|Author Kent Reinker|
Writers, by default, are independent contractors who sit alone at their computer or journal composing for hours on end. Can you please offer a brief insight into something humorous, poignant, or unusual in your life that led you to a career in writing?
KENT REINKER: All creative work has to be done in seclusion. Bryce Courtenay used to say that the secret of success for a writer was “butt glue” - you glue yourself down to the chair. But good writers are never alone or bored. They’re constantly surrounded by interesting characters in impossible situations that even the author doesn’t know how to solve. If I knew how my books were going to end when I started out, it would take some of the fun out of it. But I don’t. They always seem to end differently than the way I’ve outlined them.
I’ve been writing since grade school. I was a sports stringer for my high school and the social editor of our yearbook, and I was an editor for the Yale Daily News during college. But I also have a love of science and majored in physics, planning to be a nuclear physicist after graduation. Then, one day, I was asked to write a profile of the Yale Medical School for the alumni magazine we published. A week later, I switched to pre-med. I graduated from medical school five years later, and came to Hawaii for further training as an orthopaedic surgeon. Twenty years later, I was a retired Colonel, a specialist in pediatric orthopaedics, a Professor in the University of Hawaii medical school, and Chief of Staff of a pediatric orthopaedic hospital.
Most of my writing after college was scientific, either writing research articles or chapters for textbooks. But my job took me to many countries, and I always liked writing fiction. Hawaii is at least a five-hours plane ride from everywhere else. I got in the habit of writing at least one short story every time I left home. I’d start on the plane and finish the story in my hotel room. Eventually, I wrote a novel. Then another one, and another, until I had six written. It became obvious, though, that nothing would ever be published unless I gave up the seventy-hour workweek of my day job. So I resigned two years ago. Now, I have three novels published, with another (a mystery) coming out in the spring, I’m working on my seventh novel, and I have outlines for my eighth and ninth.
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Why did you choose to collaborate with other authors to participate in a short story anthology?
KENT REINKER: I have written many short stories but have published few. Two stories in my “creation file” involved criminal activity, but I didn’t think either would fit into the anthology as described to me. This gave me an opportunity to write a fresh one. It was a nice break from the novel I’m currently writing, and it gave me an opportunity to associate and collaborate with some wonderful professionals. At the same time, I’m hopeful that the story will entertain and provoke thought in my readers. What could be more satisfying?
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: In Gloria, what is one phrase or scene that reflects something about you as a writer?
KENT REINKER: Some of the main scenes take place in a medical clinic. I’ve used my medical background to depict the difficulties involved with providing good medical care in a setting of budgetary constraint, and I’ve tried to show the positive impact that a single competent individual can make. Governmental administrators seem to have a genetic defect: they believe they can hire excellent people for lousy salaries. Sometimes, this strategy works, but more often, the result ranges from mediocrity to blatant incompetence.
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Can you tell us a bit about your current project?
KENT REINKER: All of my novels have an underlying theme. For example, one involves the relationship of science and religion. My last one involved the shady distinction between humans and beasts. It’s named If Pigs Could Cry and it should be coming out next week. (SinC/Hawaii note: If Pigs Could Cry is now available at Amazon.com) I plan to publish The Honey Bee in June. It’s about a murder in a small town in Ohio that exposes a thirty-year-old secret.
The one I’m writing now is about prejudice. The tentative title is “The Death of Aloha” and one of the key characters is an eight-year-old boy who is the son of the newly-elected mayor of Honolulu. Here’s how it begins:
Luke Silva was so lost in his imagination that he never really noticed the two larger boys that were following him home from school. He was imagining himself in space, fighting robot aliens. He was winning of course, because he had perfect night vision and could see in the blackness of outer space, whereas the aliens were fighting blind.
He had walked this route so many times before that he could do it blindfolded. Imagining himself in space, he was doing just that right now, closing his eyes to help his daydreams, and seeing how far he could walk before he had to open them because of insecurity or stepping off the sidewalk. His right arm flailed as his light saber cut down innumerable imaginary aliens.
He had guessed the number of steps to the next curb and was counting his own steps when he suddenly walked right into one of the two boys. The next instant, he found himself shoved backward and lying flat on the ground, his backpack popped open and his schoolbooks all around him.
He opened his eyes to see two boys above him, glaring. They were big, probably twelve years old or more. One already had the beginnings of a mustache. Mean-looking. Luke was scared.
“Watch where you goin’, you pulagi motha’ fucka,” said the one.
“Sorry,” said Luke, smiling. He started to get up, but had his legs kicked out from underneath him.
“You think you goin’ just leave after walking right into me?” said the one. “Show him,” he said to the other guy.
The other one kicked Luke, trying for his balls, but missing and kicking his thigh instead.
The boy may have missed, but it still hurt Luke a lot. He bundled up into a ball and quivered from fear. In his eight years of life, he had never experienced anything like this, and he was suddenly terrified. They’re going to kill me, he thought, not really understanding the concept very well, but knowing it would hurt.
One of the boys took a knife from his pocket and put it to Luke’s throat, confirming Luke’s fears. His face was right next to Luke’s when he spat in Luke’s face, and said, “We got to have your money, pussy. Whatevah you got. Otherwise, I cut your throat.”
Luke pulled everything out of his pockets. It wasn’t much; only a couple dollars remained from his lunch money and allowance. The boys weren’t happy.
“Shit!” said one. “We got to get him again tomorrow.”
The one who had spat in his face, grabbed him by the collar. “You get more money tomorrow. Lots more. And if you tell anyone about this, we’ll kill you sure as hell. Understand?”
Luke nodded, his eyes wide, cold sweat pouring down his forehead.
The boy got up and put away his knife. “Next time we see you, you better have mo’ than two dollah,” said the other. Then they both walked away, leaving Luke quivering on the sidewalk.
Kent, where can readers find your books?
All my books are available on Amazon. The links to the first two are http://amzn.to/1bbMfR5 and http://amzn.to/1bMstPt . For the rest, check out Alain Gunn or A K Gunn on Amazon.