Western Horror; My Interview with Kenneth Mark Hoover
March 15, 2012 3 Comments
Over the years I’ve met a lot of writers online. Some of them were passing acquaintances, but a few, like my guest Kenneth Mark Hoover, became a good friend. Even though we don’t write the same genre, that never stopped our friendship from developing. I am honoured to have him as my first interview guest. So let’s begin…
Paranormal Pit-Stop: Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
Kenneth Mark Hoover: I was born in New Iberia, Louisiana but I grew up in South Texas. There wasn’t a lot to do in South Texas other than look at horned toads and cactus, so I read science fiction as a boy and got hooked. One day, I was about ten or eleven, I read H.G. Wells’s First Men in the Moon. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had always wanted to be a writer from my earliest memory. I never wanted to be anything else. But while reading that novel it sort of hit me. I wanted to tell fantastic stories just like that. I even began my own “novel” about astronauts going to the Moon, haha, but never finished it. However, it was my beginning as a writer. From then on I kept on writing. I didn’t always finish what I started back then because I was still forming my views as a writer. But that was the beginning.
PPS: With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
KMH: I never started to write or wanted to write because I wanted to see my name in print. I have never, and will never, care about that. That has never motivated me at all. What I do care about is telling good stories so readers can escape for an hour or two. You see, I used reading as an escape hatch when I was young. I want to pay that forward for other people, if I can. Now, it’s true the entire publishing world is in flux. Writers who adapt to the rapid change will be successful, and those who don’t will be left behind. Writing, like evolution, is red in tooth and claw. This has always been the case but now it’s more so because we are no longer just writers. We have to be publishers, editors, marketers, distributors, and everything else. Writing has always been a difficult and lonely process anyway. These new changes make things more difficult. But I have no intention of failing. Failure is not an option. But I will always think and define myself as a writer first. Everything else is a distant second.
PPS: Flux is a good way to describe the publishing industry right now, but do you think this new digital tsunami will help or hinder publishing?
KMH: I think the digital revolution is a very good thing for writers in the long run. It will help empower writers to a degree we have never seen. This can only be beneficial. I am not one who believes that because new technologies are at hand we will see a decline in fiction. Quite the contrary. However, the bulk of the responsibility now lies on writers to safeguard their work and establish their career. We simply no longer have gigantic publishing houses that are going to go out on a limb and hold our hands. Whether we win or lose is all in our hands now. I like that power. I like that responsibility.
PPS: Speaking of publishing, how are your Haxan stories doing?
KMH: The Haxan stories are doing quite well. CZP is going to publish my Haxan novel this year or early next, and many of my Haxan stories have been put out on Kindle and other formats by Argo Navis Publishing http://argonavispublishing.com and you can find older Haxan stories published by other online magazines. My most recent sale was a Haxan story to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the February 2012 issue. I am now eligible for the Western Writers of America and I am thinking about joining them. I already belong to SFWA and HWA, it’s just a question whether I want to belong to another professional organization. I am not sure they bring the gravitas to writers they did in the past. Nevertheless, I am pretty happy with where I am on the Haxan stuff, but I am not satisfied. I am never satisfied, though, haha. I always feel I have one more story to write, one more story to submit. It never ends.
But that’s the life of a writer. 🙂
PPP: What was your biggest influence for writing the Haxan stories?
KMH: I am a big fan of Old Time Radio. So much so I started a website and online Internet radio at Theater13.net to reflect that. One day I started listening to the classic Gunsmoke radio episodes which were created by John Meston. I was completely swept away by Meston’s superb writing and the layered characterization and research he brought to these stories. It wasn’t long before I wanted to start writing westerns myself and I have never looked back. I know westerns aren’t a very popular genre right now, but there is a lot of untapped here that excites a writer like myself. The west was filled with millions of different people with different ideas and outlooks. We have been inundated by the iconic westerns on television and the movies, but there was much, much more to it than that. Those are the stories I am trying to bring to the fore.
PPS: Have you ever thought about giving up? If you did, what changed your mind?
KMH: I have often thought of quitting. I’ve even tried to do it from time to time. I can’t. There is something inside that drives me to keep telling stories. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just who I am. Me. I can’t pretend to be something other than who I am, who I was born to be, I guess. I am a writer. Nothing in my life has ever changed that or can change it. I have learned to accept it and live with it, and in the process I hope I can bring some solace and enjoyment for a few hours to my readers. When you come down to it, that’s my only real motivation for writing.
PPS: What other things influence your writing? And have you ever written them into a story?
KMH: Very few of my life experiences have found their way into my stories. Unless you want to count research trips and vacation experiences of things I have seen. Mostly I try to write about deeper emotional content and how people react to stressful situations. Of course, I draw upon my own life for that, but I also draw upon my years of a writer and watching other people and how they behave.
PPS: How do you handle negative/criticism of your work?
KMH: I listen to editorial suggestions and if I think they will make the story stronger then I make the corrections without thinking twice about it. I am never so committed to a story I think it cannot be improved. My one focus is to write the best story I can for my readers. So if an editor or publisher has a suggestion then I listen very carefully to it and 99% of the time I make the change because that’s my goal. As far as positive criticism goes, it’s nice when it happens and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. But it’s a trap because you might get to thinking that since readers like that one aspect so much you are unwilling to ever change or adapt or grow as a writer. For me, writing is an organic process, it is not static. I have no interest in writing the same story over and over again no matter how popular it is with readers. I know many writers have great success doing exactly that. But that is not why I write, and it is not, and never has been, my philosophy.
PPS: As a reader, what are some things that attract you to a story?
KMH: I like characterization and good writing, period. No matter the genre, no matter the subject matter, good writing will always draw me in and keep me captivated. Also, characters who come across a living, breathing, and believable, always make the story more memorable for me.
PPS: What books have influenced you over the years?
KMH: I’ve had several influences in this regard and many of them are literary. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller was a very big influence on me. As for genre I have to give the nod to The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells and several of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. I read them when I was about eleven and that’s when I knew for sure I wanted to be a writer. It also got me seriously interested in science fiction, which was my gateway into horror and dark fantasy and finally, westerns. But for the pure literary aspect of what writing could aspire to, and how it could eventually transcend itself, Tropic of Cancer has had the biggest influence on me. 🙂
Thank you Mark for taking the time to do this and I wish you the best for your writing career. 🙂
Kenneth Hoover has sold over fifty short stories and articles to professional and semi-professional magazines. His first science fiction novel, FEVREBLAU, was published by Five Star Press in 2005 and sold out its first print run. At present, he is working on dark western short stories set in the mythical town of Haxan, New Mexico, circa 1874. His newest novel,HAXAN, has been accepted by ChiZine Publications and will be released at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.
For more information on the author, please click the link below.
His new book Alpenglow is now available at Amazon.