Did you always want to be a writer or did you kind of fall into it? Tell us the story of how you came to identify yourself as a writer.
I started in my teens, writing poetry. I was an average student in English at school; however, I found poetry to be an outlet for my own self-expression, to articulate my thoughts and feelings at the time. I found great support from my family, albeit encouraging, it was most likely laced in bias, but it was this encouragement that drove my passion for excelling. As my body of verse grew, I discovered a desire to challenge myself further – to write a novel.
As a writer, are you a reader? What genres do you read and do you read more frequently in the genre you write in or avoid it completely?
I don’t read as much as I should, to be honest. This year has been crazy with other life challenges, work, and study. Throw streaming services into the mix, and I’ve found myself being too easily distracted; however, I’m reprioritising and getting myself back on track. My most significant influence would be, hands down, Charles de Lint, a Canadian writer and folk musician whose genre is Urban Fantasy and I can say that I’ve followed in his footsteps as far as writing the in the same style. However, I do find myself dabbling with a bit of horror as well. I do tend to read mostly from the fantasy and horror genres although I’d never pass on a good read purely based on genre.
Tell us about your first writing experience. How does that compare to where you are now?
The seed for my first novel was birthed from a vivid ‘Stephen King’ inspired dream of an insignificant farmhouse with an American red barn, setback off an out of the way secondary road. I felt an inexplicable pull towards the barn as I drove past the property. I stopped, jumped the fence, and walked across a field of waist-high grass with seeded tops that blew gently against my legs. I could hear the beating of timber in the distance that grew louder as I bridged the gap between the road and the barn. It was getting late, and the sun was starting to settle between the mountains behind the buildings. I turned the far corner of the barn expecting to see a farmer repairing something to explain the banging that rang inside my head, but my expectations were dashed as a rush of imprisoned air escaped my lungs. The banging stopped. The ground was bare. I pirouetted, but there was no sign of life. The farmhouse was dark, and barn doors were secure. I turned to walk back before the light faded. That’s when it started again. The banging. This time it was louder, faster. My heart pounding as if it was trying to keep pace. I looked back at the barn, its doors were slapping against its lock. There was someone inside!
I ran back, reefed the lock back off its hinge and pulled the doors open. I gasped in awe as a family stood before me… silently staring back. A man, woman, and two kids, a boy and a girl in their teens.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “Are you hurt?”
I rubbed my head, as no response was forthcoming. “What are you doing in here?”
‘Was it me or…’ I turned back to the farmhouse, looking for a something, a sign. “Shit, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.”
I snapped my head back at the sound. “What?”
The farmer moved first, slow, purposefully towards me. She moved next, and the children followed. Not a single word bar the garish moans passed their lips.
Ten feet, eight feet.
“What do you want?” I said, backpedalling.
I looked over my shoulder. ‘The farmhouse, I could make it.’
Turning, my boot gave way. I plunged to the ground.
Twisting, I peered up. The Clampett’s reincarnate minus Granny were near on top of me when they all spontaneously lit up like stuntmen doused in gasoline.
My heels dug in, propelling myself back along the ground, but my escape was futile. One by one, they fell upon me as I kicked and screamed. The heat is so intense I could feel my own skin melting and slipping from my flesh like butter.
That was it! As soon as I woke the next morning. I wrote it down, knowing that there was a story in that dream that yearned to be told. That was to be my first novel. ‘Rabbits Hollow’ was the working title. I was twenty-something, but it was shelved unfinished for many years as life took over and then some ten or more years later, I picked it back up again. It was probably 70K words and without an ending. But by then, I had already developed the concept for my Wiccan Tales series, and as things happened, ‘Rabbits Hollow’ has never been published.
We all know the ‘just write’ memes if you are following any writers page, so apart from that, what’s the best advice you can give to someone new?
Read and write but most of all, dream. You don’t have to be asleep. Daydream if you have to. Build your landscape, create your characters, imagine their narrative and live it, play it out. When you meet a writer, and you notice them staring off into space – that’s the moment when you’ve caught them in their alternate world, watching and interacting with the characters that live in their minds. That’s where their stories evolve. The trick is remembering to write it down!
What’s your biggest obstacle to writing and how do you overcome it? Most of us know that it is time, so try and let us know when you are best at your writing, and why that doesn’t work, and what you do to counter or overcome that problem.
Time, definitely. There’s so much to do. Time pressures that I place upon myself and being too easily distracted and lastly, stubborn perfection. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I have found myself at times mulling over a sentence and rewriting it many times until I’m happy with it and before I realise it, I’ve lost an hour. That can make a huge impact when I’ve set a target for a night of say five hundred or a thousand words, and I don’t accomplish it. I find, however, that if I can ignore the distractions and immerse myself back into my fictional world of Delta and Emain Albach, then I can write quickly.
Self-published or traditionally published? Tell us why that works for you?
Self-Published, I retain control and the ability to change direction as I see fit.
Here is your chance to plug a book. Tell us about it and why we need to read it?
Jane is a young witch, raised by her Aunt, and still learning her craft when a strange visitor from another realm warns her of a sinister threat. A world of magick and mystery is awoken, and soon she will have to battle with a past that threatens to kill her. Will her knowledge be enough to save her or will her newfound friends come to the rescue to slay the darkness?
Set on the east coast of Tasmania, near the Freycinet National Park, this story will transport you from the Australian coast to rolling green hills and dense forests of the faerie of Gaelic mythology in Emain Albach.
Next project? Where are you in your writing journey and where to next for you?
I’m nearing the completion of book 2 in my series “The Delta Witch Chronicles” which is the branded series title from The Wiccan Tales. The title is ‘Muse’ and will be available mid-2020. After that, I will start book three and also rewrite an adaptation of my short story ‘Lorelei’ into a novel-length title.
What’s your favourite genre? Tell us about one book from that genre that changed your life or outlook in life?
Urban Fantasy – The first book I read in this genre was Charles de Lint’s ‘Greenmantle’ however, my favourite would have to be his novel ‘Moonheart’ and its sequel, ‘Spiritwalk’. These stories are an awakening to what lays beyond our understanding and beliefs.
The most personal question of all, what does writing give you? Why do you do it, what’s the point, and what does it provide in your life that you can’t fulfill by any other means?
On my children’s birth certificates, I listed my occupation as a novelist. After several years and maybe the second or third birth certificate, I thought, “Shit, I’m going to get caught out here if I don’t actually get something published.” And so I did.
Okay, so that may be somewhat true, but I listed it as my occupation as that’s what I always desired to do. It wasn’t for fame or money although no one would ever knock those back if they were to come your way. It was for a sense of accomplishment. To make my kids and family proud and to know that a part of me could be passed down through the family – my way to seek a little immortality, I suppose.
There is a lot of information about world building, character driven plots, and showing not telling. Discuss briefly how each of the elements of your book came together and which part do you love the most – the world you’ve built, your characters, or the story itself? I know, it’s like picking a favourite child, but give it a try.
Definitely, showing rather than telling was a learning curve however that comes with experience. I can see a significant difference in my writing compared to when I started. If I had to choose, I’m always drawn to the landscape first followed by my characters. The stories come naturally, and sometimes it’s the characters that lead me in which direction the story may take. When I start an account, I expand on the initial idea by writing a storyboard or short 2-3 page version of the plot. Once the bones are in place, I write and develop the story as I go.
Ken Mann (1971- ) was born in Woolloomooloo, Sydney Australia. Adopted at birth, he moved at age 5 with his family from Punchbowl in Sydney’s south-west to Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast. Ken became a passionate writer at the age of 13. Originally a student of poetry, he has built an impressive collection of verse. Many of which have been published individually with one attaining high acclaim in the US in 2006 from Poetry.com. It was at that time when he read his first Charles De Lint novel and became a fervent devotee of the Urban Fantasy genre.
He released his first novel, “The Black Locust” in March 2015 to positive reviews. This is the first in an anticipated six-book series, “The Delta Witch Chronicles.” This was followed by a collection of poetry released under the title, “A Term of Existence.” Ken has also collaborated in two anthology releases, “Endless Worlds, Volumes 1 and 2” featuring the short stories, “The Ravens Nest” (Horror) and “Lorelei” (Fantasy). He incorporates many real-life passions into his writing which includes poetry, VW Beetles, 80’s English post-punk/gothic music (The Cure), Celtic/Gaelic mythology and modern witchcraft (Wicca).
His style of writing, engaging characters and whimsical transitions from real-world to the ancient faerie will take you on a journey you will never forget.
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