Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Gaylon Kent, author of The Diary of a Nobody

The Diary of a Nobody Book Banner

The Diary of a Nobody From earning a living to getting the dog to poop to running for the United States Senate, The Diary of a Nobody chronicles the life of Sparrow, a funny, average man passing an average life. In addition to Sparrow, you’ll meet The Wife, the cat, the dog, his friend Bonser and his rug rat Matt and Brian, Sparrow’s co-worker at the Doily Delivery Company.

 The Diary of a Nobody is a real-time novel, updated daily at www.writersshack.com. It begins in October, 2013 and was inspired by a 19th century British novel of the same name. Gaylon Kent, 49, is an American writer. In addition to The Diary of a Nobody, Gaylon has written the novel The Regular Guys and Backstairs at the Monte Carlo: A Vegas Memoir. He also writes the columns The Daily Dose and The Bottom Ten. All of Gaylon’s work is available exclusively at www.writersshack.com.

What was the inspiration for The Diary of a Nobody?
A 19th century British book of the same name. It was written by two brothers and the main character was an average British bloke passing an average life. It found very compelling and saw no reason why a 21st century version would not be equaling compelling.
The diary started in the fall of 2013 and is updated daily at www.writersshack.com. The first year is also available in both hard cover and paperback.
Why did you think a diary about an average person would be compelling today?
There is so much that is funny and relevant and sometimes poignant in everyday life. Sometimes us humans can get caught up in the doings of famous people and tend to think only things that make you famous are worthwhile, when nothing is further from the truth.
For my money, that is what you pay us writers to do: find the good and the funny and the worthwhile in the human experience. The Diary of a Nobody does a funny, entertaining job of that.
Any writers you feel do that particularly well?
Louis L’Amour has always done that very well. His insights into the human experience are a treasure.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
Oh there are a variety of accomplishments that please me.
One is finding a good wife. I married rather late and am pleased I did because good women only marry good men, so I must not be a complete reprobate.
Two, I put a lot of work into being a high school sports official, and I’ve been blessed with a rewarding career. I’ve worked more than my share of major division championship games over the years. It’s always nice to see hard work rewarded.
Three, I am proud of what I write. Every word you read comes from the heart.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
Growing up had a profound impact on what I’ve become, both as a person and a writer.
I had a pretty boring two-parent, middle class childhood in Los Angeles. Both Mom and Dad told me, fairly often, I could be whatever I wanted in this life and I saw no reason not to believe them. They never told me to stop daydreaming or to stop doing the silly, make believe things kids do. For example, the imaginary friend some kids have was always treated as a family member, which may explain why a Beanie Baby squirrel named Rabies and an Al Einstein finger puppet are on my desk and have regular conversations with me.
So my creative side was never stunted. It was allowed to blossom and flourish.
Also, at both school and where I played ball we were told that all of us had talents, that every one of us could do something well. I had 13 years of Lutheran schooling and we were told these were God’s gifts to us and we must get the most out of them.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I did not begin writing seriously until my mid-20’s, when I wrote an awful novel called Sam Rider, Private Detective. I was pursuing a career as a radio announcer at the time, and later I found myself laid off and took a job as a newspaper reported at a small paper in California.
This was good. The pressures of a deadline and of writing every day was just what I needed, and I highly recommend a tour in the journalism racket for all young writers. Its benefits were enormous.
After that I never stopped writing. I’ve always written for myself because Thoreau teaches if we write for ourselves we are always assured of an audience, and my career has evolved from there.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It was an interest planted in me at birth. What’s almost interesting, however, is growing up I wanted to be a radio announcer. Pretty bad, too. I pursued that when I got out of the navy but I wasn’t very good so I didn’t get too far.
Being an avid reader helped, too. I’ve been reading since I was five and reading good writing helped develop the desire to create good books of my own.
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
In high school there were two instances. I edited the school paper and, of course, wrote my share of stories and I found writing to be fun. It was never drudgery and I always looked forward to my next article.
Also, for an English class we had to review a play. I was too lazy to actually go and see a play, so I made something. Fortunately, I went to a private high school and did not live near either the school or the teacher or my classmates, and this was well before the Internet, so it would’ve taken a lot of work to verify my reviews.
I made it all up and got a B+ for something that should’ve been real but was complete fiction.
So I’ve always known. We all have our talents. I can’t change the oil in your car, but I can entertain you with a good book.
What inspires you to write and why?
Getting up every morning. As I like to say, every person you meet is a character, and every encounter is a plot.
This is literally true. Whether it’s someone you know well or someone you see passing on the street that you will never see again, a reader might be surprised at where inspiration comes from.
A writer must be open to whatever nature and circumstance put in front of them, because experience is what we draw on when saying what needs to be said. A writer who is not open to nature and circumstance is not doing him or his readers any good and for my money isn’t even writing, but merely typing.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I enjoy writing diaries. Besides The Diary of a Nobody, my book Backstairs at the Monte Carlo: A Vegas Memoir, is a diary of my time as a security officer working graveyard, of all things, at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
The difference, of course, is The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. Backstairs is a memoir.
Otherwise, I enjoy writing novels, and I enjoy writing my columns The Daily Dose and The Bottom Ten.
I didn’t have to go searching for what genre fit me best, either. My instincts have always told me what I should be writing.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My missing brother.
I was a radio announcer in a small California town in my 20’s. My brother was in the Marines and already showing the signs of the problems that would take his life years later and one day my Mom called saying he hadn’t been heard from for several days. Myself and a buddy went looking for him.
My first novel, Sam Rider, Private Detective was the result.
Sam Rider, Private Detective wasn’t very good, though I thought it was at the time. The last time I mustered the courage to read it, several years ago when I was moving, I remember thinking, “Boy, this is lousy”.
By the by, Sam Rider would later be an FBI agent in my novel The Regular Guys.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
Outside of the people and experiences that have made me who I am, writers I like tend to influence me. Gore Vidal, Rex Stout, Henry David Thoreau, WEB Griffin, and Garrison Keillor. There are others, of course.
This is especially true because I am completely self-educated beyond high school.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Actually doing it. Writing a novel is such an investment of time and effort that a lot of things once important are less important. A supportive s spouse is key here, because if a spouse is always whining about wanting to go do things a writer is not going to accomplish too much.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
The biggest lesson is to win the fight to say what you feel needs to be said. There are so many obstacles to this, especially if you are dependent on writing to earn your living, because it is easy to say this to earn your fee when you’d rather be saying that.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I will write till the day I die. I am working hard to ensure others hear my voice, but if not, that’s OK, too.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Yes, but it I can’t put it into words except to say it is very distinctive and very Gaylon. It is the product of years of work.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
I am funny and I don’t think I waste words. I think I do a good job of making every word count. You do not want to waste your readers’ time.
A reader once said I name characters well. This is funny because an appropriate name usually presents itself immediately. It’s rare when I have to think a lot about what to name a character.
Can you give us an example?
Sure. In a book I’ve written but have yet to publish called Swords in the Narthex, there is a character named Brad Wyler. This name took three-four days to come up with. I wanted something simple yet distinctive, something all-American. His original name was Matt Alexander, a name I was prepared to go with until Brad Wyler popped up.
The main character in Diary is named Sparrow. Where did that come from?
In Backstairs at the Monte Carlo: A Vegas Memoir there is a character named X-Ray because all characters in the book go by either a last name or a nickname. X-Ray’s name is Sparrow. The character is not otherwise based on Sparrow at all, but the name felt right from the start.
Sparrow does not seem to have a first name. Why?
I haven’t found one necessary. Part of it is also because the original Sparrow only went by that name. He never used his first name.
There is precedent for this. In The Regular Guys Lenny and Larry do not have last names because they were never necessary.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
Personally? I am a funny guy and have a great deal of patience.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
Don’t tell anyone, but I can be the greatest procrastinator in human history.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
This will vary from time to time, frankly. There are several I value equally highly.
This is one of them:
He forged fiercely a path for his truth, until at last kings, popes and emperors catered to him, thrones trembled before him and half the world listened to catch his every word.
This is from Will Durant, writing about Voltaire. Thrones may or may not tremble before me, but I write every day hoping half the world will one day catch my every word.
There can be no other goal for a writer, frankly. Any writer who does not believe with all his heart every person on this planet must read his work is not writing, he’s typing.

 In past lives Gaylon has been, among other things, a radio announcer and a newspaper reporter, as well as working security at the Monte Carlo and Venetian/Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas and working a Brinks armored truck. Gaylon was the Colorado Libertarian Party’s nominee for United States Senate in 2014, finishing third in a six-person race with a bit more than 52,000 votes. He is a two-time graduate of the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires and is an accomplished high school sports official. Gaylon served on an old diesel submarine, the USS Blueback, in the Navy and still like his grandfather, Gaylon C Kent, commands his American Legion post. Gaylon and his wife Marian live in Hayden, Colorado. He is originally from Los Angeles. He enjoys a wine pairing from time to time and is known to not wash his coffee mug.

  For More Information

No comments:

Post a Comment