This week’s interview is with D. Kevin Singleton.
A former US Army Airborne Ranger, Drill Sergeant, Engineer and a prolific Writer of adventure stories, D. Kevin Singleton has traveled and worked extensively throughout Asia, Europe and South America to include Australia and New Zeeland. He currently lives in North East Arkansas and Western Michigan with his wife and two daughters where he writes and works in defense contracting.
1) Which 3 authors would you recommend all writers read?
The three authors that I would recommend for writers to read is Robert Ludlum, he provides an expertise and detail to his writing that I feel is missing from others that work in his genre. John Steinbeck, his ability to show the conflicts between man and the world we live in has always intrigued me. Last but not lest in my view is a writer that most people may not recognize by the name of Barry Sadler. Barry Sadler wrote a series of paper backs titled Casca, The Eternal Warrior. When I was a young soldier I would set at night in the bottom of a machine gun nest and read these books by flashlight. The theme of these books was an immortal warrior that is introduced at the crucifixion of Christ and continues on through the Viet Nam War. In my opinion I learned a lot about character development from his work.
2) Which authors impacted most on your writing style?
When most people read my book one of the first questions that I hear is are you a Dan Brown fan? While I enjoy his work to a point, the influence that caused me to write in the same or similar genre was the discovery of my fifth generation grandfather William D. Singleton and his involvement in the Revolution and the early Masons of this country. Perhaps authors like Ernest Hemmingway, Falkner, to John Grisham might have had some influence. After all they all have ties to or are from the Mid South where I grew up. Perhaps it is the magic of the land and people of the Mississippi Delta that has had the greatest influence on the styles of writer’s from this area.
3) What is your favorite element in your book (character, theme, setting, etc.)?
The favorite elements of my book have to be writing about the settings and themes. How a guy like me can go from working in cotton fields to traveling around the world is still a mystery to me. I have worked and lived in more countries then I have fingers and toes. Sharing these experiences with the reader is a way I give back a piece of the adventures I have known. I spend months researching the alternative history that I share in my writings when developing the theme. It was Mark Twain that said and I paraphrase, “History is what they want you to remember about an event. The news reports the facts of an event. Fiction tells you what really happened.” The information that I uncovered during the research for The Longinus Quest at times was dumbfounding. However, when you look at the evidence even though it might be circumstantial it makes the reader say, “So that is what really happened.”
4) What was your favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of the writing process is the therapeutic benefit that I get from it. Stepping out into the dangerous world will change a man forever. You have never felt more alive until that moment that you face death. For those of us who survive it life has a meaning that the protected will never know. Men who gain this understanding pay the price of losing their place in a world that no longer understands them. You never truly fit back into society. Writing gives me a means to try and explain why I seem so strange. Guys like me who jump out of airplanes, wade through swamps, and chop through jungles are just a different breed apart from the average Joe. Don’t mistake this as a boast. There have been many times I wished I wasn’t.
5) What about the publishing process most shocked you?
What shocked me the most about the publishing process was the arrogance that writers face when dealing with agents and publishers. I wonder how many great writers are out there that will never be discovered because some intern barely out of puberty was too busy texting to give a submitted manuscript the attention it deserved. I guess that is why I feel so much gratitude to my current publisher. He took the time to actually read my writing, imagine that. Once I sent a query off to an agent that said she specialized in historical fiction. Like many times before she sent the standard rejection letter. This time it was with a suggestion that perhaps I write a non fiction book about the Templar Knights and the Knights of Malta if they really existed. If they really existed! Here was an agent who claimed to represent historical fiction and she didn’t even know if the Templar Knights and the Maltese Knights were real.
6) What advice do you wish you’d received before you started searching for a publisher?
I wished I had an experienced writer to tell me to be a bit humble about my work. I wasted a lot of time trying to get agent representation and submitting to the big publishing houses. The chances that you are going to run into an agent like J.K. Rowling did are a billion to one. I wasted a lot of time trying to contact John Grisham. Since he and I are from the same home town I thought he could help get me on the inside to an agent or big publisher. He never once contacted me back.
7) What advice would you give to writers trying to publish their first book?
Who am I to give advice to anyone? A man will hear what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. At the risk of being ignored I will offer this. Write about what you know. My homeboy John Grisham is a lawyer and that is what he writes about. Dan Brown’s character Robert Langdon is an academic. That is what he knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all find out one day that J.K. Rowling is a witch. I am not saying that it should dictate the genre you work in. A lawyer can get caught up in an international terrorist conspiracy just as easy as a CIA agent. However, it is hard for anyone to believe that a lawyer could pick up an MP-5 assault weapon and take out a five man clearing team from Langley. I am currently working on a screenplay about an airborne ranger that survives a massacre in Afghanistan only to find out that his miraculous survival was due to him being a werewolf. It is a total different genre then The Longinus Quest but again it is what I know. Not about being a werewolf but about being a special ops soldier although my wife may argue that I know a bit about the first part as well. To me the story is the most important but don’t forget the writing fundamentals. Don’t be ashamed if you slept through English 101 and 102 in college like I did to seek out assistance to polish your work. Don’t be embarrassed about it. Most college English professors have never attempted to write a book. You have already accomplished more then them. Above all keep at it never surrender. It is pretty cool to walk into Barnes & Noble and see your work on the shelf.
Be sure to check out Singleton’s most recent work, ‘The Longinus Quest’
The Longinus Quest
When demoted C.I.A. Agent Trevor Hawk is assigned the uncomplicated task of having stolen artifacts identified, he discovers that he is entrapped in a vortex of mystical legends that warp the senses. In what seems to be an unreal world, a secret group of American Masons known as the Knights of Athena protect the true source of American power, the Spear of Longinus. In a fatal contest between the decedents of the famed Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta, supported by their ruthless assassins known as The Hasshishans, Trevor Hawk finds himself caught up in the battle for the possession of the this implement of incredible power. Having been declared a Rogue Agent and not knowing what side to fight on, Hawk finds himself dead center in what would be an amusing flight into fantasy, except for one small problem: everyone wants him dead!
Thanks to D. Kevin Singleton for answering my questions.