Ken Stark and I bumped into each other on social media. He writes in horror which is way outside my purview.
Ken Stark doesn’t only write horror, but he mostly does. Why? Because when it comes to shining a light on the best and worst of mankind’s nature, nothing works better than a dark backdrop. If it happens to give a few people nightmares along the way, he’ll just take that as a bonus.
Ken lives in Vancouver, Canada, and when he isn’t writing, he can most often be found reading, painting, or dreaming of a beach house in Hawaii.
Tell us about yourself.
Thank you, Eileen. My name is Ken Stark, and I am a horror and dark fiction writer from Vancouver, Canada. I started making up stories as soon as I could hold a pen, so I’ve been at this for a long time. I mostly started stories I would never finish, but I finally wrote a complete novel in my teens and sent it around to the top New York publishers, assuming they would all line up to throw bundles of cash my way. Sadly I was wrong, and the rejection letters hit me hard. I still wrote after that, but it was always just for me. Flash forward a few decades, and I was ready to try again. This time, my manuscript was picked up by the first publisher I contacted, and I haven’t looked back since.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Honestly, right from the beginning. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting on my bed, scribbling in a notebook. Like I said, those stories rarely got finished, and none of them were any good, but the desire to create alternate realities was always there.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I read anything and everything. All that matters to me is the story. Even if I didn’t like a lot of different genres, I think it’s important for writers to explore outside their insular little worlds. There are a lot of writers out there doing a lot of amazing things, and you never know where you’ll find inspiration.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
My books are a little too graphic for young children, but I make no distinction between YA readers and adult readers. A few years doesn’t suddenly make a person wiser or more sophisticated. Young people know what they like, so if they’re okay with a little swearing and a few nightmares, then so am I. Arcadia Falls is the only novel I ever wrote with a younger reader in mind, so I kept the language clean, but that was the only concession I made. And really, that was for the younger readers’ parents more than the younger readers.
What is your current release or project?
My latest release is Stage 3: Bravo, the third book in my post-apocalyptic Stage 3 series.
Tell us about the key characters
Hank Mason was always a loner, so he was fully prepared to take on the apocalypse single-handedly until a young girl reminded him of what it meant to be human.
Mackenzie Cullen was only ten years old when the world turned upside down, but she adapted quickly. Smart, brave and fiercely loyal, she sees the world as it is, not as it used to be.
Sarah Cullen is technically Mackenzie’s aunt, but she raised the girl from infancy. Never one to back down from a fight or be the damsel in distress, she is Mason’s equal in every way. As a nurse, she dedicated her life to helping others, but she’ll stop at nothing to keep her little girl safe.
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
Hank Mason thought he had nothing left lose.
But then came Mackenzie. And then came Sarah. And then came the others.
Though these seven souls had somehow survived the first days of the epidemic, every minute in this new world comes at a price.
Thrown into a relentless battle against a population turned feral on one side and desperate men willing to do anything to stay alive on the other, the only question remaining was how much they were willing to pay to survive.
Now, those precious few are in a desperate race to save one more lost soul, and time is running out. The clock started ticking the moment they pulled into that forgotten little corner of a world gone mad, and every second brings them closer to death.
They’ll have to find a way out, or die trying.
Share an excerpt
No one dared utter so much as a whisper, but Mason had no need of words to know what they were all thinking. It was suicide. Sheer, unthinking suicide. They would all be dead as soon as they opened that door. Even if they somehow managed to pile through without the slightest breath of sound, they were dead as soon as their feet hit the pavement. If they somehow survived long enough to sneak a few steps into the swarm, they would be dead before they’d crossed a dozen feet. If by some miracle they weren’t torn to ribbons by then, they would never be so lucky as to make it all the way to the other loading bay nearly a hundred feet away. And even if they somehow accomplished that impossibility, they would then have to quickly and silently break through a door that was a carbon copy of this one. Metal, with a little square of reinforced glass.
It was ridiculous to even consider. Impossible, by anyone’s measure. Mason would be throwing his life away on a ridiculous venture destined to fail before it had even begun. And with it, he’d be throwing away everyone else’s life, too.
He checked his watch. It was 5:15. By 5:17, it would all be over. 5:17. Everyone he knew in the world would be dead by 5:17. He tried to come up with the day’s date as if knowing exactly when all of his friends were to die might give him some peace, but as much as he tried to calculate backwards, he simply couldn’t. Was it still July? Were they into August yet? What day of the week was it? Friday? Monday?
It was a wasted effort. In this new world, days and dates had no meaning. All they had was now. Still, one vestige of the old ways pervaded Mason’s thought.
God, I hope it’s not Monday…..I’d hate to die on a Monday…...
Addison fell back to let Sarah squeeze in beside Mason and have a look for herself. She said nothing, but her tightening grip on Mason’s arm spoke volumes. Then Becks poked her head between the two, and she did speak, but in a hush low enough to have been a mere whisper on the breeze.
“You can’t,” she pleaded with both of them, “There has to be another way.”
“There isn’t,” Sarah hushed back, and with one last gentle squeeze of Mason’s arm, her fingers trailed down to his hand, their fingertips kissed, and she stepped away to leave him and Becks alone for the last moments they were likely to have.
And yet, Mason didn’t say a word to Becks. In his mind, he didn’t have to. Whatever he’d needed to say had been said, and for perhaps the first time in his life, he was at peace with himself. He reached out and found Becks’ hand waiting for his, but it didn’t linger there. That last connection made and his heart at ease, Mason released her hand and gave the signal. Then he slowly and gently slid back the deadbolt.
Do you have a favorite scene?
There’s a scene on the rooftop that I absolutely love. No spoilers, but one member of the group is preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and it shows not only the sheer horror of this new world, but how far they’ve all come. It was a very emotional scene to write, and I think it came out beautifully.
What advice would you give a beginner?
I always give new writers the same advice. Just write. It doesn’t matter what, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, and it doesn’t matter if it’s any good at all. The only way to get better at anything is by doing it over and over and over again, so if you want to be a writer, write! Trust me when I say that the words you write today will always be your worst. Every sentence you write from that moment on will only make you better, so forget about trying to create a masterpiece and just write!
Thanks for letting me stop by, Eileen. This was fun!
I’m so glad you did! I enjoyed reading your tidbits and learning more about your writing style!
Please provide the following:
Social media links:
Author’s Website: https://www.kenstark.ca
Blog link: https://www.kenstark.ca/starkreality
Purchasing links: https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Stark/e/B01D911QC2