would never disparage. Each novel had its Eureka! moments for me when I was writing it, along with those priceless moments when the story took control of me and I became a mere conduit whose only job was to translate it into text form. That’s the writer’s zone, and I was in the zone when I wrote them all. So, I compare choosing one of them over the others as the equivalent of a parent with numerous children singling out just one child and telling them that he or she is their favorite. It just ain’t happenin’, y’all.
However … in an effort to be helpful, the two novels I recommend most often are Soulsnatcher and Jagannath. But that’s only because they’ve proven, historically via sales and reviews, to be the most popular.
Those two are my favorites, along with the other four published novels. It’s a six-way tie for me. I recommend reading them all. The best news is, different readers of my works have different favorites.
When your muse if off doing its own thing instead of compelling you to write, what’s your favorite time-waster?
Answering interview questions.
I’m kidding, of course. I love this shoot-from-the-hip stuff.
I have no time left to waste. Each moment is precious, and I have no clue what this “spare time” is that some people speak about.
However, I do like to spend lots of time staring at trees and the sky, and thinking about shit.
Is editing your story just part of the job or does it kill a part of you to “kill your children” as it has been said? What about making revisions?
Just part of the job, and a part which I’ve grown to love. I kill my darlings with a pitchfork and switchblade. Torch them at the stake. Cut off their heads with my katana. Editing is all about making my stories the best they can be, and I’m all about that. Every novel I’ve published has gone through at least fifty thorough edits … and fifty more cursory ones just to check the pacing and flow.
Being a good self-editor is just being able to leave your ego out of the process. I kick Kerry out the door and off the planet when I put on my editor’s hat. Screw that presumptuous a-hole. Let him stare at trees for a while.
When you read a book by another author do you ever look at it and criticize it or edit it in your head as the way you would have done it yourself?
Hell yes! How can I not? It’s an integral part of being a writer.
We all live in our own heads, and will until we figure out how to share our thoughts other than through the written or spoken word. So each reader of any one story sees different pictures in their heads of how that story plays out, what the characters look like, how they envision each scene as canvases in their minds. Each reader creates their own “movie” in their mind’s eye of the books they read.
The trick is to be an adept painter of words so those pictures all spring to life in the reader’s head.
What would you like to be chiseled into your headstone?
“He wasn’t finished yet.”
“I’ll be back.”
What is your favorite Halloween ritual? And if you do not do that … what is your favorite Halloween movie?
Favorite ritual: Watching Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes DVD on Halloween night every year.
Favorite Halloween movie: Yep, you guessed it. Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
I know my “To Be Read” list is never-ending and grows daily… how is yours? And do you prefer paperbacks or e-books? Notice I did not ask about audio?
Fortunately, with my own extensive library (9 large bookshelves full) and the local library gave me an endless supply of great books and authors to read, my TBR list is also never-ending and grows daily.
I’d rather hold a physical book if possible—hardback or paperback—but I’m also fine with reading ebooks. I love my Kindle Fire.
Cats, dogs, both, other?
Yes! Wait … does “other” mean spirits and beings from other realms and galaxies?
Seriously, mostly dogs. I have a twelve-year-old golden retriever named Holly Jolly who is an active veteran professional therapy dog, and has been for eight years. We participate in two library-sponsored R.E.A.D. programs (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). Once a month we go to “Read to Rover” in one library and once a month to “Doggie Tales” in another.
We sit in the children’s section, and the kids read to the dogs—and pet them, of course. It’s a win-win situation: Holly makes the kids happy, the kids make her happy, that makes me happy, and we end up encouraging kids to read more—and I’m proud to say we’ve met some really smart and sharp young readers during our visits.
I now have a new furry friend, too: Gypsy Dancer. Holly and I got her from Pregnant Dog Rescue in Griffin, GA. Her dame is a golden retriever and her sire is a black Labrador retriever. With short black fur with a golden tint, she looks more like her daddy. Still a puppy at 6 months, she’s so sweet and gentle and good with people and dogs that I’m currently training her to be a therapy dog, too, so she can carry on in Holly’s esteemed tradition.
And yes, I love writing about dogs, too.
Most newbie authors are told to write emotional state in what they already know… so how did you break away from that newbie status of writing what you know in the beginning?
Through writing short stories with different themes and in different genres as well as through writing exercises. For example, I would go to a place I’m not familiar with and describe it. Then I would describe the various people I saw there, even invent fictional histories and character traits for them. The next step was writing short fictional encounters with dialogue between those characters in those places.
That bitch-slapped my newbie status righteously.
Of course, I treasure advice from colleagues in helping me constantly hone the craft of writing, both from writers I know as well as various contacts in the literary industry with whom I’ve established solid professional relationships. I can’t get enough good advice and new knowledge. I devour that stuff like it’s fried chicken.
Advice in one sentence to a new author who is not published yet?
I only need 3 words: Develop a thicker skin.
That advice was given to me when I first started writing, and it’s meant as encouragement to take the sting and bite out of inevitable rejection. Most writers have to suffer through some “no”s in order to get that one good “yes.” But my publication journey has been well worth the bumps in the road I encountered.
In the immortal words of my fabulous writers’ critique group, “Leave your ego at the door.”
Beta readers, proofers, editors … all are important to produce a better work of literature. So, who would you say is the most important on your team?
That is one hell of a tough question to answer. They’re all equally irreplaceable to me, each an integral and vital part in the journey from concept to first draft all the way to completed ready-to-publish manuscript. Being without any one of them would make me feel armless.
And that’s the truth; I’m not just saying it because they might all read this. Hey guys & gals, friends and associates! You’re all priceless. Thank you for all you do!
In your day of writing, do you push through it all day or do you take mental breaks?
My dogs won’t let me skip the “mental breaks.” We have to make time every day for play and exercise, or they would be bouncing off the walls and ceiling. Besides, all work and no play make Kerry a dull writer. Although … I should mention I consider my work to be a form of play. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t have fun doing it.
Do you ever get to travel as an author? Do conventions? What have you learned in those endeavors?
Yes and yes! Readers are generally great people to get to know and talk with, and most of them enjoy meeting authors. That’s the main reason they go to the conventions and signings. Getting some good books to read is a bonus.
It’s a joy, thrill, honor, and pleasure to meet readers and interact with them, and they’ve taught me how to better pitch my work as well as my brand. They’ve also taught me how to listen and observe better.
Readers are the greatest people ever. They love reading, and I love reading and writing. We are simpatico!
Book signings? Necessary evil even for the introvert?
I love them! They’re exhilarating and fun.
What do you have coming out in the next year and who is producing it?
Five short stories:
“The Sands of Rigel IV” in Crossroads in the Dark 4: Ghosts coming from Burning Willow Press December 1, 2018 http://smarturl.it/GHOSTS_IV
“The Herbalist” in Southern Fried Autopsies coming from Burning Willow Press October 31, 2018 http://smarturl.it/Southern_Fried
“Wish Upon A Music Box” in Deadly Bargain coming from Colors in Darkness Publishing Fall/ Winter 2018 http://smarturl.it/DeadlyBargain
“October’s Children” is being reprinted in Trick-or-Treat Thrillers: Best Horror 2018 and “From Darkness We Come” is being reprinted in Trick-or-Treat Thrillers: Best Paranormal 2018, both coming from Night Sky Book Services around Halloween 2018. http://smarturl.it/kxte7m
In the book Misery by Stephen King, his main character celebrates the end of the Misery books series by smoking a cigar and drinking a scotch. How do you celebrate a finished story?
Ice. Cold. Beer.
Plus, Snoopy dancing with my dogs.
Ideas come from all over. I get mine everywhere… what was the inspiration for the last (or upcoming) book you released?
The inspiration for my most recently published novel Beyond the Vale (Burning Willow Press, December 23, 2017) sprang out of my desire and compulsion to write an entire novel in which every character is already dead from the start of the first sentence.
The inspiration for my most recently written and edited novel, a psychological thriller whose title I’m keeping secret for now, came from a dream my lady Bettye had and shared with me.
In fact, several of my novel concepts have come from either dreams I’ve had, or from standing in the surf at the beach and being infused with creativity.
Who would you compare your work to and would love to have them read and give you a review of, or even better, a tweet and post about it?
I don’t feel compelled to compare my works to those of other authors, but many readers do. Several readers have compared my novels and style in their Amazon and Goodreads reviews to Dean Koontz and Stephen King, among a few other prestigious authors commonly named. Koontz is one of my favorite authors, so I consider that another badge of honor.
I let my readers do the comparing for me. I’m honored by their choices, all of which are compliments, in my opinion.
Regarding a favorite author reading my work, I’m privileged and honored that the fabulous international bestseller James Rollins, another favorite author of mine, has not only read not one but two of my novels, and he also wrote spectacular testimonials (blurbs) for each of them, both of which can be seen on the Amazon product sales pages for Soulsnatcher and Jagannath.
Yeah, I’m still totally stoked over that.
We hear that Edd Sowder can be a pain in the ass at times so that being said, he treats us pretty well, but what is he really like?
I try to never speak ill of anyone, that whole “judge not lest ye be judged” thing. But I will say this: Edd has been holding my brain hostage in a jar of formaldehyde on his desk since the moment we met, so you draw your own conclusions about that.
Are there any horror or thriller novelists that you admired when you were younger?
Edgar Rice Burroughs. I am still in awe of that man to this day.
Add Kenneth Robeson, Maxwell Grant, Ray Bradbury, Franklin W. Dixon, and Lin Carter to that list, among many others.
While writing, has any of your own stories given you nightmares?
Never. Stories don’t give me nightmares. Psychopaths and dangerous people did long ago, but not anymore. Life is too short and precious to waste any of it having nightmares, and I’m adept at lucid dreaming—which, by the way, inspired my paranormal thriller Dreamweavers.
Have you ever had any supernatural experiences? If so, have you ever used it as source material?
I consider every moment of life itself a continuing series of supernatural experiences. So … yeah, definitely great source material.
Have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book? If so, what was it and why?
On rare occasions, yes. One of my all-time favorites is The Thirteenth Floor. In addition to being emotionally evocative, visually stunning, and just an exceptionally great story, the entire mind-boggling concept is utterly captivating on-screen. I highly recommend it to all sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and paranormal lovers.
When writing a novel, do you have an intended audience (i.e. adult or young adult)?
No. I just let the story be what it is without trying to influence its direction and arc. The story tells me what it’s going to be. Several reviewers have noted that some of my works are suitable for a young adult audience as well as for adults, and some of my novels are more suited for adults.
As a reader, what are some ways that I can discover new independent authors and novels?
Social media. Various bloggers and reviewers have read and reviewed my works, and are dedicated to bringing their subscribers the best of new material from indie authors such as myself. A special thanks to all the great bloggers who have taken a chance on me, and posted such great reviews!
I cannot live without Chapstick. What is one comfort item that you must have?
Lightly-sweetened iced tea. I am the tea and the tea is me and we are all together.
But you can add Doritos, beer, pizza, and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies to that list.
Do you ever feel that your characters have a mind of their own and change the course of the planned storyline?
Ever, hell. All the time! I’m at my best when my characters take over the writing and start telling me how they’re going to react, what they’re going to say, and what they plan on doing to overcome their obstacles and achieve their goals.
What was your favorite Halloween costume?
Tough question, so many good ones to choose from. I barely remember half of them—long time ago, lol. I once went as a demented surgeon with blood splattered all over my face, hands, and lab coat. That was pretty fun.
Where can we stalk you at? Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, website?
A Mighty Rolling Thunder http://smarturl.it/MightyRollingThunder
Beyond the Vale http://smarturl.it/BeyondTheVale