Ken Pelham likes to push the envelope. This Maitland writer's stories test the limits of his readers' imaginations while taking them on unforgettable adventures that will keep them hooked to the last page. This is no small feat for a guy who spends his days as a landscape architect.
Born in Fort Myers, Pelham grew up in the small town of Immokalee. He was always an avid reader and started writing in middle school where he created comics for his friends. In high school, he moved on to short stories and a play. As much as he enjoyed writing, economic considerations led him to channel his creative talents in a different direction, so he pursued a degree in landscape architecture at the University of Florida.
He started writing short stories and nonfiction articles after he graduated from college. Several of his stories were published in magazines, so he decided to try his hand at a novel. After two failed attempts, he set to work on a suspense/thriller titled Place of Fear. It introduced his signature character, Dr. Carson Grant, a protagonist Pelham describes as “prickly and mysterious, a little Indiana Jones, a little serious archaeologist.” Even though he was unable to place the book with a publisher, Pelham went on to write a sequel, Brigands Key, set on a quirky little island on Florida’s west coast. Writing Brigands Key was a multi-year process. Pelham wrote seven drafts before he finally submitted it to publishers.
The effort paid off. In 2012 Brigands Key was picked up by Five Star Publishing and won first place in the prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards. Praised as “A perfect storm of menace…” by Florida Weekly, the story begins when Carson Grant discovers a body while diving near a subterranean freshwater stream in the Gulf. He is soon facing off against the local police, a mysterious plague, a Category 5 hurricane, and a crazed murderer. The success of Brigands Key led to the publication of Place of Fear, which earned Pelham his second Royal Palm award. Pelham’s affection for his fictional Brigands Key led him to use it as the setting for several short stories included in two collections: Treacherous Bastards: Stories of Suspense, Deceit, and Skullduggery and Tales of Old Brigands Key. Pelham has also penned a non-fiction book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, which won a Royal Palm Award for “Published Book of the Year.”
Pelham’s latest project, The Prometheus Saga, is a unique science fiction anthology reminiscent of the classic short story collections by Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Richard Matheson. “I was investigating how to use the new technology in publishing in an anthology,” he says. He conferred with friend and fellow writer Charles A. Cornell, and they came up with the idea of having a select group of writers create stories that shared a common premise. This was the birth of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of writers working “independently together” toward a single goal. “Alvarium” (Latin for “beehive”) reflects the philosophy of writers working as a colony. “We decided to create a theme and a character that had no bounds but made sense,” he says. The stories are tied together by the enigmatic Prometheus, a humanoid alien probe sent to observe the human race throughout its history. Created by an alien intelligence, Prometheus sometimes interacts with mankind, but it is left up to the reader to decide if it is malevolent or benevolent.
The Alvarium Experiment followed up with a second anthology, Return to Earth, which explores scenarios in which the first visitors to our planet just happen to be us. Pelham's contribution to that project, "Under the Whelming Tide," is a semifinalist in the 2017 Royal Palm Literary Awards. And in July of this year a third anthology, The Masters Reimagined, will be released, in which classic works of literature will be visited with a slant towards speculative fiction.
Pelham's short story, "The Queen Beneath the Earth," appeared in Darkwater Syndicate's gripping horror anthology, Shadows and Teeth, Volume 2, in April, 2017.
Staying busy, Pelham's column appears monthly on the FWA website. He's also hard at work on a nonfiction book about the evolution of genre fiction, and on the third book in his Carson Grant series, Grand Ruin, which involves the mysterious death of a high school football star and the secret of an abandoned castle. He feels that what makes his novels unique is that they push the limits of believability. “I like keeping a lot of balls in the air at once and multiple characters with competing agendas,” he says. “I hope my books give readers an enjoyable few hours of reading and leave them with something to think about.”
For more about Ken Pelham, visit his website at www.kenpelham.com
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