Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Colorado, but raised on a small homestead in Illinois. I served in the USAF right out of high school. After my stint in the military was finished, I returned home and had a horse stable. My first piece to be printed was a short children’s fiction, Jet’s Stormy Adventure, serialized in The Illinois Horse Network. It was a natural fit, given my business. Later, I attended University of Iowa’s famed summer workshops and writing programs. Since that time, I have authored and co-authored numerous books. Several of my novels, short stories, and poems have won international awards and have appeared in multiple venues.
As a child, What did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian. Everyone knew you couldn’t make a living as a writer.
What were you like at school? Were you good at English?
I was very quiet in school, usually lost in my imagination. The teachers often stopped class to make sure I was all right. I loved English, it was one of the few classes where I actually paid attention.
What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky, And the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. All three are very dreamy and yet strong. I try to write like that.
Why do you write?
I want to share.
Where do your ideas come from?
I keep journals that I fill with tidbits, photos, and ideas I bump into through my day. Some of these usually coalesce together into much bigger ideas.
Please describe what your latest book is about.
Destante and Aniause are hiding in mid-16th century Mexico. They have always been true loves, mates through all their regenerations. But now Destante has been made Queen of the Phoenixes and the last remaining Fire Bearer.
To complicate matters, the griffins are threatening to renew a 1000 year old war, her phoenix lords are considering a coup, and she has a sacred calling, higher even than that of Queen of the Phoenixes.
All Destante wants is for things to go back to the way they used to be.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Destante is a spoiled princess, who has never given a thought to ever ruling the phoenixes. She becomes queen when her sister is dealt the final killing blow that keeps a phoenix from regenerating. Though she has her minor temper tantrums, she has a strength welling within her.
How much research do you do?
Lots. It’s pretty much constant. I’ll hit a place in my manuscript where I don’t know something, say, the common drink in that part of Mexico at the 16th century. So, I have to look that up. Sometimes, there isn’t something (like in science fiction), so I have to research the theory behind it and extrapolate from there.
Describe your writing practices
I plan my day the night before. I wake up between 6 and 7 am, every morning. When I’m ready to start my working day (and I DO call it work to keep me at it), I first type in corrections on the prior day’s work. Once that’s done, I write new stuff longhand on a yellow note pad, and then type it into my computer. Next, I print what I just wrote, read it aloud to my cats (they’re such critics!), and mark up the manuscript with changes I’ll make the following day.
Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I also write poetry. I can’t paint or draw. No one wants to hear me sing and I don’t have the patience to learn a musical instrument. Writing short stories is something I had to learn; they don’t come naturally to me. But novels do. Always have.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
It’s a little of both. I let the character and idea dictate the story, but as I think of things, I plug them into a ‘liquid’ outline where I think they might fit in. This outline changes, sometimes radically, as the novel progresses.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing?
The hardest thing is to get back into the story after having to leave it for more than a week or two. The experiences in that short time have altered my perception of life and I’m not quite the same person as when I left.
The easiest thing is to begin a new story. I get really excited by a new idea and I just want to jump right into it. This sometimes causes what I said was the hardest thing. I really try not to start something new until I’m finished with a project. I always celebrate finishing a story, but truthfully, I think I’m really celebrating the opportunity to begin a new one.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I’ll probably get some hate mail over this, but I just don’t believe in Writer’s Block. I believe it’s my subconscious trying to tell me something. It may be saying things like: “Hey! Your characters just wouldn’t do what you’re planning,” or “This is a really boring thing you’re writing. Let’s change it,” or even “This is good so far, but you should begin thinking about ideas for the future, too.” Often, if I reread the story from the beginning, with a red pen and an open mind, I’ll find the problem. It’s usually in the chapter I just wrote.
Any amusing story that happened to you as a writer?
I totally told on myself in a poem about a fight my mother and I had when I was in my teens. Sometime during the fight, I spiked the tea she was making with a handful of salt. As the fight progressed, I forgot about doing that. When the fight was over, she invited me to have a cup with her. It was the nastiest stuff I’d ever had. I never told her what I had done. Not until the poem, anyway. The book came out and I got a phone call. All right, that’s not really funny, but it’s one of those things that writers sometimes do: narc on themselves. It makes me shake my head and chuckle at myself.
Do you think about readers and their reactions when you write?
Of course. I want them to have the same experience I do while I’m living (in my imagination) what I write.
What advice do you give aspiring writers?
1) Keep a journal, it’s something you’ll draw from over the years. Keep everything in there, even old stuff you’ve written, even if it’s not very good; it could spark an idea.
2) Do something with your writing EVERY DAY, even if it’s just posting to your Facebook author’s page.
3) Read people whose writing you admire. Step out of your normal genre.
What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
How much marketing is involved on the writer’s part. It’s something that has to be scheduled into your normal writer’s day.
What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
I took breaks from writing a couple times and lost the momentum with my fans that’s so vitally important. I wouldn’t do that again.
Something personal about you that people may be surprised to know?
I’m actually quite shy and get horrible stage fright because of it. I’ve tried everything to cure it: pictures of my loved ones on the podium with me, imaging the audience naked, a little wine, even Toastmasters. Still shaky in front of a crowd. Book readings are a necessary torture.
What is your favorite simple pleasure?
Lately, it’s been coffee.
What is your favorite quote?
I have a few, actually. My newest is by Gandhi: In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
What’s next for you?
I’m putting the finishing touches on a mystery. I’ve also started scribbling out a new SF book.
Where can readers discover more about you and your work?
Website & Blog: wendylkoenig.com
LINK TO BOOK IMAGES: https://wendylkoenig.com/the-books/