Xlibris Publishing introduces Ken Varnold, author of The List of Things Bought Volumes 1 and 2, Urumqi, and his latest work The Primitives.
Who is the author “behind the book?”
My writing is informed partly by my education, being told long ago during my university years that I should be a writer. I studied many writers, from Shakespeare to American poets, to French existentialists, although I was majoring in Child Development. The other heavy influencer has been my choices of work. I spent twenty-two years in law enforcement, overlapping that with work as an actor and playwright. I studied advanced acting at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and playwriting through the Playwright’s Center here. During those years, I received my best critiques from writing and performing my own one-man shows. I have also traveled extensively in the world which is a great education on its own. As a constant student of human nature, writing novels now is made so much easier due to all these influences.
Do you have any particular literary influences that have helped you develop in your genre, subject and style?
I have always been an avid reader and watcher of movies and television. I had a natural affinity for stories. Well-told stories all share common denominators, but like music consists of seven notes, these denominators have infinite combinations. Writers like Stephen King, James Lee Burke, Anne Perry, as well as stories by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Victor Hugo, and many others, all move me. Don’t forget the playwrights and the poets. Chekov, e.e. cummings, Charles Bukowski, et al. They are telling stories as well. I have never had a fixation on one genre or another, although crime plays a significant part in my work because it is such a dramatic aspect to our lives.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
My newest work, The Primitives, was based a suggestion several years ago by someone close to me. She asked, “what if two people, otherwise happily married to different spouses, met and fell in love?” I do not believe happily married people fall in love with others, but can be strongly attracted, even if they don’t act on it. So I created two people who are struck with “love at first sight”, but do not act for quite some time because they are caught up in their own dysfunctional marriages. Around them, the world in the fictional small town where they live has its own trouble brewing that impacts them. The story is a love story wrapped in a murder mystery. It is very dark and quite graphic in places. I have a feeling the opening to chapter two is unlike any scene anyone has read in any novel. It has taken nearly two years to complete.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
I was sometimes asked to speak to high school students about pursuing a career in law enforcement. I started by asking the students to raise their hands if they were considering it. Perhaps thirty of a hundred would raise their hands. After spending an hour talking about it, I asked the same question. Those interested dropped to less than ten. I offer the same to aspiring writers. It is blood, sweat and tears. It will keep you up at night. Writing will drain your meager resources, and you will compete against many writers so incredibly talented you will question your sanity. But if you go to bed at the end of the day, dreaming of what this character is going to do next, how that character will respond, etc, then maybe you have what it takes. Frankly, I am still questioning my sanity.
Xlibris Publishing will return with Ken Varnold in Part 2.
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