Interview with Kevin Ansbro – Author of Several Books, Including The Minotaur’s Son and Other Wild Tales
Kevin, your book of short stories ‘The Minotaur’s Son and Other Wild Tales’ was a wonderfully entertaining collection of stories. I would like to congratulate you on writing them and I am delighted that we have the opportunity to conduct this interview. Many thanks for making the time available.
Kevin: Thank you for your kind words and for inviting me, Peter.
Peter: How did compiling this book of short stories come about? Was it a collection of shorts you already had, or did you consciously set about writing many of these stories to create the collection?
Kevin: It all happened purely by accident. My mind is always fizzing and won’t switch off, which is why writers leap out of bed at ungodly hours to scribble things down!
So this is what happened. Each time a book idea popped into my head, I wrote a mini synopsis for it. Before long, my notepad was stuffed to the gills with blueprints for a farrago of outlandish novels. I came to the realisation that I would need to live to an impossible age to write all of these books, so I condensed them into a collection of short stories instead.
Peter: You have an amazing diverse imagination for fantasy. Do you find that you need to work on the creativity side or are these stories continually being conceived in your mind?
Kevin: Thank you, Peter! Definitely the latter. My muse is altogether a restless genie, a conniving devil, a wanton mistress, even a fairy godmother. At times he’s Othello’s Iago, at others he’s Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life!
Peter: There were a lot of life lessons addressed in these stories. How important is it to convey a deeper message?
Kevin: All of my stories have an element of consequences and reward in them. I’m a firm believer in karma and my protagonists tend to reap what they sow. We don’t live in a perfect world, but good usually transcends evil.
Peter: Do you enjoy adding additional layers to the stories in terms of a moral aspect, or a link to ancient Greek and Roman myths, or your own experience?
Kevin: As a child, I listened in cross-legged wonderment as a wonderful teacher beguiled us with Aesop’s Fables. I went on to delve into Greek and Roman mythology, and these allegorical tales have remained a part of my authorial psyche ever since. Because of the myths and fables I enjoyed as a kid, anthropomorphism and zoomorphism have always crept into the narrative of my stories.
Peter: I know from our own engagement, you enjoy a lot of banter which you often take into your stories. How important is it for you to portray humour and make your readers laugh?
Kevin: I tend to create some of the vilest human characters imaginable because writers (in my view) shouldn’t create bad guys who aren’t actually all that bad! From pantomime villains to axe murderers, we love to hate a baddie, so I use playful prose and wry humour to soften the turpitude. Humour and tragedy rub shoulders in our real world, so why not in books?
Peter: What do you hope readers take away from this collection of stories? How would you like it to be remembered?
Kevin: The dust sheet blurb states: “His tales span the globe and range from the wickedly funny to the sad and deeply unnerving.” That’s how I would like it to be remembered. : )
Peter: What influenced you to become an author?
Kevin: *Cliché alert!!* I have written silly stories for as long as I can remember. *cliché over*
Aged ten, I wrote one about ‘Kevin the Kite’. He was kept in a dark cupboard under the stairs and longed for windy days, so he could once again be free to fly high in the sky. Then one day, his young master bought a new kite and Kevin never left the cupboard again. : (
Peter: Do you use storyboarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling? Would you, therefore, describe yourself as a plotter, pantser or planner?
Kevin: Once a story idea blooms in my mind, I prepare a basic blueprint, mapping the story’s narrative arc and its beginning, middle and end. Everything is hand-written at this stage: hundreds of pages graffitied with chaotic scribbles. After a year of this, the pages are pinned to a corkboard in thematic order: protags; scenes; snappy dialogue; descriptive imagery; plots; sub-plots and twists.
The genesis of a recognisable story emerges from the chaos. Once this is done, the typing begins *cracks knuckles*
Regarding my being a planner or a panster, unexpected, unbidden delights happen during the typing process so I’m a bit of both; a planster!
Peter: Do you use particular software applications or utilities to support your writing activity? For example, Scrivener or Grammarly.
Kevin: I am SO tempted to use Scrivener! It’s funky and looks so bloody gorgeous, but I’m too scared to use it in case I foul something up. MS Word is dowdy by comparison, but I’ll stick to what I feel safe with.
Peter: I have always found you extremely encouraging to other writers. What would be the main advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Kevin: Here’s the advice that I would give to up-and-coming writers.
1) Don’t believe your own hype.
2) Constructive criticism is your friend, not your enemy.
3) Despite what others say, you don’t become a consummate writer just by writing. If you applied the same logic to restaurant chefs, they would all gain Michelin stars in the fullness of time!
4) Learn from the greatest authors in history and see how they utilise literacy devices. There is a perfectly good reason why their books are termed ‘classics’
5) Avoid the overuse of adverbs and adjectives. And repetition too! These are all rookie errors.
6) Readability and flow are of paramount importance. A story should glide like a yacht, not rattle along like a supermarket trolley.
7) Your ‘bestie’ probably isn’t the one who should beta-read your first draft, unless he or she is the type of friend who will hit you with an unvarnished appraisal.
8) When you think you’ve finished editing your first draft, you haven’t. When you think you’ve finished editing your tenth draft, you haven’t. Keep panning for gold until all of the silt and grit has been sieved away.
Peter: How much time do you spend on writing compared to promoting your books?
Kevin: Writing is the fun part. I’m a reluctant promoter of my own books and prefer to let others speak for me. And who likes pushy, egotistical authors? No-one! That’s who! : )
Peter: What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on your writing?
Kevin: Pre-teen, it was Gerald Durrell, and later I was influenced by Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie.
Peter: What is your favourite book you’ve read over the last 12 months?
Kevin: A toss-up between Quichotte, by Salman Rushdie, or The Absolutist, by John Boyne.
Peter: If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 personalities from any period in history who would they be and why?
Kevin: Noël Coward, for his caustic wit and flamboyance, along with Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole for their articulate rambunctiousness. I might have a terrible headache the next day…
Peter: Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
Kevin: I ceased writing after finishing The Minotaur’s Son, intending to spend most of 2020 travelling the globe with Julie. Since then, my father-in-law became gravely ill and then the Coronavirus began to spread its tentacles in late December…
Peter: How can readers learn more about you and your work?
Peter: Kevin, I appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there are other snippets of information you wish to provide, please feel free. I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful book and I wish you massive success for the future.
Kevin: Thanks for your kind invite, Peter. I first noticed your fabulous reviews on Goodreads, and you are a great fella to know!
We live in troubled times, but books provide a most wonderful escape!
Stay safe everyone!
Book Review Link Below