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Combs & Underland Down The Rabbit Hole With...

Kenny Penn 💜

By Proud ViM ProductionsPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 15 min read

Kenny Penn is a fabulous writer on Vocal and beyond. Focusing on Horror and fantasy, Kenny has also started dipping his toe into poetry and is enjoying every minute. A super supportive creator and generally awesome human! Proud father of three, he currently resides with his wife and family in North Carolina.

(All the usual small talk stuff minus the MC. You’ll need to read to the end if you want to know what happened to the Ma)

Underland: MC…MC…Where are you?


Underland: (Taking the hint) Um OK...Well she seems to have vanished for the moment...sure she'll catch up soon, so I'll just carry on! Thank you so much for taking the time, Kenny!

Kenny Penn: Thank you for your interest, it means a lot to me

Underland: Aw you are one of my faves on Vocal- I'm always happy to see a Kenny notification!

Kenny Penn: Thank you and same to you! Your writing is fantastic!

Underland: Aw...thank you x So maybe lets start with writing - How did that come about for you?

Kenny Penn: I’d say it came from my mom. She’s always had a huge library of epic fantasy fiction, and when I was a kid she had horror novels too. I think I was 8 or 9 when she gave me my first epic fantasy. “The Sword of Shanara” If you haven’t read it, you should! Anyway after I read it I wanted to write epic stories like that myself, and I guess I’ve been writing ever since

Underland: TBH I haven't read as much fantasy as I should or would have liked....What's it about “The Sword of Shanara” ?

Kenny Penn: Oh man it’s so good! The story’s setting takes place in a world a couple thousand years after the height of human scientific advancement, so there are all kinds of cool “old world technologies' that the characters come across sometimes. But basically this half elf with a blood line that leads to an ancient king is recruited by a powerful Druid who has guarded the world for a couple centuries. He needs the half elf to take up the sword of king Shannara to fight an undead warlock. The sword has the simple power of forcing the person it touches to accept the truth about themselves. It’s from Terry Brooks, if you’re ever interested in reading it.

Underland: Yes I definitely am! It sounds amazing! Things are a bit hectic with all the ViM stuff but I'll get back to reading actual books soon!. You write such a range and your writing is so dynamic, do you have a preference in genre for writing?

Kenny Penn: To be honest, I get most of my book “reading” done in Audible now

Underland: I'm hooked on Vocal atm. So much great talent!

Kenny Penn: I’ve grown to appreciate dark fantasy and horror mostly, but since I’ve joined Vocal I’m beginning to enjoy poetry as well. Part of that is because of wonderful poets like yourself

Underland: Not sure about that LOL …So how has your writing journey been...did you start on you write elsewhere?

Kenny Penn: I’d say my real, “professional” writing started about two and a half years ago. I had been writing on and off since childhood, but knew I wanted to make it a career. I joined an online class that was supposed to help you make a novel in six months. Didn’t get much out of the class itself but I met a few writers who inspired me, a few of which are also now Vocal. I completed my first novel shortly after, joined vocal, and have been writing for vocal and other competitions ever since

Underland: That's amazing! Can we buy your novel? What is it about? Like SO many questions!

Kenny Penn: Thanks! Someday I hope to have it for sale. I had it up on Amazon’s new “Kindle-Vella” for a while but took it down after some serious thought. The story is great but as it was my first novel, it needs a lot of editing. The book is called “Mississippi Wizards”, and it’s a survival story about a black woman who is taking medication for schizophrenia, being attacked in Mississippi by a small group of Klansmen and subsequently haunted by a poltergeist. I love the story and hope to have it ready this year

Underland: It sounds like a really fascinating read and touching on some pretty heavy themes...just my kind of thing! I'm definitely on the waiting list! Talking of writing and entering competitions you placed in the Vocal awards for, 'The Elmoar Tree'.Tell us about that! Must have been an amazing feeling!

Kenny Penn: Oh man what a beautiful feeling that was. Ironically, I originally wrote that story for a flash fiction competition, “New York City Midnight”. The piece didn’t make it past the first round. I’m really glad though because it really taught me that it’s all about the audience. The story received lots of praise and made me a finalist in the annual vocal awards. Even now the memory of it fills me with pride. You wanna talk about some motivation! That’s it right there!

Underland: Congratulations! Aside from the story being so delicately beautiful, I remember it extremely well because I stole the word ' 'opalescent'' from you and have since used it in its various forms. Great word! Thank you again!

Kenny Penn: Haha you’re welcome! I had to hunt for that word myself to get the description right!

Underland: If someone were new to Kenny Penn, which story (s) on Vocal would you navigate them towards?

Kenny Penn: Ooo good question. Obviously I’d want them to read ‘The Elmoar Tree’, but I’d also want them to read ‘Hidden Reflections’, ‘I’ll Play With You’, and for a longer story, ‘La Chaqueta de Cuero’. I was quite proud of those. And some of my recent poems too! I think I’m getting better at those

Underland: OMG I just realised I never hearted it -'The Elmoar Tree'- I am so, so sorry!

****************Underland mortified**************************

Kenny Penn: Don’t worry about the like, I’m just happy you read it

Underland: Rectified now! I'm just so into a story I often forget to do it! I recently read La Chaqueta de Cuero...the leather jacket right?

Kenny Penn: Yes, that’s the one!

Underland: I loved it - Your dialogue crafting is so damn good! So do you speak Spanish?

Kenny Penn: Not as well as I’d like. I’m still learning but I grew up with Spanish friends and still have a few very close ones who check my Spanish writing when I need them to

Underland: I love that! A little collab...if I ever venture into another language Mr Google helps out! (Which is why I don't often!) So where are you from?

Kenny Penn: I was born in NC but I always say I’m from South Florida, because I spent most of my childhood and early adult years there

Underland: Well as a Brit the only thing I know about Florida is Disneyland and um yeah what's it like as a place?

Kenny Penn: Disney World, in my opinion, is overrated. It’s fun, no doubt about it, but I prefer places like Universal Studios. Especially now that they have Harry Potter!

Underland: The mice kinda freak me out TBF

Kenny Penn: Mickey’s nice enough! But if I go I kinda prefer Tigger

Underland: My nickname as a kid was Piglet...because I was really small and generally quite excitable about everything …Not much has changed. I’m marginally taller than I was at 5.

Kenny Penn: Haha that's awesome! Piglet is one of my faves

Underland: Where in the world are you now?

Kenny Penn: So I currently live on the east side of the US in North Carolina. I miss Florida but the cost of living there is atrocious

Underland: Yeah I can imagine - It's rising everywhere! You have boys right?

Kenny Penn: Two boys and one little girl, they are all beautiful

Underland: I'm pretty sure I remember you posting a lovely pic of your two boys on here- how old are they, what are they like?

Kenny Penn: So my oldest is 23 years old. He’s smart and sweet and has a beautiful singing voice. My second son is 12, he’s a math genius, plays violin and loves video games. My daughter is 4 and just started pre k. She’s got the best laugh and the sweetest smile

Underland: Aw they sound amazing and I love that their interests are so varied and different!

Kenny Penn: Yes me too! Unique and wonderful, I am blessed to have them

Underland: Aw that’s so lovely. Sorry Kenny I kind of skirted over poetry after getting side tracked...

Kenny Penn: Haha what would you like to know?

Underland: Well you have said before you weren't sure about it...and you did it and got an amazing top story with Jericho's Wall...So I suppose what was so daunting for you? How do you feel now?

Kenny Penn: I think the daunting part comes from school education. They teach you very basic forms of poetry, which always seemed somewhat boring to me unless it was done exceptionally well. And since I didn’t have a talent for that, I just felt like it wasn’t for me. But after reading some of the beautiful poems on Vocal and learning how much more there is to a good poem, I’m beginning to feel a lot more comfortable. I’m no prize winner there but I’m enjoying it and that’s really what it’s all about

Underland: Yeah I think so. I tend to stay away from structured forms. I find the constraint irritating….Not to decry the craft in any way -it's just not my thing

Kenny Penn: Yes, same. I love to read from those who do it well but it’s not my cup of tea!

Underland: So what advice would you give to young writers?

Kenny Penn: Write! Every day! Even if it’s just a little. And if you can’t write every day, write every other day. It’s a craft like any other. You can’t become good at carpentry if you only pick up a piece of wood once or twice a year. It takes diligence and practice! Just write!

Underland: That is sage advice!

(Rustling from above…)

(MC tumbles in…)

MC: Hello! Sorry I'm late. How are you today, Kenny?

Underland: Hello!

Kenny Penn: Hi MC! No worries!

Underland: So I really have to ask...Is Kenny Penn your real name?

Kenny Penn: Yes, although it’s really Kenny Penn: . I actually answer to Ken, Kenny, or Kenny Penn, but I’ve been going by Kenny for so long I just stuck with it

Underland: OMG! That has made my day! Perfect name for a writer! It was meant to be!

Kenny Penn: Thank you! I’ll have to tell that to my mom! She’ll love it!

MC: Who's your favorite writer?

Kenny Penn: I have two. Robert Jordan, who wrote the Wheel of Time books, and Stephen King

MC: I've read almost everything by King. What is your favorite book?

Kenny Penn: Minus one scene at the end, I’d have to go with “IT”. I’ve read it probably 15 times and find reasons to love it more every time. After that his Gunslinger novels were epic.

MC: Oh great choices, Those are epic.

Kenny Penn: He’s such a great writer. If i can be half as good I’ll be a millionaire some day.

MC: That's my aim tbh Which writer do you think you most write like?

Kenny Penn: Hmmm. I’d say Edward W Robertson. He writes my favorite dark fantasy series, The Cycle of Arawn

Underland: I"ll have to check him out

MC: Who do you like to read on Vocal? I've got to slide out of the rabbit hole for a moment, I'll try to get back in here in a moment.

(MC Vanishes in puff of magic smoke)

Underland: ???

Kenny Penn: I have a few favorites there. You and Celia, Heather Hubler, L.C. Schäfer, Jazzy, and Mackenzie Davis to name a few

Kenny Penn: There’s also SC Wells, Claire Guerin, JD Guzman, so many!

Underland: They are all fantastic - Though the last three I have yet to have the pleasure. I will definitely get reading! I just find it so difficult to keep up with everyone I want to keep up with!

Kenny Penn: Yes! I wish I had time to read them all.

Underland: You are such a supportive creator though Kenny, like amazingly talented but also always in the background giving a nudge of confidence - I remember you sending me a link to another competition, It made me well up a little bit.. This kind of just human kindness across the web...Where do you think that comes from?

Kenny Penn: Again, my mom. She taught me that it costs nothing to be kind to someone and to appreciate good things when you find them

Underland: That's really lovely.

More rustling from above...

MC: Back for a moment. Do you have any hobbies?

Kenny Penn: Aside from writing, I do enjoy gaming from time to time, but most of my free time is spent taking care of my kids for now

MC: What games do you like to play?

Kenny Penn: My all time favorite has to be the Final Fantasy series. After that, mostly RPGs like God of War and Assassins Creed. I also enjoy playing a game of chess whenever possible

MC: I love the FF games

Kenny Penn: You have good tastes!!

Underland: The last game I played was Donkey Kong on my brother Nintendo (I think Nintendo?)...

Kenny Penn: My wife is a big Nintendo fan…Loves Mario, and my middle child loves Zelda

Underland: How long have you been married?

Kenny Penn: Ten years! One of the best people I’ve ever met, and I’m not just saying that because she might read this

Underland: How did you meet?

Kenny Penn: Oh man we’re going to reveal my age here. We actually met on MySpace, back before FB was a big thing . I took her to this Billiards place, where she bought a Jack and Coke and I hilariously bought a “Fuzzy Navel”. She still makes fun of me for it!

Underland: That's so funny! Are you both from the same place?

Kenny Penn: No, she grew up here in NC, I didn’t meet her until just after I moved here.

Underland: Oh wow- what a cool story! So what was the wedding like?

Kenny Penn: Beautiful but small. We decided to have a little wedding on the beach and just invite our immediate family and closest friends. It was a gorgeous day but it ended up raining on us anyway. We loved it

Underland: Aw that's really sweet - where was it? I've just realised it's Valentine's you have any plans?

Kenny Penn: It was in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach. We never go out for valentines but typically stay at home and make a nice dinner instead

Underland: Oooo one of my favourite topics! What do you like to eat?

Kenny Penn: On Valentines it’s usually Steak and Shrimp, but typically I’m a pasta man, love that Italian food, yum!

Underland: What's your favourite pasta dish?

Kenny Penn: Easy! Lasagna. I don’t get to eat it very often so that’s probably why it’s my favorite

Underland: Do you make it?

Kenny Penn: Oh yeah, and sometimes I make the lasagna noodles from scratch

Underland: Nice! Do you have any Italian heritage?

Kenny Penn: Not that I’m aware of…But I’ve never had my DNA tested so I don’t know for sure

Underland: You just love Italian food- fair enough! Alright, I don't think I have any more questions! Is there anything you would like to add?

Kenny Penn: No, but I’d like to say thanks so much to both of you, you have no idea how much I appreciate talking with you and I feel like I got to know two of my favorite writers a little more as well

Underland: Aw thank you Kenny so much - I have really enjoyed getting to know you! Perfect, again thank you so much! Enjoy your steak and shrimp!


Back at ViM HQ …2 hours later…

Underland: MC?...

Underland: Where’d you go? You leaf-did me!

MC: Wasn't expecting my husband to drag me out today for "errands" which turned out to be a date!

Underland: OMG! Swoon. That is the cutest thing ever! ❤️❤️❤️❤️


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Proud ViM Productions

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Comments (7)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran2 months ago

    Awww, Piglet! That's soooo cute and adorable! 🥰🥰🥰 Kenny, my favourite pasta is lasagna too! Speaking of it is making my mouth water, lol! I enjoyed this interview soooo much!!

  • Another great interview. I have only recently discovered Kenny's wonderful writing, and what a joy it has been to read his creative offerings! Thank you for helping us get to know him better! On a side note, Myrtle Beach is one of my favorite getaways, so great choice!

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    Love, love, love this! What a great opportunity to get to know the wonderful Kenny Penn even more :) I think I 'met' him in the Discord group, Okelwog? Is that right, Kenny? You shine no matter what you do...writing, supporting, both.

  • River Joy2 months ago

    What a great interview! Loved learning about more about Kenny

  • ROCK 2 months ago

    I am a new Kenny fan! Hey southern boy; I grew up in Nashville and love the Carolina's. I have relatives in south Florida, north Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. My maternal family is traced back to the first settlers of Nashville and came from England and the now French/ Swiss and German borderlands. I live in Sweden. I am going to delve into some fantasy reading ( never my genre) thanks for your recommendations! Great advice as well! ROCK

  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    This was lovely, you have a knack for asking great questions. I feel like I know Kenny so much better now, and I'm happy about that because he seems pretty cool 😎

  • Kenny Penn2 months ago

    Thank you so much for this! 🙏 I am eternally grateful for the love and support!

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