Nate Kenyon, Continued...
HG: Has anything supernatural or inexplicable ever happened to you?
Nate Kenyon: Sure. Iím a pretty rational guy, really, but I think everyone has at least one or two experiences that might be considered odd. The first, and biggest, had to do with my fatherís death. Iíd waited for him to come home from work as I always did, hiding in the closet so I could jump out at him and say "boo!" But that night, he didnít show, and after some frantic phone calls my mother found out heíd had an accident on the way home and was in the hospital. I remember a flurry of activity neighbors rushing to the house, my mother running out the door. I wanted to see him, but I was told that it wasnít a good time and that I could go see him in the morning. I was assured that he was just fine, nothing but a few scratches, and would be leaving the hospital in a few days.
I remember very clearly standing at the window in the kitchen as night fell. I stared out at the darkness and I knew he wasnít coming home. This was beyond simply being frightened of the unknown. I simply knew.
I told everyone that I had to go to the hospital. I had to go. I kicked and screamed about it. They tried to calm me down, and finally got me to sleep. The next morning I woke up and found my grandparents in the house. They told me my father had passed away in his sleep that night. I found out much later that although heíd been more severely injured than anyone told me--a broken rib, collapsed lung, and broken nose--he was expected to fully recover, and had been moved from intensive care. It was a freak blood clot that traveled to his other lung that had killed him. Nobody could have predicted it would happen.
HG: How did you prepare for the challenge of writing your first novel? Have you written short stories?
Nate Kenyon: Iíve written fiction my entire life. I remember a story I wrote when I was around eight years old called The White Horse. I made copies of it with carbon paper and sold it to my relatives for a quarter. I tried to write my first novel when I was a freshman in high school, and finished about fifty pages before giving up. It wasnít until I graduated from college that I made a serious commitment to write a complete novel, which I did while working at a law firm for the summer. Although there were definite highs and lows during the experience, and many times when I thought it was complete crap, I never really thought about not finishing it. It became a real challenge to me--write another ten pages, stack them up, and look at how many I had, then do it again--it was fun.
Although Iíve written quite a bit of short fiction, Iíve always thought of myself as more of a novelist than a short story writer. Short stories are hard every single word has to count, and the pacing must be just right. I find the novel form to be a lot easier for me.
HG: Without giving away too much of the plot--did the novel's storyline develop exactly as you'd originally planned it, or did it change as you wrote it?
Nate Kenyon: My novels never work out exactly as I think they will, and thatís sort of intentional. I donít outline, I simply begin when I have an interesting idea or image, when Iím burning to explore and see where it takes me. This usually leads to a lot of mess as I go. Sometimes even pieces of scenes and dialogue get written that might get dropped in later in the novel. But thereís never a tight structure that I work out ahead of time.
That said, I do usually come up with major plot points and ideas that I jot down as the story progresses. For Bloodstone, I knew pretty early on that a couple of major events and plot twists were going to happen, so I was writing with them in mind. I guess you could say that the primary ideas in the book were there pretty much after the first couple of chapters, but a lot of character traits, minor events and other more specific things changed dramatically.
Then itís all about the edits going back through and refining the story, putting in more foreshadowing and streamlining the plot until it all makes sense.
HG: How would you say the concepts of guilt and redemption fit into Bloodstone?
Nate Kenyon: Theyíre a major part of the theme. Guilt and the thought of redemption drive Billy Smith to do what he does. In many ways Bloodstone is a quest novel, with Smith the flawed hero who is searching for redemption for what he did so many years ago. Heís driven by his own guilt, but heís also driven by an internal desire to do what is right. One of the central ideas that fascinated me while writing this book was what exactly makes people react in such different ways to adversity. Why will one man rise up above difficult circumstances, while another will allow himself to be dragged down and destroyed? I set this premise up in the novel, with Billy and Jeb Taylor as mirror images of each other. One is driven to fight through the most difficult circumstances to do what is right, while the other cannot. I leave it up to the reader to decide why.
HG: Who are your literary influences? What did you read, growing up?
Nate Kenyon: Iíd say King was my biggest influence, at least early on. But I read everything I could get my hands on as a childís mysteries, suspense, classics, horror, science fiction. I even read a few Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon novels that were lying around. I remember reading Clavellís King Rat in fifth or sixth grade. I think I read my first King around then too.
I still read everything I can. I think writers have to keep reading. It keeps the mindís mental connections going strong, and a love of the written word is essential.
HG: Do you watch horror movies? What's your favorite?
Nate Kenyon: Oh, sure. I love Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, Nightmare On Elm Street, Session 9, Jaws, The Shining, and lots of others. I donít know if I could rank them. I was a huge slasher flick fan in high school. I was always the one trying to convince my friends to go to that B-horror movie playing at the local theater. These days, I really like the strong, atmospheric horror that gets you with slow building suspense and creepy settings Session 9 is a great example of that.
HG: You have a robust websiteĖwww.natekenyon.com. How has the Internet helped your writing career?
Nate Kenyon: Itís been a HUGE help to me. I was trying hard to break through for several years after college, back in the early Ď90s, and I really got burned out from all of that and left the genre for a while. When I started getting back into it last year and landed the contract for Bloodstone, I was amazed at the vibrant, thriving online community that had sprouted up while I was gone. Itís so much easier these days to make connections through the web. Itís opened up all sorts of new ways to promote my work message boards, online communities like MySpace, and of course my website. And the friendships Iíve made are wonderful. Iím a very big believer in the power of technology to transform the way we all work and live. I think weíre only at the beginning of a revolution.
HG: Do you plan on writing a sequel to Bloodstone?
Nate Kenyon: Up until about a month ago, I would have said no. A lot of things that happen in the book donít seem to lend themselves very well to a sequel. But an idea did come to mind recently, and I think itís a pretty good one. Iím shopping a novel called The Reach around right now, and Iíve started another new one, but I might just dive into a sequel if people seem to want it, and if I get inspired by the story.
HG: Any last words?
Nate Kenyon: Iíd just like to say thank you for this interview, and thanks to everyone who has supported me and the novel so far. Iím amazed and humbled by the reaction Iíve received. The first draft of Bloodstone was written nearly eight years ago now, and Iíve changed a lot as a writer and a person since then. But Iím happy that the novel has seemed to touch a lot of people, and that so many are willing to take a chance on a relatively new writer. Anyone whoíd like to get in touch can reach me through my website. Iím always happy to talk to readers! X