Why don’t we start off by you telling us a little about yourself? I always have the worst time talking about myself, but I can never shut up about my books or the characters and events in them. Other than a writer, I dabble in the visual arts: digital photography and graphics. I’m an avid dog mom and animal lover—not a vegan though—totally love burgers and fries. My mother taught me to cook from a young age and I love doing it—the dishes not so much. I am content to live in clutter—my mind on soaking up as much stuff as possible. I also write screenplays and historical novels. The more I can soak up about everything, the more content I feel, so it’s not just about enhancing my writing but a real pleasure. The girl I used to be would probably agree that non-fiction was a fun read—when not assigned. I used to read the newspaper at my grandmothers even as a kid.
What do you like to do for fun? I’m a Netflix binger. Totally one of those people! I cancelled my cable and have never been happier. I am in total control of what comes on my TV and between Netflix and HULU plus…heaven. As a writer/screenwriter, watching is a big portion of research. Since my recent graduate studies, I have noticed how priceless that time can be to the craft. My brain never shuts off the analysis anyway. So I might as well use it to my advantage.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? That’s a tough question to answer. I guess I had some idea of that coming into being when I was a kid, but I didn’t really start pursuing it with any earnest until I entered High School. I often cite the film Memphis Belle as being the spark that ignited all the kindling waiting to be set on fire, so to speak. A lot of groundwork for this was laid even before I was born: Mom read Tolkien while carrying me (it literally felt like deja vous when I finally read the actual—not children’s versions—books in college); I had a small library as a child, my grandmother kept a small library (which held my curiosity quite a bit), I enjoyed the literature assignments in school, and film was an active muse in the house.
What does your family think of your writing? Like others, they had their doubts. I faced a choice in undergrad, flunking out of Biology because of calculus or changing my major to English, and that really did not go over well. They’re afraid that I won’t make enough to support myself or that I will work so hard and still achieve nothing. The writing life is a tough life to choose, because it doesn’t guarantee riches and fame, and neither is that really the point. But, unless you do very well, and become popular, you can’t expect to live on the proceeds of your work. You’ll need a day job to pay the bills, and that can add substantial strain on a person.
What do you think makes a good story? The tale of the human condition—adversity. Whatever of the six stories that are the root of all stories, modern and ancient, there is always some form of adversity—something to overcome. Within that, touching on shared cultural archetypes can be quite fascinating. They are anchor points. The place where people can relate to something. I always wondered, and even more so, since taking on the Trailokya project, why there weren’t more stories like this. I poked all over the catalog on Netflix looking for something like it. The closest I came was the Prophecy films (1979) and Legion (2010). Other films, which had the feel, at least for me, were Inception (2010) and Insidious (2010). At least, it appears that there is a recent fascination with the mind and other worlds—universes.
Is there a subject you would never write about as author? If so what is it? The Vietnam War and the South Pacific during WWII. There is always brutality in war, but these two fields fill me with more dread than the danava! Ugly, ugly things happened—physical torture. Just traumatizing, and doing that research, it immerses you into the trauma of the victims. For an empathetic person, that can be very difficult—and just imagine actually living it!
Do you create an outline before writing? I do not. I risk forgetting my ideas. My theory is, if it’s important enough and good enough to stick, then it will be there when I finally get to sit down and write. Most of the ideas we churn out are bad or at least not half as good as they could be. Letting them steep for a while allows that realization and better things come to mind, or you can build on those wonky tidbits something of value. I do write myself notes. Penning a very brief synopsis that contain the gold nuggets of the idea: time period, who, what, where.
Although some writers find comfort and focus inside an outline, I find myself running right through the fences and exploring the lands beyond. Maybe that’s not good practice, but it hasn’t disserved me yet, that I can tell.
How much research do you have to do before writing a novel? It depends on the topic, but almost everything that is written draws from some kind of experience—researched or lived first hand. I would compare the research that I do to a literature review for a graduate degree. I have an extensive background in film, history and writing—so I draw on that knowledge and skill set. Then I fill in the cracks using the specific time frame I am looking at. For Trailokya, years of listening and learning about various religions and cultures fed into formation of the worlds. It’s based on recurring dreams I’ve had, actual history and culture—theology and of course, action adventure film.
Any advice for getting through the dreaded writers block? Writers block, in my experience, stems from your brain knowing better than you do about the project. It’s like a super computer and it houses all that information, but when something is missing, the program errors out. Until you find what you need, that missing bit of code (information), you won’t be able to continue. So, relax. Take a break away from the work. Maybe do some more research. Watch some films about the topic. Take a walk. Daydream through the story, over and over. Feel out where the missing bits are—somehow you’ll come across them and then you can insert them and continue. Trust yourself. You’re not completing the work for a very good reason. Meditate on what that might be. I always find a way through blocks like this—not the adage that you should plow through even if you only choke up a line or two. If something is wrong, it’s better to figure out what before you have to scrap a lot of material to fix it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors, like myself? DO NOT STOP. This is not going to be easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy to achieve. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna frustrate you. It always will. Get comfortable in accepting that this art you’ve chosen is a hard life, but don’t doubt that in that you will find beauty and happiness. DON’T JUST WRITE FOR YOURSELF. Writers need to realize that the only point to putting word to paper is to communicate with other humans. Absolutely tell the story you want to tell the way you want to tell it, but know that you also have to do this in a way that it can reach others, and know that it will—maybe not the millions of readers you dream of but it will reach out there. PUT YOUR WORK OUT THERE. The only way to ever get your books out there is to put them out there. Criticism is what it is, and it is part of the job. NEVER STOP LEARNING. The best way to hone your craft is to continue your education—online, in a real classroom—however you prefer to do it. Some writing groups can be beneficial, but you need to be among peers and betters whose skill can better your own. If you’re in a writing group of your current peers—you will never exceed that level. Take lots of different classes, so you can get lots of different feedback. Assignments will hone your skills, and the materials for the class that you need to review will enhance your knowledge and skills. You can learn on your own, but the benefits of having a professor review your work, learning how to do proper research, gaining an appreciation for a high level skill set—that is what sets you above the bar.
How is the publishing process? Any advice? I wrote a short how to publish guide that I keep on my FB page. It’s very concise, drilled down to the basic premise of every step one needs to take. It’s how I got to be where I am today and it is a solid plan with a lot of personal experience. Though I can’t guarantee success, I and many others have taken the route and it is proving to be the way for most authors to make it in the business today. https://www.facebook.com/notes/k-williams/ks-concise-guide-to-getting-published/10151750561137779
What’s next for you? Lots and lots and lots of marketing! I have sequels planned and hope that readers will be ready for them in the years to come. I’m even planning a spin off series that deals with another group of souls in Samsara, their history and bringing them up to date where I begin this trilogy. As always, I am constantly pursuing film rights of my work, as I am also a screenwriter. (Crossing my fingers for a Maiel action figure.) It should be a lot of fun!
Okay now for some lighter questions.
Coffee or Tea? Both. I’m thoroughly addicted to both. I only drink coffee hot, but I love tea hot or iced.
Do you write more in the morning, afternoon or at night? Afternoon and night. I like to get everything else done that I can, so I can sit uninterrupted for many hours.
Are you an early bird or night owl? Night owl. All the way. When I have time off from my day job, I end up on a 2 am or later bed time and it’s so hard to get back into the 9-5. I just very much prefer later.
What is your favorite genre to read? Literature. Hands down. It’s just amazing to read the greats—books that have been passed down. There is so much in them. They’re very rich.
Is there a book that you wish you could have written? Have you ever heard of “A Royal Quest” by Mary Lide? I loved that book as a sixteen year old. I still have my copy. I need to read it again. It’s a romantic story, but it doesn’t get into the physical, relying on the eroticism of the moments that lead to those ends instead. It’s set in the middle ages, and is a bit of a fantasy. I just really enjoyed it.
What is your favorite book at the moment? This Gun For Hire by Graham Greene, I had read it in preparation of writing my book OP-DEC: Operation Deceit, a WWII spy thriller. Both the book and movie play into the narrative. I have a lot more Greene to read, his catalog long and great. The movies of his work are fantastic. You might remember the more recent adaptation “The End of the Affair” (1999) with Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea and Ralph Fiennes. Beautiful production. His works are just breathtaking and do well on film.
Is there anything else you would like for your readers to know? You can catch up with me and learn more about what I am doing currently online. I keep a regularly published blog with commentary on current events (not gossip), dogs, cooking and learning German. The learning German bits are probably my favorite, as I get to exercise my comedic side. I love to field questions from readers. Oh, and the companion to Trailokya is a live document on Wattpad. You can also read the first 30 or so pages there for free to get a feel for the book.
Thanks so much for chatting with me! I had so much fun reading all of your answers and I am also a Netflix binger! Thank you for the advice you gave and I hope I am able to follow it.