Interview with Daredevil, Fantasy & Picture Book Author Ken Curtis

Ken Curtis works away at his day job in a medical laboratory and pretends to be an adult. He grew up in the desert of Arizona but now lives in the mountains of Utah. He has an amazing and supportive wife plus four precocious children who serve as his inspiration. He’s always seeking adventure: skiing in the winter, rock climbing in the summer, and pretty much any other fun and challenging outdoor activity.

Post Climb Selfie 29th street crag

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

Since I was a child, I have dabbled in writing. I was always coming up with silly poems, songs, short stories, and the occasional attempt at a screenplay. Most of this was for my own amusement or to give to someone else. It wasn’t until I became a father that I decided that I wanted to take writing more seriously and really put together something long lasting, something to have more of a wide reach. I wanted my daughter, who is an avid reader, to be able to pick up something I wrote and think, ‘My Dad wrote this, I can do this too!’

I had a pretty serious rock climbing accident about 5 years ago that limited my ability to do much for a few weeks while I recuperated. Not that I recommend falling off a cliff or any other near death experience, but that downtime really jumpstarted my journey on being a writer as I finally had the time to bust some things out and think ‘Hey maybe I CAN do this writing thing.’

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

I have written a couple picture books that are my most polished MS’s. I also have written an epic fantasy that is mostly finished and is in the revision stage. I have a few other WIP’s that are slugging along slowly. Ridiculously slow. Like dial-up internet slow.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I am an eclectic writer. At first, I thought I should try and focus on one genre and pursue it full speed. I realized though, that I wasn’t happy this way. Ultimately I write for me and if I can get published, great, but I am not really looking to be a ‘successful’ author. I define my success by finishing something that I can be proud of and at least one other person can enjoy.

So, I write picture books, YA (mystery and fantasy), epic fantasy, historical fantasy, and I even have desires for a non-fiction piece on the history of slot canyons in Southern Utah that I am sure only my mom might read. Maybe.

What is your preferred path to publication?

I would really like to go traditional for my PB’s. For the novels I am working on, I think I would like to pursue traditional, but lately have been more inclined to go the self-published route.

How have you found the submission/querying process so far?

I have only minimal experiences thus far with querying and submission. I have one holiday children’s picture book that I have queried (unsuccessfully) only to a handful of agents. I have pitched it to a publishing house. They wanted it, and were ready to go, but as I looked into it more it didn’t feel quite right and didn’t seem like the fit I was looking for. So, I said no. As time has passed, I feel even better about that decision. I think the biggest takeaway from that for me is that the more you shop around the better the chance you have of finding the best fit. That and picthing in person isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be!

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I probably struggle with my writing because I spend too much time reading. I will read and finish at least two books a week (I read fast). I love Brandon Sanderson, David Eddings, and Brent Weeks. I love the way they world build and create characters in fantasy settings that feel very real.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

I try and find inspiration in everyday life. My kids and their antics have been a source of inspiration for characters, dialog and plot. I have a rhyming holiday picture book that I wrote only because my daughter accidentally found the secret stash of Christmas presents. I wanted to keep the magic of believing in Santa alive so I made up a story about how Santa has little elves that go around stashing gifts in peoples’ homes before Christmas because Santa needed a head start on delivering gifts. It very well could become my first published book.

That sounds like a great idea and would help so many parents! It’s also how my sister got busted lol.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I am very much a pantser. I will outline and plot in my head all the time, but if I am putting words to paper it is to write, not outline.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I have to isolate myself fully to really get the writing mojo going. No TV, no peoples, no social media, even (gasp!) no internet. I have tried to do word sprints and even helped host the Friday Night Writes #writeclub events, but I have found that sprints don’t’ work for me. I need prolonged exclusion. In fact, I am doing a three day backpacking trip off the grid in a couple weeks. I anticipate busting out some words on the trail.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

I have recently learned that I am not a social writer. I need to get my words done with no feedback, no accountability partners, no word count reporting. I am all about pinging things off others, but only after the MS is done. I can be a social reviser.

Haha. That works too.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Everyone does things their way and that’s ok. I have spent time trying to fit other author’s paradigms of how things should be and it just burns me out. Find what you like and what you want and do it. Shia LeBouf was right, ‘DO IT!” but more importantly ‘Do You’.

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

I am so thankful for the onine writer community who have been so supportive and become some of my best friends. Even if I never get published, I have made great lifelong friends along this journey.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Website: www.kennethbcurtis.com                                        Online at: @CurtisKen (Twitter)

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