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Interview with Ken Lange

He is a current resident of the ‘Big Easy’, along with his partner and evil yet loving cats. He arrived at this career a little later in life and his work reflects it. Most of his characters won’t be in their twenties and they aren’t always warm and fuzzy. He is of the opinion that middle-aged adults are woefully underrepresented in fiction and has made it his mission to plug that gap.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I actually enjoy getting up at 3:30 in the morning. It gives me time to do the things I need to do for me before focusing on work. It also means I go to bed stupidly early. Though, many may’ve guessed as much given my books. Oh, I know, I don’t have any social media apps on my phone, and I keep my mobile on DND mode most of the time. I’m a big believer that my family time is just that…with a few exceptions.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Absolutely! Safety in Numbers, Exiled Ascendants, Book 1 is due out June, and the second book is due out July 4th, both with accompanying audio. I’m currently working on Harbinger’s Reach, which is the third book in this series. I’ll be returning to the Nine Realms Saga sometime next year. After completing the first arc of that story, it ended in a good place, allowing me time to properly develop the second arc in a way that isn’t too jarring for my readers.

Q.3 What inspired you to write Exiled Ascendants series?
Would you believe it started out as a joke project? Okay, let me set the scene. I’d mostly wrapped the first arc of the Nine Realms Saga, which is a complex interwoven story across four different series. To boil that down, I have to truly focus on the little things to make sure I don’t screw anything up. 

Right about the same time, my wife had a major procedure, and she comes first. While she recovered, I thought it’d be funny to write an apocalyptic LitRPG. The key factor here was the MC being a sarcastic, middle-aged man who wants a nap, but the apocalypse keeps getting in the way. I pounded out the original draft in about twenty days. 

As my wife got better, I completed the last book in the first arc for the Nine Realms Saga, thus shelving the LitRPG project. Months later, I picked it up and was like, this could work...IF I completely trash what I had and started over again. That’s what I did. Poof, here we are.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Well, I’m either about to make a lot of people happy or offend a bunch of people. I’m not sure which. Here’s the thing, if you treat said character like a person, the rest is window dressing. In Fall of Eleazar, the book with Jade, she’s a badass. It doesn’t truly matter if she’s a woman or not…she’s just awesome.

Q.5 What challenges did you face while writing this series, and how did you overcome them?
Well, I had to rework my perspective from first person to third. That was complicated for me as I tend to write in the former exclusively. As to how I overcame it, I just kept at it till it worked. That’s what I do with everything I’m terrible at. I keep working on it till I’m passible, then keep going.

Q.6 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I go where the story takes me. It’d probably serve me better if I used some sort of formula but I don’t. Sometimes the story surprises me. For instance, I had one character that I’d planned on killing off in Accession of the Stone Born, but they lived. That kind of threw a kink into my overall plan but overall, it worked out for the betterment of the story as a whole.

Q.7 How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Anywhere from a few months to a year. It really depends on how life intervenes in my schedule. Another big factor is how much the books go according to my original plan versus how far they go off course.

Q.8 What’s your writing schedule while working?
Monday through Friday, 8-5. Now that’s including administrative projects like advertising, filling out interview questions, answering emails, my actual work, that sort of thing. I try to keep a set schedule as I treat it like a job. This tends to stray off course when I’m nearing the end of a project. At that point, I tend to write every waking moment that I can carve out for myself.

Q.9 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Other than being a fan, I pretty much like absolute silence in the house. No talking, no phone calls, just me at my keyboard and working.

Q.10 What do you think are the main reasons for the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the film industry helped popularize the genre?
I’m not sure I can point at any one thing as the main reason for the popularity of science fiction. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein kind of put the genre on the map but it’s been built upon by so many authors. 

You could point at Vern, Frank Herbert, Asimov, Clarke, and so many others that steered it into the mainstream. As far as movies are concerned, well, there’s Gene Roddenberry, of course, but without Lucile Ball, he wouldn’t have gotten it on the air, so a big thank you to her. 

Star Wars landed with a bang back in the seventies and that got the ball rolling for the rest of the film stuff. I don’t think J. Michael Stracznski’s Babylon 5 gets enough credit for how he changed the episodic programming on TV or the genre in general.

Q.11 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
It’s absolutely vital to target the right audience for your books. As for how to do that, I wish I knew. My marketing campaigns are absolute trash. Like a lot of authors, I’m very good at sitting down and knocking stuff out, but I’m terrible at marketing. 

It didn’t help that the Nine Realms Saga was in a genre I call Mythic Science Fiction. I’d like to point out that genre does not exist anywhere but in my own head. It's a well-written series but it’s nearly impossible to market. I’m hoping my ability to target an audience with this series will go better, but so far, I’m batting a big fat zero.

Q.12 How do you select the name of your characters?
Sadly, a lot of randomness. Normally, it involves a whole lot of Google, randomly checking the names of actors in whatever film I was looking up that week. I do a lot of searches for popular names in x country, time period, or cultural community. 

A prime example of how this works is something that occurred yesterday. I was in the middle of writing a scene and suddenly needed a name. I had Facebook up in a tab behind my Word document and it was on suggested friends. I spotted a Tony-someone I have no idea why FB would suggest because I don’t know them and I ran with it. Now, will that name stick? Probably not. Why? 

Because Tony the Vampire seems silly. Also, it gives a very Soprano vibe. While I do have some mob-adjacent vampires, this guy isn’t one of them. I’ll have to go back and find something to replace it with but now the placeholder stands.

Q.13 If your book would be made into a movie, whom would you like to play the role of Iain Clark?
When it comes to my books, I get this question a lot, and I never know how to answer it. Common sense says to pick a big name to pull in viewers. (BTW, I’d prefer a series over a movie.) If I had to pick a big name, Henry Cavil because I can trust the guy to keep to the material. Honestly, though, I’m not sure if a big named actor is the way to go. 

Maybe getting lesser-known folks like they did with Stranger Things would be the way to go. This keeps people from having certain expectations about how they’re going to be. I have a very unpopular opinion that I’ll use as an example, Ben Afflack’s Batman. I know, controversial. The thing is, I thought with the material he had, he did an amazing job as Batman. Were they my favorite movies? No. The thing is, I think the actors they had in place did a great job with what they had. Also, Jeremy Irons as Alfred was nice.

Q.14 How designed your book cover? How do you select them?
A. Natania Barron
. She’s great. She’s either done or recreated all my covers for me. I think she does a good job with the limited amount of help I’m able to offer. I’m always too keen on trying to recreate a scene from the book and she’s more like, dude, you need to rework your expectations into something that’ll work for a cover. The stuff I’m suggesting would make a terrible cover. As to how I selected them, she was suggested to me by another author.

Q.15 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
That’s a tricky question because I’ve written twenty-ish books, maybe closer to thirty, but I’ve only published fourteen of them. I’ve also written several short stories as well. Serena’s Gym Rats is a short story for the Exiled Ascendants.

As to my favorite? I don’t have one. I have a favorite scene and that’s in The Wanderer Awakens. The opening scene is roughly three pages long and tells you everything you need to know about Viktor Warden. It’s got a little bit of everything in it and I love it.

Q.16 Who is your favorite lead character from your books, and why?
Ugh. All of them in different ways. Currently, though, Iain Clark since he’s the one I’m working on at the moment. He’s sarcastic, loves to eat, grumpy, and wants a nap. What’s not to love? Seriously, I could go for a nap right now.

Q.17 Among all the supporting characters in your books, who is dearest to you and why?
Again, all of them. They all have a purpose. Maybe if I answered who was the most fun, that’d help things along. Janus or Hayden for very different reasons. As for the supporting character in Safety in Numbers, Robin because she keeps Iain grounded in reality without letting him get lost to his predilections.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
This is an easy one, Stephen King. Why? Because he’s my wife’s favorite author, and she could sit around picking his brain. She’d be happy and I’d win as a husband.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
That’s a hard one since it’s changed over the years…the book that’s consistently been in my life from a young age till now is Dune. It’s very interesting from a political, religious, and ecological perspective. It also doesn’t paint the MC, Paul, in the light most people think it does. He’s more of a warning than an aspiration.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I’m not sure I’m the guy you go to for advice, but here goes. Finishing your first draft isn’t the end; it’s the beginning. You’re going to need to rework that a LOT. Most importantly, hire an editor. Without them, you’re not going to do well. As to my journey:

For me, writing heals the heart, rebuilds a broken soul, and gives hope to a failing body. It allows me to walk amongst the stars and go places that I otherwise couldn’t, and it gives me the humanity that I’ve lost along the way. In essence, writing breathes hope into the embers of whatever life I yet possess and it allows my soul to be whole once more.

A little dramatic, but it’s all true. Writing can set you free and show you wonders that you’re allowed to share with your readers. It’s an amazing opportunity that I’m very grateful for.

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