Ramblefoot. I haven't read this book myself, but Ken was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Ken, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?
Ken: It's the tale of a wolf named Raspail who's got everything stacked against him and yet he rises, through acts of greatness, to become this sort of Ghengis Kahn of wolves. You could say the book is about how he becomes a legend among wolves. This all happens during an epoch in wolf history when man is systematically killing off the wolf population pack by pack. So even though there are really no human characters in the story, mankind is an ominous and terrifying presence that is throwing wolf life off kilter.
Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?
Ken: One of Raspail's keys to greatness is that he thinks differently from other wolves. When he is made an outcast from his pack, he is so desperate for company that he befriends a raven named Poitu, who is also an outcast from raven society. Raspail learns how to communicate and partner with this bird, and he is influenced by the raven's logic. He becomes more resourceful and inventive, and this saves his ass time and time again. Think outside the box, I suppose, is the theme here. And that's also what I tasked myself with while conceiving and writing Ramblefoot -- to make an animal book that isn't for little kids, yet is one that reminds you of the books you loved as a kid. I aimed to make a novel so engrossing you can't wait to escape into that book and feel like you've left the modern world of man and entered a whole other world with different stakes and different codes of conduct. And the wolf is just human enough that it is not such a stretch to fold the reader's world into his. It is a world that is quite enjoyable explore.
Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?
Ken: Call of the Wild. Jungle Book. Watership Down. These are some of the greatest books ever written. As a story-teller with a huge fondness for animals, I naturally gravitated back to what I loved as a child. I got excited about taking a stab at reinvigorating the dusty genre of animal fiction. But I didn't want to be prudish in my portrayal. I wanted to write an animal book with an R rating, not because I love gory violence, but because nature has an R rating. There is a lot of fighting, pissing, and vomiting in nature. There is humping, biting, and trash-talking in nature. And I wanted to write about all of it. There is a wolf sex scene -- and it is romantic, because wolves can only mate once a year! So I didn't filter out any of nature's "obscenities", and this makes Ramblefoot different from classic animal fiction. In my mind you can't say this is vulgar, or that is too vulgar. It's nature. That's why I couldn't get it published. And ironically, it is what people are really responding to in the reviews I have gotten.
Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?
Ken: There is really very little to compare Ramblefoot to. A friend of mine described it as "Watership Down, except from the POV of the wolves eating the rabbits." I guess if a reader likes fantasy books like Game of Thrones and Tolkien they would be happy they picked up Ramblefoot. Or speculative fiction like Neal Stephenson. But unlike most fantasy, Ramblefoot is a world without mythical creatures, magic, or supernatural. It was a big challenge creating a world as bewitching as a mythological one. Fortunately, there are a lot of bizarre and fascinating aspects to wolf and raven culture. The natural world is way more intense and mysterious to me than the magical, there is so little we know. So to answer your question, you should pick up Ramblefoot if you want to enter a fantasy world where there are no elves, vampires, werewolves, magic stones, elves, dwarves... uhm, actually, there is a dwarf wolf.
Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?
Ken: I've been a screenwriter for twenty years. I wrote Space Cowboys, The Missing, Curious George, Muppets from Space, and the upcoming Expendables sequel. Ramblefoot is my first novel. There is way more here to explore, so I HOPE people like the book because I would love to spend the rest of my life writing a series based on Ramblefoot.
Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?
Ken: Right now you can get the e-book for $2.99 at Amazon. Paperbacks are also available here for $15.00.
Ana: Thank you, Ken. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?
Ken: There is a facebook page for Ramblefoot, which I encourage your readers to "friend." If anyone wants to reach me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for the interview, Ana!