Interview with Fred Kerns

When did you first start writing?
I was somewhere between ten and twelve years old, I think, when I first got the idea in my head that I could write books. Everything I tried to write for years afterward never really got off the ground. I'd get a few paragraphs in, realize it was garbage or just not going anywhere, and start over. I finally worked up the nerve to start submitting short stories when I was around 17. Kept at it day after day, year after year, rejection letter after rejection letter. Finally, 25 years later, I had my first success -- a novel I'd written, "Chaser," was accepted by Keith Publications and is now in the final stage before release. A few months ago, I had another small success: I was invited to submit a story for a sci-fi/paranormal romance anthology. Romance isn't really my thing, but I gave it a try, and ended up with "Mission to Bellatrix," featuring a protagonist who became one of my favorite characters to write, Kolya Mason, a woman with half of her face all scarred up from an explosion, who remains upbeat and good-humored despite being disfigured. And I'm hoping there's nowhere to go from here but onward and upward.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Barely. It was over thirty years ago, and since I was a kid and just getting started, it was crap. Hah.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The process of creating characters and stories for them to inhabit is a unique pleasure. It's fun, and creating something that entertains others is one of the most rewarding things I can think of doing.
Who are your favorite authors?
I've got quite a few, including (but not limited to) J. Michael Straczynski, William Gibson, and Allen Steele. I'm also a big fan of the writers at Rooster Teeth working on their "Red vs. Blue" web series, and the late, great Monty Oum's fight-scene choreography was a huge influence on the way I write action scenes.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a casual gamer, so when I'm taking a break from writing, I'm usually playing games on the PC I built. My current go-to games are "Grand Theft Auto Online" (though I almost always stick to solo sessions because I'm hopelessly outclassed by every other player) and "Star Trek Online." My other favorites include the "Mass Effect" games (well, the first two; the third ... not so much), "Saints Row: The Third" and "Saints Row IV," and "Borderlands 2" (Gaige the Mechromancer being my favorite player character). I also use a bit of game-related stuff as inspiration for humorous scenes or bits of business for characters.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't actually recall the exact book or story I read before any other, but I remember starting to really get into books when I was seven or eight years old. Usually it was Star Trek novels, novelizations (which was how I discovered Alan Dean Foster), and a few original works. While reading them, at some point I realized these stories and books and movies were written by people, and didn't just come out of a factory or something. Which seems obvious, but when I was a little kid, it was an epiphany. And that's what planted the idea in my head that I could be a writer, too -- which set me on the path to where I am now.
Describe your desk
It's a large-ish black desk with one drawer, which is missing the front because it got knocked off and broken while I was moving from the Oregon coast to Tucson. It holds my keyboard, mouse, coffee mug, and the Nextbook I use as a backup when something in the computer goes haywire. The computer sits on a sturdy wooden TV tray to the right of my 47-inch TV, which I use as a monitor for my PC. The TV sits on a separate small table in front of the desk to free up more room on the desk. I built the PC about seven years ago and have kept upgrading and replacing broken parts since then. It's what I primarily use for writing.
What is your writing process?
Usually I get ideas for characters first, and the plot gradually forms around them. When enough bits have clicked into place, I just start writing by the seat of my pants. I don't outline anything beyond specific plot points the characters should hit on the way to the end, but I leave myself open to new ideas that might make for a better story. I usually write six or seven books at the same time, cycling chapter by chapter through each one, which helps keep things fresh in my mind and provides me with ways to keep writing when I run into writer's block on one of the books, but recently I've put most of them on the back burner so I can finish "Project: Phoenix." I've been working on that one for something like four years, so it's about time to finish it up already.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've found that posting sample chapters on sites like FanStory, DeviantArt, WriteOn, and Wattpad have helped build an audience. So has writing fanfiction to provide more free samples of my work, and putting links to the books I've published on my profile page. I've also noticed that announcing new chapters of a work in progress or the release of a new book on Twitter and Facebook has helped draw readers in.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a sequel to "Load" and "Fifteen Minutes," currently titled "Project: Phoenix," featuring the main characters from both previous books in a new adventure. Once that's finished, I'm planning to start expanding a short story ("Mission to Bellatrix," published in the sci-fi/paranormal romance anthology, "Lucky Stars") into a full novel. Other current works in progress are my ongoing serialized story, "Elsewhere," and two fanfiction stories, "Freelancers" (based on Mass Effect) and "Harbinger" (latest in a series based on Transformers Prime). I've also got a sequel to "Wrong Place, Right Time" in the works. I've put those on the back burner until I finish "Project: Phoenix," and will continue working on them once I've gotten started on the "Mission to Bellatrix" novel.
Published 2015-08-11.
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