About the interviews:
When I published my first book, I looked for ways to reach new readers, and being a brand new author, participating in various book bloggers interviews was a good way to start. Some interviews were standard questions, while others had more individuality built into them.
I then did a twist on the author interview by interviewing myself (Leon Interviews Himself). I then thought it would be fun to get to know some of the authors I was cross-promoting with, and the Friday Conversations were born. Guess what? They are a lot of work. I look up the authors information, visit the website so I can craft a unique set of questions (OK, there are a few standard ones) to let my readership get to know these new authors. Worth the work? You bet. Here is today’s conversation:
Kyle A. Massa is a fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include two books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.
In Conversation With: Kyle A. Massa
Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author Kyle A. Massa. Thanks for dropping by. Can I offer you anything to drink?
Thank you, Leon! Coffee with some sort of sugary flavoring, please.
I have sugar . . .
I’m glad I get to talk to another author of short stories. Is it a lost art or is there a resurgence in the popularity?
That’s a great question. With the rise of social media, bite-sized articles, and shortening attention spans, some authors predicted a corresponding surge in interest for short fiction. The theory clicks logically, since shorts require far less time investment than novels.
Yet we haven’t seen this play out. Novels remain the dominant medium of prose storytelling, while short stories are still, in the words of J.G. Ballard, the “loose change in the treasury of fiction.” It’s difficult to pinpoint why our reading habits contradict our technological conditioning. My personal theory: Readers are more patient than the average person; we celebrate lengthy tales rather than avoid them. Or, in other words, readers are weird.
All that said, the short story is certainly not a lost art. All sorts of influential contemporary writers focus almost exclusively on shorts, including Kelly Link and George Saunders. Plus, big publishing entities still recognize the importance of short fiction (see HMH Books adding a Best American Sci-Fi/Fantasy series in 2015, or Amazon’s recent launch of Kindle Vella, which breaks long-form stories into serialized shorts).
All in all, short fiction is like cult classic movies: Both have small but dedicated fanbases.
…Sorry, that was a long answer.
Long answer to a short story question. Although, who has loose change anymore, right? Did you know that we have the same website theme?
Ha, yes, I did notice that! I’m surprised there aren’t more of us.
It was second theme I have used. I think it is cleaner than some of the options.
In one of your stories, you base a character on Kilgore Trout. Is Vonnegut an author you are influenced by?
Definitely! I love how Vonnegut uses humor and absurdism to address our biggest problems, such as war, intolerance, and eventual apocalypse. Plus, you’ve got to give props to a guy who ends his greatest novel with the words “Poo-tee-weet?”
I totally agree.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
In second grade. An author visited our classroom and led a creative writing workshop, challenging us to write a story based on a photo. Mine’s too embarrassing to mention, but the experience of creation never let me go.
You know I have to ask about it now…
Oh, alright. Something about a kid fleeing a bathroom because he found a portal to another dimension inside. Ya gotta start somewhere.
Not to far-fetched. Toilet training can be traumatic for some—it might feel like another dimension in there. What was the first book you published?
A weird little novel called Gerald Barkley Rocks. It’s part mystery, part contemporary fantasy, and part rock-and-roll elegy. Plus, it features lots of cats.
Were you an avid reader when you were younger?
Oddly, no. I was much more interested in movies and video games. I really didn’t become a reader until I attended Ithaca College, where I discovered writers like Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, and some guy named William Shakespeare. Plus, we had an outstanding bookstore about 10 minutes down the road. Shoutout Buffalo Street Books!
Do you have a favorite book?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It’s challenging, thoughtful, complex, funny, and utterly brilliant.
I have tried to get into Gaiman’s works. I haven’t read that one yet. It may be my final attempt.
Great to hear! It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll be enchanted.
In your author blurb, you mention running. What’s the longest distance you have done and are you concerned with time or the experience?
Hmm, not too far…maybe five miles? I definitely run more for the experience than for time. I love cranking up the volume on my favorite songs, then pounding the pavement. It’s a freeing experience.
How has the past year affected your writing?
In hindsight, it was harder on my writing than I realized. Around November 2019, I planned a novel that would follow five characters in three different years: 2000, 2010, and 2020. However, March 2020 brought the pandemic, which quickly dumpstered my enthusiasm for any writing about the year. So that book stalled.
I waffled between several replacement projects until I finally settled on Eggs for the Ageless, a trunk novel I hadn’t touched since 2014. Fortunately, I’ve been feeling much better about my writing of late, and Eggs will hatch in mid-2022, along with a bunch of other stuff.
Are you a music lover, and if so, care to share some of your favorites?
For sure! I’m a big fan of classic rock, particularly The Who, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, and The Doors. I used to despise modern music, but I’m getting less crotchety about that. Wolf Alice is my current favorite.
I have heard some Wolf Alice.
Do you have a favorite meal or snack to eat that other people just think is weird?
Taco Bell. I have an irrational affection for that place.
I think you should try Maui Taco—if there is still one in Manhattan. There was only one more in the mainland US—at the Minneapolis airport.
Dang, Google tells me there are none left on the mainland. But if I ever make it out to Hawaii, I’ll buy a taco and cheerily announce, “This one’s for Leon.”
That’s sad news. I always looked forward to the mad dash between flights. Are you ready for the lightning round?
Let’s do it!
Public or active transportation?
Active (though I’ll have to walk, because I learned to ride a bike relatively recently—I know, it’s sad)
At what depth does snow become annoying?
When the White Walkers start showing up
Last binged show?
The Big Apple, of course!
Do you carry a wallet?
Hardest tongue twister?
The Peter Piper one
This has been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting. Any links you want to share
Likewise. Thanks so much, Leon! For those who’d like to learn more about my writing, you can find all my work at www.kyleamassa.com. Enjoy the feeling of deja vu from the theme!
New BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos
The story behind Free Book Friday:
I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?
Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.
Author Offering Free Books
Kinda Like Free: KU Titles
Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.
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