Well, folks. We're back. We have yet another author that we'd like to shine our spotlight on and direct your attention toward. His name is Ken Williams and his newest book, Fractured Angel, is being published by independent book publisher, Sakura Publishing.
-Hi Ken! Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with us today. Your newest novel, Fractured Angel, is due to be released on June 7th, 2014. In writing this book, much did you rely on your own experience in working with the homeless? Is homelessness a theme that can be seen in any of your other works?
KEN: All of my novels are inspired by events in my life, from the Vietnam War to working with the homeless in Santa Barbara for thirty years. The heartbreak of seeing literally hundreds die on the streets has inspired all my writings and infused my novels, screenplays, poems and non-fiction articles with a gritty realism that, at the same time honors those who have slipped quietly into the gentle night. In fact I began my writings as a journal when, during the AIDS and crack epidemics I was losing so many clients monthly that I found that I was beginning to forget the individual in the face of so much death. I was bound not to let the voiceless and the disenfranchised die without someone documenting their passing. As long as I remembered them in my journals and now dedicate my writings to them and their tragic lives and deaths they will remain honored and not forgotten.
-Have you always been a writer or is this a fairly new adventure for you?
KEN: I began writing screenplays when a Hollywood screenwriter encouraged me to use my knowledge of the streets to write them. Having heard a lecture that I gave he came up to me and told me the stories that I included in the presentation were eye opening and extremely moving. Novels soon followed, as did articles for the local media and now an online news service.
-Many of this blog’s readers are new authors still attempting to navigate the pitfalls of the publishing world. What advice can you give to those of us just trying to get started?
KEN: My advice to new writers: Be prepared to have constant rejections, and be humble enough to learn from your mistakes. And by all means KEEP writing. Writing is a skill. Like all skills the talent diminishes when not used. Don’t give up hope but don’t expect overnight success. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Good writing comes from within, it is not a luxury but a necessity something that builds within you that seeks an outlet. Listen to that drive and write! You must also learn to trust your publisher and editor. The publishing of a novel is a partnership. Never forget this. If you don’t trust your publisher then you are in very big trouble. You need to remember that you both have the same goal in mind and be humble enough to not think you know everything. Egos sink more potentially successful projects than any other vices. If you can’t communicate successfully with your publisher how can you hope to do so with a general audience? And live life! Not only your material, but also the inspiration to write comes from the people around you. Don’t think you come up with new material all on your own. People: how they live, survive, their joys, triumphs and sorrows are the stuff of good literature. A good writer also uses their own frustrations, desires, fears, heartache and setbacks to reveal emotional truths. Too many writers I know quit living and play the role of a writer thus depriving him or her of the challenges we all face in our daily struggles for existence.
-One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a published author is finding a home with a good publisher. Fractured Angel is your debut with Sakura Publishing. Can you talk a little to us about how you ended up with them and how you knew Sakura was a good fit?
KEN: After years of rejection I received two written offers the same week and another publisher wrote me that he was interested in the novel. Three offers in one week! Perseverance. In fact, Derek Vasconi, the owner and publisher of Sukura Publishing was the third offer that week. For me honor and personnel connections are all important. The way he approached me, with honesty and yet passion for the novel convinced me to pass on the first two and go with him. Sukura was a great fit! Derek knows not only the publishing world but also the Internet. He is not only extremely professional but easy to work with. From what I can tell he is also a good guy.
-Are you working on anything new right now?
KEN: I have just completed another novel, Seven Levels, Homelessness, A Combat Veteran, Mental Illness: A Love Story. It is about a returning Afghan Marine Vet who is at a lose as to where he fits once back in the states and his struggles with PTSD. Joining the L.A. Sherriff’s Dept. he finds redemption amongst the homeless in an abandoned warehouse used as an impromptu shelter.
I have also recently completed a rewrite of a New Fiction novel written as magical realism: For the Love of Death. This novel is about a young woman who struggles in the aftermath of not only her failed suicide attempt but also a violent assault by her boyfriend. She is forced to confront the very nature of sanity vs. the mysterious universe and what price she is prepared to pay for love? As you can see writing for me is in fact a driving force and not something that I can simply put down. I am always writing something in a variety of formats.
-You’re a Vietnam Vet. Would you mind sharing with us a bit about the process of writing China White?
KEN: China White was written years ago. It was an emotional scar that I had to find a way to expose to light. One of the enduring myths—rumors—legends that we heard constantly in Vietnam was that the bodies of dead Marines would be cut open and their internal organs replaced with China White, the world’s most potent form of heroin. The caskets would them be labeled as “Remains Unviewable”. Once passed customs it would be arranged for someone to intercept the caskets and remove the heroin. This particular rumor was extremely unsettling to us. By putting it into words, it was my way of dealing with a variety of emotional issues from the war. China White also deals with the after-effects of that war, not only amongst veterans but also the Vietnamese –American community. This interplay between two American communities hugely impacted by the war yet neglected in literature.
-Brief teaser for Fractured Angel?
How would you go about trying to help your daughter who, suffering her first psychotic break at fifteen, is chased by her wounded mind to the streets of Santa Barbara? That is the dilemma that Lynne Swanson faces. Out of her element, and definitely out of her comfort zone for this professional woman, she is forced to seek the help of Kerry Wilson, a social worker for the homeless. Unfortunately for her, Kerry is a rough-necked loner that has no inclination to hold the hand of a woman who he feels is out for a lark at the expense of his homeless clients. The harsh and deadly realities of the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the world and an attempt to close a homeless shelter just as winter sets in produces a dramatic race against time with the life of Lynne’s daughter in the balance.
-Where can we buy Fractured Angel?
KEN: Fractured Angel can be preordered at: http://sakura-publishing.com/product/fractured-angel/. July 7th it will be available world wide via Sukura Publishing, Amazon and most book outlets. China White and my other novel and non-fiction book can be ordered at Amazon.
Thanks so much for speaking with us today, Ken. It's truly inspiring and an honor to hear your story and I know our readers are going to feel the same.
Please check out Ken Williams today and pick up a copy Fractured Angel. For all you new writers out there, I highly recommend you take a peek at Sakura Publishing and everything that they have to offer.
Keep checking back for more!
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