Some of us come to our calling early in life. Some find it much later. Then, of course, there are those who have many careers. Some always question choices while others just do it. Hope you all enjoy your time with Ken. I know I had a blast reading the answers.
|Author - Ken Farmer
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
At age 69 after I adapted a friend's novel to a screenplay. I just thought, 'Hell, I can write a novel'.
Did you choose the genre you write in or did it choose you?
I chose the first, Military Action, with a close friend, Buck Stienke, a retired fighter pilot and Delta Airlines pilot. Me being in the Marine Corps...It was a good fit. Our second genre was always my first love...Westerns. I had written several western screenplays and the first western we published was “The Nations”, that just took off. It won several awards and became a best seller. We wrote 13 novels together and I've written 27 alone.
What was the nudge that gave you faith that you could and wanted to be published?
There was never a 'nudge of faith', my confidence level is such that the thought I might fail never entered my mind. My dad always taught me - 'If you think you can, or you think you can't...You're right'.
Do your life experiences influence or hinder your writing?
Mostly influence. My novel #37 was a move to the Southern Noir Mystery genre with, “Three Creeks”. Inspired mostly by my life as a child spending my summers in rural southern Arkansas with my grandparents in the late '40s and early '50s. It was a modern Western-style, quasi memoir, and won Best Mystery of 2020 with Firebird Awards, and is in the running for several more. It has been compared to Harper Lee's, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Delia Owens, “Where the Crawdads Sing”, J. D. Salinger's “Catcher in the Rye”, and Reavis Wortham's “The Rock Hole”. Pretty heady company and very humbling. Currently, I'm finishing book #4 of the Three Creeks Mystery Series.
The series is a departure from my normal third-person omniscient style I use with my Westerns. I write this series in first person. The entire series is seen through the eyes of Foot Lee (Foot is short for Henry Lightfoot Lee a combination of names from my own ancestors on my daddy's side...Henry 'Lighthorse Harry' Lee of the American Revolution and Robert E. Lee's father, and Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence) from the ages of 8 through 10 (so far) in book #4.
|Image provided by Ken Farmer
Where did you get the idea for your latest release and tell a bit about the story?
latest release was book # 3 of the Three Creeks Mystery series...“The
Pond”, a murder mystery involving two thirty-five year old
murders...Best friends, ten-year-old Foot and Hutch (Foot is based on
my own persona and a colored boy who lives close by, named Hutch
Grant). Foot and Hutch discover the skeletons in a spring-fed pond,
deep in the piney woods of southern Arkansas—each
with two bullet holes in their foreheads, in 1950. Who were they?
Who is Motshan Bieler and why are members of the new Nazi party from Argentina determined to find him? What is he hiding?
Are Foot, Hutch, and Foot's ten-year-old cousin visiting from Texas, Frances Ann, in danger?
Does their friend, WWI Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient, Tom Rayford, come to their aid...Only time will tell.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a pure Pantser. I think being a professional actor for 45 years has something to do with it. I write like doing an Improv scene. I create the who, what, where, when, and sometimes why and go. I make a movie in my head and write down what the characters say and do. I stay the heck out of the way and let the characters tell the story. I usually have no idea how the story is going to end...sometimes I'm as surprised as the reader. Wow, didn't see that coming.
Is there a writing routine you follow or do you write when the muse strikes?
I write as the muse strikes. I get asked a lot what I do for 'writer's block'. Well, I've never had it. I think it's the writer's sub-conscious saying 'I don't like this story or where it's going...I'm shutting down.' I've written 40 novels and 2 short stories in the last 10 years.
If you had a choice, which is your favorite to write, short stories, novellas or full-length novels?
Oh, full-length novels. I've written some short stories for a couple of anthologies but I prefer the longer format.
Do you ‘interview’ your characters before or at any time while telling their story and what do you do it they don’t cooperate with your story idea?
Never had that problem. I'm an instinctive writer...I trust my gut and the characters. I use as my mantra a quote from Edgar Rice Burroughs. - “I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
Is there a process where you find your next story or does the idea just hit you?
I never know whence or when...they just come, sometimes in the dead of night.
Is there anything else you feel people would like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?
Had no idea I could write until I was 69. Wish I knew earlier, but I suppose to paraphrase Orson Welles, “There is no wine before its time.”
Do you write in other genres?
I have written in Military Action, Police procedural mystery, Historical Fiction Western, SyFy, and now, Southern Noir Mystery.
What are your favorite areas of research and why they are important to you?
I'm not sure I could write without the Internet. I intersperse my stories with a lot of facts, albeit some are obtuse. I have this thing about being accurate and sometimes telling things the reader might not know.
When do you start to ‘market’ your new released?
Usually I start marketing the day I write the first word. I always create my cover first and write around it. I will periodically post WIP excerpts as I go along with the cover.
What advice would you give to those who dream of writing, or what advice would you give your younger self?
Don't dream about it...just do it. You have to act on it.
Are there authors you grew up with or inspired you to take pen to paper?
My main inspiration is and always has been Edgar Rice Burroughs. Also, Louis L'Amor was inspirational. I own every book either man has written.
Thank you Ken for your time and for sharing your journey and advice with all of us. Wishing you continued success.
For more from and about Ken Farmer:
Haunted Falls - Historical Western novel - Winner - Laramie Award - 2013
Book Trailer - https://vimeo.com/109625264