Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Author Interview!

Heaven Enough Is a poem about longing, about wishing for something more. "What would it be like if I had heaven enough?" it reads. 
Matt Murphy reads these words for the first time at his wife's funeral. After a death shrouded with mystery, it is the first time he learns that she wrote poetry. He and Diva were married for nearly twenty years, yet he did not "know" her. A poet and lover of culinary delights, she is struck by a car and killed instantly—randomly—on the wrong side of town. 
When her brother, the "monk," appears for the funeral, Matt is set on an unprecedented course. The two find Diva's computer filled with preparations to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Over 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada...and she was leaving without her husband. 
Matt takes it upon himself to hike the trail and sprinkle her ashes along the way. What happens in the first two hours is dumbfounding. 
What happens next changes his life forever…

Author and playwright, Ken La Salle’s passion is intense humor, meaningful drama, and finding answers to the questions that define our lives. Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue collar roots, which have given his writing a progressive and environmentalist view. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at www.kenlasalle.com.

polished & bubbly: How did you get into writing?

Long ago, about 30 years back, I actually got into writing by putting my foot into my mouth. A friend had written a short story and, not to be outdone, I mentioned how I'd started a book. The problem was, I hadn't. And when my friends told me to put up or shut up I found myself writing the beginning of my first attempt at a book.

I had long loved to write but had never put any real effort into it. As I grew older, I never dreamed I could actually become a writer. I chalked it up to a pipe dream and built a career in marketing writing. Years of this showed me how unsatisfying it was and, a few years ago, my wife and I decided I should take the plunge into becoming a writer. The experience has certainly been unlike anything I imagined - for good and ill!

polished & bubbly: Authors who've influenced you?

The first author who really spoke to me was Kurt Vonnegut. I was drawn to his almost journalistic style and I think my own writing displays some of this.

Some of my other favorites include a variety of styles and genres, and they include Brian Lumley, Robert Pirsig, Bill Bryson, Garrison Keillor, John Irving, and Joseph Campbell.

polished & bubbly: How long did it take you to write Heaven Enough? 

Normally, my book ideas gestate for a long time and it would be very difficult to answer this question. With Heaven Enough, however, I know exactly when I started because I remember taking a drive to Warner Springs, California in the fall of 2013 with my wife and letting her in on the story I wanted to write. It was the first time I would attempt something that could be classified as a romantic novel and I wasn't too sure about it. But she loved the idea and I completed my first draft in January of 2014. It came surprisingly fast; I felt so connected with the characters. And my agent signed it in April!

polished & bubbly: What's your writing process?

I usually work on a lot of things at once. For instance, right now, I'm working on preparing the launch of two books: Climbing Maya (which will arrive from Kal-Ba publishing in June) and Wormfood Island (coming from Vagabondage Press in July). I'm also promoting Heaven Enough and assembling the first draft of my very first comedy album, due out late in 2015/early in 2016. (It's still too early to say for sure.) Meanwhile, I'm also jotting down ideas for future books and such. That way, when I put aside a block of time for writing a book, I already have nearly everything I need.

This process was completely thrown out with Heaven Enough. I fell in love with the characters and the story and just dove in.

Bottom line, I try to keep myself flexible.

polished & bubbly: Fave breakfast food?

I recently learned how to make the perfect egg and cheese burrito - not too dry and full of flavor. The secret is in not overcooking the eggs! So, right now, that's my favorite.

polished & bubbly: Coffee or tea? How do you take it?

Strangely enough, it depends on the situation. Generally, I like my coffee and my tea a bit sweet. But if I'm trying something new or if I'm in a new situation, I'll surrender my desires and see where it takes me.

This is actually my attitude towards more things as I get older. On my own, I have my own way - but I've found that life is best enjoyed, sometimes, if you put your expectations aside and simply enjoy the experience.

polished & bubbly: Ideal day?

Writing, of course. I'm one of the luckiest people I know because I get to do what I love so much. Granted, writing has taken me down so many avenues. I record and produce audiobooks. I host a podcast. And I'm moving more into audio production. At its core, though, is the writing. I have so many projects I am itching to start that I can happily say I expect to do this for quite some time.

Recently, I've begun training and preparing for my own journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, which I'll be taking in 2017 if all goes well. This means spending a great deal of time hiking and jogging, getting myself into the condition necessary for such a task. So, when I'm not writing, my ideal day includes some of that.

My ideal night, by the way, always includes some time with my beautiful wife, Vicky. How lucky am I to be able to marry someone I admire and cherish so much? Very lucky, indeed!

polished & bubbly: What's up next in your writing career?

So very much! I wish I could tell you everything here but this is just a short list:
Climbing Maya, An Exploration Into Success - non-fiction coming from Kal-Ba Publishing in June 2015
Wormfood Island - a zombie horror novel that's like a romance novel gone horribly wrong, coming from Vagabondage Press in July 2015
Dynamic Pluralism, A Revolution in Ethics - non-fiction coming from Kal-Ba Publishing later this year.
Along with my first comedy album, more novels (with the possibility of a Heaven Enough sequel), more non-fiction, and a lot of projects I can't quite tell you about just yet, I think it's safe to say that you'll see plenty more from me in the future!

Here's a short article I wrote about why I wrote Heaven Enough...

Somewhere off of Highway 79 in Southern California, just outside of the little town of Warner Springs, you'll find an intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. From this intersection, you can hike south-east through lovely, rolling hills under the bows of huge, California oaks until you reach the massive collection of rocks and boulders that has been well-named as Eagle Rock.
When my wife and I took this hike, I had long been considering my own Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT) voyage. This consideration had all been in my head, however. The PCT is not a journey taken lightly or without considerable planning but I was in love with the PCT before I'd ever walked on it. I had interviewed a PCT thru-hiker named Mindy Dunham for my podcast, So Dream Something. I had followed the YouTube videos of folks who had attempted the journey. I even planned out my own PCT trek, which will come together when I have the time and the money in April of 2017.
One of the perks of being a writer is that even if I couldn't take the trip myself I could write about others taking it. And I knew just who I wanted to go. It was a character based on a question my friend Sean and I had debated years ago. Sean had lost his wife to leukemia (which I talk about at some length in my forthcoming book, Climbing Maya) and I had lost mine to divorce. Those who lose their spouse to death are expected to mourn but those who divorce are expected to make the best of it. What is the proper response to loss, anyway?
And so, I put a man on the PCT who had lost his wife to a death he could not accept. I had him meet a woman named Heather, who had also lost so much. I put these two, lost souls out in the middle of nowhere in the hopes of finding some humanity in the desert - and was heartbroken by how they found love.
The resulting novel, I titled Heaven Enough. I took the name from a poem I'd written. The first line reads, "What would it be like if I had heaven enough?" I believe that's what most of us are looking for, not all of heaven, not the most expensive things or the most amazing adventures. When you suffer the loss of someone you love, sometimes you find yourself satisfied simply by heaven enough.
And, as it turns out, heaven enough is still heaven attained.
I hope you'll pick up and enjoy a copy of Heaven Enough, available in ebook and paperback from Limitless Publishing.

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