Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Kenny Soward.
Kenny Soward grew up in a small Kentucky suburb listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet '70s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar. His love for books flourished early, a habit passed down by his uncles, and he spent many high school days in detention for reading fantasy novels during class.
At the University of Kentucky, Kenny took creative writing classes under Gurny Norman, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and author of Divine Rights Trip (1971). By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon.
He lives in Independence, Kentucky, with three cats and a gal who thinks she's a cat.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH KENNY SOWARD
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
I’m just a regular guy who has a few interesting talents. I love to make people laugh, and I love writing epic fiction. While I have strong opinions about things, I find myself more of an observer in this world, happy to offer a helping hand but mostly the quiet type. At the same time, when it comes to my work I’m pretty intense ... my level of focus goes through the roof!
I’d like to think of myself as someone you’d want to have a beer with at the local pub. Talk writing, books, movies ... whatever.
- What inspired you to become a writer?
I had aunts and uncles who exposed me to reading, movies, and music at an early age. While one uncle (who lived with us at the time) had me reading some pretty advanced books like Close Encounters of the Third Kind at age eight, other aunts and uncles had me listening to Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, and Led Zeppelin, which really inspired my love for fantasy.
And, like many authors, my life changed when someone slapped a copy of the Hobbit in my hands. From that moment on I wanted to be part of something ... epic.
I didn’t start officially writing until I was twelve when one of my teachers had us start a journal. I really enjoyed taking those wild stories happening in my head and putting them down on paper. The act of writing is quiet, nice.
- What are your favourite authors and novels?
I enjoy reading China Mieville, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Neil Gaiman and will always put their books at the top of my TBR pile. Railsea and Iron Council (Mieville), Murder of Angels (Kiernan), and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman) are some of my favorite books of all time.
I will occasionally pick up a Stephen King book (really enjoyed 11/22/63). I just finished George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire through book four, and I have also have been enjoying a group of relatively new authors consisting of Mark Lawrence, Teresa Frohok, and Jeff Salyards. There are some others like Moses Siregar, Tim Marquitz, and Mercedes Yardley, where I’ve enjoyed some of their stuff already but really need to spend some more time with them.
My guilty pleasures are the Anne Rice books ... the Vampire Chronicles and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series.
- Your fantasy novel, Rough Magick (GnomeSaga, Book #1), will soon be republished by Ragnarok Publications, and the sequels (Tinkermage and Cogweaver) will also be published soon. Could you tell us what kind of a fantasy series the GnomeSaga is? What can readers expect from it?
Yes, this series has taken a very interesting journey from self-published to being picked up by a small press. GnomeSaga is typical epic fantasy in many ways – swords, magic, and fantastic creatures – but it is quite different, too.
For one, you won’t find the typical farm-boy-turned-warrior plot lines or Dark Lords. I tried to make my characters relatable in that they have real problems that have to be solved. They are, at the start of Rough Magick, quite at odds with the world around them, yet they still find the courage to care about the society that shunned them. My main character, Niksabella, is a maligned inventor on the verge of an amazing discovery, and her brother, Nikselpik, is a disgruntled wizard who still hasn’t quite found his place in gnomish society because of his habitual bucking of authority. I think a lot of readers will instantly relate to these characters because, let’s face it, we all feel shunned at some point in our lives, yet we still must carry on.
I have been fairly progressive (compared to a lot of epic fantasy books out there) about having abundant and interesting female characters in GnomeSaga by ensuring they play smaller roles as well as larger ones. This came quite naturally to me, as two of the most influential people in my life were my mother and my aunt. That means that you’ll often see gnomestress warriors and wizards as common players based on the gnomish idea that their folk are promoted through the ranks dependent on their family history, ability, and character rather than on their sex.
There are no explicit sex scenes in the GnomeSaga books. Some romance, yes, some allusions to sex, maybe even a few cuddles *grins* but for the most part I wanted to keep anything explicit out of the books. On the other hand – and I think you know this already – I don’t hold back when it comes to my battle scenes, and I quite enjoyed writing the violent and bloody fight sequences in GnomeSaga.
Overall, readers can expect to never see gnomes the same way again.
- Using gnomes as protagonists is both intriguing and original, because there aren't many fantasy novels where gnomes are protagonists. What inspired you to write a fantasy series about gnomes?
Back in the D&D days, I always enjoyed playing the shorter races. Dwarves and hobbits and gnomes – OH MY! – all unappreciated and undervalued. I enjoyed displaying those endearing traits we've all came to love. The sturdy dwarf. The stalwart hobbit. The ingenious gnome. To me, the other races seemed a bit boring.
Or maybe I'm just an average-sized person with a Napoleon complex.
With the GnomeSaga series, I truly believe I'm filling a void. I've never seen gnomes featured as primary characters in any epic fantasy series, so I'm proud to represent the little folk. GnomeSaga is the perfect series for readers who are interested in having a variety of D&D, Everquest, and World of Warcraft type character races represented on their bookshelf.
- Niksabella and Nikselpik are interesting characters. Was it difficult to create three-dimensional gnome protagonists?
In a way, it was perfect, because Nik and Nika both portray two different aspects of my own personality while still being their very own unique characters, of course. Maybe because of their small size, I felt I could compress my personalities inside them. Almost as if they were, in part, tiny replicas of me. I don’t know, it sounds strange but that is how I look at them. So, no, it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, quite easy. Still, I am always surprised at the things they come up with that aren’t typical of my personality.
Nika inherited my qualities of hard work and a sort of self-abuse when it comes to her craft. She overthinks things. She labors and doesn’t take breaks. She suffers needlessly and then feels guilty about it. Nik represents the moments in my life when I decidedly stop giving “fucks” about things. He’s such an awesome little guy.
- Will the GnomeSaga be a trilogy or will you write more novels about the gnomes in the near future?
GnomeSaga will definitely be a trilogy and will end with CogWeaver in the spring of 2015 – I’m about halfway done with the draft of that. But I do have plans for more books set in Sullenor, and yes, possibly one more series with gnomes. There are simply too many stories to tell in Sullenor for me to stop writing in it.
- You've also written the Dead West series with Tim Marquitz and J. M. Martin. What inspired you to participate in writing a zombie series that takes place in the Old West?
That’s a good question. They offered me the opportunity to work with them when I was halfway through writing Tinkermage. After a few creative brainstorming sessions, the idea of Dead West really sunk in – and I was probably drunk, too – so I said, “Yes!”
Seriously, it seemed like a great way to strengthen my writing chops while working with two of my most favorite guys, Tim and Joe. And being from Kentucky, it seems I have it in my bones to write horror stories set in the past which involve a lot of shooting and cursing *grin*.
- What would you say to readers who are thinking of reading the GnomeSaga and the Dead West series?
Simply that I would be honored to have anyone read my books. I understand how valuable their time is, and I have done the best possible job I can to bring them a quality product – quality covers, exciting story lines, and engaging prose, free from those pesky grammatical errors.
I’m also fairly reachable if anyone has any questions or would like to take part in any giveaways I have running – I actually have two giveaways happening now! One on Goodreads and one on my website at www.kennysoward.com via the RaffleCopter widget.
Please, feel free to engage me on my FaceBook Author Page.
- What are you currently working on?
I’m finishing up book three of GnomeSaga, titled Cogweaver. I should be done with that in about a month, at which point I will continue outlining several other projects I’m anxious to kick off. I will probably try to squeeze in more Dead West books as well.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Yes, I encourage everyone to check out the entire Ragnarok Publications line of books. They really have some great stuff out there, and I’m extremely happy to be part of the Ragnarok family.