Thursday, September 5, 2013
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ian J. Keeney
Independent artists are people to be respected & honored for making their success on their own, without receiving copius accounts of corporate cash to create a genetic piece of work.
Yesterday, I reviewed a novel called A Better Tomorrow by Ian J. Keeney, an indie author, filmmaker & musician. He was kind enough to agree to do an interview with me here today.
Read below to find out more about this talented, up-and-coming writer.
1. You do many artistic things aside from writing novels: you're a poet, director, producer, screenwriter and musician. How do you balance it all?
I find a lot of joy doing the work. It's fun for me. It's not really about balancing it out but more about never having a moment to be bored. Life is a gift--a short one. I try to make the most of it while I'm here. I have a lot of passions and a lot inside that I need to get out. What excites me most is seeing the joy I brought to people with my work. The more I get out there, the more joy I can bring to people so I do it as much as I can.
2. What made you want to be a writer?
I think I was just naturally born a writer. I never said to myself, "I think I'll write something today." I've just always been writing and creating stories.
3. What authors did you read when you were young? What authors inspire you today?
My favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe. I find myself relating to him not only as a writer but also as a person - his struggles and his tormented mind. I can be my own biggest critic and be very hard on myself. I look to his work as not only telling great stories but doing so in such a beautiful language. He can tell the most disgusting thing and make it sound pretty in his language. I also appreciate Stephen King. I know some people may roll their eyes at that one but if you look at his body of work as a whole, he's written many books that were genius. I will admit he had a few bombs in there but overall that man really has great ideas. As I got older I discovered Nick Cave. He is more a musician than he is an author. He has two books out but he's written music for decades. I find his lyrics very inspirational. I definitely would say he is the biggest inspiration on my writing.
4. If you had to choose one profession to do for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
I would choose to be an author. Although I love everything else I do, writing is my favorite of all. I can take a blank page and create an entirely new world. I enjoy the solitude sometimes, pouring from my mind these racing thoughts onto the page. Everything else is such a complicated and technological process. With writing it is just me and the page and I can see my results right away.
5. Was it a choice or act of God that you remained an independent writer and filmmaker?
It's a little of both. I did not seek out a publisher for either of my first two books. I wanted to prove myself as a writer. I put so much hard work into what I wrote that I didn't want someone changing it around for publication. I've read a lot of what is on the best seller lists and I was unimpressed; however, I've read books that got hardly any recognition that were amazing. I decided to go the independent route but that certainly comes with its own woes. I think for my third novel I will seek out a traditional publisher, only because I'm having a hard time reaching many people as an independent. I simply do not have the money to market like a publishing house does.
6. In your latest novel, A Better Tomorrow, you write about reality (or lack thereof), time travel, the multiverse, science experiments, live, loss and so much more, all in vety eloquent prose. What was the inspiration behind the story?
Honestly, the inspiration behind the story was boredom. I had nothing going on at the time and I felt the need to create. I wrote this book just for something to do. I didn't expect to do anything with it. I had a friend read it and he was extremely impressed with it, surprisingly so to me. I decided to revisit the novel. I went through it and polished it up and found that I was quite happy with it as well. Regarding the themes of reality, time travel, the multiverse, science and the like, these are things that I think about on almost a daily basis so it's only natural that they would make their way into my writing. I have sort of a philosophical mind, always pondering the mysteries of the universe. The eloquent prose (thank you for that compliment) comes from my inspirations of Edgar Allan Poe and Nick Cave. I would naturally want to write something I would want to read.
7. Jordan and his father in the novel are both very religious. Does religion play an active role in your everyday live?
Yes and no. I wouldn't say I'm overly "religious" but I do have my beliefs. It's important to me that I don't beat my beliefs over people's heads, and I especially wouldn't want that to get in the way of a good story. I feel like it works well for this story to show just how much Jordan falls. My faith itself is very complicated. I do read the Bible and to pray to Jesus but I would not call myself a Christian in the modern sense of the term, as you can see in my latest film The Meaning. It's a documentary about the so called war on religion in America. I grew up as an atheist and only began reading the bible more recently. I'm accepting of all faiths and love everyone (so long as it's not extremism) and I would never want to alienate my readers by creating something that was too heavy handed with religion or too against it. I'm not against taking risks or a stance but I want to give people an enjoyable reading experience and not insult what anyone may or may not believe.
8. Would you never make a film based on A Better Tomorrow or your debut novel, A Thousand Pieces?
I think A Better Tomorrow would make a really awesome summer movie but I don't think A Thousand Pieces would translate well into a movie. Maybe it could but I never thought of that one as a movie. A Thousand Pieces is more like a fictional memoir whereas A Better Tomorrow is an action packed story.
9. In much of your work you seem to be partial to thrillers. What is it about this particular genre that makes you, personally, enjoy it more than others?
Ironically, as a viewer, I gravitate toward comedy. In fact, I'm a very comedic person. I'm always smiling, laughing and joking about something. I also do have a deep philosophical mind and I think where I can joke and laugh with people in real life, writing satisfies my inner curiosity for the mysteries of the universe. I can put them on the page.
10. Will you never publish a collected volume of your poetry and short stories?
I'm beginning to see that there is much more interest in my poetry than I had realized. Lately I've been getting a lot of compliments on my poetry which sort of surprises me. I never thought of myself as a poet. I just did it for something to do - to satisfy my urge to always be creating something. I am actually in the process of creating a CD of my best poetry. I think poetry is better heard than it is read. I probably won't ever publish my poems myself in written form (aside from on my website) but I will be publishing that CD. Regarding short stories, publishing houses often seem to look down on them. I do have plenty of short stories written and only just began sharing them with the public. If people respond well to them and like them, I'll consider publishing a volume of short stories.
11. Your band, Wolves In Clothing, are recording their debut album. Can you please tell the reader a little about the band and how/why you got into music?
I've been a drummer for most of my life. I've recently started learning to play guitar and attempting to sing. Sometimes I sing well, sometimes I sound like a seal choking on a clam. It depends on the song. I really love music. In fact, before I went to college I had to think really long and hard about which career I was going to pursue, music or film. Ultimately, I went to college for film but even while in college I remained in bands. I love writing songs. It's a great outlet for me. I often write songs when I'm stressed or sad and have some sort of emotion I need to get out of me (which is quite often actually). Not all my songs are so cut and dry though. I rarely write typical love songs. I try to write things deeper than whining about some girl leaving me.
12. You have called yourself the "epitome of a starving artist", as you are struggling financially to make your dreams come true yet you won't give up. Very inspirational for the indie writers who might be reading this. What is it that spurs you on and do you have any advice for others in your position?
What spurs me on is that I really can't see myself being satisfied doing anything else in life. I feel like I was brought into this world for these creations, so that makes it impossible to abandon these aspirations. In fact, it would be selfish to abandon my work. As I said, I create these works to see the excitement and joy people get--the entertainment and escape it provides. If I gave up it would be depriving people of that joy. I have a handful of fans and they're the best. They won't let me quit, no matter how hard things get. They've always been a great moral support and I'll never forget who's been there with me since the beginning. I really have no interest in making millions or being the most famous writer to ever live. All I really ask for is a roof over my head, my bills paid on time and food on the table. Other than that, I just want my work to be out there for people to enjoy--but I don't want to go broke in the process. It's really quite a balancing act. As far as any advice for others, I'm not really sure. We all have our own unique struggles. I think the most important advice I could give anyone is never let your ego get so big that you think you can do this all by yourself. Your friends, your fans, your family--they are just as important as you are. Love people. Treat people with respect and never forget how important those people are in your life.
13. You're a vegan and promote many animal and humanitarian causes. What causes in partcular do you support and why did you make this life decision?
I decided to become vegan because I don't believe in killing if I don't have to. There are endless delicious things I could eat without causing harm to innocent animals. Not only that, the way these animals are treated on farms is atrocious. Being vegan also reduces waste and cuts down on pollution. It also helps curb hunger in that most of the grains that could go to feed people are being fed to animals. Twenty pounds of grain into an animal only produces one pound of meat for humans. There are many reasons and I don't want to come across as preachy with being vegan. The facts are out there if people are interested. Regarding humanitarian causes, the biggest one for me is modern slavery or human trafficking. There are more slaves in the world today than at any point in history. I do a lot to try to raise awareness of where slavery is and how we can prevent, rescue and assist people who have been victims. I'm also very against any crimes against children and donate money from my first novel to Child Find America who help find missing kids.
14. Where do you see yourself and your writing career in the next ten years?
Right now I am not making a living on my writing. Ten years from now, I'd really like to be able to make a comfortable living with my writing.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you leave the reader with three things that might surprise them about you?
I have a tattoo on my left butt cheek of a Nard dog....uhh...just kidding about that one. Three things? I'm pretty much an open book. Sometimes I wonder if I share too much with people. If I were to think of three things off the top of my head that people may not know: 1. My favorite cute animal is the ring-tailed lemur and my favorite complex animal is the elephant. 2. I have sort of a phobia toward furless creatures that lay eggs such as snakes, lizards and fish. 3. My two favorite movies are Big Trouble in Little China and The Big Lebowski.
Find Ian J. Keeney at the following places online:
Facebook LIKE Page
Purchase Ian's work via the following links:
Barnes & Noble