Thursday, December 12, 2013
Coffee Chat with Author S.K. Anthony
ER: Today's interview is with author S.K. Anthony, whose debut novel, Kinetic (The Luminaries) hit the shelves a few months ago. Our mutual love of coffee drew us together, and my life hasn't been the same since our first online chat.
I have many burning questions for her, so this particular interview may end up being a series of events. We'll have to see how much she can handle before she changes her email address, adopts a fake name, and unfriends me on Facebook.
SKA: As long as you keep the coffee coming, I'll keep showing up. Otherwise, prepare to be ignored.
ER: While I'm on the topic of fake names, let's talk about yours. I understand you write under a pseudonym, but don't you think using the name "Stephen King" will be confusing to readers? Some might see it as a shameless way to get instant book sales.
SKA: Congratulations. You are the first clever person to realize my scheme. Luckily, I had an answer prepared in case anyone questioned my motives: I'm doing it for Stephen King's fans. You see, Stephen and I are pretty much the same—but just the opposite—so if they wanted to read more of his work . . . in a much different light . . . they can buy my book.
Speaking of my book, Kinetic is now available on Amazon! Look it up: Stephen King Anthony . . . S.K. Anthony for short.
ER: S.K. Anthony sure beats when you were considering using the name Mildred Loudermilk. I'm glad someone talked you down from that ledge. Not that there's anything wrong with the Mildred Loudermilks of this world . . .
SKA: Well, this is awkward . . . I only considered using Mildred Loudermilk because it's one of my real names. I do suppose it's a good thing I didn't go for it; now I can keep my anonymity intact. I will say, though, that I stand by it. I think it's a very strong name that demands attention, and I might consider using it for my future band. How does The Loudermilks sound?
ER: What inspired the first stirrings of ideas for Kinetic? And did I really give you all your best ideas, or did you come up with any on your own?
SKA: The first stirrings of Kinetic? Probably a coffee stirrer. On coffee, anyone can save the world . . . and by "anyone," I mean Annie Fox. Also, of course you gave me the best ideas, but I was smart about it. I wanted to make sure you didn't sue me for copyrights and such, so I wrote it directly from your mind before we met. Whatcha think about the Mildred Loudermilks of the world now, huh? We kan be zmarts!
So let me flip this around . . .
How did you come up with all your magnificent ideas for Kinetic? You know, before I stole them.
ER: I was toying with the idea of writing my autobiography, but I didn't think anyone would believe me—especially people who knew me personally. So I wrote out a rough outline and read it silently every night for weeks, hoping that someone, somewhere would "catch" my brain waves.
SKA: I had my wave net waiting . . .
ER: Exactly. And the first words you wrote were . . .?
SKA: "If I gave myself some time, I know I wouldn't have been able to control myself."
ER: Not so coincidentally, the very words I would have written.
I want to know how many rewrites you estimate you went through before you showed it to a critique partner.
SKA: Seven or eight, I think.
ER: Did he/she like it?
SKA: She said she liked it and gave me a bunch of notes.
ER: Were you prepared to tell her she was full of it if she said anything negative?
SKA: I'd begged her to read it and break my heart. I told her I didn't want praises because that wouldn't help me fix issues; I gave her full permission to rip it apart.
ER: Did you feel broken enough by the time she was done, or did you still feel good, and therefore tell her she needed to re-read it?
SKA: Nah, funny enough, I never felt offended or that she was wrong. Even with the things she misunderstood, it clearly showed that I hadn't explained them enough. The things she did point out? If I agreed with it, I changed it; if I didn't agree, I made sure I fixed the details so they could showcase what I meant.
ER: In Kinetic, the characters have some pretty amazing powers. [Note: accurate to my biographical details so far . . .] Other than the superpower stuff, do your characters say or do things you'd never do in real life?
SKA: Yes, I'm a chicken. I wouldn't be running into the line of fire like they do.
ER: When you're writing controversial scenes, do you have a voice in the back of your mind that says, "Remember, your boss/neighbor/friend/pastor is going to see this and think you're a drug addict/pervert/big meanie"?
SKA: Yes! Kinetic was darker, actually. I deleted a lot of things, and in the end, I'm happy I did. Looking back now they were stupid.
ER: How do you make that voice shut up?
SKA: I give it wine.
ER: Is it hard to get rid of things you've written? Put another way, have you ever had to sacrifice something cool for the sake of the story?
SKA: It's so odd . . . I find it difficult to sacrifice things I like but I have no problem hitting that "delete" button. I have a matter-of-fact way of looking at it: if it doesn't help or work, it has to go. I should say I copy/paste and hope I can use the ideas in the future, but I've also just deleted a lot.
ER: Besides, it's not like I'm—I mean, you're—going to write only one book.
SKA: Exactly! I had already started Kevin's [book 2] last year, but I made changes to Kinetic that would come across here, so I had to delete stuff. Then I got close to 40k words and I got another idea—and out of that, I barely kept 7k. The rest is all new.
ER: Does it even resemble the original idea at all?
SKA: [laughs] Barely. I tell you, I like to delete. Ahem, YOU like to delete. By the way, take it easy on the deletions. My brain can hardly keep up with your changes, Lynda.
ER: You're so obedient to my brain wavy-ness. How about if I allow you to choose the title? After all, your name . . . one of your names . . . is going to be on the front.
SKA: Oh, can I? Can I?
ER: Unless you want me to call it Telepathic: Mildred Speaks.
SKA: Hang on, I think I feel the brain waves doing something to me; it's almost electrifying and white-noise-ish. I am at a standstill . . . hold on . . .
I think: STATIC.
ER: That was my second choice, I swear!
SKA: I'll bet! So, dear Annie Fox . . . I mean, Lynda . . . does Static (The Luminaries #2) work for you?
ER: Yes, indeed, it does.
You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. Her band, The Loudermilks, will be posting videos to YouTube at a future date.