Share this
Like us on facebook
For the latest news and reviews.




For the latest additions to the Usual Questions project, and other posts about writing see the Facebook page:


Kenneth W. Cain

answers the Usual Questions

photo, Kenneth W. Cain, courtesy of the author; 220x284

Kenneth W. Cain

American author Kenneth W. Cain became interested in the art of storytelling at a young age, listening to his grandfather spin tales beside the light of a barrel fire in southern Illinois.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Absolutely. Most of it comes as a shock. Whenever someone enjoys what I've put out there, and leaves a review or contacts me personally, it feels like I'm a kid on Christmas morning. That fuels me as an author, makes me hungry to write more.

But also, I'm always people watching. I often pull bits and pieces from my daily interactions, and who better to build your characters than someone who appreciates your work. Sometimes, I can even be caught jotting down notes mid-conversation.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

There's a couple, actually. With my first collection Gene O'Neill dropped a note on my Facebook wall that he enjoyed my collection, These Old Tales. He didn't have to do that, and it meant more to me than he likely knows. That post eventually led to him supplying a blurb for the collection.

Also, when I sought out a blurb from Mort Castle for the second collection, he took the time to jot down some notes to improve my writing. Again, he didn't have to do that, and the fact he did meant so much to me. I printed it out and keep a copy in my special folder beside my desk.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Everything I read influences my writing in some way. Either I see something that doesn't work and make a mental note to avoid the same mistakes. Or, more often, I take away something to improve my writing.

Like most in my genre, there are the usual suspects for favorites: King, Barker, Koontz, Hill, Lansdale, and on and on (not to lessen the impact of any author on my career). It's a long list of what sounds like a "Best Of" album, and I'm certain many others would create a similar list.

Recently, though, I've been digging Lucy Snyder's new collection Soft Apocalypses. Some of Damien Walters Grintalis' short work at Nightmare Magazine and a few other places have been amazing. Gene O'Neill's collection, Dance of the Blue Lady. was very good as well. Joe Hill's NOS4A2 was excellent, and so were some of the anthologies from last year's Stoker reading list: After Death . . . , Chiral Mad 2, a few others. I'm digging into this years list and already have picked up work from some incredible authors.

I suppose if I had to choose one, it would be Stephen King's It. The beginning of that book resonated well with my own experiences growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. I could envision that entire scene quite well. And when I finished the book I said to myself, "That's what I want to do, make beautiful words."

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

I'd dislike being trapped in an elevator, and anyone unlucky enough to end up in there with me would likely not enjoy my company much. I don't care for tight spaces and I'd probably drive them nuts.

Now a spaceship on the other hand, that doesn't sound so bad. I guess I'd have to say my wife, so we could enjoy the adventure together. She comes along on so many adventures with me as it is, through reading my work. Why not? Don't tell her, but I'd secretly be wishing for Bruce Campbell to tag along. I think that would be more fun.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

I'm not much of a hater. I get annoyed like anyone else, but I try not to hold onto it for long. I guess I'd have to say this guy who lives in my neighborhood. He's one of those types who plays his music so loud everyone can hear. And he fancies himself a good singer. He isn't, of course, but he's very good at annoying people. Go figure.

book cover, Fresh Cut Tales, by Kenneth W. Cain; 140x212

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

If I'm being abducted, I'd want some sort of weapon. I'd prefer my trusty baseball bat. With that I could take on any alien force. As for food and beverage, I can't function without coffee, so that would be a priority. I'd need an intravenous drip at the very least. Food wise, I'm not so picky unfortunately. If I had my choice it would be seafood. Being abducted by alien lobstrosities would suit me fine.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

I get this vision in my head of what a perfect story would be like for me. Every story starts out that way, but very few make it to the pages as I originally envisioned. After they've been sitting in a drawer for a few months, waiting to get edited, everything changes.

I loved Joe Hill's Pop Art and Ken Liu's Paper Menagerie. I really connected to both of those stories on so many levels. I think about them often, and I think I'd be pretty happy if I could achieve that level of writing. Creating words that move people emotionally is what it is all about.

I'm not so sure I'll ever be fully satisfied. With each new story I write, something inside of me changes. It affects what I'm writing. I've spent so much time rewriting work as of late it feels a bit maddening.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

The fact that I'm writing is satisfying enough. It used to be the sales or the good reviews or even the acceptances, but you can drive yourself crazy waiting for something positive to happen. I took some advice from Mort Castle and learned to just enjoy what I'm doing right now, writing for a living.

submitted by Kenneth W. Cain

August 4, 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: 1970
Resides: Chester County, PA
The Saga of I (Book 1: These Trespasses, Book 2: Grave Revelations, Book 3: Reckoning)
The United States of the Dead
These Old Tales
Fresh Cut Tales
Blue Moon Crew Book 1: From The Deep Will Rise
The Big Book of Monsters & Friends
The Lifeblood Saga
The Jade Chronicles
The Adventures of Alexin

Web site:


For posts about Melbourne events, places, news, reviews, giveaways, see our Facebook Page: