Featured Interview With Brian Keller
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born in the Upper Midwestern US. I was an only child which, on a farm in the 70’s, simply meant that I had no siblings with whom to share the chores. During those formative years I learned the value of a strong work ethic, for which I will always be grateful.
Now, I am a blissfully happily married, retired soldier. My wife is a very patient, understanding woman (she has to be). She makes me want to be better than I am, but she loves me for the man I am.
We now live on 70 acres in NE Arkansas. I promised that after 20 years of globe-hopping and a multitude of overseas deployments, I’d bring her somewhere closer to family, and slow our lives down. We truly feel we are reaping the rewards of a demanding life.
We now look after dozens of chicken, a few pigs and an uprooted town cat named Jasper. Within the next couple of years we’ll be adding a few cattle and goats, but don’t tell the deer. They think the pasture will always remain un-fenced.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
As soon as I learned to read, it was more often than not that I could be found with my head over an open book. I was an active “outside kid”, but also learned that books could take me places I might never otherwise see. Through my teens I fiddled around with some short stories and even a few poems, but these are better left unread (if they were even kept at all). It wasn’t until last year that *someone* tossed down the proverbial gauntlet, inspiring me to write. So whether or not you enjoy what I’ve written, you have my wife to thank for that.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Throughout my life I’ve read so many books it’s sometimes difficult to name favorites, but certainly there are those that stand out above all others. Alexandre Dumas would be at the top. The Count of Monte Cristo is a timeless classic that has resonated for me throughout my life. No library of mine could ever be complete without a copy somewhere on the shelves. I feel almost as strongly about Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Near the other end of the spectrum, few talespinners are as entertaining as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). There are so many others, it would be an insurmountable task to name them all.
As much as I enjoy reading, it was my wife who finally inspired me to write. As a soldier, working outside during a cold, wet winter day is ‘just another day’. Now as a retired individual, I tend to look at those conditions differently. Last year, when the weather turned unpleasant, I assumed a once-familiar pose above an opened book. This time, however, I wasn’t swept away by the words. Instead I felt like I was being pulled (against my will) up and down a predictable series of meticulously planned peaks and troughs. It felt like the same experience no matter which book I opened. I voiced my frustrated thoughts to my wife who simply replied, in exasperation after hearing the same comment for the 6th time (Ok, maybe it was the 20th), “If that’s the case then why don’t you write something yourself?” I remember thinking that was a fine way to say, “Put up or shut up” but wisely kept *that* observation to myself. Still, the notion stuck with me and I began to form a tale. But first I needed to carefully craft the center point of the plot, and then there was the matter of building an entire world around it.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
The reward from these imaginings is the beginnings of The Kinsman series. It is a Low Fantasy, dark protagonist story that follows the life of Cooper, an orphaned boy. In the series, Cooper learns the skills needed to become an accomplished Assassin, and despite his best efforts his friends and mentors also (unintentionally) teach him what it means to be human. What begins as a tale of revenge, grows into a life-long pursuit for excellence. Magic does exist, but while it isn’t a focal point it does provide some unique sub-plots that add some incredible depth. There’s no “Hero saving the world” and “Mankind’s fate (never) hangs in the balance”, yet I believe the world and the characters will draw you in and make you feel included, rather than merely pulling you along as an observer, as their experiences unfold.
The inspiration for the book started months before I ever sat down to write, but when things finally coalesced and I began sketching things out, it all resulted in a story that (I hope) encourages the reader to suspend their disbelief as it carries them into a world that feels familiar, yet completely new. Once I began writing, I threw myself into the task with almost single-minded fervor. Cooper had my almost-undivided attention. He revealed his tale quickly and it took only 5 months to write, edit, contract for a cover design, re-edit, proofread, send to beta readers, receive feedback, re-edit (again), and publish. Once published, I breathed a sigh of relief. It isn’t easy to be a stenographer and editor for a precocious 9 year old assassin-in-training; though if you get the opportunity to try it, I heartily recommend it. While it is a book series *about* kids, I wouldn’t say they’re books *for* kids. There’s no sexual content, but there are certainly other situations that might a bit dark, but then again what would one expect from a book about Assassins and revenge?
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