Interviews / Novelists

Interview with Kern Carter: “Early mornings, glass of water, sometimes a cup of tea.”

Kern Carter is a Toronto-based author of several books, including the novel Boys and Girls Screaming, as well as two self-published works, Thoughts of a Fractured Soul and Beauty Scars.

He has also ghostwritten several books and curates stories through CRY Magazine, an online publication that offers a platform for writers to explore their creative journey. His writing has been featured in several notable publications, including Forbes, the New York Times, and Global Citizen.

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Hi Kern, welcome to Famous Writing Routines, great to have you here with us today! Your journey to becoming a writer and author has been marked by fear and insecurity moving alongside passion, patience, and persistence. Can you share with us what you learned from that experience and how it has shaped your writing process?

What I’ve learned can be summed up in a phrase I actually only heard recently: courage before confidence. That’s been the story of my writing journey. Because in those early years, I wasn’t very confident. But my passion for writing and my ambition for wanting to be an author, those emotions drove me to be courageous and still put myself out there even though I was still insecure about my abilities.

I also learned that some of that fear never goes away. I still get nervous that nothing I write will matter, or that my writing will sink into the abyss and never be read by anyone. But I’m able to manage my emotions a lot better now because I’ve gained confidence over the years.  

I read in this beautifully-crafted piece for Medium that you write for your life, for the life that you dreamed of. Can you elaborate on that and how it relates to your creative process and the stories you choose to tell?

Wow, great question. When I say I write for my life, it’s really an acknowledgment of my life-long dream to be one of the best authors in the world. I’ve been writing seriously since I was eight years old. This is who I am. So when I wake up at 5:00 am every morning and flip open my laptop with a glass of water on the table beside me, it’s with the intention of fulfilling this dream that I’ve been imagining for myself since I was that little child.

I don’t miss any days writing because I need my process to be rigorous and challenging. I need to start my days with the thing I love most so that no matter what else happens during the day, I know I’m one step closer to that life.

There’s also something about writing in the morning that almost feels spiritual. I feel the silence. I notice when the light starts peering through my window and illuminates my space. When I’m writing that early, there’s a visceral connection to nature that feeds my energy and seeps into my writing. It really does feel magical.  

Your first book, Thoughts of a Fractured Soul, was self-published in 2014, followed by Beauty Scars. When you received messages from readers about the impact your words had on their lives, it gave you the confidence to speak out. Can you tell us more about that experience and how it influenced your writing journey?

When I wrote and self-published my first two books, I struggled with the thought of not being heard. I wanted those stories to touch the world, as I do with all my writing. But in my mind, I had to reach millions of people to have an impact. And when my books didn’t reach millions of readers, it really messed with my confidence.

I started wondering if the stories I wrote were good enough to be heard. But with each of my first books, I would get a few emails or messages from readers who sincerely enjoyed those stories. I really leaned on that feedback as validation that I was heading in the right direction.

As an emerging writer, I think it’s important we focus on the small wins along our journey. Yes, I wanted to (and still want to) touch millions of readers. But the gratitude I have now for anyone who feels impacted by my writing is immense. Don’t underestimate confidence, because it’s those messages that ignited the confidence I needed to keep writing and keep telling stories. 

As the founder of CRY Creative Group, a platform that provides opportunities for emerging writers to share their stories, can you tell us more about the mission behind CRY Creative Group and what you hope to achieve with this initiative?

As I pursued my passion as a writer and found ways to turn it into a career, I realized that so many other writers were going through similar journeys. And what became clear was that this journey is emotional and requires writers to not just be creative, but also be vulnerable.

CRY is a space where we tell writers to bring their emotions with them. Yes, you can take it personal when someone rejects your submission. It’s OK to feel so attached to a piece that it makes you want to throw up when you think about pressing publish. CRY is here to help you navigate those emotions and also provide the tools and resources writers need to improve their writing and build a career.

How do we do that? By providing multiple platforms for emerging writers to learn and share their stories, along with sharing educational and cultural content that enables writers to understand their true value. This content comes in the form of newsletters, workshops, courses, and other digital media like short videos. 

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Boys and Girls Screaming is out now, and you have two more novels, Is There A Boy Like Me and And Then There Was Us, in the works. Can you share with us what inspired these stories and what kind of impact you hope they will have on your readers?

This is a tough question to answer because I’m always inspired. There’s usually not a single inciting incident that pushes me to write a specific story. What I tend to do is analyze what’s happening in my life and the world around me and find the story in my interpretation of those events.

Like if you look at the main characters in my story, they tend to be in their teenage years. That’s because my teenage years were the most chaotic of my life. I had my daughter as a teenager, dropped out of high school, lived on my own, was one of the best basketball players in Canada and eventually earned a scholarship to a division one university.

All of these experiences are seeds of stories waiting to be told. And not that every story is based off of my life — they aren’t. But there’s a piece of my life in every story I tell. When readers consume my books, I want them to feel like they’ve been through an experience. I want something in the story to touch them deeply, whether that’s the plot, the characters, or the writing itself. 

Your writing routine involves settling in front of your computer every morning with a glass of water and a cup of tea as your only companions. How does your writing routine contribute to your creative process, and how have you developed this routine over the years?

The early mornings are when I feel most creative and most connected to the universe. As I mentioned earlier, writing when the sky shifts from dark to light is a spiritual and magical experience. It fills me up in ways that are difficult to explain. All of the books I’ve written, I’ve written them in the exact same way; early mornings, glass of water, sometimes a cup of tea. Nothing has changed about this routine except where I actually live and sometimes I wake up at 6:00 and not 5:00. 

If you could have a conversation with any author throughout history about their writing routine and creative process, who would that person be? 

Definitely Toni Morrison. She’s the ultimate for me. And I know she did a lot of writing while also being an editor and taking care of her kids, so she had to really be intentional about carving out time for her writing. 

I’d love to know about the books you’re reading at the moment. What have been some of your favorite reads?

I just finished reading If An Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga. Incredible! It’s freaking brilliant. I read a lot of good and even great books, but this one has become one of my top five favorites. I also recently finished a novel by Jamaica Kincaid called Lucy and another thrilling book titled White Lies by Sara De Waard

What does your current writing workspace look like?

Messy, but not horrible. I actually can’t deal with too much stuff in my space so I need it to be somewhat organized. There’s my laptop, my printer, then some mounts to keep loose papers and stuff organized. 

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