The Poet’s Secret is a novel powered by two remarkable yet fractured characters: Elia Aloundra, a young lit student, and Cameron Beck, the reclusive, suicidal poet she is on a quest to find. Decades earlier Beck penned his acclaimed masterwork inspired by an anonymous muse, only to thereafter disappear. Elia always found sanctuary within the words of the literary greats and considered Beck worthy of that pantheon. Hoping that the poet will unveil the secret to eternal love, Elia faces off with Beck’s protective circle on an exotic island hideaway, the same island where decades earlier a Spanish shipwreck entombing mystical Aztec relics was found. What Elia cannot fathom is that Beck’s secret will change both their lives forever.
Kenneth Zak was born in Parma, Ohio in 1962 and resides in San Diego, California. The original manuscript of The Poet’s Secret was selected a Golden Heart® Finalist in romantic suspense by the Romance Writers of America. The poem Two Bits from The Poet’s Secret previously appeared in Kelp Magazine. His short fiction A Promise appeared in A Year in Ink, San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology, Volume 4 and his short story Thea appeared in A Year in Ink, San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology, Volume 8.
The Poet’s Secret is his debut novel.
Jillian: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
If I were to recommend a playlist as a back drop for reading The Poet’s Secret, it would be a combination of the soundtrack from Luc Besson’s 1988 film The Big Blue (about the relationship and rivalry of two free diving competitors) and instrumental selections by Shigeru Umebayashi, Yo-Yo Man and Tan Dun (from a variety of Chinese film soundtacks, including songs like Star Crossed Lovers, Confession II, Moon Explains, Season Change, Silk Road and The Eternal Vow). I suggest symphonic, instrumental arrangements serve as the best backdrop for reading The Poet’s Secret. I actually wrote portions of the novel with The Big Blue soundtrack in the background, particularly the aquatic and diving scenes. I don’t technically “listen’ to music while I write, but more absorb it into my consciousness on occasion to set a mood and drop into a particular scene.
Jillian: What sound or noise do you love?
Ken: I love the sound of flowing water in all forms, including everything from a silky drizzle to a torrential downpour (I’m writing this in Kauai and we are getting plenty of both), from a gurgling stream to a gushing waterfall, and from a lazy tide to the thump of a wave. The sound of water soothes me, excites me, provokes me and often envelopes me, so much so that I try to be in and around the water every day. I even love the quiet between the sounds of water. There are moments when even the tides fall silent. The lull between sets of waves can also be exquisite, providing a peaceful perspective.
Jillian: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Ken: Wow, picking a favorite movie can be difficult. But if I were to shortlist a few they would include The English Patient (directed by Anthony Minghella and based upon Michael Ondaatje’s novel), In the Mood for Love (directed by Wong Kar-wei), The Darjeeling Limited (directed by Wes Anderson), and Vickie Christina Barcelona (directed by Woody Allen). Themes I am drawn to are the scope and depth of passion, adventure, romance and contemplation. I love broken characters in difficult situations trying to make some sense of their existence.
Jillian: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans?
Ken: There is a cool book trailer for The Poet’s Secret by Kenneth Zak on YouTube:
Jillian: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Ken: I would become a vintner. There is a novel revealed in every bottle of wine. I think that great vintners understand the interplay between soil, grape, climate and humanity and mix these ingredients much like a storyteller weaves together a story. The same can be said of whiskey distillers and craft brewers, but the grape remains nearest and dearest to my romantic heart.
Jillian: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
Ken: I usually let out a long sigh. Finishing the first working draft of a book brings on such a unique set of emotions. There is a sense of loss, of ending a long creative journey and relationship with the characters, all the while knowing there is much still to be done. I become so involved in that fictional world I miss it almost immediately (and thankfully for revisions know that I will be visiting again and again and again). There is also a sense of “mission accomplished,” at least for the moment. But part of my immediate processing includes not just that initial long sigh, but soon thereafter an even longer swim or surf session.
Jillian: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
Ken: I would like to travel through Prague from 1900-1950, since that is part of the setting of my next novel. My ancestors come from a small village outside of Prague that I have visited and intend to return to next year. There is a something powerful about sifting through your fingers the soil from your family’s origins.
Jillian: What does it mean to love someone?
That is a great question. For me, loving someone is challenging yourself and your lover to live life to its maximum, from passionate adventure to quiet solace to forgiving honesty and humanity. I want to be challenged by my lover and confident that by sharing and growing our love we will both harvest something otherwise unobtainable. Once you have found that, love becomes a state of awareness, a sense of being, a golden glow around out every thought and deed.
As you know, we turn the interview questions around at GLIAS and encourage our featured authors to interview our readers! In that spirit, Ken has a question for commenters: What is your favorite (non-physical) attribute of a lover?
You can contact Ken here: www.kennethzak.com and Kenneth Zak Author (Facebook)
The Poet’s Secret is available both in print version and eBook on Amazon and select bookstores (Published by Penju Publishing and distributed by Ingram).