Monday, July 30, 2012

How I Came to Write This Book: John Kenyon



How I came to write "Cut."

I had this image of a guy sitting on the subway with a cooler in his lap, but this one wasn't filled with his lunch. It contained a human heart. Who was he? How did he come to have a heart in a Playmate cooler? Why was he on the subway?

I knew if I answered these questions in the right way, it would make an interesting story. I wrote, slowly, making sure to ask more questions of the story as I answered others. When I was done, it was a revelation. This was a real story. I had written a handful of others, but they felt more like exercises, mimicry. This was the first one that felt truly worthy of an audience. I called it "Cut" and sent it to Thuglit, a newly discovered home for crime fiction in the web.

Todd Robinson, the man behind Thuglit, responded quickly, telling me he liked the story and wanted to run it. We worked through some edits, all of which made it better, and he scheduled it for one of his issues. When the story hit, I really felt like I had accomplished something, that this whole writing thing might pan out. Someone with a great eye for stories had deemed mine worthy of an audience, and now it was out there, earning praise.

A short time later, Todd contacted me to say he wanted to include the story in a print anthology. That book, Blood, Guts and Whiskey, includes the likes of Sean Doolittle, Tom Piccirilli and even Eddie Bunker. To say I was over the moon to be published in the same collection with these contemporary favorites and a hero of mine is to be a master of understatement.

That first publication was five years ago, a time during which I have written and published a couple dozen more stories, hacked away at a novel or two, and started my own magazine. But it is that first story that kicked everything into gear. That's why I called my collection The First Cut. It's an homage to that first swing, a reference to the first cut on an album (which is why it leads off the collection). There is much more to come, but it all starts with that.

Another guy with a great eye for stories, Brian Lindenmuth, picked things up from there. I liked the manuscript I submitted, and decided that these stories were worthy of another audience. So call this a story of
perseverance, practice and having smart, talented people willing to help you along the way.



4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting John.

John - I think it's so interesting that your story came from an image you had in your mind - just an image. I've done that myself actually and it can blossom into something great. Thanks for sharing your story.

David Cranmer said...

John rocks. Love his work.

Charles Gramlich said...

I find that images like that come to me and drive quite a bit of my writing. a kind of visual, what if?

John Kenyon said...

The more I think about it, there are usually three things that kickstart a story: An image like this, a character that pops into my head or a snippet of overheard conversation. These things don't always yield a good story, but most of my good stories come from those seeds.