Kenneth Kelly, co-author of the novel Virtue Inverted, joins us today to discuss his writing inspirations.
What genre do you write and why?
I dabble in Science Fiction, but I primarily write fantasy. Science Fiction is all about high tech gadgets, science, space travel…things that could possibly be in our own world or worlds very similar. You have to have a good idea of scientific theories, astrology, and modern advances in space travel. You have to follow certain ‘rules’ if you expect the reader to take you seriously, and while I’m up for a challenge, I prefer my writing to have a bit more freedom for creativity. That’s what I like about fantasy: having more freedom. That doesn’t mean I can write whatever story I darn well please. Fantasy writing still has to have a certain verisimilitude, but it’s not as confined by research and ‘correctness’ of what constitutes good science fiction. You can experiment a bit more with fantasy. The rustic, woodland settings, sword and sorcery, outrageous monsters, things that aren’t possible and defy laws of physics and have no explanation and don’t need one; I can create the rules of the worlds my stories take place in. With fantasy I can let my imagination go crazy in a way other genres wouldn’t permit.
Tell us about your latest book.
Virtue Inverted started off as a story I began in high school. I was very proud of it, showing it off to all my friends and English teachers. But it wasn’t anywhere close to the work it is now. Benny Clout’s character was essentially the same, but almost everything else (setting, plot, characters, etc.) was unrecognizable to how it is now. After I graduated and began college, I quickly realized it wasn’t the masterpiece I’d hoped it would be and sat on it for a few years until I contacted Piers Anthony in 2015 in regards to another book I’d written. We began to discuss this old story of mine, collaborated and before I knew it we’d completed Virtue Inverted and the following installments. I don’t want to discuss too much of the story, but I’ll describe it as a hard hitting vampire fantasy. However, it’s not your typical vampire story.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a hard question because there are so many writers I admire. I’m obviously a big Piers Anthony fan, and I love the big names of sci-fi/fantasy like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen King. I love the more modern, popular writers like Robert Jordan, Isaac Asimov, David Farland, etc. But there are a lot of lesser known writers I don’t feel received the recognition they deserved: John Bellairs, H. Beam Piper, Niel Hancock, Brad Munson, and John Ruskin. If I typed the names of every writer I consider a favorite this interview would go on forever. An easier question would probably be “which writers aren’t your favorite?”
What advice do you have for other writers?
Keep writing and never give up. It’s hard to become well established as a published writer; I’m still working on that. If one project doesn’t take off, set it aside and move on to the next. You’re first big idea won’t always take off like a jet plane, so don’t become discouraged if your ‘magnum opus’ doesn’t get the reception you think it should. Look at my example: it took over half a decade and the aid of a bestselling writer before Virtue Inverted was picked up by a publisher. Also remember that I got lucky, and not everyone will get the chance to write with a man like Piers Anthony like I did. So I’ll go back a hundred times to the same advice: don’t give up and keep writing no matter what! It’s easy to let everyday life and limited success steal your motivation. Don’t let it happen. The only way to be a writer is to write.
What’s your favorite quote about writing/for writers?
A now deceased English teacher, poet and father figure of mine, Kurt Van Wilt, once told me “write what you know.” I’ll remember this advice after everything else is forgotten. You have to know what you’re writing about, even in a genre like fantasy. I’ve never served in the military let alone gone to war, and I’ve never devoted much research to the idea, so for me to write a novel from the point of view of a soldier as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, or something similar, would be ludicrous and any readers who have experienced this would pick up on it. It’s sort of like that. Writing what you know is what makes your work believable and gives it credibility.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
I’d have to say Dale Beranger. He’s a tortured soul with a complicated past, who was a well seasoned adventurer who could handle any situation imaginable at any given time. You never know what to expect with him. Having him as a main antagonist and villain is what I feel makes Virtue Inverted the story it is. I’ve always thought that the villain of a story is what made it compelling, and my own work is no exception.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
Virtue Inverted is a compelling, fast paced and action packed story. I know how much I hate a boring book, and I don’t want readers to find my work dull. The narrative is complex, with many twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of their seats until the very end.
Who Designed the Cover?
The cover for Virtue Inverted was done by Mitchell Bentley from Atomic Fly Studios. I stumbled across his website a while back and loved his work. So, Piers and I agreed to let him to the cover for our works. I came up with the general idea for the cover, which Mr. Bentley used to design the finished art.
Who inspires you?
A short, simple answer would be God, family and friends. So many people have aided and supported me throughout my writing and life. My parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and friends, living and dead, have always pushed me to give nothing less than my 110% at any task I set before me. I feel compelled to make them proud, and to help others in the way they’ve helped me.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
It may seem like a childish inspiration, but an old VHS tape is what inspired me to become a writer. When I was a toddler, a neighbor gave me some old video tapes full of old cartoons that I would watch on a daily basis. As a child, I was mesmerized by the colors, characters, places and things I saw, and I would become lost in these amazing worlds I witnessed. This inspired me as a child to create and tell stories to my parents, who would write my tales down before I knew how to write. There were few things that stirred my soul more than a compelling story. Each movie or book I watched or read became a real place, with real friends where I escape the boredom of everyday life. They kept me motivated and gave me something to live for. Every story I watch or read inspires me to this day, but it was those old VHS tapes, which I still have, that set me on the path to become a writer, so that I could help inspire and motivate others with my own work.