‘Twenty Miles West of Branch, Texas and other stories’ is a collection of character-driven short fiction (13 short stories and 1 novella). Diverse main characters in a wide range of settings find themselves in circumstances that challenge assumptions they have made about themselves, their lives and the world in which they live.
Looking for diverse lives and worlds? Find them both when I chat with author K.C. Knouse about Twenty Miles West of Branch, Texas and other stories. There are so many varied stories in this book, K.C., so I’d love you to kick off our interview by sharing a little about how you came to write this book of multiple adventures.
I have wanted to publish a collection of my short fiction for years. The ease and economy of publishing e-books lit a fire in me to finally put a collection together and publish it.
It’s fantastic that we live in a world where publishing your own book and sharing your stories, and characters with the world are so accessible! It’s such a great opportunity for readers to meet interesting characters. What kinds of characters can the readers meet in your collection?
The characters are an amalgam of persons I have known or have observed plus made up stuff.
Do you also feel that it’s fair to say that the characters have also be borne from your own life experiences?
Yes, I drew on life experience as I wrote every story. There is a part of me in many of the main characters, or I have had similar experiences. Of course, my experiences and character traits inform my writing and give it authenticity, but the stories are the characters’ own. One of the short stories has to do with a jury trial. I have sat on five juries in my life. I have made my living as an outside salesperson. Salespeople inhabit some of the stories. One story is about an interaction with a wild bird. My wife and I have rescued several wild birds over the years. I set one story in frontier Kansas and the settler is struggling with debt. I struggled with debt early in my adult life. By the time I have finished writing a story, the experience that gave birth to the idea for the story has been totally absorbed into it. As I said, it becomes the character’s story, not mine.
So, how do the character’s stories unfold in your mind as you write? What are you focusing on as you tap away?
I try to be true to the theme of the work. That usually means being true to the characters. Sometimes I have to do a lot of writing before I discover the characters. When I am true to the characters, they tell the story and illuminate the theme.
Do you find yourself energised by illuminating the theme when you’re deep in the writing process, or does it get exhausting?
Writing energizes and exhausts me. Getting the words right energizes me. Getting to the point where the words are right often exhausts me.
Looking back, what do you feel that you learnt by the process of first writing, and then compiling these tales together into an enjoyable experience for the reader?
It took me longer than I thought it would to publish this collection. The publishing process was simple and straightforward compared to publishing the old way. What took time was the editing of the manuscript. Fiction requires much more editing and polishing than non-fiction. I published a non-fiction book in 1996 and it took me half the time that this one did.
Do you feel that the level of polishing required for fiction has helped your author voice?
My author voice has become more confident. I trust what it has to say.
What do you confidently feel that this collection of tales has to say to readers?
The characters change as a result of the resolution of the conflict in their stories. The main theme across the stories is acceptance. The characters find a way to achieve some form of acceptance of their circumstances. This is growth.
Growth is life, and I’m so glad that your work showcases that. With an entire book focused on growth, can you leave us today with a taste of how you’re planning to grow as an author in 2019? What can readers look forward to?
I am putting together a collection of 3 short stories for publication next year. As I work on this project, I have been publishing short fiction on Medium.com and Wattpad.com.
There’s certainly enough growth there to get readers reading for quite a while, but to prevent them from running out of new reads we’ll close out our chat here. K.C., thanks for sharing your journey of growth through the pages of Twenty Miles West of Branch, Texas and other stories, and I can’t wait to see where it leads you in 2019 and beyond.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Twenty Miles West of Branch, Texas and other stories ( ASIN: B07CBSVXSS )‘.
Want to find out more about K.C. Knouse? Connect here!