The Essence of Writing with Kingsley Ruben
Twenty-three-year-old Kingsley Ruben, otherwise known as K.O Reuben in the literary sphere, shares his tumultuous writing journey with us, on where he has been and more importantly, where he is heading.
One of my instinctive questions was to ask Kingsley who inspires him, which for any writer is a tough question. Writers often have so many influences that it is hard to pin down specific names. Kingsley, however is a little more decisive than that and has his collection of literary heroes;
‘’Ned Beauman wrote The Teleportation Accident and I’ve genuinely been jealous ever since’’. Kingsley goes on to describe Beauman’s use of language as ‘irritatingly flamboyant and stylish’. So it appears writers do have linguistic envy. George Orwell’s 1984 is also high up on Kingsley’s list, saying the book ‘’straight up haunted me’’. Orwell’s futuristic style has impacted Kingsley’s own taste as he describes his genre as ‘’sci-fi action thriller’’.
Kingsley is currently working on a series called Tridents. The story of Tridents is about three individuals teaming up to become Great Britain’s first super hero team, after saving the country from the doom of Martians. Every Tuesday, Kingsley feeds his hungry audience and releases an episode on Wattpad, and he certainly seems to know how to work his audience- he currently has a following of seventy-five. This responsibility however, is currently overshadowed by his commitment as a tutor at the University of Roehampton, where Kingsley himself also studied once upon a time.
All writers are drawn to one particular genre and Kingsley has always been a sci-fi man. He admits to being ‘’in love’’ with super heroes and lists a range of comics that sounds utterly foreign to my female brain; ‘’DC comics. MARVEL, Dark Horse and Manga’’. Kingsley believes that through the comic genre, larger issues about society are represented both semantically and pragmatically. He sees comics as a ‘’mirror held up to the face of the world’’, and believes that comics almost provide a template of what the world could be like, or would be like, through comic’s colourful dramatic sketches. He cites Jule’s Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as an example of comic’s realism ‘’Submarines ended up being developed after this, which is incredible’’.
The research behind a book varies from author to author; Kingsley describes his spadework as ‘’sack loads and sometimes nothing’’. For his book Robin Hood: Blood and Arrows, months were spent reading up on anything archery and arrow related. When asking the crucial question of why write, Kingsley was open-minded enough to say ‘’stories are wonderful didactic tools; you can learn from them whilst being engaged and entertained’’. It seems for Kingsley that the desire to write was almost innate, ‘‘before I became a good talker I always aspired to be a good writer’’, he endearingly admits.
As fellow writers know, writing is a practice that requires lengthy periods, most likely in solitude and treated like a 9-5 job, but most 23-year-olds would rather spend the majority of their time outdoors than in and in this sense Kingsley is one ordinary young guy.
When it comes to writing ‘’I simply squeeze it in whenever I can’’. As many might agree, deadlines always provide the pressure needed to get a story moving. Kingsley’s Robin Hood: Blood and Arrows was originally set for a competition and so like the almighty Robin Hood himself, Kingsley made it his mission to finish it by the end of the month.
With time it is inevitable that a writer’s creativity grows, sometimes in an unexpected direction. Perhaps the beauty of developing as a writer is the control you eventually have over words. Although Kingsley is not published he has stuck to his endeavour for some time now and has seen leaps of creative change.
‘‘I realise I’m becoming more like the writers I read in the sense that I tell a good story, write well, and exhibit uniqueness by setting myself aside in some way’’, he says ‘’My ‘voice’ has become much more confident and pronounced’’. Taking literary risks is also important, Kingsley adds, because more often than not, they pay off.
What is the hardest part of writing? Kingsley succinctly captures what may be on the mind of many of you ‘’sitting down and actually doing it’’. One of Kingsley’s tactics is to write ‘’quick fire narrative’’ in order for the reader to be sold by the story, in other words he places his feet in their shoes.
Writer’s block is a writer’s biggest fear, an invisible daemon that builds a wall between your brain and the blank canvas before you. Some of us tackle the wall head on whilst others try to swerve around it- I personally am a believer in bulldozing the thing right down. Kingsley’s solution is to ‘’watch loads of TV, movies and anything else that remotely makes you feel like writing’’. Kingsley humorously suggests that having a ‘bad book’ in sight or that is accessible, encourages him to continue writing;
‘‘I have this particular book on my shelf that I never finished reading because it was offensively boring. It angers me to even look at it. I always say to myself ‘‘if that book can get published- you can get published’’.
So how does Kingsley market himself? He produces a pretty long list and it is clear Kingsley is determined to put himself on the market whilst taking centre stage. Kingsley goes to readings and writers events, and also has an array of sites to boost his name, such as ‘Smashwords.com, Juke pop serials, Poem Hunter and Newsblaze.com’.
We have all heard of a book that has garnered critical acclaim but that alone hasn’t proven enough to shift copies, Kingsley believes ‘‘people aren’t vocal enough’’, which initially may be an odd concept to grasp but as in so many aspects of life, we have to ‘sell ourselves’, he says. Kingsley also thinks book covers have a lot to answer for and that ‘’a rubbish book cover does your book a disservice and undercuts all your effort’’. A front cover plays an important part but despite a somewhat lack-lustre cover, we all turn to the blurb on the back to see if the books is for us or not and is therefore also crucial.
Kingsley insisted on leaving us with a rather philosophical comment, that as quotes go, is a pretty good one; ‘Great writers are great readers and great readers are great writers. Moral of the proverb: read greatly’.
To follow more of Kingsley’s work, follow him weekly on http://www.wattpad.com/story/10336806-tridents