Today I have a very special guest joining me! Whoa! Please welcome Ian J. Keeney author of A Better Tomorrow and A Thousand Pieces.
Ian, thank you so much for joining me today for an interview.
What were you like at school? What was your favorite/best subject?
School was not an enjoyable experience for me. I had an abusive pre-school teacher. My first grade teacher put me in special-ed classes. In the third grade, I was put in remedial classes for – of all things – reading!
I wasn’t a dumb kid nor was I a problem child. I remember even at that young age how much I hated poor literature. I found the stories on our tests to be a trifle bore, so I didn’t finish reading them. Thus, I failed the tests and was put in remedial classes. Those classes were even duller.
This pattern continued throughout high school. I had to take summer classes in my junior year because instead of paying attention during geometry, which I knew was useless to a writer’s life, I wrote a novel in my notebook while pretending to take notes from the chalkboard. I failed Algebra 2 in my senior year, but my teacher gave me the two extra points I needed to graduate.
I took college very seriously because it was finally something that related to what I wanted to do with my life. Plus, I was paying for it so I wanted to get my money’s worth.
My favorite and best subject came in high school and throughout college. It was also the only class I’ve always achieved a perfect score in with little effort: Psychology. I still study it on my own because I think understanding human behavior will help me write more realistic characters with emotional depth.
Which writers inspire you? Do you have a favorite book?
In my opinion, Nick Cave is the most inspiring person to ever live. His music, lyrics, poetry, novels, screenplays, other various forms of art, and even the man himself inspire me to the core of my being.
As far as authors go, I don’t think there is any one particular author who is consistently good. I’m more inspired by certain books than I am by particular authors. Even though I love to read, the number of books I would actually call “good” is a short list.
My favorite novel is What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. It’s a poetically written page-turner that explores the depths of the unseen universe and the strength of love in our darkest times.
What made you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
I was born to write. It was never a decision that I made. The pen is part of my body. The ink is my blood. Spilling ink from my pen to the page is like bleeding from my soul.
What have you written?
I’ve written a lot of screenplays, but I’m most proud of my two novels, A Thousand Pieces and A Better Tomorrow
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
There is no average. My first novel took a few months, my second a few years. I actually started my second novel first. It all depends upon the subject matter being written, how much research I have to do, what’s going on in my life at the time and how many hours I’m working my day job.
What’s the hardest part about writing? The easiest?
The hardest part about writing is getting over the fact that although I will bleed my soul onto the pages, very few people will care, much less buy the book in such an over-saturated market.
The easiest part is writing the book.
What does your writing process look like?
I don’t have a process. Idea, pen and paper. Sometimes paper, pen, idea.
Be honest, how much coffee do you drink?
Too much. I drank so much coffee once that it almost killed me. Remember, caffeine is a drug. It affects our heart and raises our blood pressure. Even an otherwise healthy individual could go into cardiac arrest or other physical crises with overexertion and too much caffeine. Now I limit myself to three cups on a bad day, but I try to only have one if possible. I’ll drink decaf to satisfy the cravings if I know I shouldn’t have the caffeine. On that day I literally drank over a gallon of black coffee.
Do you ever get writers block? If you do, how do you overcome it?
I get writer’s block sometimes. I think it’s because I try to do too much at once. I’m a musician writing and recording an album. I’m a filmmaker directing a movie. I’m an editor at my full-time job. By the time I sit down to work on a novel, I have nothing left to give.
I also get writer’s block due to depression. The lack of interest in my work is sometimes oppressive to my creativity. Writing occasionally seems hopeless and pointless when I know so few eyes will ever gaze upon all of my labor. In moments like that, I will often force myself to write something even if it’s just a paragraph that I know I’ll throw away.
What artists are on your writing playlist?
Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Clint Mansell, Beethoven, Erik Satie
How do you feel about the world of traditionally published vs indie world?
One is a sedan, the other a hatchback. They’ll both get you where you want to go, in print. The biggest problem is how they are perceived by the public. I think a lot of readers skip over the indie authors because they think those authors weren’t good enough for traditional publishing. That isn’t the case. Most indie authors just want more creative control over their own work. The Martian by Andy Weir started out as an indie novel that ended up a blockbuster movie by Ridley Scott. Readers, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t explore the indie authors.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There is no advice I can give that would round it all out for every aspiring author because everyone’s experience is different except for one thing: You will fail. You will fail miserably over and over again. What will set you apart is if you keep studying and admit to yourself that there is always more to learn and you can always be better.
Do you have any quotes that inspire you, if so, what is it?
I feel weird quoting myself, but if it didn’t inspire me I wouldn’t have written it: “Wishing for tomorrow or wishing for yesterday will just be wishing your life away. Live for the now, the moment you're in, for that moment in time may end up being what might have been.”
"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." – Edmund Burke
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Fun questions time!
If you could meet anyone of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
I don’t think I want to meet any of my characters. They might slap me in the face for everything I put them through.
If you could live in any other time period, when would you live?
I’m fine here and now. I like our modern conveniences. I’m curious about the future, but I don’t know what it’s like so I can’t say I’d want to live there.
You’re stranded on an island and can bring three items with you, what do you bring?
I would bring a lighter, a knife and a water purifier.
Someday, I want to ___________(what?)
…have all of my hard work seem worthwhile.
Are you a listener or a talker?
What was the last song you played on your Ipod?
Stagger Lee by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Published by Dylann Rhea