Interview with Author W.D. Kilpack III – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author W.D. Kilpack III

Author W.D. Kilpack III is an award-winning internationally published writer. His work has appeared in print, online, radio and television, starting with his publication credit at the age of nine, when he wrote an award-winning poem. As an adult, he had received two Firebird Book Awards, one for his first novel, Crown Prince, and the other for Order of Light, its sequel. He also received special recognition from L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest for my novella, Pale Face. He has been editor and/or publisher of 19 news and literary publications, both online and in print, with circulations as high as 770,000. He loves to cook and have cooked nearly every type of food on a grill.

Received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Westminster College of Salt Lake City. As an undergrad, he double-majored in communication and philosophy, while completing the Honors Program. As a graduate student, he earned a master of professional communication with a writing emphasis. He was also a high-performing athlete, qualifying for international competition in Greco-Roman wrestling.

He is a communication professor and a nationally recognized wrestling coach. He is also happily married to his high-school sweetheart and is a father to five children, as well as helping to raise five stepchildren. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he continue to live, coach and teach.

Tell me more about your latest book

I have two books that were both released last month: Demon Seed and Pale Face. Demon Seed is the third in the New Blood Saga and Pale Face is an unrelated science-fiction novella.

In Demon Seed, despite growing power of the forces of chaos, there is a glimmer of hope as Natharr realizes that there are also forces of order in play. It is made plain when he and his comrades escape the faceless realm and Natharr’s Sight is released. It reveals just how strongly the world needs the Guardian of Maarihk and the return of the legendary Knights of Ril to the land where Mankind was created. Racing for home unwittingly leads to unearthing an ancient force created by the Olde Gods, believed lost aeons past. Meanwhile, Darshelle and the crown prince struggle to make the most of their lives without Natharr’s protection. Forced to make their own way, the fruit of Quiet One’s efforts comes fully to bear, as Nathan and his summoned companion reawaken the animus of the ancient wood. The ramifications are horrible and far-reaching, changing their world forever.

In Pale Face, Hector Whitehorse did not belong — not here, not anywhere. He was born on a New Mexico reservation, but educated in the white-man’s school, Hector was part of two worlds, but at home in neither. It only got worse when his entrapment went from a feeling to a reality: trapped between Earth and someplace else. Hector’s close encounter nearly cost him his life. The repercussions could make him wish that he had not been so lucky.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing these books?

You probably expect me to say something about creating the storyline or something like that, but the most challenging part was actually much more reality-based. For some reason that I’m not quite sure I remember — it might have been a moment of insanity — I decided to release two books in the same month. I guess I thought that, after two books (Crown Prince and Order of Light), I had a pretty good handle on the process. However, problems have cropped up in each book, and they have been pretty specific to each book. I guess it’s like raising kids: they’re all different, with their own challenges and quirks.

To deal with these challenges, I have about a month of twelve-hour days, seven days a week. It was much harder than I would have ever anticipated. I still feel like I’m trying to catch up on lost sleep.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

I do not outline my books. I know there are some out there who would say that I’m not a real writer because of that, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have an idea of where the stories are going. There are times when I have to sit and write; I really don’t have any choice. So I write at least a paragraph to nail down the idea, although that usually goes from one paragraph to two, then three, then often into twenty pages.

Another reason why I don’t outline my books is this: when I’m putting in concentrated work into a novel, when I surprise myself, then I know it will surprise others. So, if I sit back and say, “Whoa, didn’t see that coming …!” I’m positive others will have the same response, and that’s my goal. I want people to be surprised, to have an emotional response.

I don’t have a set number of drafts before a book is “ready.” I always try to knock out a first draft while things are flowing. However, starting with Crown Prince, I decided to try something new. Each time I sat down to write, I would go back about 10 pages and revise them, then go right into writing fresh copy from there. It made for a much cleaner “first” draft. With Crown Prince, I also started reading my books to my wife at night; she called them her “bedtime” stories. That allowed me to get a wave of editing in by reading them out loud. Incidentally, I think reading your work out loud is the most effective way to edit your own work.

All that being said, with the New Blood Saga, because it was flowing so well, I planned on future waves of edits while writing the first wave. I knew that something would need more fleshing out, so I would give it a quick, not-as-specific pass, then I might further develop that same concept in, say, book four, and come back to flesh it out. So, in essence, I was (and still am) writing and revising all eight books concurrently.

I am also still tweaking here and there. For example, with Crown Prince, I made an edit because I learned that, in Medieval times, they didn’t say that hair was “braided.” They said it was “plaited.” So I tweaked that.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I wouldn’t use the word “spiritual,” although I could see someone thinking something along those lines. For me, I can’t not write. I write every day, without fail. I can’t remember when that started, but it was in elementary school. I didn’t have a computer until after I got married, so I used to have a red three-ring binder full of lined paper so I could sit and write whenever I felt the compulsion. In fact, at my most recent high-school reunion, I was shocked at how many people mentioned that binder to me (I guess it was timely since I had published a novel) and how much of an impression that it had on them.

How many books have you written so far? List and name them all here

Written or published? I have four published books, three in the New Blood Saga: Crown Prince, Order of Light, and Demon Seed. My fourth is Pale Face.

Written? I have 26 unpublished books that have been through the initial-draft stage. Some are definitely more polished than others.

What’s the best way to market your books?

Of course, the best marketing is word of mouth. Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation by a friend you trust. However, getting the word out for people to know that it’s there is the trick. To do this, I have used Facebook quite a bit but, surprisingly, what has had the biggest impact recently is LinkedIn. I had a LinkedIn account that I hadn’t done much with for years, then decided to try seeing what happens if I put more focus there. Through LinkedIn, I’ve made contacts for podcast interviews, blogs, and even critics. One of the bigger book critics in India gave my book five stars, and now I’ve got hundreds of connections with people in India. I never saw that coming!

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

The “career” part, not the “writing.”

If I don’t have other things to drag me away — and I do mean “drag” — I can sit and write for eight to 12 hours straight. When I really get into it, I lose contact with the world and just sink into the world I’m building or experiencing. As far as a schedule, I write at least an hour a day, but it’s rarely that little. I haven’t really tracked how many pages I can write in a day, but I am the most prolific writer I know.

I’ve always been a storyteller, even before I could write. I was published the first time when I was 9. When I was 15, I was actually hired to write for the first time. I was offered an editorial position for a sports publication. They rescinded the offer to be an editor and changed it to a reporter position when I told them I didn’t have a driver license and couldn’t drive around to all those events they wanted covered.

Since then, writing has been a big part of every job I’ve ever had, even when I’ve been in graphic-design positions, because I could catch typos. Here’s another example: I worked at a company as the technical writer, and the marketing manager heard that I had a journalism background, so he asked me if I could help him meet a deadline for a press release. He told me what he needed, I left, then came back about 15 minutes later. He looked up and asked, “Do you have more questions?” I said, “No,” and handed him the press release. He was in awe. Then he asked me if I could help with other projects. By the time I left that company, I was writing about 95% of everything that was produced, regardless of the department or the audience.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

The best advice I have is write, write, write. You see a movie and a line of dialogue has you going down another path, write it down. You hear a song and a lyric strikes you, write it down. The best advice for someone wanting to be a writer is just that: start.

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