Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Interview: Ken Moraff

Today Ken Moraff joins the Amazon Award crew and gives me an awesome favorite quote you won't want to miss!

GC: Tell me about your novel and how you began writing it!

KM: This book started out as a humorous short story, about an idealistic baseball team barnstorming the Midwest during the 1930s, raising money for soup kitchens and orphanages and trying to save the country from the Great Depression. 

Eventually, I realized it was meant to be a novel – and once the narrator started talking, it turned out there was a love story, and that along with the idealism and humor there was also melancholy and regret.  I wrote most of the book while riding the Red Line to work in Boston.

GC: When did you hear about Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest? Were you set on entering right away?

KM: I heard about the Amazon contest from a friend. It seemed like a great way to get the manuscript read.  One of the nice things about the contest is that you get feedback from anonymous reviewers, which can be helpful, or painful, or both.

GC: What was the waiting process like? Do you consider that you were calm, cool and collected, or were you biting off your nails like the rest of us mere mortals?

KM: The waiting process drove me crazy.  There are four rounds of cuts to go from 10,000 manuscripts to five published books, and each time the list came out, I expected my name to disappear.  But it didn’t!

GC: When did you hear you were a finalist? What was that moment like?

KM: My phone rang when I stepped out of an elevator after a meeting at work.  I’d been waiting all day to see “Amazon” or “Seattle” on the caller ID, and I was very disappointed to see “Washington” instead.

But then, it hit me – Seattle is in Washington!  

 (What can I say, I’m an Easterner.)  

And the voice on the other end said…“This is Libby from Amazon Publishing.  Are you sitting down?”
It took me three weeks to feel sure that it was real.

GC: Have you had the chance to read your fellow winner's work? What do you think of their novels?

KM: We only get to read excerpts of each others’ books – but I like what I’ve read so far.  There are so many talented writers in the Amazon contest.  Some of my favorite excerpts got knocked out in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds – I’m hoping they’ll advance farther next year.

GC: Would you care to share your favorite quote from your winning title?

KM: “Men stood in line at the Salvation Army, hands out for mugs of watery soup when all they wanted was to work, to weld iron or lay cement or pound shingles into houses. But people far away had made decisions, people who waved their hands and closed factories, who sipped champagne in their corner offices while their bank took away your house, who chortled over the Wall Street Journal in their limousines, and when they swerved off the road they dragged the rest of the country with them.”

GC: What's next for you?

KM: I’ve finished a first draft of another book, and will work on a second draft over the summer.  I’m also finishing up a couple of short stories.  

There are a lot of things to write about…

GC: Agreed, Ken, agreed!

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