Ken Newman has loved stories of the supernatural since listening to his grandmother’s tales of witches, haints, boogers, and catawamps when he was a child. Author of urban fantasy novels, his fiction reflects his Tennessee roots and his love for all things that go bump in the night.
Mixing folklore with modern themes, Ken’s novels create a universe of supernatural creatures and larger than life heroes where nothing is as it seems and myth and legend are terrifyingly real.
Ken graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his latest novel, THE VOICE IN MY EAR.
Where does this book take readers?
Zack Cole never enjoyed living in Bryson City, Tennessee. Being the direct decedent of a bloody serial killer made Cole a pariah and when he was old enough, he left, never intending to return. Coaxed back after two years to attend a memorial for his best friend was a bad idea and Zack finds himself the lone survivor of a bloody massacre. Not only is his body broken, his memory does not jibe with the official police version of events. On the day of his release from the hospital, Zack receives a mysterious visitor who forces Zack to make good on a deal he made moments from death. In exchange for his life, Zack agrees to become the host of a very special entity. Laylakokumi Akirasoon Shu, better known as Layla, was the most powerful witch to every walk the earth, but that was 4000 years ago. Cursed to exist as an earthbound spirit trapped in the form of a tattoo, Layla needs a host to survive. While Zack and Layla struggle with their new relationship, they have no idea they are pawns in a deadly game between the Fallen.
What attracts you to this type of story?
From a young age, we are led to believe that the world in which we live is well ordered and devoid of anything outside natural laws. All the tales of witches, monsters and supernatural creatures were the creation of backward superstition. I think the concept of the world around us as being more mysterious and dark than we believe is too enticing to let go. Just imagine if myth, monsters, and legends were not only real, but lived among us, fighting a secret war? A war that from time to time we mortals were drawn into. What if your third period school teacher was secretly a warlock? Perhaps the pastor at your church was a fallen angel, or your next door neighbor a shape shifter?
It is this idea that is at the heart of THE VOICE IN MY EAR.
What are the challenges in creating the world your characters live in?
The world has to be believable and completely grounded in reality. At the same time, it must go hand in hand with the fantastic without exploding! It is quite a juggling act to pull off. In addition, I strive to make all my books inhabit the same universe and obey the same rules.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I strove to create a twisted plot and unique settings, but I think it is my characters that make THE VOICE IN MY EAR really stand out. Chief of which are Larry and Layla.
Larry is a complex being with a sick sense of humor and a bigger than life personality. A fallen angel, he is exiled to earth awaiting Judgment Day. To avoid his fate, Larry schemes and plots in an attempt to tilt the scales in his favor, by any means necessary. While he uses very questionable, underhanded means, he ultimately is trying to give darkness a black eye and save himself from a hellish fate.
In Layla, I created a unique, one-of-a-kind character that is a vast departure from the usual magical creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, and the like. Layla was once the most powerful, utterly evil witch of all time, but became a living tattoo through an unbreakable curse. No longer evil, she endures her miserable existence until she meets Zack who can actually touch and love her as a woman once more, much to the dismay of Zack’s girlfriend. The weird love triangle aside, when danger threatens, Zack’s quick wit together with Layla’s power make them greater than the two separate. The possibilities are endless.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you as a writer?
A very good friend of mine, who said he hadn’t cracked a book since high school, made a special point to read my first book, The Paladin. He told me that as a result, he picked up a serious interest in reading. That was two years ago and now my friend is a regular at the local library and bookstore.
If my writing accomplishes nothing else, I feel proud that my small efforts opened a new world for a single person.
Where in your heart has the creative instinct found root and grown?
I have always had the need to create; nevertheless, it has changed direction over the years. Growing up I wanted to be a fantasy artist, like Frank Frazetta. I illustrated classic adventure stories I read, like Tarzan, John Carter, and The Martian Chronicles. In high school, I found writing was a far more satisfying artistic outlet than drawing. Instead of illustrating a single static scene, I could bring to life an entire universe of living, breathing beings. It was like going from a stone spear to an atomic bomb. Needless to say, I traded in my yellow number-two drawing pencil for a typewriter and never looked back. After all these years, I can sooner stop breathing than writing.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
I am a Christian and that means I have to believe in the supernatural, but it is another thing entirely when you are face to face with things that go bump in the night. Years ago I housesat for a family who claimed their house was haunted. I can’t say for certain I saw a ghost, but I saw something. I tried to find rational reasons for the impossible things I saw, but I can’t and ended up with more questions than answers. That being said, without jumping to conclusions I have to admit there are things in this world that are beyond my understanding. As you may surmise, the experience has fueled several of my stories.
Where is your writing going to take you and your readers next?
I am happy to announce I have signed a contract with Black Opal Books to publish my novel Forsaken in 2015. Forsaken is a supernatural action adventure tale about a misfit crew consisting of a shape shifter, a witch, a telekinetic and a Nephillim who are led by an over the hill soldier of fortune on a quest for the Tree of Life. Think of it as Raiders of The Lost Ark meets Hellboy…only better.
Thanks Ken! I wish you well with The Voice In My Ear. Remind me never to do deals with mysterious strangers!
Ken Newman has loved stories of the supernatural since listening to his grandmother’s tales of witches, haints, boogers, and catawamps when he was a child. Author of urban fantasy novels, The Paladin, The Ark, The Voice in My Ear, and the upcoming Black Opal Books, Forsaken, his fiction reflects his Tennessee roots and his love for all things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. Mixing folklore with modern themes, Ken’s novels create a twisted universe of supernatural creatures and larger-than-life heroes where nothing is as it seems. When not writing, he enjoys sculpting, cheesy monster movies, and building the occasional trebuchet to keep the neighbors in line. A member of the Authors Guild of Tennessee, Ken lives in East Tennessee with his long suffering wife Christian and their three zany daughters. Please feel free to contact Ken, he would love to hear from you.