Ginger Nuts of Horror
A high school teacher, college instructor and fiction writer living in central Missouri, Kevin R. Doyle has seen his short stories, mainly in the horror and suspense fields, publshed in over twenty-five small press magazines, both print and online. In 2012 he began venturing into the book publication field. First with a mainstream novelette and then, in 2014, with the release of his first full-length mystery novel. A native of Kansas and graduate of Wichita State University, Doyle teaches English and public speaking at a high school in rural Missouri and has taught English, journalism and Spanish at a number of community colleges in both Kansas and Missouri. In the summertime, he can be found either toiling away at the computer or vacationing along the Gulf Coast. You can find out more information at his website, www.kevindoylefiction.com, or contact him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kevindoylefiction.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a native Midwesterner. I work as a high school teacher and sometimes as a part time college instructor. Reading was my favourite pastime as a kid, but I didn’t begin writing until around twenty years old or so.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I really enjoy to travel. Fortunately, I have about three months out of the year when I can take off whenever I want to.
What’s your favourite food?
It used to be pizza, but I’ve kind of grown out of that. Since I turned forty or so, I don’t really have a favourite.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Tell us a dirty little secret?
I’m the last living person who doesn’t own a cell phone. And has no desire to ever get one.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get your act together a bit earlier than I did (thirty-two years old).
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Some years back, I left my job under less than ideal circumstances and spent a year and a half out of work. Around ten times I was a finalist for a job, but kept coming in number two. I finally decided to drop the idea of a teaching career and start looking for something completely different. One week later, I was offered a teaching job. I decided to give it one last shot, and I’ve been in that position for twelve years now.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Lawrence Block, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert B. Parker
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
A while back, I reread Block’s Small Town. It’s out of his usual genre and is outstanding. As far as disappoint, some of the later Parker’s because on two of his series he was just going through the motions towards the end.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
It doesn’t quite count as a horror novel, but Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. As for film, it’s a 1955 French film (saw it black and white with subtitles) called Les Diaboliques. It popped up on TMC a year or so ago. Once upon a time, I would have cited the original Jaws or The Exorcist, but this little French film beats both of those out.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
Zombies. Done to death (pun intended).
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Spenser would be the perfect neighbour, or maybe Hawk. Susan Silverman because she’d always be whining.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Susan Silverman. Quickly and painlessly because she’s not a bad person, just annoying.
And if you had free range what fictional character would you like to write for?
My old favourite from my youth: Doc Savage, old time pulp hero.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
We just need to get the zombies out of it so some new, fresh ideas can blossom.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
I know this is going to tick some people off, but one of the biggest problems facing fiction in general is – here it comes – self publishing. I see the positives of it, but a lot of people whose work I’ve glanced over really could benefit from an editor and vested publisher.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
One review I really liked was for The Group. Almost all of the reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon for that book were somewhere between four and five stars. But one woman posted a three-star review (not bad) where she went into explicit detail about the places where she felt I’d missed the mark in the story. It was an interesting piece of criticism and as I read through it I found myself nodding at several places. She overall liked the book, but really let me know where I needed to improve for the future. Overall, a positive experience.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Upon acceptance from a publisher, the editing process. By the time a book gets accepted, I’ve usually done three or four drafts. To then have to go through it again and again, gets real old real quick. I understand and appreciate the need for it, I just don’t like it. A newspaper reporter once asked me what was the biggest difference between writing short stories and writing books. That was easy to answer. I said “short stories are fun, but books are work.”
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
What do you think makes a good story?
Something’s got to be happening. It may be understated and it may be obscure, but something’s got to be happening. People sitting around talking about their feelings and lives with nothing going on – bleh.
How important are names to you in your books?
I actually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about names. When I have a new character, whatever name pops into my head I usually go with.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Hmm. Never really thought about it. I guess I’d say, a good set of eyes to catch all those little typos.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Back in the pre-Internet days, each year invest in a copy of the Writer’s Market.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
“Well, he’s just a creative writer, so he can’t do any other kind.”
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’m still learning on this one. Three books in and it’s slowly coming together. (Sales figures would tell you how much I still have to learn.) Made a lot of use out of Goodreads, and am trying to hit as many book sites/ bloggers as possible, at least the ones tailored for my material. For The Litter, which will be my first one to have a print version, I did the old shoe leather method of walking into an assortment of indie book stores and showing my product.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
From The Litter, it would have to be Karen Bannister. I tried not to overdo it, but there’s a lot of pathos that goes along with her. At the age when most people are beginning to settle into their identities, she’s lost everything she once valued, and is really cast adrift. As far as the “human” characters in the story, she’s the most wounded and vulnerable of the lot, and yet it’s up to her to see things through.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Simon, the Sire’s second in command. He’s just mean.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m going to answer that in two parts. When it comes to short stories that have appeared in magazines, I’d have to say “The Old Dogs.” It was almost too intense to write and, when it first came out in print, I tried to read it and had to put it down and walk away. Just couldn’t deal because I knew where it was headed. My other favourite is One Helluva Gig. It’s not a novel, but it was my first “book.” A 14,000 word novelette, I lucked into a publisher who wanted to release it as an e-book. It is in no way, shape or form like any of my previous work, and I didn’t even know the genre until someone defined it as “rock fiction.” The fact that it sticks out so much from the rest of my stuff makes it one of my faves. Now if I could just find some readers for it.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Several of my earlier short stories, from back in the late eighties/ early nineties. Some of them I glance at now and just cringe at how amateurish they were.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Bookwise, that’s hard to answer because all three are so different, in fact different genres on each. The Litter is fairly representative of my shorter work, as most of it falls within the horror genre. However, over the years my stuff has become more and more about character and less about events, so in that case The Group would be fairly representative. Though there are a lot of events going on in that one as well.
What are you working on right now?
Currently working on a sequel to The Group. Wasn’t really my intention, as I meant it as a stand-alone piece. But a couple of reviewers mentioned that they saw room for some sequels there, and as I thought about it a possible idea came to mind. The protagonist of the first book, Ron Green, doesn’t show up (at least not in the early conception). Instead, I’m focussing on the two cops who were kind of secondary characters, and showing what happens to them professionally after the events of the first book. Even though they caught the killer in The Group, as a friend of mine pointed out “no one really came out of that in a good place.”
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
What’s the easiest thing about being a writer? Answer – Starting a new story. Because all the possibilities in existence are in there, just waiting to be unveiled.
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