Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Keith Thye, the author of The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke.
FQ: What was the inspiration behind your decision to write a story about someone’s misadventures?
THYE: I had been thinking for many years about some of the incidents that had happened to me over the course of my life, and I wanted to get them on paper before life slipped away any further. It occurred to me that it might make a good story if I could develop a sequence. As a pseudo-comedy, I felt cramming all of them into one disastrous year would set the stage for further books to recapture a reasonable life.
FQ: Why did you choose the late 1970s as the time period to set The Misadventures of Rusty Kenneficke?
THYE: I was born in 1942 and wanted Rusty to follow my life’s sequence because I was familiar with that time frame. Rusty needed to be old enough to have many of his life experiences behind him (adolescence, school, college, army, career) and yet young enough to have time to get his life turned around. I thought thirty-seven years of age would meet that criteria; hence, it would take place in 1979.
FQ: In the book, Rusty is suffering from writer's block and embarks upon an adventure in the hopes of alleviating this issue. Has there ever been a time in your writing endeavors where you felt stuck, and if so, what did you do to help yourself through the rough period?
THYE: I have no pressure—no time frame—to complete a manuscript. When I get stuck, I get away from writing for a while (days, weeks, perhaps a month). My wife and I talk about options for the next chapter or the direction of the book. Ideas begin to form a pattern, and when I’m comfortable with the next story line, I get back to writing.
FQ: Readers find out early on in the story that Rusty is living in a cramped apartment, which he feels is hindering his ability to write. Where do you find is the best place to write that will get your creative juices flowing?
THYE: I have two offices, or dens, that I use. In Sunriver, Oregon, I have two windows with lots of sunlight. In Ruston, Washington, no windows at all. Neither is preferable to me. My “creative juices” come from all over: reading a story in the newspapers, seeing an incident walking down the street, talking to my wife in the car about things we see, encountering an interesting person, etc. I get excited about the next chapter and get fully absorbed in the storyline.
FQ: As the story progresses, Rusty believes he has a dark cloud hanging over him, which is causing bad things to happen around him. Do you believe that people can have good and bad karma?
THYE: I do, and it is normally self-imposed. In Rusty’s case, he anticipates the next misadventure, and so it happens. Towards the end of the book, he finds work he enjoys and the love of his life, and things begin to turn around. He realizes that positive thoughts—and actions—can lead to positive outcomes.
FQ: I noticed on your website that you wrote two books about your own travel adventures. Do you enjoy writing fiction or nonfiction better?
THYE: The two adventure, travel books were about two motorcycle trips I made to South America, fifty years apart. These books almost wrote themselves, and I merely penned the narrative. The book(s) follow the sequences as they were encountered, and there is no embellishment to the story. Fiction is more fun in that I can use my imagination and go anywhere with the story. There is more creative freedom to be had. I do, however, enjoy writing both.
FQ: Are any of Rusty’s misadventures based on your personal experiences?
THYE: All of the misadventures actually happened; the two exceptions are Boomer and Chester. I did take some liberties, however, with the scope of the incidents.
FQ: Have you ever faced any challenges as a writer?
THYE: Being an author is a third career for me (twenty years in the wholesale grocery business and twenty-five years in the retail motorcycle business), so I was late to the party as an author. The transition in careers always provides new learning experiences, and it certainly has this time. Lots of challenges, such as: What makes an interesting book to the reader? How do you get it published? Once published, how do you market it? Etc. This is all new territory and takes a while to explore.
FQ: At the end of this novel, you include an author’s note in which you state, “...an interesting life makes a good book.” What other qualities do you think an author should possess in order for them to be able to write a good book?
THYE: Certainly patience as well as imagination. Write about what you know. And write about observations of life: characters, crime, love, incidents, as you encounter and experience them. Don’t let anything pass by. Soak in all that’s around you and become enthralled by it all. The world has ample opportunity for inspiration, as long as you keep your eyes and ears open.
FQ: Without giving away any spoilers, can you give readers a glimpse at what they can expect from the next installment of the Rusty Kenneficke trilogy?
THYE: Rusty gets his life together—he finds a job he enjoys and reconnects with the love of his life. His new positive outlook stabilizes his future. But he encounters new challenges that are much more serious than anything he has experienced before. He has more to tackle, and life doesn’t let up, which makes his misadventures fun to be a part of, stepping alongside him—a bit wobbly, of course.