Interview with Ken Scholes

Ken ScholesKen Scholes’s short story, Action Team-Ups Number Thirty-Seven appears in the Winter 2006 issue of Shimmer.

About the Story Itself

Where did the idea for Action Team-Ups Number Thirty-Seven come from?

I needed something really short to read at Talebones Live. I am a comic book/superhero geek going back to early childhood. I wanted to take a stab at what would happen to a Batman-type character if he ran out of money and landed in an assisted living facility.

Do you work with a critique or writers group?
I have first readers who check out my stories. And with this particular story, I test-drove it on a room of about thirty.

How did the story change as you developed it?

It really didn’t. Shimmer purchased my first draft.

You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?

Well, I DID have to go back and change several superhero/supervillain names…at least one of those was a darling, but I think the story survived it.

About writing in general:

Who do you write for? Yourself or someone else?
Both. I think my writing taps into whatever my subconcious is processing but good storytelling isn’t self-centered, it considers the reader as a passenger in the car.

How long had you been submitting before you made your first sale?

I came to writing in two stages. First, in high school, I submitted several stories, racking up maybe ten rejections or so. Second, as an adult, I came back to it in 1997 and made my first sale 75 rejections later in 1999.

How did you celebrate your first sale?
I can’t recall. I know I made a copy of the check and it’s in my file somewhere. There was much rejoicing, I know that.

What writing projects are you presently working on?

I’m writing about 2 short stories per month so it changes from week to week. I’m also starting my first novel.

Does popular culture/entertaiment influence your writing?
Sometimes it sparks ideas. Like stories about…um…superheroes. And literary figures. And historical characters.

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Well, I don’t like writing at night. I much prefer morning or afternoon. But I take what I can get.

Favorite short story read this year?

Anything I read by Howard Waldrop or Ray Vukcevich.

Favorite book read when you were a child?

Cat in the Hat.

Random Questions:

If you could trade places with anyone, who would it be? And why?
Hmmm. Depends on how long. Pretty much, I’d be okay with just staying me.

Do you believe in ghosts or the supernatural?
I believe in the unknown. I don’t know how supernatural it is…but I’m open minded.

If you have a day job, what is it?
I write contracts and coordinate procurements for a government agency.

Fast food: Yea or Nay?
Hmm. Sometimes I like it but it rarely likes me. I’m becoming a sandwich sort of guy.

Favourite food?
I dig the pizza. And tapioca pudding. And cocoa krispies.

Favourite restaurant?
Pa’s Kettle. Greasy spoon breakfast joint near our place.

Name one place in your hometown that you love to go to and would recommend to others to visit.
My hometown? Haven’t been there for a while. Here in Portland (my new hometown) — Powell’s Books.

What are some of your hobbies?

Hanging with the wonder-wife Jen, hanging with my writerly pals, playing guitar and singing, video games, movies.

Cat or dog person? (or something else, like birds, iguanas, or even evil robot monkeys?)

I’ve become a cat person because they’re less needy than dogs and still have substance.

Is there anything that you would “sell your soul” for?

Not so much, no.

All-time favourite movie?

It’s a Wonderful Life

If you had a working time machine what advice would you give a younger self?
“It’ll all turn out just fine. Trust me.”

Do you have a secret skill that you never get to show off?
Well, I only get to show THAT skill off to my wife these days….

How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
None…they’re too busy writing to notice that the damn thing’s burned out.

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