Interview With Author Rod Karn
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I love a good, well-spun tale (sometimes one that induces shivers) with strong characters. I have now written three books.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Cold Hunger” was originally a scene in search of a book. I wandered out into a blizzard one winter day in New York City, into a large park, and I was amazed at how quiet and peaceful and empty it was. I imagined a man walking into this same park, much as I had done, but with a much sadder purpose: to end his life. I wrote this up as a short scene.
Then I had to figure out why he wanted to kill himself, and of course, so much more.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really. During the endless rewrites, I sometimes tinker with fonts and layouts (I have a book-page layout where I sometimes paste in works in progress). I do this to try to see the same words in a new way. By doing so, I hope to spot problems that I was unable to detect before because I’m too familiar with the material.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I read pretty much like an omnivore. I love all sorts of books, from John Gardiner’s “Grendel” to Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.” I have a soft spot for King. I know he was derided early in his career as a horror schlock-meister, but it was apparent to me that he was a better writer than he was being given credit for, and he has an absolute genius for storytelling and pacing.
What are you working on now?
I have some short stories kicking around in the mental attic; I have written down all the plot points in some detail. I also have some thoughts about the second part of the “Where Evil Lies” series that need fleshing out. Mainly, at the moment I am seeing whether fortune smiles on “Cold Hunger.”
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I think this is a cool website honestly, and love this idea of author interviews (that give the interested reader something to click into).
Do you have any advice for new authors?
You just have to write through everything. If you’re blocked, tired, depressed, just write through it. The next morning, what you wrote will never seem as bad as you thought it was. And if it is, well, that gives you something to rewrite to start your day, and to warm up a cold engine. Writers sometimes do themselves a disservice by over-romanticizing what we do. There is no idea fairy that delivers fully formed, well-plotted novels destined for a bestseller list; you have to work at it, constantly.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Something along the lines of “the art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” On some level, it’s about that simple, and that frustrating.
What are you reading now?
I’m straddling two books at the moment, “Executive Orders” by Clancy (which I’m finding rather painful; it was a sidewalk throwaway book that I rescued) and “The Tommyknockers” by Stephen King (it’s not as well-paced as most of his fiction).
What’s next for you as a writer?
I honestly don’t know. Much depends on what happens with “Cold Hunger.” This one was a long, difficult birthing process. Faith was lost. Faith was regained. I wrote and rewrote many times and hope that I finally got it right (or close enough). Some cool stuff emerged on the rewriting. I loved one line in particular that I figured out while on my exercise bike: “There are no truths, only tellers of truths, and the truths change with the tellers.”
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
One would definitely be a book of short stories by Stephen King. I reread them a lot, just to study how he masterfully draws in readers and pulls them along to a conclusion. One would be a nonfiction book: “The Religions of Man” or “The Irrational Man” probably; they’re both well-written primer texts. Then I suppose I’d go for an old Russian novel (“Anna Karenina”?) and, after that, something more modern (Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace?).