Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Interview with Bob Kuykendall

Hey, everyone. Happy Fat Tuesday, if you're celebrating it. Speaking of celebrating, let's indulge in a new interview. Shall we? We shall! Today we're talking with writer Bob Kuykendall.

Hi, Bob! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a full time federal agent, a Special Agent with the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations. I have been a federal agent for sixteen years, having also worked for the United States Postal Inspection Service and (in a support position) for the FBI. I am a dad to two, Maddy and Cade. (The lead character in my first book is Special Agent Maddison "Maddy" Cade.) I married my high school sweetheart and after eight moves, we are back "home" in Birmingham, Alabama. We've been married now for twenty years.

Wow, that's a pretty impressive bio! How long have you been writing?

I have early memories of writing stories back in 7th grade, when my teacher recognized I could tell a story, and in lieu of writing sentences, she made me write short essays. While others wrote "I will not talk in class" a hundred times, I wrote two page papers on "Why Bobby talks in class." Although I didn't continue writing much through high school or college, I never really forgot the way she enjoyed reading my little papers.

As an adult, for years on my job, I got fussed at for "writing books," as my bosses would say. I love giving colorful, descriptive stories, which sometimes clashes with drab, bullet form "cop" writing. My real "writing" began about five years ago when I started a book on effective communication strategies. I began writing this simply as a platform to speak. Speaking was/is my real passion, and perhaps my only God-given talent. I LOVE it.

I have to say, "Why Bobby Talks in Class" sounds like a great title for a book. Just putting that out there, lol. Tell us about THE ADDICT. What’s the story about and how did the idea of the story come to you?

I think there are many people who have a story to tell, it's just hard to sit down and start writing. I think people think about "writing a book," and picture the final product, some three or four hundred pages, and don't think they can get from point A to point B, so they never take that first step.

For me, I was already in a writing mode in my effort to write that book on communication strategies. I was speaking to church and social groups here and there, and stumbled across a few old friends who were struggling with drug addictions. My transition to writing this book is very complicated and probably could be better explained by a psychologist, but picture this:

I was "on stage," being introduced as a "successful" law enforcement agent and public speaker. I would give some presentation which was usually met with a nice response - even a few standing ovations here and there. Then afterwards, I would speak with individuals, some known and some unknown to me, who would talk about their past and their struggles. Many of them spoke about their faith in some higher power to help them through. As they spoke, seeking some sort of advice from the "successful" guy, it crossed my mind sometimes that I was way more screwed up than them. It slowly began weighing on me that as I stood before people with all sorts of issues, maybe I had the biggest one. I had become cynical beyond repair. Cynical about life, about religion, about God even. I can't understand why babies die, why dogs live for such a short time, why there are so many divisions of religion, why there are fifteen or so million dollar church buildings in my city and why mean people with crappy personalities seem to live forever while cancer and car crashes take some of the best people you know.

Last year, when attending a worship service and N/A meeting with a friend, a homeless man named Nasty (Probably a street name, or his momma really had issues.) asked if I was a user. I told him no, I was a cop. This didn't seem to phase him much and he asked a few follow up questions. I shared an abbreviated version of my cynicism and he said, "You can't worry 'bout no niggas telling you 'bout yo faith, man. Yo religion is 'tween you and God, man, and God is a cool mutha fucka." Nasty was right and I even liked the way he put it. It was ironic. He cursed God, but meant it in a very respectful way.

So Nasty didn't motivate the book, it was nearly finished at that time, but he inspired me to modify the book and add a final twist that makes the book what it is. I can't give that away, but lets say the book is now more than a crime fiction, but a book with a purpose. My hope is that readers are sucked into the story about crime and terrorism, and are pleasantly surprised when they find they've been duped into reading a book with a life-related message. To my surprise, the changes got the attention of church and social organizations, and I've been invited to more and more functions lately. Maybe the big Man has other plans for The Addict and is guiding things against my intentions?? I'm a work in progress.

That's some story in itself. Amazing! So, what's the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part about writing is the writing. I can't type or write as fast as my goofy brain works. If I had the money to hire someone to put my thoughts on paper, life would be great!

Or some invention that connects brain to computer, so the story is written instantaneously. Wouldn't that be great? Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing? 

Quad shot, no foam, non fat latte (just like Agent Cade drinks) before 9am and Diet Mt. Dew after 9am.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This is so strange. I'm now revisiting this question after answering all your others. I feel like a Genie has asked this, and I'm afraid to answer. I mean flying would be cool, but too show-offey, you know? Super strength would be nice, but you can only find so many cars on top of babies to rescue. Like, I'd probably under use that one. X-ray vision would probably end my marriage. I think I'm going to go with the seldom-used ability to communicate with animals. I could do a lot with that!

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: flabbergasted, tricycle, and handcuffs.

After looking up the word, "flabbergasted," Bob... just kidding.

Agent Cade was so flabbergasted by the suspect's actions, he reached for his handcuffs in lieu of his weapon, knowing he'd surely pistol whip or shoot his target. He handcuffed Jimmy to his shiny red tricycle after stripping him naked. The jeers and laughter would surely stick in the kid's head, and he'd never run over a neighborhood cat again.
(Yeah, that's two, I know. I need my editor!)

LOL, but well done. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My friends, those who live nearby and those from Facebook and Twitter, have been so patient and supportive. I mean, a guy with a book is usually a pain in the butt. Last week, after my mom asked for a copy of it, I stuck the Amazon URL on her refrigerator. I'm a pain, I tell you, talking about it and pimping it daily. My wife also has been so wonderfully supportive. From the "I'll be right there" moments, when an idea is slowly creeping from brain to laptop, to the constant phone calls and late night book signings. (That last part was fiction.) And finally, I want to thank you, Dorothy. This is a great and valuable service you provide. So many authors are out there dying to share their vision with possible readers. And you have your own books as well, but you take the time, through this forum, to help so many others. I appreciate (first typed "love" than thought it sounded stalkerish) you very much!

Awww, I'm blushing. Well, you're welcome, and I'm very glad to help out wherever I can.

Just a note: I'll gladly reply to e-mails re the book at bob@singlesourcespeaker.com
The book is available at Amazon "The Addict Closed Case Files of Special Agent Maddison Cade."
The book is also available at my website, SingleSourceSpeaker.com, but you know, trying to keep that Amazon ranking about 500,000 is tough. I need to make my momma proud.

And I'd like to invite first time authors, who have fiction or non-fiction books with a "life-related purpose," i.e., motivational, inspirational, or a serve to benefit others, to e-mail me regarding a new collaborative effort seeking to help authors who have decided to make their books available while searching for representation and/or publication. The company, First120 (first120.com), offers help authors (for free) get their first one hundred and twenty books sold! The group is hoping to be a future one-stop-shop for readers, agents and publishers to check out books waiting to be discovered. info@first120.com

Sounds great! Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and your book, Bob. It's been fun, and I wish you lots of success!


Unknown said...

Great interview and a great bio. Crime fiction with a purpose - love it!

Jacqueline Howett said...

Wonderful interview Bob- what an intersting life you have led!

author of The Greek Seaman novel, eBook


Libby said...

Great interview!

Lorraine said...

Where DO you find these people. You are so good at this. Great interview as usual.