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Getting personal with Kenneth W. Cain

Kenneth W. Cain first got the itch for storytelling during his formative years in the suburbs of Chicago, where he got to listen to his grandfather spin tales by the glow of a barrel fire. But it was a reading of Baba Yaga that grew his desire for dark fiction. Shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and One Step Beyond furthered that sense of wonder for the unknown, and he’s been writing ever since.

Cain is the author of The Saga of I trilogy, United States of the Dead, the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales, and his latest Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. Writing, reading, fine art, graphic design, and Cardinals baseball are but a few of his passions. Cain now resides in Chester County, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.


1. How old were you when you wrote your first story?

Five or six, I believe. It was an awful rendition of the whole Baba Yaga thing.


2. How many books have you written?

Written or published? Written, I would say, so far: 6 novels, 5 novellas, 4 collections of short stories, and maybe a hundred stories that aren’t in those books that will likely end up in other collections. As well as a bunch of poetry, a lot of which is in a themed collection, most of which is still unpublished. The most recent releases will be a novella titled A Season in Hell (due out September 7th) and my next collection, Darker Days (due out December 7th).


3. Anything you won’t write about?

No, I don’t believe in taboos. There are stories in every taboo. They say not to kill the dog, but there’s a story there as well. It’s been done, too. I have to tell the story I have to tell. If it’s in me, it’s going to get out, like it or not.


4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…

I’m 48, married to a wonderful woman with two kids. I write pretty much full-time, other than keeping up chores around the house and coaching my son’s baseball teams.


5. What’s your favorite book you have written?

It has to be A Season in Hell. This short book tackles many modern issues, things that matter to me. It’s hard-hitting, and a love story for the game of baseball.


6. Who or what inspired you to write?

If I had to put he onus on just one person, it would have to be my mom. She loved horror, and growing up, I saw several movies (The Omen, Psycho, etc). They fueled my passion, but so did discovering the stories in the various Writer’s Digest books my parents kept on their shelves. It’s there I discovered Poe. Or perhaps it was hearing that Baby Yaga story for the first time.


7. What do you like to do for fun?

Read. That’s fun for me. I also like to check out an original series now and then. Nothing that’s been rehashed or rebooted but something really original. Like Dark on Netflix. I also like gardening, fishing, coaching baseball, trying to play my guitars, drawing and painting, hanging with my family, and enjoying the beauty of this world.


8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?​

Wine! A bottle of Merlot, something like Smoking Loon.


9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?

I have an office…now, with a desk and all, though it’s more like a dungeon to me. As for music, it varies. Sometimes it’s music, which can be anything from Pink Floyd to Metallica to Sinatra. Other times, I listen to baseball games or baseball chat. Then there are the podcasts I listen to, sometimes chat about the craft and other times stories. My brain is usually able to separate the two, so I can write a story and still hear what I’m listening and process it. Kind of weird. But there’s also times I need silence.


10. Anything you would change about your writing?

Well, I would have started much earlier for one. I don’t know why I started so late, but it often feels like it’s too late. And I’d be far more patient, not taking the first offer, honing my craft before I rushed out there. I likely wouldn’t have hurried to get so much out there.


11. What is your dream? Famous writer?

I’m living my dream. At least I think I am. I get to write a lot, read a lot, do all the things I enjoy. I married an awesome woman who is SO supportive of all my endeavors and two really bright children who are blossoming into great adults. And sometimes, once in a very great while, someone will leave a kind review or contact me or make a post about something I wrote, and it will touch my heart deeply. Who could ask for more?


12. Where do you live?

Chester County, Pennsylvania.


13. Pets?

I recently got rid of all my reef tanks, but I’ve had several over the years, as well as many, many birds. Right now, though, I have two dogs, a Catahoula leopard mix named Iggy and a Labradoodle named Kady. They’re both sweet, loving dogs.


14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Getting it all out of my head. It’s cathartic; helps me sort my thoughts and feelings in a way I can deal with them. I’m putting myself out there for my readers, getting naked with my feelings. Hopefully they get something from my stories that elicits a similar feeling.


15. What is coming next for you?

A young adult novella entitled Shadows in the Storm where Nita faces off with Shade, leader of the Shadow People. Though I still have to work on finding a publisher for the book.


16. Where do you get your ideas?

My inspiration typically starts with a seed from something I know quite well. For instance, with A Season in Hell (due out September 7th from Crystal Lake Publishing) I drew from my long career playing baseball, as well as coaching. The story is about a woman playing baseball in the minor leagues back in the nineties and what she must endure just to play the game she loves. For that story I took from my own personal experience, even down to the smallest details like taping up a torn muscle with duct tape just so I could play the next game.


There’s another element to the process, what I call the “what if” moment. You’ll see a lot of that in my shorter work. For instance, there’s this story in my collection Fresh Cut Tales entitled “Split Ends.” I was sitting at a pool while on vacation watching a mother furiously brush the knots out of her daughter’s hair and thinking about the “what if.” In this case, what came to mind was a disease, one the mother and daughter thought was very real, and it was but only mentally in this case. So that story is about the struggle of a mother not to succumb to that mental disease.


Additional info:


I have three books coming out this year (all three through Crystal Lake Publishing). Details for all three books follow


The first is a novella entitled A Season in Hell. Due out September 7th.


“Kenneth W. Cain takes timely social topics and explores them against the backdrop of America’s pastime. What begins as a baseball story quickly delves into something rich, deep, and dark.” – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls



When Dillon Peterson is honored for his baseball career, he must face a ghost that has long haunted him. He is transported back through his memories to a single season in the nineties that broke his heart. That was the season he met Keisha Green, the first and only woman to play baseball in the minor leagues. He sees what she goes through, what she must endure just to play the game both of them love, and this struggle leads to their friendship. As matters escalate, Dillon finds himself regretting his role in it all, as well as his career in baseball.


“A Season in Hell is a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story. You won’t soon forget Dillon or Keisha. Her struggle is as timely today as ever. A Season in Hell is also a love letter to baseball and how, despite everything, the game can still heal and bring people together who seemed impossibly far apart, and can do so through intimidating odds. A timeless story of true humanity.” —John Palisano, Vice President of the Horror Writers Association and Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author of Night of 1,000 Beasts


The second is Tales From The Lake Volume 5. Due out November 2nd.



“From the Mouths of Plague-Mongers” – Stephanie M. Wytovich

“Malign and Chronic Recreation” – Bruce Boston

“Final Passage” – Bruce Boston


Short stories:

“Always After Three” by Gemma Files

“In the Family” – Lucy A. Snyder

“Voices Like Barbed Wire” – Tim Waggoner

“The Flutter of Silent Wings” – Gene O’Neill

“Guardian” – Paul Michael Anderson

“Farewell Valencia” – Craig Wallwork

“A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” – Allison Pang

“The Monster Told Me To” – Stephanie M. Wytovich

“Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” – Michelle Ann King

“The Boy” – Cory Cone

“Starve a Fever” – Jonah Buck

“Umbilicus” – Lucy Taylor

“Nonpareil” – Laura Blackwell

“The Midland Hotel” – Marge Simon

“The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” – Robert Stahl

“The Color of Loss and Love”  – Jason Sizemore

“The Loudest Silence” – Meghan Arcuri

“The Followers” – Peter Mark May

“A Bathtub at the End of the World” – Lane Waldman

“Twelve by Noon” – Joanna Parypinski

“Hollow Skulls” – Samuel Marzioli

“Maggie” – Andi Rawson


The third is my fourth collection, Darker Days. Due out December 7th.


Darker Days, the latest collection of short stories by Kenneth W. Cain, delivers on its title’s promise. From the very first story readers are dragged into seemingly ordinary situations that serve as cover for dark secrets. Ranging from subtle horror to downright terror, from science fiction to weird fantasy, Cain demonstrates a breadth of styles that keeps you off-balance as you move from one story to the next. There is something for everyone in this collection–as long as you don’t want to sleep at night!” – JG Faherty, author of The Cure, Carnival of Fear, and The Burning Time.


Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerge in darker days.


The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond andAlfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.


There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.


In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief, and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”


When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.



▪“A Ring For His Own”


▪“Rust Colored Rain”


▪“Passing Time”

▪“What Mama Needs”

▪“My Brother Bit Your Honor Roll Student”

▪“Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 1 – Henry Wentworth”

▪“The Sanguine Wars”

▪“The Hunted”

▪“Her Living Corals”

▪“Puppet Strings”

▪“The Trying of Master William”

▪“By The Crescent Moon”


▪“The Underside of Time and Space”

▪“Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 2 – Gemma Nyle”

▪“The Griffon”


▪“When They Come”

▪“The Reassignment Project”


▪“One Hopeless Night by a Clan Fire”

▪“Lenny’s New Eyes”

▪“Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 3 – Anna Kilpatrick”

▪“A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse”



You can connect with Kenneth W. Cain here:




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Some of Kenneth W. Cain’s books:




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