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Kalen was nice enough to let me pry into his business. Sit back and learn about this interesting author.
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
Regarding the humorous crime thriller genre, I backed into it. I landed on the genre after developing story ideas around certain themes.
I find my ideas that I can fully develop into novels stem from themes I'm interested in first, such as themes of environmentalism and nonprofit service. I also have an affinity for college-aged or twenty-something characters. So, after the interplay of themes and characters, storylines develop.
One thing well-known about nonfiction writing in the environmental movement is that it usually focuses on the serious downside. Fiction offers an opportunity for adding some humor about such themes to the mix and people have responded well to my sense of humor in writing, particularly with my earlier plays.
Humor also works well in crime thrillers, in my opinion. The contrast of light and darkness in humorous crime thrillers is something I enjoy. So with the themes, characters involved, and a desire for light humor, a humorous crime thriller simply worked for the emerging storyline threads.
I explored the genre and found I liked it. But, genre wasn't where I first started.
What research is required?
For Tangled Ties to a Manatee, I did some research on manatees and investigations. I've had experiences with environmental groups, nonprofits, and working at colleges, so only a little research was needed in some areas.
Location and historical research were also involved as fictionalized settings were blended into actual locations.
For a new project, more research is needed, particularly historical. Since I enjoy research, I have to temper the amount of it I do. Otherwise, it can become a distraction from the writing.
Name one thing you learned from your protagonist.
One of the things I learned from the character Jerry is you work with whoever will work with you for a situation. I can be an idealist and hesitant in that regard. Being developmentally disabled, Jerry doesn't over-think matters for the situation at hand.
I'll give an example of how that lesson applies in my life. Historically in this country, advances in the protection of parks and wildlife spaces have only happened when "sports hunters" and "treehuggers" collaborate, both pushing for the protection of spaces from commercial development. As an animal protection activist, I haven't always sought out cooperation with hunters for mutual objectives when we'd be at odds over other matters. But, I'd more reasonably consider that now.
Jerry doesn't worry about that. He can't afford to. He'll work with anything or anybody - even to the point of the lowest form of rat around.
Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
I can be walking along quietly with a friend and suddenly gesture while thinking of how a character might respond in a scene. To a friend that obviously looks like I'm gesturing suddenly out of nowhere. So far, my friends haven't called the folks with the straitjackets on me ... yet.
Plotter or pantser?
For novels, I'm a plotter. I was more of a "pantser" for playwriting, especially one-act plays. There's some of that "pantser" dynamic in my novel writing process, but I find plotting and outlining important for full-length novels.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
A coffee shop window.
Coffee shops are great for me creatively. There's enough background noise and movement to keep me focused on the writing task at hand. Places that are too loud and chaotic, and places that are too quiet and staid, both of those I find distracting. In coffee shops and the like, my mind stays focused more readily on the writing than on an excess or lack of other things happening.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
My newest work-in-progress, also a crime thriller, has the working title of "The Peace Cipher." Artifacts are stolen from a museum, and the primary college-aged protagonists become embroiled with those responsible for stealing the artifacts. The primary modern day setting is along coastal Lake Erie in Ottawa County, Ohio.
Do you have a question for our readers?
Currently, the publishing industry emphasizes the initial hook, or first five pages, or something like that. The idea is that readers won't continue to read if they aren't enthralled in a work immediately. As a reader, I find I'll go along much longer before forming a strong opinion about a work, and sometimes find artificially loading a story too early to be off-putting.
My question is -
For a genre that you usually like to read, as long as you aren't strongly put off by the writing style, how far will you read before deciding a book's just not for you once you've started? Also, do you find any novels to be front-loaded with too much excitement for the type of novel written?
Jerry is a young developmentally disabled man who happily follows Ankh's pregnancy on the zoo's webcam. He has a shy crush on Janelle, a pretty college student who volunteers for his group home’s outings to the zoo.
Jerry's Aunt Vera also loves nature and runs an environmental retreat center. But all is not well, with Vera or the center. The center needs money and is under investigation as a cult.
Amid their college studies, Janelle and her friend Cecily try to help. Instead, Janelle re-awakens an old obsession in Vera when an innocent tarot reading hints at how the center might be saved.
Two bumbling con men are attempting to sabotage the region’s electrical grid as part of a lucrative scheme. But Jerry accidentally gets in their way and becomes their captive.
When the con men surprisingly succeed in bringing the grid down, it spells danger for Ankh, her unborn pup, and the many people tied to them both. With investigations of their own, Cecily and Janelle try to untangle it all to find Jerry, save a manatee’s life, and rescue Vera from herself. Tangled Ties to a Manatee is a humorous crime thriller with environmental themes that is revealed through multiple points of view. The novel emphasizes college-aged characters, though not all, such as the developmentally disabled ones, are in college.
Kalen Cap is a writer living in Columbus, Ohio. Active in a variety of causes, particularly with regard to the environment, he often brings such concerns into his fiction writing.
Tangled Ties to a Manatee is his debut novel.
He has had poetry published and several plays, both one act and full-length, produced locally. Two short stories have been published as well. "Feral" is a short story published in Off the Rocks, v. 14, ed Allison Fradkin, NewTown Writers Chicago, 2010, pp. 119-126. "Transforming Oracle" is a self-published short story available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29507
Kalen’s website is http://www.kalencap.com
He can be readily connected with through the following social media profiles –
Google+ : http://gplus.to/Kalencap
Thanks for visiting with us today!