Kergan Edwards-Stout’s latest release, Songs for the New Depression is available now! Kergan graciously took the time to answer some questions about finding the time to write while working full-time, juggling a family, and keeping his creativity flowing.
What are three words which describe your writing?
Passionate. Compassionate. Creative.
Where did the inspiration for your latest release, Songs for the New Depression, come from?
I came of age during the AIDS crisis, and lost friends and a partner, Shane Sawick, to the disease. In the novel, I wanted to find a way to capture that era, and all of the raw sexiness, laughter, fear, and anguish that my friends and I experienced.
What was the hardest part of writing Songs for the New Depression?
Simply finding the time to write! My partner and I have two kids, so in addition to raising them and having a fulltime job, just carving out space for myself has been the most difficult part. But after the writing comes the promotion, which is equally as difficult!
Is there a message behind Songs for the New Depression, and if so, what is it?
Gabriel, the lead, is facing death, and realizes that he hasn’t led his life the way he wanted. He’s dying, with too many unresolved issues before him. Unfortunately for Gabe, that realization comes too late, but my hope is that others who read the story will think, “Wow, I don’t want to end up like that,” and seize each moment, living more authentically.
What have you learned about yourself as a writer by writing Songs for the New Depression?
I think the most surprising thing is that I am, indeed, a writer. When I was younger, I directed a lot of stage plays by an amazing playwright, Michael Sargent. He had this anger and succinctness to his dialogue, and I thought–wow–I could never write like that. So, for me, the most interesting part of this has been in realizing that I do have a specific voice and tales to tell. Part of that, though, came only with age and experience.
You mentioned Songs for a New Depression’s lead character, Gabriel, is loosely based on your partner Shane, who passed in 1995. Did any surprises or unexpected insights emerge about your relationship as the story developed?
What was interesting for me, and continues to be, is how fundamental Shane has been to my development as a person. Were it not for loving and being caregiver to him, I wouldn’t be who I am today–it’s as simple as that. And yet, even as long as he’s been gone, there are moments when I think, “Shane would’ve loved that” or “Thank you, Shane.” It’s amazing how he continues to inspire me.
When you first started writing Songs for a New Depression were you prepared for what you were undertaking? Was there ever a moment when you thought you wouldn’t be able to finish?
There were many times I thought that I’d never finish. I started writing it many years ago, and from start to finish, that was over 12 years. But I knew, whether it ended up being published or not, that it was a tale I needed to tell. And I’m glad it is resonating with so many. I was stunned when it won the Next Generation Indie Book Award, but grateful, nonetheless.
What are you reading right now?
I have a stack of novels, mainly written by Twitter friends, which I’m going through at present. Recently I’ve enjoyed Missing by Drake Braxton and Shirts and Skins by Jeffrey Luscombe.
Three writers or poets that have influenced your writing:
Armistead Maupin, for his deceptively-simple way of storytelling. Maeve Binchy, for how quickly she makes you care about her characters. And Michael Cunningham, for just about everything else.
How do you feed your inspiration and keep your creative muse happy?
The only way I can feed my muse is through life experiences. I wouldn’t have been a good writer at 25. For me, my road has given me inspiration, and that continues to fuel me.
What does being brave mean to you?
I think anyone who lives an honest, open, and authentic life is brave, simple as that.
Where can my readers find you and your work online?
I blog regularly at Kergan Edwards-Stout and on Huffington Post, and am on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Songs for the New Depression is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and great indie bookstores everywhere. I look forward to connecting with readers, and thank you for the opportunity, Xavier!