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The Backstory for the Almost Human Series

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Book 1 in the Almost Human Series
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Book 2 in the Almost Human Series

I’m often asked what the backstory is to my Almost Human Series. Recently, I wrote a short collection of some of my stories. In one way or another, they’ve worked their way into my novels, Almost Human and Becoming Human. You can get a free copy by signing up for my newsletter on this blog or email me at decrkl@charter.net. These experiences served as the foundation on which I built my characters and settings. The plot came from a deeper place, late at night, when the characters came to visit me and tell their stories as I wrote.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “In order to write about life you must live it.” While I’m not Hemingway, I believe this and have tried to write about what I know and have lived.  Most of the time, my writing is loosely autobiographical.

I hope you enjoy them. For those of you who have read Almost Human or Becoming Human, they will seem familiar and you’ll get the connection.

Here is the first chapter of Animal Days. I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter One, Animal Days – Kenneth L. Decroo

One evening the mid-eighties, while working as the technical adviser and chimp trainer on the movie Animal Behavior, I relaxed after a long day of filming on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the movie’s human stars, Karen Allen and Armand Assante. After a few drinks, Armand commented on how humanlike my chimp Mike seemed. Mike, the animal star of the movie, played a chimp who used American Sign Language.

I put on my university professor hat and pontificated on all the traits we humans shared with chimps. I mentioned that they differed from us by only one chromosome; that we could catch a cold from them and them from us; that they had the same ABO blood type groups like us, and that they were more closely related to us than a gorilla. I talked about my work as a linguistic research assistant on a project in Reno that had successfully taught chimps to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) as used by the deaf.

The information fascinated them, and Karen asked, “Since chimps are so closely related to us, could they breed with humans?

“The famous primatologist Robert Yerkes once mentioned in one of his lectures that it was not only possible but also it’s rumored that the Soviets had attempted it in the 1920s,” I replied— remember that we’d had at a few drinks! “The rumor goes as far as suggesting that the Soviets had had success but the hybrids were on a ship that had burned at sea.”

My audience’s eyes widened, and we continued talking into the evening.

After the bar closed, I drove back to my accommodation, rolled some paper into my old Royal typewriter, sat down, and wrote chapter two. The setting is the University of Nevada, Reno, where I’d worked. In that chapter, Dr. Ken Turner gives a lecture filled with the information I’d shared with Karen and Armand.

The hour grew late, and I had an early call time. I’d just finished chapter two and was preparing for bed when Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald played on the radio. Inspired by the music, I rolled in another paper and wrote the first chapter in which a Soviet cargo ship carrying a mysterious cargo runs aground during a big storm. And so The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is another link in the circle that became the Almost Human Series.

I wrote those two chapters in 1984.

Audiobook of Becoming Human

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The audiobook of Becoming Human is about to be released. The actor/narrator, Kevin Chambers did an excellent job of bringing my humble effort to life. Here is a link to a sample: https://www.dropbox.com/s/agrbstuyvd98rzu/becoming%201st%2015%20edited%202%20mp3.mp3?dl=0 . Please let me know what you think.

Audiobook – Almost Human

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I’m excited to announce that the audiobook version of Almost Human will be released soon. I want to thank Kevin Chambers at ACX for his excellent narration. I’m pleased with the results.

Please click below for a sample of Chapter One:

 

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Amazon Giveaway: Almost Human

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See this Amazon Giveaway for a chance to win: Almost Human (Kindle Edition) by Kenneth L. Decroo. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/33a857b3ceb6c514 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends Feb 16, 2019, 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
Giveaway Summary:
Link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/33a857b3ceb6c514
Duration: Feb 9, 2019 6:32 PM PST – Feb 16, 2019 11:59 PM PST
Prize: Almost Human (Kindle Edition)
Number of Prizes: 25

Talking About Writing Instead of Writing: The Pitfalls of Success

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The Back Story

As an author, I’m pleased that readers have found my books, and from that success, I have developed a fan base. But, there are pitfalls to success. I find that I’m spending way too much time talking about writing instead of writing.

At first, it was validating to receive invitations to do newspaper and television interviews. I was excited to share the backstory of my books and talk about the techniques I had learned concerning my practice and craft. However, now I’m finding that I am spending most of my time marketing my product; my books. I am concerned that my books are becoming just that, products.

For me, book signings, interviews, and blog posts have become thieves of time. These endeavors tap into a different part of my brain; a part that seems to pull me away from my characters and the world I create in my novels.

After the release of Becoming Human, I found myself spending more and more time talking about writing instead of writing. I found myself going down a subtle and slippery road that led to not writing about what was most important to me; my third novel in the Almost Human series.

Recognizing a problem is the first step to solving it. I need to taper off talking about writing and WRITE! I plan to get back to my morning routine of actually writing at least a thousand words, if not more and finish, my next book, More Than Human. I think starting the day writing first will add balance to any “marketing” that follows.

How about you? I’d love to hear from fellow writers on this subject. What are your solutions and practices, or is this even a problem for you?