Featured Author: Kevin Singer is an Army veteran and former journalist who spends his free time running, collecting tattoos, renovating his house, and snowboarding. His fiction has appeared in the literary magazines Rind and Trysts of Fate and the anthologies Young Adventurers and Playthings of the Gods. He’s also the author of the supernatural thriller The Last Conquistador, available at Amazon and BN.com. He lives in Jersey City, though he’d rather live in Hawaii.
Featured Author: Kevin Singer Interview
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you have a set number of words each day or a goal?
- How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Kevin Singer: Anything but romance. As with that first creative take on uncontrolled bodily functions, my first love is all things speculative, from horror to contemporary fantasy to sci-fi. I overdosed on reruns of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. That weirdness got burned into my brain. I also like writing suspense and thrillers, even ones that lack supernatural elements.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Kevin Singer: Back when I was in the seventh grade my English teacher Mrs. Williams told me I was a very good writer (or something like that), and she encouraged me to write a short story. I’d never considered such a thing. I loved to read for as long as I could remember, but actually write one of those stories? I come from a solidly middle class/working class background. You had to finish school and get a job and then support yourself and a family. Writers were this other class of people, not me. Still, I took Mrs. Williams up on her suggestion. I wrote a story about a kid with psychic powers and it featured a lot of projectile vomiting and diarrhea. Remember, I was 12. Mrs. Williams re-evaluated my writing potential.
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Kevin Singer: Character and plot go hand in hand for me so it’s hard to make that distinction. I suppose I start with the genesis of the plot, and then I need to get to know the character who will drive that plot along. After some time stewing in the crockpot of my brain, the character becomes the primary force of the story. She or he ends up driving the plot. I tend to start with a skeletal outline—a broad sense of the beginning, middle and end—that acts as a guidepost. I cannot sit and write to a blank page. By the time I start typing I’ve replayed that day’s scene in my head again and again. That said, the story and the character continually surprise me, even on the very last page, which just happened to me.
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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Kevin Singer: When I’m working on a project I get up earlier in the morning, head to a café, and pound out at least 1,000 words, usually about 4 times a week. My years as a newspaper reporter gave me the ability to sit and write museless. I’ll also set aside time to do a quick edit of that week’s words. I often work in partnership with other writers, and we’ll meet weekly to do a basic critique of each other’s works in progress. This helps me (and them) course correct in real time.
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LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Kevin Singer: I’m lucky; my family has always been 100% supportive of me, and I’m grateful for that. I think one of my biggest challenges is doubt. Writing is so subjective, rejections are common, and industry input is hard to come by. I keep at it because I love writing. I love wordplay. I love the craft. Another challenge for me, which writers (or anyone) rarely talk about, is envy. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes this comparison gets the best of me. Whenever the envy comes up, I end up acknowledging it and moving on, because I haven’t found anything good to come of it.
LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?
Kevin Singer: As I said, I try to do 500 words a day, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t hit it that day. I find I don’t do a whole lot of revision, so although I write slowly, I write for keeps.
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Kevin Singer: Novels. I tend to sink deep into the protagonist’s head whenever I write, and it takes the same amount of mental energy whether it’s a 5,000 word piece or a 75,000 word piece. I also like the room that novels give you for exploration. With short stories you have to be concise and on-target all the time. With novels there’s a little more margin for error (or exploration). But if a story arises and it’s a short story and not a novel, then I’ll dive in.
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
Kevin Singer: As little as possible. I’m not a natural-born marketer. As far as querying, that goes in spurts. Right now I have an agent, and there are no shorts in the hopper, so the querying is on hold. When I do query, I use a separate email account that I check sporadically, so I’m not blindsided by those sudden, inevitable rejections.
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Kevin Singer: I wrote The Jaws of the Jabberwock as an exercise for my writing workshop, so my target audience was real-live readers who I knew. I wanted to work in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, and I focused on the language of the poem itself, trying to mimic his verbiage. I chose a sci-fi setting because I wanted that broad canvas. Another element of the story was a news article I edited (in my real-life role as a copy editor) about the problem of arsenic in wells in Indian villages. The last element was that I wanted to do a villain’s origin story, which to me, this story ultimately is.
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Kevin Singer: If your goal is to get published, don’t do it for the money! I have to continually remind myself that while writers are motivated by the love of writing, agents and publishers are motivated by having to make the rent. Rejection is commonplace, and it’s rarely personal, though it can’t help but feel that it is. Focus on the things you can control, like improving your craft. And read in the genre you’re writing. That’s a must. If you don’t care about ever getting published, have fun! As frustrating as writing can be, I always thank God for this gift.
Kevin Singer authored “Jaws of the Jabberwock” for A World Unimagined on sale now.
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