S.L. Kerns - Drop and Give me 20! 20 Hard Questions for Hard Authors
S.L. Kerns may have southern roots, but he has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. When his face isn't buried in book you can find him at the gym. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his works. His work had been published or is forthcoming in several online magazines and available in print in six collections, and growing. Follow his blog and prepare yourself for his debut novel here: www.slkerns.wordpress.com
1. Are you “An Author” -or- “A Writer”? What’s the difference?
Writer. I refer to myself this way. What others call me, I can't control. I like words that get to the point. I write.
2. What is your biggest failure?
My biggest failure is my greatest progression. For me it is the move I made from my hometown. This idea, this dream of seeing the world, exploring life in other cultures has been exhiliratingly peaceful, but it comes at a cost. Every day I miss out on my family affairs is another reason for me to feel like a disappointment. I hold in m tears to the best of my ability, but when a loved one passes away and I can't even make the funeral, it hurts.
3. What is the worse lie you ever told?
I wouldn't call myself a liar. This comes from an early influence from too many Superman comics and movies. I always admired how a guy with the most pressure on his shoulders juggles it all with honesty and kindness. No, I'm not a liar, but I'm a joker. I love jokes and think of them as temporary little lies. Like my friends might remember a time in high school when I had a dark summer's tan---a brown-sugar tone---and in my second semester of Spanish. Well, I started a new job in the neighboring county, working at Long John Silver's. Before my first day, I came across a necklace and charm; 100% Mexican, it said. For two weeks I had a new nationality, the crew bought it.
4. Do you Google yourself?
Well, there's not much to google as of yet. I have, though. Sometimes I am directly searching for some of my old concerts in various pop punk/hardcore bands. Now I search for short stories and their comments.
5. How would your friends describe you? And what about your worst enemy?
In high school I was awarded Mr. Congeniality, but university and life has a way of making less agreeable on the big issues I never used to dwell on, like the most recent election I'm still trying to wake up from. Worst enemy...well, if someone wanted to be my enemy, I guess they could waste my time. I'm a busy guy.
6. What is your creative Kryptonite?
Music videos. I can get lost for hours by Fugazi, Danzig, and Black Flag.
7. What popular movie/book/music which others adore, do you secretly despise?
It is no secret. I hate almost anything riding thr radio waves post 2000. What happened to the songwriters? As for movies, I'm so far behind on the modern films. I just watch classics. I am a sucker for TV dramas though. I enjoy longer stories with character development.
8. What is the worst criticism you ever received? How did it make you feel?
The most terrible criticisms are a part of daily life. Any time I disappoint a family member or close friend I become my worst critic, dwelling on where I went wrong, how can I solve it. I want everyone to like me and give me a chance. Of course, not everyone does and I'm usually okay with that, but it does jar me for awhile when I discover I'm disliked.
9. What is secret you’ve never told anyone?
Nice try, but I'm not going to air out my dirty laundry now.
10. How long/how many rejections did you get before someone gave you your shot?
I was taking a Japanese style bath while writing my first short story on my smartphone, clearing the screen of steam every few minutes. By the time I had 'raisined' I was ready to submit. A few days later, Shannon over at Flash Fiction Magazine notified me that "Scrap Metal Memories" had been accepted. That proud feeling still hits me every time I get an acceptance letter.
11. What was the last movie/book which made you cry?
E.T. My mom tells a story of me at six. She was cooking in the kitchen when I ran in bawling. "What happened?" she asked. My voice breaking, I said, "E.T. had to go home."
12. Can you describe a single, personal moment in your life which made you, you?
Leaving my state, family and friends to move to a county I knew little about. From that day in July 2009, I have gained and maintained independence.
13. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your writer’s ego?
5.1. I'm now at the point where I realize people enjoy my work enough to publish, but still terrified of submitting. I polish and polish and polish first.
14. What is your first dream you can remember?
I'm a deep sleeper and a light dreamer, a result of draining myself at the gym, I guess. I do remember about four years ago calling my sister to tell her I had dreamt there was a zombie outbreak in the USA and as I called to warn her from over in Thailand she was attacked and died. I woke up so tense my teeth were sore and immediately phoned her long distance.
In Thailand, if a person dies in your dreams, it is believed they will live a long life. So, your welcome, sis.
15. Have you ever been in a fight/punched in the face? How did/would you react?
Yes. I was in my 94 Honda Civic in 2005. My car sat still in a traffic jam leaving the local fair. The window was down and I was blasting Stephen Lynch's "If I Were Gay" and I having a laugh. Next thing I knew I was being pounded on. All I saw where giant monkey fists. When I came to, I had no feeling in my jaw, two black eyes, my Locos Por El Futbo shirt ripped off my body and a dent in my car door. I later found out the attacker had broken my jaw and cheek bone because his ex-girlfriend had spoken to me. If I had had the chance, I'd have fought back and I'd have won.
16. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters with sexual identity different from your own?
Getting my make-up just right for the research. Just kidding. My main concern is if I do them justice.
17. What do you feel the most pride in? And what makes you feel the most shame?
About writing, the answer is the same for both: putting myself out there for judgement.
18. I see you live in Thailand. From my time in the military I had the opportunity to spend time in the Pacific myself. What kind of experiences would you like to share about a person from Kentucky living in Thailand?
My first manuscript Punk Trucker Blues covers this question in a way. I have a liberal mind, but deep conservatism lies within me, in my DNA. Like Tommy in my novel, I keep an open mind, but finding yourself in the minority for the first time, and making acquaintances with openly transgendered people takes some getting used to. Now more than I ever I see people their personalities, not their appearance.
19. Standing on the street, a man walks up to you and puts a note in your hand. The note reads “We are hunting you. This is not a joke. In 10 minutes we are going to try and kill you. Run. Run now.” You can have one weapon of your choice, three books and one luxury item...what do you do?
My weapon would be a pair of running shoes. I'd outrun them and then hole myself up to reread House of Sand and Fog (Dubus III), The Lost Horizon (Hilton), and A Walk in the Woods (Bryson). Those three books never fail me for a good time. Luxury item? My iTunes playlist full of classic punk, to get me pumped, in contrast with folk, to soothe me.
20. What would you like fans and potential fans to know about you as a person?
That I'm always working to better myself. In turn, I'm willing to lend a helping hand to anyone I can in any way possible.
Follow SL's work here: www.slkerns.wordpress.com
Psst...His novels Punk Trucker Blues and Rut are looking for a good home.