Interview with debut novelist Kalen Cap

I’m happy to introduce another debut novelist. Today’s guest, Kalen Cap, is here to talk about his novel Tangled Ties to a Manatee and how his interest in the environment makes its way into his writing.

Kalen
will award a $25 Green Gift Card from http://green.icardgiftcard.com/ —
redeemable for gift cards from hundreds of your favorite merchants to one randomly
drawn commenter during his virtual book tour. If you’d like to be entered, please leave your e-mail address along with your comment below. You can also visit other tour stops and leave a comment to increase your odds of winning.
Bio:
Kalen Cap is a writer living in
Columbus, Ohio. Active in environmental and other causes, he often brings such
concerns into his fiction writing. Tangled
Ties to a Manatee

is his debut novel.
Welcome, Kalen. Please
tell us about your current release.
Tangled
Ties to a Manatee
is a humorous crime thriller with environmental
themes. It is a great story with interesting characters. The storyline’s threads progress and
interweave to a denouement connecting all involved.
The following is the novel’s description:
A pregnant manatee is rare at any zoo, and a
first for the Grove City Zoo in Ohio. Ankh is a delight to zoo patrons, a
concern to its staff, and the unintentional victim of two con men. She has no
idea how many human relationships, problems, and dreams tangle around her.

Jerry is a young developmentally disabled man
who happily follows Ankh’s pregnancy on the zoo’s webcam. He has a shy crush on
Janelle, a pretty college student who volunteers for his group home’s outings
to the zoo.

Jerry’s Aunt Vera also loves nature and runs an
environmental retreat center. But all is not well, with Vera or the center. The
center needs money and is under investigation as a cult.

Amid their college studies, Janelle and her
friend Cecily try to help. Instead, Janelle re-awakens an old obsession in Vera
when an innocent tarot reading hints at how the center might be saved.

Two bumbling con men are attempting to sabotage
the region’s electrical grid as part of a lucrative scheme. But, Jerry
accidentally gets in their way and becomes their captive.

When the con men surprisingly succeed in
bringing the grid down, it spells danger for Ankh, her unborn pup, and the many
people tied to them both. With investigations of their own, Cecily and Janelle
try to untangle it all to find Jerry, save a manatee’s life, and rescue Vera
from herself.

Excerpt: Stan
“What we gonna do with him?” Craig asked.
Stan held the door open, motioning for Craig
to carry their intruder inside. I’m glad
we’re at this site.
Another retired hub station was a few miles
away. That station’s maintenance was scheduled for Monday and Thursday, and
Stan originally planned to use that location. But, with the forecasted weather,
the current station, with its maintenance on Wednesday and Friday, was proving
the better choice. Particularly now, since it had a second building where they
could stow their intruder. The retired grid hub station was used for remote
relayed processing, so there wouldn’t likely be any surprise visits by the
electric company before Wednesday. Stan figured they’d be long gone by then.
Craig took the load inside and turned back to
Stan.
“We’ll put him in the basement,” Stan said.
“There’s a basement?”
“No, I’m going to dig one while you hold him.
Of course, there’s a basement.” Stan flipped the light switch and led the way
down the steps inside. The basement had a storage area and what had been a
break room, complete with a cot, and adjoining bathroom. Craig followed him
into the break room, and Stan motioned to the cot. Craig let the guy fall there
with a thump.
“Easy! Let’s get the sack off him,” Stan
said. The two men pulled the burlap off their surprise guest. They both leaned
over, peering at him.
“I know him,“ Craig said.
“You think you know everybody.”
“No, really. Can’t remember where I saw him,
though.”
Stan handed his partner a couple lengths of
cord. Craig set the intruder upright and proceeded to bind his hands and feet.
What
inspired you to write this book?
I’m inspired creatively by many things,
particularly art, music, and people volunteering to do extraordinary things to
help others. Particular circumstances also inspired me for this specific novel.
After getting a sense of audience response as a
local playwright, I wanted to explore some themes and storytelling methods more
in-depth. I was told I had a knack for group dialogue, and revealing a threaded
story with multiple points of view appealed to me. Dramatic events in real life
are likely to involve more than one person’s experience and I wanted to mirror
that in a story with entangled relationships.
I also had a good deal of personal experience with
nonprofits and college-aged folks. Generally, nonprofits are underrepresented
in fiction, but the environmental and animal protection movements are populated
largely via these nonprofits. Other than stories emphasizing partying or
romance, college-aged protagonists are also underrepresented in fiction. So, I
found an opportunity in combining these elements to provide something unique in
a novel.
I’ve found people like my light humor. So, when the
storyline for a humorous crime thriller came to me, I jumped into the story.
With developmentally disabled characters, another concern addressed by
nonprofits with limited fictional exploration, the storyline with two core
threads came together for the novel’s structure and I developed it from there.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
I’m writing another crime thriller with the working
title, “The Peace Cipher.”  While it also
emphasizes college-aged protagonists, it is rather different from Tangled Ties to a Manatee. The main
setting is in Ottawa County, Ohio, and includes a fictional Sandusky Bay
Community College. Artifacts are stolen from a museum exhibit, and the
protagonists find themselves in the midst of competing parties vying for them.
When did
you first consider yourself a writer?
While I had a few things published before then, I
truly felt like a writer when I had plays produced. I could hear and see the
audience’s response to the work more than I had in previous publications of
mine. So, the audience response is really what clinched it for me.
Do you
write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like?  If not, what do you do other than write and
how do you find time to write?
No, my full time job is in retail. While writing
the novel, I often had two part-time jobs simultaneously. Like many, I fit the
writing in around my work schedule. I do tend to have time off the hourly job
while others are working. That limits distractions so it is easier to focus on
the writing. Also, being part of a local writer’s group that meets regularly
helps me maintain that accountability for keeping at it.
What
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know how unusual it is, but I find when I’m
writing fiction, I tend to read more nonfiction. When I’m writing nonfiction,
as I do with newsletter articles for nonprofits, I tend to read more fiction.
As a
child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A game show host. Winners seemed happy and excited
to be on game shows – much different than how busy adults appeared in everyday
life. Thankfully, I outgrew that notion.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
Hope everyone enjoys the novel. Twitter, Facebook, Google+,
and Goodreads are currently the best social networking sites to connect with me
about Tangled Ties to a Manatee and
my other writing.

Thanks, Kalen. Readers, don’t forget about the gift certificate giveaway – leave a comment here and at other blog stops to be entered to win!

9 thoughts on “Interview with debut novelist Kalen Cap

  1. Unknown says:

    Thank you for the interview and hosting today.

    I'm hoping readers might share what sort of things they find underrepresented in fiction they read as well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love the former game show host aspiration…I'd read a book about one, for sure!

    eai(at)stanfordalumni(dot)org

  3. Unknown says:

    Thanks Anonymous. The perceptions kids have about jobs is a little naive. But, aspirations of our younger selves definitely can give some good material for writing.

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