Write Here, Write Now: Fresh Off the Boat by Kelson Hayes
In Season 2 of Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast, host Erica Wagner interviews winners of the Vocal+ Fiction Awards
“Fresh Off the Boat” provides a look at the present through the lens of a sobering vision of the future — a world darker, but not too different from our own. Kelson Hayes brings us to a dystopian Central Europe which may be just around the corner for all of us.
What was the impetus for your winning story? Walk us through your initial act of creation.
The driving force behind Fresh Off The Boat was predominantly the time I spent living in Dover, England from 2012-2014. At the time, I’d witnessed the racial division between the British natives and the immigrants where I’d lived along Folkestone Road as it escalated to the point of riots and street fighting. As a dual-national British-American with legal and illegal immigrant friends in both countries, I saw from both sides and I’d also formed my own opinions from looking outside both parties narratives. This was what pushed me to write about it in a semi-allegorical fantasy setting. I drew from the insight and experience of my life, the lives of those, around me, and life itself.
What does it take for a story to grab you? How do you grab your audience?
For a story to captivate me, it simply has to start. When I’m reading (as I’ve always assumed is the case with the majority of readers), I visualise it unfolding almost like a picture book that opens to reveal a motion picture within— encapsulating the reader to become their reality for the duration of the read.
To captivate my readers, I cut directly into the story; not right in the thick of it, but rather at the start. First I create a central perspective to tie a scene together, building up the character's daily routine in the moments leading up to their naming— if I don’t call them by their name at the very onset of their tale’s introduction. This foundation leads up to the transition from their life of normalcy to the start of their tale in its unfolding. From there, I craft the adventure that makes up the story’s plot along with their character arc— incorporating secondary protagonists to tie together the tale of the “primary character” as their lives unfold and intersect to fulfill the greater story they comprise.
Who are your favorite writers and why? Do you have any favorite Vocal Creators?
My Top 3 favourite authors are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alduous Huxley, and JRR Tolkien, though I haven’t had too much of a chance to check out my fellow creators between writing for work and preparing for my move with my wife. I love Fyodor Dostoevsky’s work for his dialogue within the tales, for the philosophies and ideologies he incorporated and revolved the plots around. He created tales to publish conversations and and it’s an aspect of his writing that I incorporate into my own. Alduous Huxley is one of my favourites for his conceptions of dystopia and his warnings to humanity. JRR Tolkien was the first author whose work I truly fell in love with and he was the main driving force that pushed me to become a writer in the first place. I loved the Hobbit and LOTR is my favourite series of all time; The Silmarillion and all of his background history was to me, the greatest series I’d ever read and I started my own because I never wanted it to end.
How has sharing your writing in life and on Vocal affected you as a Creator?
I published my first book, The Gorgon Desolation, in 2015, followed shortly after by The Northern Wars in 2016. It’s been nearly a decade and in that time I’ve only seen my career as an author grow, although it hasn’t been easy. In the beginning I probably had a dozen or so sales and I had to work as a window washer to get by for the first few years. By the time I’d published my full trilogy in 2019, I probably managed to sell 100 books in total altogether. I feel like it wasn’t until I published The Art of Not Thinking that I really broke through as an author. In that moment, I had decided to let go of everything holding me back and chase my dreams— just like it says in the book. It was my first book to make over 100 sales (it sold over 500 copies in the first year), with 750+ up to date. Following its publication on 11 September 2020; I got engaged, I got a job as a contracted writer with Eduland’s ESL program, I signed up to Vocal+ and won the Vocal+ Fiction Award, and now I’m moving to the Philippines to be with my wife. Sharing my writing has allowed me to live my life doing what I love and besides the affect it’s had on me; I have even had countless people tell me how my books have changed their lives as well. Moving forward from here, I plan to continue sharing my writing on Vocal in addition to publishing the third edition of The Northern Wars sometime this year. I’m also in the process of revising the third edition of The Gorgon Desolation and writing the first edition of Tauro The Titan-Slayer— as well as writing children’s stories for the English as a Second Language program.
What advice do you have for other Creators?
Never give up on the things that matter to you. If you feel strongly about something, write it— express yourself. When you write, it’s a chance to address anyone— the world at large via every stranger who comes your writing. If you publish it, that expands your reach, and you should never give up if its your passion. If you feel unsuccessful, stop writing for other people and write for yourself from your heart. When I rushed my books and tried to cater to non-readers, they still didn’t have the time or interest to read. When my wife read my book she fell in love and inspired me to write them fully how I’d originally intended. With that being said, you don’t have to be successful in your lifetime to write or be a good writer; we may never break through in your waking life, but if you write what you want and put the effort into it— the people it was intended to reach will find it and from there it will be spread where it was intended and you can bring about the change you want to see in the world beyond your life through the undying words you leave behind. Honestly, all the advice I’d turn blue in the face from ranting can actually be found in The Art of Not Thinking— available on Amazon, Kindle, and Google Play.
Stay tuned for new episodes of Write Here, Write Now Season 2 launching weekly.
About the Creator
Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast
Sex, death, relationships, nature, families... If you like to stop, think and consider things a little differently, join host Erica Wagner as she introduces a new Vocal creator’s story each week.
You have potential. Keep practicing and don’t give up!
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
I needed to see this advice
Amazing work [Please read my new story & give me some feedback]
I visualize stories in this way as well 😁. I enjoyed reading this and hearing about the author’s journey.
I love that there is a podcast going over other creators and the work that they have done and are doing! This is so cool!