Author Spotlight with Lloyd Kaneko
K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
Lloyd My full name at birth is Ryoji Lloyd Kaneko, but I just go by Lloyd. I was born on the east side of Los Angeles and grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles County in a city called Monterey Park. As I was growing up, my parents always encouraged me to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer, or and engineer. I was poor in mathematics and science, but loved creative writing. I became a writer instead.
I first started writing screenplays and did a little work in journalism writing for some trade newspapers and magazines. That didn’t last too long. So when I entered into the workforce, I used my writing skills in the technical areas for computer systems, training, human resources, and management development.
When I was laid off and out of work for four consecutive years, I was eventually put on permanent disability, retired and freed to devote my time to creative writing. Dusted off my old screenplay which got a little stale collecting dust and turned it into a science fiction novel called Kami Jin. After Kami Jin was published, I finished the screenplay adaptation to the book.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
Lloyd They say “practice makes perfect.” I guess so. I practiced perfectly bad writing habits and was notorious for using the “same words in the same sentence.” Editors always wrote this funny code in my manuscripts that read: “SWSS.” I thought that was some kind of Swiss Army code for a while. Eventually, I started to break the habit by becoming more aware of what I was doing.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
Lloyd In my sophomore year in high school, my English teacher frequently gave us assignments in creative writing. I had a lot of fun doing these assignments. They were more interesting than reading and writing about literary works. Back then, I despised reading anything, let alone, doing book reports. But creative writing was my love.
The desire to write my first novel actually came after I took the dusty screenplay out. Because I procrastinated for so long, the story for the script went south on me. So I decided to write the novel, hoping that it would re-spark some energy back into the script once again. It did.
K.S. What genre do you write?
Lloyd I like to experiment. I also like to cook and mix spices and ingredients. As a student who once took art classes, I also like to draw and paint using different subjects and objects. I applied these principles to my writing.
I like science fiction. I also like inspirational books as well as political and social commentary genres. What I did with Kami Jin was to blend these “spices” or genres into one creation.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
Lloyd Edgar Allan Poe, perhaps, was the most influential author in my life. His book, The Narrative of Gordon Pym, was the first book that really captured my attention as I read that book from cover to cover, word for word. I think this was the first book that sparked my interest in really reading in earnest.
Contemporary figures, I would have to say it would be a grand Welsh woman by the name of Dora Beale Polk. She was my creative writing mentor and advisor at Cal State Long Beach. She is an accomplished poet and novelist herself.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
Lloyd It’s been rather mixed. My wife and my daughter think it’s wonderful – especially for fulfilling my life’s dreams and ambitions. My immediate family, however, never wanted me to become a writer – although I became one anyway. Every Thanksgiving, they always tease me because they say I “missed my calling.” I should have gone to culinary school to become a chef in life. People say I’m a good cook, and I do love to cook.
My family – other than my immediate family – always discouraged me from going into the arts when I was growing up. In a typical Asian family, you were expected to study medicine, law, or engineering. I started out as an engineering major, but was very poor in mathematics. I repeated mathematics courses frequently. However, I did very well in the arts – writing and music. After transferring to a four-year university, I changed my major and received a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. In fact the music influences have also remained with me. I presently sing with a master chorale in Whittier.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?
Lloyd I found out I wasn’t in total control of my book – the writing that is.
The first third of my book started as a reflection of my own life. Like, a memoir if you will set in fictitious settings in the 23rd Century.
When I placed the protagonist in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to share his enlightening experience through a series of “sermons on the mount,” it was as if a higher being was actually doing the writing for me. There are some segments in the book I believe someone else wrote in my place. This was a little spooky. During this time, I learned some answers for solving homelessness and poverty and making wars obsolete.
Then to top it off, when I was just about to bring the book to a conclusion, the characters encouraged me to continue writing as if they had something more to say. So part 2 of the book is essentially “their” story.
K.S. What inspired you to write your novel?
Lloyd I can’t really pinpoint my source of inspiration for the book. It started out as an insignificant snowflake 30 years go. I had the idea for a screenplay when I was driving through skid row in downtown Los Angeles and I was extremely moved by people living on the streets, in cardboard dwellings. I wanted to write something about this.
In 1999, I was laid off and became unemployed for over four consecutive years myself. Those were, perhaps, the darkest days of my life. I was practically one step away from becoming homeless myself. Fortunately, my wife had a good job and we were able to stay in our house and keep a roof over our heads. But I found out how cruel society can be when you don’t have a job and when you don’t have somewhere to call home.
This sparked my drive to write the book. The other part that inspired me to write the book was the fact that I had a 30 year screenplay that was collecting dust on the shelf. I thought it was appropriate, no that I was out of work, to start writing in earnest once again. The novel jump-started the screenplay.
In September 2009, the Kami Jin was released as an e-book through Smashwords. On December 31, 2009 at 11:45 p.m., I rang in the new year by completing the screenplay by finally writing in “FADE OUT.” Then, in March 2010, Kami Jin was released in trade paperback through Wordclay.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about your novel?
Lloyd - Kami Jin is a tale of two worlds according to the diary of A. Gordon Sakata II of the 23rd Century. Gordon records an era of despair and misery on Earth as life in the Republic of North America includes a jobless rate of 95%. People are homeless: poverty and starvation is global and governments around the world are ineffective in solving the crisis. Corporations have taken over governments, taken away the basic rights of citizens such as freedom of speech and expression and have replaced many people with droids and robots. Citizens of nations who once lived comfortably in homes, now struggle to survive in streets lined with cardboard condos. When war breaks out, Earth finally meets its doom, but through the miracle of time travel, it is given a second chance. Gordon is saved and taken to a utopian planet mirroring Earth’s orbit. There, inhabitants are treated equally: poverty, homelessness and starvation are non-existent, and everyone is paid $25-million annually in universal life credits by the Universe, regardless of social status. The quality of health care and education is next to none. Inhabitants’ brains are so advanced that they travel by merely willing themselves to their destination, rather than using conventional vehicles, yet, they do not manufacture any weapons of any kind. The world is one planet, one nation. Gordon vows to right a sinking ship – at least provide hope for the disadvantaged of the world. He returns to Earth to fulfill his life’s promise.
K.S. Where can we find your novel?
Lloyd - Amazon.com & BarnesandNoble.com
Wordclay Bookstore (paperback) http://www.wordclay.com/BookStore/BookStoreBookDetails.aspx?bookid=54402
Smashwords (ebooks) -http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/4075
K.S. - Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
Lloyd - Website: www.lloydkaneko.com
Fan site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lloyd-Kaneko/130991574450
(my backup blog is also available on my website)
K.S. - Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
Lloyd - If you want to become a writer, don’t anyone – including agents and publishers – stop you from fulfilling your dreams and aspirations. Join and get support and network through writers groups in your area. Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t give up – not even for a few paltry rejection letters. These are only obstacles in the road that can be easily cleared.
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