Here's a BIG cheery HELLO to you all,
Another summer week is almost gone and the weekend is creeping up on us again!
Friday’s author interview slot today features crime writer, Ken Ward. Thank you Ken for agreeing to take part in my series of author interviews and for sharing with us a glimpse of you and an insight into your life. Let's take it away!!
Eva: A big warm Friday welcome to you, Ken! Now, tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Ken: I’m Ken Ward the author of the D.I Ray Keane books. I was born in London in 1960, moving to Essex with my parents when eighteen months old. My childhood was in Witham and I lived in the area until 1988, then moved to King’s Lynn and now live in Terrington St Clement. I have always been an avid reader, enjoying books as a child, I read all the Biggles books, then having read several horror books by authors such as Dean Koontz, Stephen King and James Herbert. I discovered crime novels; the first I remember reading were the Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter. I occasionally read other genres but crime is my go to read. In 1990 I decided to have a go at writing, so with an old typewriter and a ream of paper, I sat to write the next bestseller, then discovered very quickly I had a lot to learn. Fast forward to 2009 and suffering with arthritis in my spine, I joined a local writing group which was set up at a doctor’s surgery. I found that I enjoyed the company of the others and started to believe that I could write. After an exercise set by the tutor to write a paragraph of something happening in a local park, I continued with the piece and D.I Ray Keane was born. The first book in the series (which are all set in Norfolk) was self-published in 2010. As well as my writing which is now full time, I am still an avid reader. Until recently, I enjoyed ballroom dancing but due to health issues and needing hip replacements, I have had to stop dancing. I got married to Jan in 2012 and live with her and two poodles Violet and Duggie, who both like to keep me company while I’m sat in the summer house writing.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
Time for Revenge is the 4th book in the series and the next book titled Straw, Blood and Bones is currently with a publisher. One Good Shot was self-published which was an enjoyable experience. I found it interesting doing the marketing and promotion for the book and still enjoy this side of the business. The next two books, along with a reissue of One Good Shot were published by Karabeth Publishing. This was up to 2013, then life and work got in the way. I was still writing but not enough to get a book finished. The pandemic arriving in 2020, gave me the push I needed and I decided to concentrate full time on the writing. I completed Time for Revenge and this was published by Austin Macauley Publishers in 2022. All my books are crime novels set in and around Norfolk. As well as the latest book I have two more finished in the series and have recently started another series featuring D.I. Karen Hobbs. This is set in Witham in Essex. I like the idea of meeting readers, so enjoy giving talks about my books and have done three talks so far this year with more booked and some booked for next year. I find it helpful to attend events and meet other authors, to realise that I’m doing the same as they do so feel my writing is progressing. In October this year I have the privilege of being on a panel with four others at a book event in Brighton. This will be my first time at such an event.
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to do it justice?
I do not feel I would be able to write children’s books, mainly as fitting the subject matter to the age of the reader. My books are aimed at older teenagers and upwards and I feel comfortable writing for this age range and in my chosen genre. I have attempted to write Fantasy in the past and did have a short story published. I would like to do more but time always runs away. I also feel I would need to do a lot more research first.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books? What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they should?
I don’t have out of the ordinary words, though my main character does use some expressions I use, such as ‘just to make you aware’. I did not realise how often I used this expression until it was pointed out to me. Then I thought how often D.I Ray Keane used it. I don’t find words irritate me as all writers have their own style. The only thing I don’t like and do not use myself is unnecessary swearing. I don’t like it in real life and feel it is not always needed in literature. I do feel some authors use fancy words to make themselves feel better, and the only thing I don’t like about this is if I have to stop reading to look up a word.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics been used at all?
Nobody with an ounce of hearing would like to hear me sing. The one thing I found interesting was while doing an Open University course in Creative Writing it was pointed out to us all, that songs are short stories. This could be the reason I wouldn’t attempt to write song lyrics as I struggle with short stories when writing or reading them. I always want more.
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author), which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
I couldn’t list a favourite author without possibly offending someone I leave out. Since I started writing I have come across so many authors new to me that I now enjoy reading. I would have liked the chance to interview Agatha Christie in 1926 and ask her why she felt the need to run away. I have read press reports but wonder if the real reason was ever explained. (Eva: Having read all her books and being a big fan of her work, I would also have loved to get a chance to ask her that same question, Ken!)
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
As already answered, I wouldn’t write a children’s book. Though I admire those who do, my artist skills are on par with my singing so I would definitely pay an illustrator. I am lucky that I have a friend who I met at the writing group who is very good on the computer and using my ideas, he then designs my book covers.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
It would have to be Ray Keane, mainly because he was my first main character, and I have seen him grow as the books progress. It has been commented on as to what he looks like, though I have never described him in the books. I like to leave this to the reader and their imagination. I have been asked by a person who read the latest book, was he based on myself and though it is no, I suppose some of our traits are similar. I did feel I was doing something right when another lady who was reading the book asked me why couldn’t she meet someone like him as he was lovely. I had to explain that he is not real, just a figment of my imagination.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest option to have that person die?
I killed of a character in my next book, it is the first time someone who was not a victim of crime has died in a book. Though not a main character, it was someone who has featured in the books all along. I knew it was right for the story, but found it was difficult to write and needed to sit for a while afterwards thinking was it written well. The other time I had a moment was when writing a scene with a character who it wasn’t planned to kill off, I found myself having an argument with him that if he didn’t do what I wanted him to do, then I would have him killed in the story. This was when I realised to myself that my characters were real.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they possessed in real life?
I don’t base my characters on anyone in particular, but have always enjoyed people watching, some of the traits the characters have come from this point. As already stated, I can’t help but put some of myself and also to a point some of my wife into the main characters due to it being me who is writing. I can say that in the next book a pet dog has some traits of someone I know and I will never let the name be known, it was just a case of it suited.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
I always say life is too short for regrets. I suppose I wish I had started writing earlier in my life, but except that everything happens for a reason.
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
Two passions as a child were reading and athletics. Reading will always stay with me, as it is lovely to escape to other places via the books. Athletics was a big part of my teenage years, including representing the school and then the county at events. From this developed my liking for all sports but now only as a supporter.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
My best subject had to be English, which also was the only one I achieved a good exam result in. My worst would have to be maths, my basic maths is fine due to a misspent youth in front of a dart board. I could never understand the need for things such as algebra. My main problem was being in an exam situation as I would just get flustered. It then surprised me that in later life I would do two Open University courses and take exams that allowed me to teach Ballroom Dancing. (Eva: LOL! I've known a few dart players over the years Ken and their mental arithmetic is second to none!)
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had? Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind, fun, generous…?
My favourite teacher was Mr Rick Kirby who taught History. He made the subject interesting and was very helpful and friendly as a teacher. I have to admit to having a crush on two Biology teachers who were very nice, but that is maybe a story in itself, and may get written in the future who knows?
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
I would hope that my parents would be pleased with my writing, unfortunately I am of an age where Mum and Dad are no longer with us. They were always supportive in what I did as a youngster, in particular my dad, would be taxi service for going to athletic training and meetings. My love of books came from my mum. I am not a singer but my enjoyment of music is from both parents. There was always music on in the house. My dad was a drummer with a dance band.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
I am lucky my ultimate ambition is to be happy, and I am. I think as for writing, just to be able to make a success of the books to allow me to continue writing. I think I will always write because I enjoy it, but if it can be viable as a business then all the better.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and if so, how did you do it?
I don’t think I have any phobias. As a child I remember being scared of spiders but not to the point of a phobia about them. Not sure if it would be classed as a phobia, but I know some people think I have OCD. I always respond ‘no’, I just like things in their place.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to change?
As I get older, I would like to try and be more patient with others. My wife Jan is very laid back about things and I wish I could be like this. I think it is very important we don’t worry about what others think of us such as how does someone look; we all should just be happy with ourselves. Jokingly because I’m not. I always say that I am perfect as I am. I think everyone should think like this. Unfortunately, the damage done by the media etc, about how people should be is very much how people think.
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
Anything sweet. I tell my dentist I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have a mouthful of sweet teeth. While writing there is always a pot of mint imperials to hand. Drink of choice has to be coffee, at any time of the day. Something I inherited from my mum; there was always a pot of coffee in the kitchen so very easy to just help yourself to it.
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
We have the two dogs now. I remember my parents having a collie dog who was lovely, but due to experiences as a toddler, I am never happy around dogs I don’t know. The parents of Jenny, Ray’s girlfriend in the books, have a spaniel called Charlie who is always fun to write about.
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and social media profiles?
Wow! Another fantastic and enlightening interview! Thanks again, Ken! It’s been a pleasure! Next Tuesday’s interview will feature author Robin Leemann Donovan from across the pond in Utah, US!
Before I go and busy myself with another project, I would like to wish each and every one of you a fantastic and fun-filled weekend. Let’s hope the weather is much kinder to us and we can sit in the sun enjoying a tipple or two!
Love and Best Wishes to you all,