Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Interview with C.K. Volnek, author of Tween Fantasy Books
It’s funny sometimes how you end up writing a certain genre...sometimes, it just picks you. I have always loved to write and dreamed of writing for children. I love their openness and imagination and how they crave a good story. Though, from personal experience, I know it can be challenging to get some middle graders to read. I had a son of my own that hated to read. But when you could turn him onto a good book, he usually saw the story through. I seized the challenge to write stories for this age; to capture their love for a good story, and let their imagination fly.
The idea for ‘Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island’ came when I read a news article about the Lost Colony. I didn’t remember ever studying it so my muse was intrigued by the mystery of how 117 colonists could disappear without a trace. I couldn’t help but research the mystery and my muse took over, coming up with her idea of what happened.
During my research, I read of the atrocity of Richard Grenville, how he destroyed an entire Native American village because he thought one of them had stolen a silver cup from his ship. This stirred my muse to weave elements of tolerance and forgiveness into my book so as to inspire our next generations the value of peace and brotherhood.
What writing credits did you have prior to submitting this book for publication?
I’ve always loved to write, though after getting married and starting our family, I was forced to find a career that could pay the bills on a regular schedule. My degree is in art and creative writing so most of my career has been based in the Commercial Art area. I then went on to write article for newsletters and magazines. I had a short story in a children’s magazine and also wrote a story selected for ‘Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul.’ It’s titled ‘Just Another Day,’ and is still making its way around the internet.
Could you give me a short synopsis on Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island for my readers?
In 1587,117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil. Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.
With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what really happened. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, it's up to Jack to uncover what the evil is and why it haunts his island. But can he destroy it...before it destroys him?
You also have two other books in the process one due out in December and then another in April. Have these books been in the process for awhile or are you a prolific writer?
About eight years ago, with my children getting a little older, I started to resume my dream of writing novels. With two teen age children still at home, though, it was a little difficult to find time to write on our one home computer. Almost a year later, my children and husband surprised me with a laptop of my very own so I wouldn’t have to share their computer time. This dream touched me deeply, not only because they gave me a laptop, but because they believed in me and wanted me to pursue my dream just as much as I wanted them to pursue theirs.
The story coming out in April is actually the very first novel I finished. ‘The Secret of the Stones’ is a lighter story; kind of a Harry Potter meets Merlin the Sorcerer and is based on the Merlin legend. It a book where kids can laugh along with the characters and let their imaginations soar. It is also the first book of a series titled ‘The Lost Diaries of Northumberland.’
‘A Horse Called Trouble’ is a horse story for girls. I grew up with horses and my love for these enduring creatures still thrives. There is a special bond formed with a horse; building trust and confidence. After visiting a special Horse Therapy program for troubled youth, the story just begged to come out.
From the time you sent in your manuscript to your publisher, Muse It Up, how long was it before you got any feedback?
I have known Lea Schizes for several years from attending her MuseItUp Writing conferences and being in one of her MuseItUp critique groups. I knew she had started a Publishing House so I initially queried her in an e-mail to see if she was accepting tween stories. In the email I outlined a bit of my novel. She expressed interest so I sent in the full story and within two weeks I had a contract.
Did you contact any other publishers to produce your book? Did you contact any agents?
Yes, I had sent all three of my stories to other publishers and agents. There was some interest but no contracts so I kept looking.
What type of publicity do you expect your publisher to do in promoting your book?
The book industry is changing daily. The Big Publishers buy ads and TV time. Smaller publishers do the marketing in a bit smaller way. But, I even know independent authors who have gained best-seller status with their self-published titles and making the rounds on the internet.
I’ve found that no matter where the author is published, they still need to get out there and create their own platform. It’s been challenging for me to reach outside my comfort zone and meet so many new people, but it’s so rewarding. I have made so many new friends and met so many fabulous authors.
What plans do you have to promote your book?
Oh my, where do I start? I actually began promoting my books a year ago. I built a web page, started a blog, joined several writer’s and reader’s groups, twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s been a year of baby steps but I was amazed when a friend told me just a few weeks ago that she had googled my name and it picked up over 57,000 results. I guess baby steps, has taken me miles from where I started.
What do you know now about the publishing process that you wished you had known earlier?
One thing I wish I would have known, was how to prioritize and schedule my time wisely from the very beginning. I know I’m still a little fish in a giant pond and learning so much each and every day. You have to get out there and just do it.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing? What advice on writing would you give?
The best advice I’ve given is that everyone has a story to tell…and if you don’t tell it, it will never be told.
Being a writer can be hard…if you’re only in it for the fame and the money. Sure I want readers to buy up my stories. I would love to quit my day job and focus only on my novels. But until that happens, and even if it doesn’t happen, I write because my muse won’t let me not write. I’m in love with my characters and stories; it’s my creative passion.
So I encourage those who want to write, to never give up on their writing. Write for the fun of it, for the legacy of your story, and if you reach fame and glory, consider that a bonus.
Her book trailers are on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbJEF9TjZzo. You can buy her books at the MuseItUp Book Store: http://tinyurl.com/3pgwul2 or on Amazon.