Hello hello! Here is a new author interview with Raymond Alexander Kukkee. Having him over for a chat was fun as we had lots to catch up on. It helps that I heard he likes sweet treats and so I put out some ice cream sandwiches for him at the kitchen table. We ate, we talked, we smiled. I hope you like the interview!
Welcome, Raymond. How about you start by telling us a little about yourself and your writing background?
First of all, thank you, Christyb, for inviting me to “Poetic Parfait!”
In real life I am married, have adult children, and am retired. I enjoy building stuff, writing, reading, the visual arts including oil painting and ceramics, carpentry, inventing, the great outdoors, fishing, prospecting, geology, walking, quadding, canoeing, gardening, and grafting apple trees. Of necessity, in living the rural life, I have become a Jack of all trades.
I have a fairly diverse technical background, having graduated with honours (Industrial Chemistry Tech.) from Sault college (then Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology) The occupational career has included everything from paints research to purchasing, house-building, business, equipment sales, construction, industrial sales, and management for public sector environmental and water engineering/operations projects.
Raymond Alexander Kukkee the writer, —is a freelancer who lives with the muse in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, nose to the grindstone, scribbling away daily, attempting to write the next great novel, studying characters, observing humanity, blogging on Incoming Bytes.com and commenting endlessly upon the foibles and great struggles of these difficult modern times.
My favourite genre is literary fiction in any form, whether it is short stories, flash fiction, novellas or full-length novels. I tend to write thought-streaming fiction involving character studies but continually experiment with other forms, blends of writing styles, including poetry and knowledge-based articles of all types. I have a couple of screenplays collecting dust too.
I have had hundreds of niche articles published, and have two novels out in both print and eBook formats at this time:
Morgidoo’s Christmas Carol a Christmas classic for all ages, (Lit fiction, Rocking Horse Publishing)
The Fires of Waterland (2nd ed., Literary fiction, some adult content) is once again in print ( Equidae div. Rocking Horse Publishing) and eBook formats.
Excellent! I have read both books and they are wonderful. So now I’m wondering, what writers inspire you?
John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and Dostoyevsky have all inspired me in one way or the other. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird are my all-time favourite books which I have read a number of times. There are others, but this collection of authors has most significantly influenced my writing to date. Great authors can have a powerful influence on newbies.
And your words have powerful influence too, Raymond. That’s why I’m glad to have found your books. Who do you think would enjoy reading The Fires of Waterland?
The Fires of Waterland (FOW) is a work of fiction that crosses several decades, and is set primarily in the ‘50s. It is recommended for mature-minded adult readers. Anyone who enjoys literary fiction built upon intense character study, deeply-structured literary fiction that crosses into contemporary social life and complex lives of characters —will appreciate and enjoy FOW.
How would you describe your main character in The Fires of Waterland? What sets him or her apart from past characters you’ve written about?
Fletcher Carnival Williams is unlike any character I’ve attempted to write about previously in that he not only begins narrating the story as an older man, he becomes the story, thought-streaming, relaying the flashbacks, the transition stages, back into his life in Waterland and elsewhere— starting as a younger boy. He draws the reader into an insightful, observant and questioning mind —and a somewhat dark past which includes family and societal failures, brutality, personal tragedy and losses, the diminishment of dreams, hope, societal struggles, and all that goes with life, including the tough parts. There is some adult content, but Fletcher Carnival Williams is above all, a gentleman, a student of humanity emulating Floyd, his hero, and he loves deeply and loyally even as a child in spite of the incredibly difficult challenges in his life. I think he’s pretty unique. I’m very proud of Fletcher.
He is well developed as a character so I understand your pride. What research, if any, did you do to write this book?
Not much hard research as such. Being a complete work of fiction, most of the research done for FOW was stretching the imagination combined with my life-time habit of studying human beings and how people interact. Simple and complex family events, economic and social policy all cause changes of direction and cause more events. How those changes affect individuals, families and society as a whole— is complex enough research in itself.
The main storyline of FOW is set in the post-war reflux of the ‘50s, a time rife with idealism, typically unrealistic, little-cottage-white-picket-fence- expectations and social problems caused by poverty and other characteristics where reality inevitably clashes with hopes, fading fortunes, and dreams.
Great answer, Raymond. Now let’s get even more personal (oooh ahhhh, hehe). Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. How often do you write and do you have a structure to your day?
I write every day without fail unless events in life dictate otherwise. I’m an early-bird, I walk the pups, grab coffee and breakfast, catch up with correspondence and the blog first, review progress overall on projects on the works in process—and get down to it.
I may write all day, barely taking time for lunch, more pup excursions into the great outdoors etc. I become commandeered upon occasion, but like most writers, I can really get involved in the project world if I’m on a roll and not distracted.
My writing is far more than eight hours a day typically, it may extend to the middle of the night, some of my best and most productive writing sessions have been at midnight or even 4:00am. I write when the muse beckons. It is not the time on the clock face that is the limiting factor; it is the lack of enough time to write. I procrastinate and re-think and often rewrite as I go; (is that a bad idea?) — the creative process itself can be long and involved, and as you know, not always as productive as we would like it to be.
Yes, some days can be creative and also quite long! Ahhhh, the writing process. What tips would you give to someone who is interested in writing his or her first book?
Wow…good question….Learn grammar and correct word usage, learn to spell properly. Learn the rules, and push the limits. Allow life to inspire! Write from your heart, write from your mind, tell your story your way—find your writing voice and insist upon remaining original.
Writing anything correctly is hard work. Do research properly and as thoroughly as it is required. That is time-consuming and hard, but writing fiction is even harder. Make notes and outlines if you need them, but don’t be restricted by them. There’s no “right” way.
Writing can be lonely and discouraging, but never, never quit. If you’re committed, yes, you can write that book. Persist. Forget the idea that it’s about fame or wealth. It is about writing your way, doing your best, and getting that story out there.
Grow a thick skin, don’t rely on your friends and family for support and hollow praise. I think it’s important to learn to accept criticism, and do not allow anyone to destroy your writing voice by suggestion, inference or disparaging remarks. That’s really important. Above all, when you’re inspired, don’t procrastinate, write it down before you forget! Don’t tell your story premise before you write it either; telling everyone will diminish your enthusiasm and get you second-guessing yourself. Be open-minded when other people give you ideas, but remember if they were that good, they would be writing it themselves. Haha!
….and…once you start, you’re a writer, so write every day! Best of luck!
Thank you again for inviting me to “Poetic Parfait,” Christyb….It’s been my pleasure.
Great to have you here, Raymond! Thanks for taking the time to chat – and be sure to finish that ice cream sandwich!
Thanks to everyone who took time to stop by and read the interview too! Feel free to connect with author Raymond Alexander Kukkee at his blog “Incoming Bytes,” as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.