Where Honesty Never Ends.
Interview conducted by “Mr. Controversy”
Kevin Provance is one of the VERY FEW people who exemplify the term “overactive imagineer” with his style of writing that can capture his readers instantaneously. With many intriguing and deep story lines floating and running through his highly energized mind, Mr. Provance takes a few minutes from his Think Tank to speak with us about how his mind works.
1. Seeing that you have been writing since middle school, your writing certainly reflects a unique imagination! How do you know what is writable?
I don’t. I’ve never taken any courses on writing. I don’t even fancy myself that good a writer. I get these wild ideas that I think would make a good story, no matter how controversial and think out what might make a good beginning and ending. Then I’ll start writing. Everything in between seems to write itself. That’s when I know I have something writable. If the story doesn’t write itself, then I wouldn’t qualify it as writable.
2. A Controversial write is ALWAYS a favorite of mine! Your attention to detail is stunning! How did you get so creative?
Really? I’ve always believed my descriptive writing was my Achilles Heel. I have to work at it, especially during the many, many edits one of my stories goes through. I see this movie inside my head then I try to put to paper and often stop to tell what might be heard, and smelt or consider the subtext in the dialog. Unlike most writers in Hollywood, I don’t (or won’t) write crap for money. I write for me. If I’m not happy with it, then it’s not good enough for anyone else.
I don’t know how I got so creative. I was born that way? Hell, I don’t know. I’m a Scorpio, if you buy into that sort of thing. We’re artistic. I taught myself piano as a child, how to draw cartoons, write music, sing, etc. It’s just who I am.
3. I personally subscribe to the notion that one’s talent being linked to the Zodiac. When you write, do you take notes, go with your gut, both, or other?
For the most part, I let the story write itself. If I have to force it, then it’s no good. The next novel I hope to release next year – if I get the time to edit – is a murder mystery. It required a few pages of back-story and a detailed list of clues requiring specific placement throughout the story. Another book (epic, really) required some timeline type graphs, as time travel is involved. Maintaining that continuity was a real challenge.
4. Absolutely Brilliant, and we cannot wait to read what you have coming! Have you ever had any of your writing published?
Sadly, no. I gave it a shot in the mid-nineties with a manuscript that needed editing, badly, and without an agent. I didn’t know then about ‘slush piles’ then, or how to properly edit.
Then the Internet changed everything. I published some works on my web site until the whole eBook thing began. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be published and write full time. However, that requires independent wealth for services such as editing, marketing, etc. I’m not quite there yet. I’m hoping to tempt an agent with Prisoner (of the Game), or my next novel, Scarecrow.
You see, computer programmers and PC techs are sorely underpaid (and under appreciated).
5. I see, and I understand. To the best of your knowledge, how many writings (short stories, novels, etc.) have you written?
Since I first picked up a pencil? I lost count a long time ago. I still have a box full of my middle school/high school hand written stuff, most of which is really bad and highly unbelievable, even with an open mind (the whole thing about the Earth existing as an egg for a much larger species, which hatches prematurely when we attempt to drill into the mantle didn’t quite catch on).
Most of the stories I’ve written since college revolve around a mythology, a very deep and rich mythology about the origin of our species (in which I attempt to explain every question man has ever asked about where we came from and why we’re here). It began as three short stories, setting up the premise of that mythology and the three lead characters who meet at the end to begin their long work fighting an enemy they never see. Time travel is involved, and I spent years coming up with the science to explain it, even with some imagination stretching. It’s funny how writing works. Those three stories ended up becoming the back-story for the novel I just finished. Well, the principle writing anyway.
6. It is clear to me that your mind works in ways that fascinates me, and has me desiring to dive even deeper! How important is it to you to have extra eyes on your work?
VERY! It’s finding those eyes that sometimes present a problem. Most people I know have lives and can’t often devote the time needed to look for mistakes. Plus, I’ve discovered friends aren’t always honest. Some have been, but mostly, no. I’ve tried writing groups on the Internet. Most (and I won’t mention names) are very cliquish and believe their writing is the best, and the ‘noobs’ are peasants. Egos, you know? As I stated earlier, I write for me. I don’t have time for Internet drama.
7. I know the feeling, and have seen the same. Have you ever felt discouraged at times when certain items that you have written do not pan out as you have planned?
Every time I begin a story that doesn’t write itself. It’s very frustrating. Some of those ideas I believed (and still do) were killer!
For example: Set in 1993 (before the Internet), a man who wants to quit smoking has not been able to. Nothing works. He’s a celebrity in the music industry, so he constantly hears negative things about himself because he smokes. While on tour, he stops at a local bar, nothing special about it, and asks to borrow some matches. The proprietor gives him a box of match packs with an unidentifiable symbol on the covers and guarantees him that by the time he’s used every pack of matches in that box, he will have quit the cigarettes. It’s a fairly big box and thinks nothing of it. The box ends up on the tour bus, and there is stays for years. As the matches begin to deplete, our protagonist finds himself getting more tired, more winded, and eventually becomes sick. He’s worried it’s cancer. It isn’t. His doctor has no clue what is going on. Eventually our pro realizes the more matches he uses, the sicker he gets, but after all the years, doesn’t remember the bartender’s promise. He switches to lighters on the tour bus and eventually begins to feel better. He throws the box of matches away while on the road. Times goes by and his health returns to normal, until after the tour, when he takes a turn for the worse. His health degenerates quickly, to the point where he is dead ridden, and dying. One night one of his band mates comes to visit and our pro realizes he is carrying a pack of the matches with the symbols. He begins to put two and two together. With each match used, the sicker he gets. So what happens when the matches run out? The remaining match book covers were dumped someplace on the other side of the country, so he must assume the pack his band mate has is the last. He takes that last pack, with maybe ten or less matches remaining and locks it in his safe. His health isn’t returning, and the smoking seems to make it worse. He knows he must quit. But can he? Will he? And what of the remaining match book. With the help of his disbelieving wife, he goes to visit the bar (and the bartender) where he acquired the matches. The bartender he describes has never worked there. But our protagonist has seen the mysterious symbol before, and not on the matchbooks. Can he solve his own death shadowed puzzle before it’s too late?
Believe it or not, I couldn’t make that plot work. The only thing I have left of it is the first few chapters in a file format used by an old Brother typewriter. I thought it was a killer tale, and yet, it doesn’t happen on its own. See how that sucks?
There were also several scenes in Act II of Prisoner of the Game I had to cut as they did not further the overall story or subplot. They were great scenes too.
8. I am blown away by your writing talent! I wish (and I am sure that many others do as well) that you were able to make that work! Do you have any other items in your Think Tank?
My next book, or the next one I am releasing is Scarecrow, a murder mystery set in my home town of Westminster, MD, specifically at Western Maryland College (as it was in 1995). A well respected professor is found stabbed to death underneath the stadium bleachers with a brand of a crow with its wings spread on his forehead, and a blank business card that reads “Ring Me A Porter’. The student of the school newspaper are all over it, beginning their own ad-hock investigation that soon collides with that of the State Police (specifically the Ian Perri and Norman Miller characters from Prisoner of the Game). During this time, the killings continue, earning the dreaded ‘serial killer’ status. Who will solve the riddle of the crow and the cards that point to the next victim? The killer taunts the police and the college newspaper staff. The investigation and clues leads to some ugly racial history at the college 25 years prior, and a man by the name of John Meyers who disappeared off the face of the Earth. The sleepy town of Westminster, Maryland becomes a ghost town. People no longer walk the streets at night. A blanket of fear known as Scarecrow covers those who stay. Can the psychotic killer be stopped before he finishes his cycle?
The 356,000+ word epic that follows will be the first in a three book series known as “Displaced” The first, The Exchange begins when a man on the edge of suffering a psychotic snap discovers a quarter stamped with the year 2025. The evil he planned to do is put on hold while he chases the authenticity and origin of the coin. But sooner than he likes, the answers find him, and not in a good way. He begins a journey that takes him to places he never thought he would go, or could go. He learns the truth about humanity, and the facade the rest of the planet lives under which changes his life, and maybe not so much for the better as he’d hoped. The quarter was no accident. It’s been following him his entire life. It’s his version of the ‘one ring’ as there is a very dark and powerful enemy that wants it too. If they get the quarter, it could mean the end of humanity. Every lead the quarter takes him and the team of men assigned to protect him all lead to one fateful day in June of 1991, the day of The Exchange.
9. Amazing and Mind Blowing!! How can people find you and your incredibly detailed work?
10. Best of luck to you on your website and all that you are doing! What Pearls of Wisdom do you have for those who are looking to publish?
As I’ve never been traditionally published, not much, unfortunately. However, I can share this one particular pearl that I’ve made my ‘mission statement’ when it comes to writing. One of my high school English teachers (who took an interest in my stories and edited them on his own time) once gave me a bit of advice I’ve always remembered and kept in mind: The only bits of a story people tend to remember most are the beginning and the ending. Those must be as close to perfect as possible. A writer can cruise through the middle of a story with pretty much anything, but all folks will truly remember and discuss is how the story began and how it ended. He said, if you want to be a truly successful writer, if measuring success in terms of quality and not monetary, hook them in at the beginning and give them a satisfying ending. If readers will find one theme among my work, it would be an attention grabbing beginning and a jaw dropping ending.
Citing how much is on his plate, and is at the ready to devour each and every tasty project, Kevin Provance is a young man for whom you want to watch. I have had the pleasure of reading “Prisoner of the Game”, and I can PERSONALLY testify that Mr. Kevin Provance IS The Real Deal!
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