I’m currently collaborating with several great authors on a project in aid of the Santa Paula ‘No Kill’ Animal Rescue Center. We’re calling it “The Art of WaAR”.
Each of us has contributed a work to this up-coming anthology and all proceeds will go directly to this shelter.
I’m proud to be involved not only as a dog owner and animal lover, but because I will be published along some extremely fine talent. Today I’m interviewing Ken Thomas, a.k.a. Duncan McGonall
I’ve had the writer’s itch since my youngest days and for most of my life I only toyed with writing, like a favorite pet fantasy. I had other, more urgent things to do. And such is youth. It’s funny, and I’ve thought this over more than once, but my first serious stab at writing was kind of like picking up where I left off in high school in terms of skill. I began, appropriately, with this weird idea to try and mesh together the millions of unseen subtle influences we so keenly feel when we are young and the result was Bread of Fools. Everyone has to start somewhere. For me, that book is sorta like that quintessential hometown. I revisit the mistakes made in that sorry little debut novel and I go to school on them. Originally, I wanted to see if I could make the fantastic seem real. In typical fashion, I was reaching into something I knew I didn’t have the skill to claim. I still do that; I just don’t try to publish the work that informs the finished product anymore.
It took some time but I realized finally that Realism has more room in it for Fantasy than Fantasy has for Realism. So I turned the telescope around, bringing the story stuff closer and making it more relatable, accessible. The results come in starts and fits sometimes but overall I’m pleased with them. My goal is not to be read, but to produce rich, layered stories that are read again and again.
Are you like any of the characters, (and how so)?
I think it is impossible not to infuse some of the author into characters. My humble opinion. That said, the honest answer is that I am not like my characters; my characters are like me in some way, they can’t not be, but if I tell you how so where’s the fun in that?
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Currently, I’m concentrating on writing craft books. On the slate are, Laura Oliver’s The Story Within and Adam Sexton’s Master Class in Fiction Writing, using the print paperback versions of both. I’m also on a classics kick. Reading fuels the writing. I write a lot and read more.
Are you a dog / animal person?
I know all our dogs’ favorite treats. I know what their expressions mean. I know to shave about 30% of the urgency off Indy’s alert response because she is A. a German Shepherd and B. has an anxiety disorder. I know our Boxer, Doc’s habit of sneaking onto the bed in the wee hours of morning is more about being close to us than being cold. We call them fur kids, if that doesn’t make us animal people, I don’t know what does.
What are you working on now?
While our five are in school during the day, I work on things that lend themselves to a quiet environment and one free of interruptions. But the summer around here is whole other bowl of beans, so they are spent experimenting and editing drafts produced during the school term. At the moment I am in a transition period, bracing myself for another of ours to graduate high school and begin his transition into adult life and preparing to enter master’s level study at the University of Memphis. I’m writing or revising lots of short stories crafted to bring home an impacting moment. I’m already slightly off kilter. Should be fun.
Do you use a pseudonym?
Duncan McGonall definitely is a pen name. It began as sort of a joke and I kept it for the convenience and personal privacy. I’ve been myself, never being something I’m not; I just used a different name. But there came a point, the last day I was 49 that I decided I would not carry the systems of fear that partly motivated using a mask among other things into my 50th year. So here we are today, the day I will retire the pen name and write under my own name, Ken Thomas, same guy–real name. I have one project that will keep a pseudonym because it is designed to be inherited and a built-in timelessness is appropriate. It will be an open secret, how’s that? Those ideas I tried to get at Bread of Fools and The Breach Between–I’m taking another crack at them with some of the same characters in a new effort: Compendium Effect, a forever free-to-read project.
Ken Thomas lives with his life partner in crime, Sharon and their five children, plus pets in the semi rural, small town of Atoka, Tennessee. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Memphis seeking an MFA. His style, developed under a pseudonym, uses imagery and well-formed characters, producing rich, layered stories speaking to the human condition. He enjoys travel, a good bourbon or single malt and spending quality time with family.