Please help me welcome Ken Farmer, Novelist, Screenwriter, Actor, and Narrator, to our interview section where we profile some of the “Mountain Guides” who are always willing to lend a hand to others.
Ken, what does your writing process look like?
That could be a scary question. I don’t really have a process as such. The closest I could come would be I usually create a title and then write the story around it. Most of the time, I have no idea how the story is going to end, I create the characters and let them work it out…sometimes they surprise even me.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
Not really unless you consider answer #1 strange. I write when I feel like it and that’s most every day. Occasionally I will have an epiphany about a twist for the ending that might come about half way through the novel. I will jump to the end and finish with the twist or a twist within a twist and then go back and fill out the story in between…Is that weird?
Is there one book you have written that is your favorite? Which of your characters is your favorite? And which is the biggest trouble maker for you?
I suppose my favorite would have to be the second in the Bass Reeves western series, Haunted Falls.(It won the Laramie Award for Best Action Western – 2013). I suppose my favorite character is ‘Jack McGann’, Bass Reeves partner. He’s sort of a crotchety old cuss…like me. The biggest trouble maker would have to be ‘Darrell Ulysses Bone’ from Legend of Aurora, Aurora: Invasion and our WIP, Black Eagle Force: ISIS. ‘Bone’ is a consummate practical joker, you never know what he’s going to do next. To quote his boss, the Captain of the Cross Police Department, “Bone is the only person I have ever met that honestly and truly…just doesn’t give a damn.”
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Would have to say Edgar Rice Burroughs. I must have every book he ever wrote. He was a true storyteller. His work still amazes me. “
If Ken Farmer could cast the characters from your latest book in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters
How important are names to Ken Farmer in his books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are special. Other than the actual historical characters we write about like Bass Reeves, I pick friends, relatives and sometimes unusual names I have heard and be careful you don’t piss me off, I may use your name for a bad guy and kill you off. When I need foreign names, I find this web site to be very helpful:
How do you think your military service (Thank you for that) helped to frame who you are as a writer today? And as a human being? What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I’m very proud of my service with the Marine Corps. I think the never say quit philosophy is a vital part of who I am. Add that to what my dad used to say: “If you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right.” I just basically omit the word ‘can’t’ from my lexicon. Best accomplishment? – Making it to age 73.
How is it writing with a partner? And did it take long for you both to mesh?
We find it quite easy. We started writing screen/teleplays together back about seven or eight years ago and found we were completing each other’s sentences. It’s kinda spooky. Often, when we’re editing, we don’t remember who wrote what. One of our collaborations in a screenplay, entitled, “Damn You, Bone”, we adapted to the novel, Legend of Aurora.
How was it seeing your screenplay “Rockabilly Baby” written and directed by Ken Farmer, Executive produced by Buck Stienke brought to life on the big screen?
Now that was cool. Too bad we never got picked up for major distribution. I guess I was most proud of my actors. All the leads came from my acting class. It made my job as the director very easy. We shot 547 set-ups (108 pages) in twelve days with a grand total of two hours of overtime, plus only had two out takes. The kids were awesome.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
That’s the easiest question you’ve asked. Write, write, write and then write some more.
If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
Besides acting, I really enjoy teaching.
Is Ken Farmer a plotter or a pantster? (Write by the seat of your pants)
Oh, another easy one. I’m a dyed in the wool pantser. I just start writing and let the story take care of itself. In my opinion, every step you take in analyzing a story…takes you one step away from the story. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Of course I read them. If I find something consistently good, I try to keep doing it. If there’s something consistently bad, I try to correct it. I thank the good ones and tell the ones that didn’t like it that we can’t please everyone. I will nail the trolls though. It’s easy to tell when they actually haven’t read the work and are just trying to be nasty. Did have one nabob give us a one star review on one of our novels because he couldn’t figure out how to download it…go figure. We’re don’t seem to get many bad reviews. All of our novels range from 4.3 to 5 in average. But, hey, the Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove has 24 one star reviews…out of almost a thousand. So, like I say, since you can’t please everybody, you just as well should please yourself.
What is your best marketing tip?
Write multiple books…preferably in series. Assuming they like the first one, it automatically creates sales for the rest. And also always bear in mind…Content is King. The best marketing for novels is always good content…and better marketing is better content.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Not enough time.
In The Black Eagle Force Novels who is your favorite character? BEF – Dare Phillips.
How about in your Sci-Fi books?
In the SyFy, it would have to be Bone.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
I don’t do ‘racy’ well. It’s not something I like to read, so I don’t care to write about it. My favorite is drama. Guess 40 years as an actor has something to do with that. My forte is writing dialogue.
Ken what is your latest book? How many books have you written prior?
Our latest release is Across the Red. It’s #4 in The Nations series. I have written or co-written twelve books prior, including one non-fiction.
What is Ken Farmer working on now? What is your next project?
Currently writing # 7 in the Black Eagle Force series – Black Eagle Force: ISIS. (Guess who gets their butts kicked.) Have simultaneously started # 5 in The Nations series – Bass and the Lady. Also have started narrating Audio Books. Just released #4.
The following are some Crazy Questions That No One Ever Asks Authors yet they are the most popular questions and answers according to my readers
What has been your biggest disappointment in life?
That I didn’t start writing novels until I was 69 years of age.
What is your greatest joy in life?
That I started writing novels.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time Ken Farmer found himself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I don’t really look at things that way. I think you just have to keep moving forward…If you look back, something might be gaining on you. Like I said earlier: If you think you can or you think you can’t…you’re right. Lead, follow or get the hell out of my way. If it’s a bad situation…Attack!
What is your biggest fear?
Running out of time.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
He Wasn’t Finished
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to Time-Travel.
If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?
THE CORRECTOR – Costume – A cloak of invisibility. The unknown righter of wrongs.
What literary character is most like you?
John Clayton – Lord Greystoke
What secret talents does Ken Farmer have?
Now if I told you they wouldn’t be secret anymore, would they? But, for lesser known things, I was a Texas wildcatter back in the seventies. I also am an algologist, specializing in cyano-bacter…blue-green algae. I have spoken before the agronomy departments of over twenty colleges and universities across the US, in the ’80s.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
I don’t believe in zoos, but I would be a Timber Wolf.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Make the New York Times Best Seller list or have one of our novels made into a major motion picture.
If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
What was Ken Farmer like as a child? Your favorite toy?
Somewhat quiet and a loner…probably from moving around so much. I grew out of it by the time I got to high school and became a ham. Guess that’s why I became an actor. Favorite toy – Lincoln Logs…because I could create things by myself.