Interview With Author Ken Pelham
Welcome, Ken. Tell us, what inspired you to launch / join the Alvarium Experiment?
For years, writers have been hearing, “Avoid the short story! There’s no money and no future in it! Write only novels, dammit!” But there’s been a sea change, caused by online publishing. Short is GOOD again. I’ve always loved short stories and have always wanted to be included in an anthology, so over the last year or two I’d been thinking about submitting work to an anthology somewhere.
I’d been following some of the cool things authors like Hugh Howey were espousing, taking advantage of the amazing flexibility of the Internet as a publishing platform, and it occurred to me that, heck, I didn’t need to search out a multi-author anthology, I could build my own!
I started scratching out some ideas about how it would work. I didn’t want to be “The Publisher,” responsible for everything and seeing that everyone gets paid. So I thought each author should self-publish, simultaneously, with a common premise and common brand. All for one and one for all.
I’d met Charles A. Cornell a few years ago, and had recently read his dieselpunk war novel, Dragonfly, and the related horror short story, “Die Fabrik.” From the lengths he’d gone to build a fully-illustrated universe, even inventing entirely new retro aircraft and war machines, I knew he was a guy that thinks outside the box. Way outside the box. In fact, he’s quite mad. I pitched the idea to Charles and he pounced, and over the course of a couple of weeks, we’d laid the groundwork for both The Alvarium Experiment (the writers’ consortium) and The Prometheus Saga. The next task was to trick other writers into joining.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of writing “into” an existing framework for Prometheus as a character? How did that shape your creative process for your story? Is it different from your usual writing process?
We wanted the Saga to be wide open, story-wise. So the challenge for Charles and I was to create a theme and character that essentially had no bounds, but made some sort of logical sense. The character has some limitations, of course. Superheroes are stupid and boring.
I think, for many authors, we already work within existing frameworks we’ve built. Doyle, for the obvious example, built his world for and around Sherlock Holmes, and played by Holmesian rules. We encouraged the Alvarium authors to incorporate their own outside projects and characters into this. And several did. I’m looking at you, Daco, Kay, and Bard.
Tell me more about your other work(s).
I’ve built my own little universe of characters to populate my suspense fiction. They’ll continue to interact and piss each other off. Brigands Key, my first novel, zeroes in on the fictional Florida island of the same name, and the horrific events that come raining down on it. The prequel, Place of Fear, takes my BK protagonist, Dr. Carson Grant, and plunks him down in the middle of the Guatemalan rainforest. You can see why he’s developed a reputation for surliness. Both of these novels won first-place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards, I’m happy to say.
Brigands Key, the island, kind of got under my skin. So after finishing the novel, I wrote three short stories, “Tales of Old Brigands Key,” set in the past. I have no doubt I’ll write about that island’s dubious and unsavory past again.
I released a pair of short writers’ guidebooks in 2014, one on viewpoint and the other on building suspense.
Long answer: “First World War” involves our Prometheus very early in life, 40,000 years ago, give or take a few days. This gave me a chance to write about the human condition of today through the lens of our Ice Age ancestors. Human evolution is a complex story, and people today seemed surprised to learn that multiple species of hominids existed simultaneously on Earth at that time. I’m not talking about different races; I’m talking actual different species. And yet only one survives. I doubt that the ones that disappeared did so willingly.
Short answer: I like prehistoric stuff, what with the cavemen and all.
What are your writing plans for 2015? What does the new year hold in store for you?
Prometheus, obviously. Beyond that, I’ll continue work on my third novel (another Carson Grant thriller), and possibly release a nonfiction book about suspense fiction. The audiobook edition of Brigands Key will be out early in 2015, so I’m quite excited by that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Pelham lives and writes in Maitland, Florida. His debut thriller, Brigands Key, won first place in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards and was published in hardcover in 2012 by Cengage/Five Star Mystery. The ebook edition was released in 2013.
Brigands Key is “. . . a perfect storm of menace . . . breathtaking!”
—The Florida Weekly
Attention Authors! I highly recommend Ken’s guide to writing point of view. You can find it on the carousel:
His BK prequel, Place of Fear, also a first place winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award, hit the electronic shelves as an ebook in 2013, and the wood shelves in softcover in 2014.
Short stories by Ken, available for e-readers on Amazon.com, include:
Tales of Old Brigands Key
—Three short stories about the sordid and unseemly past of little Brigands Key. Contains “The Light Keeper,” a finalist in the 2014 Royal Palm Literary Awards, and “The Wreck of the Edinburgh Kate,” 2nd-place winner of the Royal Palm for Published Short Story.
Treacherous Bastards: Stories of Suspense, Deceit, and Skullduggery
—Three stories in the Hitchcock tradition, including one about Brigands Key.
A Double Shot of Fright: Two Stories of Horror
—Two chilling short stories guaranteed to cause loss of sleep.
Ken has penned two nonfiction books on the craft of writing: Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, and Great Danger: A Writer’s Guide to Building Suspense.
Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com for updates on his work, and musings on suspense fiction.
The Prometheus Saga is the premier project of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.
The Saga spans the range of the existence of Homo sapiens. The stories do not need to be read in any particular order; each story is an entry point into the overall story.
The Prometheus Saga stories & authors are:
“The Pisces Affair” by Daco Auffenorde. CIA operative Jordan Jakes meets Prometheus when the Secretary of State becomes the target of a terrorist attack at a head-of-state dinner in Dubai. Visit Daco at www.authordaco.com.
“On Both Sides” by Bria Burton. When a mysterious woman vanishes during the American Revolution, young Robby Freeman searches for answers from a cryptic sharpshooter who deserted Washington’s Continental Army. Visit Bria at www.briaburton.com.
“Ever After” by M.J. Carlson. Two mysterious women convey the same Cinderella story to Giambattista Basile in 1594 and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1811. How different cultures retell this story reveals humanity’s soul to those who listen. Visit M.J. at www.mjcarlson.com.
“The Blurred Man” by Bard Constantine. FBI agent Dylan Plumm’s investigation of a mill explosion puts her on the trail of the Blurred Man, a mysterious individual who may have been on Earth for centuries. Visit Bard at bardofdarkness.wix.com/bardconstantine.
“Crystal Night” by Charles A. Cornell. Berlin, 1938. On the eve of one of history’s darkest moments, a Swedish bartender working in Nazi Germany accidentally uncovers a woman’s hidden past. Can he avoid becoming an accomplice as the Holocaust accelerates? Visit Charles at www.charlesacornell.com.
“The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover” by Parker Francis. Writing in her journal, Mary Shelley recounts a series of perplexing events during her visit with Lord Byron—a visit that resulted in the creation of her famous Frankenstein novel, but also uncovered a remarkable mystery. Visit Parker at www.parkerfrancis.com.
“Strangers on a Plane” by Kay Kendall. In 1969 during a flight across North America, a young mother traveling with her infant meets an elderly woman who displays unusual powers. But when a catastrophe threatens, are those powers strong enough to avert disaster? This short story folds into Kay’s mystery series featuring the young woman, amateur sleuth Austin Starr. Visit Kay at www.kaykendallauthor.com.
“East of the Sun” by Jade Kerrion. Through a mysterious map depicting far-flung lands, a Chinese sailor in 1424 and a Portuguese cartographer in 1519 share a vision of an Earth far greater than the reality they know. Visit Jade at www.jadekerrion.com.
“Manteo” by Elle Andrews Patt. In 1587, Croatan native Manteo returns from London to Roanoke Island, Virginia. Can he reconcile his strong loyalty to the untamed land and people of his home with his desire for the benefits the colonizing English bring with them before one of them destroys the other? Visit Elle at www.elleandrewspatt.com.
“First World War” by Ken Pelham. 40,000 BC: As the last remaining species of hominid, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, fight a desperate battle for ownership of the future, the outcasts of both sides find themselves caught in middle. Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com.
“Lilith” by Antonio Simon, Jr. In this retelling of the Adam & Eve story, a hermit’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious woman in his camp. As the story of their portentous meeting carries forward through the millennia, only time will tell if Lilith is a heroine, a victim, or a monster. Visit Antonio at www.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
“Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt” by Antonio Simon, Jr. 1881: After a close brush with death in a steamship disaster, Prometheus encounters another survivor who gripes about how aimless his life has become. Prometheus helps him find his calling, inadvertently setting in motion the assassination of President Garfield. Visit Antonio at www.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
Visit the website to view all of the stories: The Prometheus Saga