Bright Lights #17 - Alex Kimmell - the Key to everything

After a 9 month hiatus, the Bright Lights author interviews are back. Once again, I'll have a wide range of authors stopping by to share their thoughts on writing and offer some insight into what it means to be a writer.

So, without further ado, the first head on the chopping block is...

Alex Kimmell

Who is Alex Kimmell?

alex kimmell (the squirrel whisperer/twodoggarage/daddy not-so-much-bucks) is an accidental novelist, anti-rhyme-ologist, oxygen inhaler, carbon dioxide exhaler who often generates harmonious sounds with various instruments of different historical importance. his work has appeared on cool places around the 1’s and 0’s like Dumb White Husband, Black Lantern Press, Front Row Lit and The Wordcount Podcast. His novel “the Key to everything” and collection of short, horrific tales “A Chorus of Wolves” were released by Booktrope Publishing. come and join the neurosis at

For dessert, I urge you all to check out Alex's links below. Right now though, it's time for the main course... 

1. Alex, are writers born or made?

Writers are made. Each of us is born with an innate sense of creativity. All you need to do to figure that out is watch children play. The question is, is that creative spark nurtured in the individual or not? I wasn’t interested in being a writer growing up. But I was lucky enough to have parents and teachers who were very encouraging of my imagination. They directed me toward interesting books and studying the world around me. Much of my education was directed to music, so a lot of my creative energies were focused on that. When I started writing songs, I leaned on the history of poetry, literature and lyricists that inspired me. Maybe there are writers out there who picked up a crayon in pre-school and wrote down their first stories. Even so, you can bet they were supported and inspired by someone around them to help guide them finding their calling.

2. Aside from your own stuff, which ONE book do you wish you’d written? And why?

So many books can be named here. My instinctive response is to choose anything by Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman or Michael Marshall Smith. Since I can only pick one book, I’d have to say “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danelewski, That book entered my life shortly after it came out and has yet to stop expanding in my brain pan. No book has terrified me, intrigued me, confused me and inspired me as much as HoL. I’ve given copies to friends and they fall into one of two camps. Either they become obsessed with it like me, or they completely hate it and can’t be bothered to finish it. The book itself becomes a physical manifestation of the story. What you hold in your hands is in fact, a character in the story. It’s meta-fiction. It’s multi-layered storytelling at such a deeply creative level. So immensely complicated and yet the major themes of the story are so primal. No author before or since has inspired such awe in me. I read it at least once a year, and each time something new jumps out at me. I can’t imagine a time when there won’t be new discoveries waiting around the next page. There are websites dedicated to figuring out what everything means in it’s labyrinth. Each word a symbol, every character a archetype. All I know is when all the trappings are stripped away, it’s a beautiful story. I can honestly say that I wish I had written it.

3. Are writers just entertainers or do they have a deeper responsibility?

I don’t believe there is a responsibility to entertain. However, there certainly is quite a bit of motivation to do so. If you want the reader to dig through each and every syllable you’ve slaved so hard to craft, the story needs to bring some element of enjoyment. If readers aren’t enticed by what is on page, what motivation do they have to continue reading? If the first book is no fun, what point is there in opening the second? All art to a certain degree must entertain. If a painting doesn’t capture the eye, no one is going to look at it. If the music is un-listenable, who is going to want to hear it? Tastes obviously vary from person to person. As my father used to say, “That’s what makes a horse race.” I am not saying the writer needs to cater his work to an audience’s desires. We need to write what we ourselves feel the need to put down on the page. Nothing is going to please everyone. All we can do as writer’s is come as close to pleasing ourselves as possible. Hopefully having been successful at that, others will find some enjoyment in the work.

4. Writers nowadays have to be promoters, social butterflies and salespeople alongside the creative and somewhat solitary side that makes up writing. How do you balance it all?

Short answer: I don’t. Everything is so unbalanced! Though I don’t think it’s too different from how authors used to work before the internet. There have always been book signings, tours and promotional events. These days we have to do most of them from our computers. It’s a necessity to take more responsibility for these things if we want to develop a following and spread recognition of our books to readers. I’m on Twitter and Facebook a lot. More than I probably should be when it keeps me from actually writing. Every day I’m out there making friends, trying to get interviews and get my name out. Just like any other small business, I spend a quite a bit of my time hustling. My books were released by an independent publisher with a small marketing budget. They are great to me, but if we don’t work together as a team to spread the word, the word will not be spread. From the stories I hear, even if I were part of a major publishing company’s roster, I’d still be plugging away to get my books noticed by people. Unless you’re on the NYT Top 20 List, it’s going to be a struggle. Similar to having children, no one is going to take care of my babies the way that I will.

5. What would you tell your younger self before they took their first steps to becoming a writer?

Spend more time writing! Study grammar and learn the rules before you start breaking them. Be disciplined. Write more every day. Write write write! Read lots of books. Good books, bad books, horrible books, amazing books. Then write some more.

My thanks to Alex for stopping by and answering some questions. You can find Alex and his books by following these links:

Twitter: @alexkimmellauth

My Amazon Author Page:

tK2e on BN:

tK2e on iTunes:

ACoW on iTunes:

 ~ GSY


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