recently I had the pleasure of conducting an author interview with Kevin Ansbro. Kevin is the author of four books. One of them is a collection of short stories that truly delighted me. He is a master wordsmith and writes mostly in the magical realism genre. I have fallen in love with his books and have read all of them. What follows are the questions asked and Kevin’s wonderfully honest answers:
1. In your opinion, does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A mind filled with self-delusion is as much use to a writer as a chocolate teapot! I’m a firm believer that a writer learns more from constructive criticism than they do from artificial flattery.
2. Have you ever considered writing a book in another genre from your preferred one, maybe under a pseudonym?
If I did, my pseudonym would be a toss-up between Rooster Hipthrust and Lancelot Mustang!
I write in the magical realism genre and endeavour to weave something outlandish into the fabric of our real world while still making it seem believable. To write something that would appeal to the masses would be a whole lot easier, but where is the art in that? It’s like telling a gourmet restaurateur that he could make more money by taking on a McDonald’s franchise! : )
I did, however, really enjoy dabbling in different genres in The Minotaur’s Son: & other wild tales.
3. In your opinion, do you think a writer can be effective if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
In order to drag an unsuspecting reader through the gamut of emotions, the writer should themselves be able to draw upon their own life experiences. I love to elicit strong emotions in my readers, whether they hoot with laughter, sob uncontrollably, or want to throttle me because I’ve killed off their favourite character! My muse is altogether a restless genie, a conniving devil, a wanton mistress and a fairy godmother.
4. Did the publishing of your first book change your process of writing?
Absolutely! My first manuscript for Kinnara was made considerably leaner by the publishing editor, much to my chagrin (although I was guilty of hyperbole). I straightaway saw the sense of her advice and henceforth adopted a ‘less is more’ approach.
5. Have you read a book that you considered to be under-appreciated by the masses?
I feel that Yann Martell’s Life of Pi often goes unappreciated. I read it in 2002, immediately after it had won the Man Booker Prize. I was wholly intrigued by the improbable premise of a boy sharing a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger in the middle of an ocean, and was thereafter taken on an absorbing adventure. A clever book and a great read!
6. Have you read a book that you considered to be overrated by the masses?
Too many to mention; especially nowadays, where the big publishers put their financial muscle into promoting humdrum books that create a whirlwind of undeserved hype. Sadly, the best authors are dead. My advice to everyone is to occasionally read novels that have stood the test of time if they truly crave excellence! : )
7. What does literary success look like to you?
Success, for me, is the knowledge that I’ve taken my readers on a magic carpet ride around the world and beyond. Astonishingly, some even come back for more!
8. How do you go about selecting the names of your characters?
I choose my characters’ names very carefully: their monikers should not only suit their nationality, but should also befit their personality. Charles Dickens was a master at this: how could Bill Sikes be anything but a brute? How could Scrooge be anything but an old miser?
9. What was your hardest scene to write?
Without a doubt it was this: I included a rape scene in one of my books (The Fish that Climbed a Tree). It served to reinforce the inhumanity of one of the bad guys (Yuri Voloshyn), but wasn’t done gratuitously and the reader is spared any unnecessary detail. I ran it by my wife, as it weighed heavy on my mind, but she said it was instrumental in accentuating the clear and present danger that this thug posed.
10. What was your favorite book as a child?
It depends at which age:
The first books to enthral me were Aesop’s Fables. I couldn’t get enough of them as a little kid and their allegorical quintessence has remained a part of my authorial psyche ever since. Aged ten, I read a book titled Elidor, by Alan Garner (kids stumbling into a dark parallel universe). Not long after, I fell in love with Gerald Durrell’s Corfu trilogy. His descriptive writing instantly beguiled me and I’m still a huge fan.
11. If you could ‘live’ inside a fictional story, which would it be and why?
A wonderful question, Glenda! I was asked something similar by Goodreads a while back, so I’ll replicate my answer here:
Blinged-up with the most spectacular wings in the cosmos, I would swoop into the pages of Les Misérables at the point before Jean Valjean is forced to steal a loaf of bread to feed his sister and her starving children.
I would ask that he ignore my freakish appearance and accept my no-strings offer of a great deal of money.
Then, safe in the knowledge that I have saved a good man from a great deal of hardship, I would return to the 21st century for a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake. : )
Thank you for inviting me to take part in this author interview, Glenda. I loved your questions (not a clichéd one among them) and had a blast answering them!
Warmest regards and happy reading!
I want to thank Kevin for allowing me to conduct this interview and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did. Kevin is a wonderful person, with a great sense of humor that comes across in his books. He lives in Norwich with his lovely wife, Julie. They love to travel and have been many places. Kevin is also a foodie and loves fine dining.