Today I welcome author Ken Preston to the blog for a quick chat. He's a nice chap and a fine writer, and it's great to have him visit my humble blog.
How would you describe your writing style?
Flamboyant? Classical? Vivacious? No, none of these.
I always try and write a book that I would enjoy reading. Every now and then I might pick up a Man Booker winning novel that I know is going to be hard work, but mostly I read to be entertained, and entertainment is what I strive for in my writing.
So, my books are fast paced, action packed, and funny too. The humour mainly comes out in the dialogue, and my characters like to talk a lot.
Which of your books/stories would you recommend as a good starting point for someone who hasn’t read your work?
I write in a broad range of genres, but for all the horror fans out there, Joe Coffin Season One is the obvious jumping in point. The Joe Coffin series is a British gangster, Birmingham set, supernatural horror series, written in episodes and seasons TV style. It’s violent, bloody, funny, profane, explicit and thunders along like an out of control express train. But make sure you start with Season One, because this is not the kind of book series you can jump into in the middle.
Season One, Episode One is currently free on Amazon UK/US for anyone who would like to try it out risk free!
Do you have a favourite character from any of your stories?
I love them all, like the children of mine that they are, even with their defects and failings. I love Joe Coffin, which is fortunate as I think I will be chronicling his (mis)adventures for some time to come. I also love Stump and Corpse from the Coffin series, too.
But I think I have to give Tom Mills, also from Joe Coffin, a special mention. Readers react so strongly to him, saying things like ‘I hated Tom’ and ‘I absolutely loathed Tom’. And I find that so interesting, because yes, he’s a reprehensible character, but I still had a little sympathy for him.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
American crime writer Lawrence Block, when asked ‘How do you write a novel?’ replied:
‘One word at a time.’
Best advice ever.
Who are your literary heroes/heroines?
Lawrence Block, who has amassed a huge body of amazing work over the years. Stephen King (of course), Robert Louis Stevenson, HG Wells and JRR Tolkien for introducing me to the wonders of reading as a child, James Herbert and Guy N Smith for almost putting me off reading for life because their books were so terrifying to me as a child, and Harper Lee for writing To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ken Kesey for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, two of my all-time favourite books.
What book do you wish you’d written?
The one that’s going to sell gazillions of copies and be optioned by Hollywood.
What book are you currently reading?
The Tenth Man by Graham Greene.
I’ve just finished reading Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz, which is a YA book. That was very good.
My bookshelves are currently groaning beneath the weight of all the books I haven’t read yet. I try to promise myself every now and then not to buy another book until I have made some headway into my TBR pile, but it never happens. I just can’t resist buying books. My Kindle is similarly overloaded with books to be read. In fact, Rich, one of yours is queued up on there!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Is there such a thing as not writing? I’m father to two school age boys, so my typical day starts at 6:00 am when I write for an hour or so, then I get the kids up and breakfasted and off to school. After that it’s back to the writing cave.
I do love to go trail running, but find it difficult to fit in the runs, especially the longer ones. I also love watching movies and TV. Currently loving Hand of God with Ron Perlman, and Gotham.
Oh, and of course I love reading, too.
I am in a constant quest to organize my day better, so that I can spend some of it doing stuff other than writing. But it’s difficult.
What advice would you give to new writers just starting out in the business?
And then write some more.
I know that sounds trite and overly simple, but seriously, content is king. Faced with a choice between promoting existing work or creating new work, I would say nine times out of ten you’re better off going creating new work.
What do you think of the current state of the horror genre?
I love it! And not just horror, either. We’re living in a Golden Age of books, with the digital revolution completely democratizing the publishing process. Whilst there will always be crap books being written and published now that the publishing gates have been thrown wide open, I think that the indie writing sector is maturing. Three years ago I was ready to never publish again, I despaired at the lack of quality content out there.
But now I see more and more well written, professionally published novels coming out of the independent sector, and that’s great.
And I think it’s the indies who are doing the best work in the horror genre right now.
What are you working on at the moment?
Joe Coffin Season Three is about to take over my life for the next few months, but I have also been working on a new series. This one’s for Young Adults (but with adult cross-over appeal I hope). The first book in the Planet of the Dinosaurs series will be out at the end of November.
If you had the chance to co-write a novel with an author of your choice, who would it be?
Duncan Ralston and I have talked vaguely about co-authoring something, but that’s a long way off yet. Duncan is great, and writes in a similar style to mine. If you haven’t checked out Gristle and Bone, go do it now!
Finally, are there any nuggets of info about future works you’re willing to share?
I’ve always got work on the go, and ideas bubbling away.
Planet of the Dinosaurs is next up, with two more books in that series to follow quite quickly. Then there’s Joe Coffin Season Three, of course.
My zombie/cowboy mashup Population:DEAD! has been crying out to be turned into a series of novels for a long time now, so hopefully I will get around to that one day soon.
And then there are the romance novels that I write for British publisher DC Thompson.
But you don’t want to know about those, do you?
Thank you for having me on your blog, Rich, I enjoyed it.