Interview

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 and short stories 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 the new worlds and other lives I live in my imagination.

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.

Seventeen-year-old Cadet Marshal, Pala de la Croix, and her escort team deploy to a newly discovered planet. Their routine exploration changes to a survival mission after being targeted by their own people. Pala tries to unravel the motivation behind the attack and the possible betrayal of her boyfriend and fellow Cadet Marshal, Cabot Isberg.  She discovers that, not only is intelligent life present on Colossus, but the planet itself may be more valuable than she was led to believe.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Pala is just a normal teenager who has a famous military father.  Because of this, as she begins her own career in the military, she has to work a little harder to stand out in her own right.

How much research do you do?

It’s pretty much constant.  I’ll hit a place in my manuscript where I don’t know something, say, the sound of a Euphonic drive.  So, I have to look that up.  Often, there isn’t something (like that example), 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 thinkof 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 part 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 an 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.

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 writing the sequel to Sentient.

Where can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website & Blog: wendylkoenig.com
Facebook:
facebook.com/sentient-book
Twitter:
@wlkoenig
Goodreads:
goodreads.com/WendyLKoenig

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