Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Inevitably, I suppose, I’m in all of my characters. They come from me; they are me—and I am them. But I’ve never consciously created a character that was based off myself or anything I could identify as one of my prominent characteristics. I write because I want to experience other lives and other mindsets. I live my own life all the time, so I hardly need to write about it. But, of course, my characters are always influenced by own core beliefs and worldview.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh, I’m just generally a pretty quirky person. I’m very organized—to the point of obsessiveness, or so my friends like to tease me. I quizzed my family once about what they thought my quirkiest habit was, and every one of them mentioned my listening to my music albums in alphabetical order. Oh, and I talk to myself. But I’ve been told that’s okay—so long as I don’t say “huh?”
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I don’t know that it was ever something I “discovered” per se. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made up stories. In fact, my earliest memory is of myself dreaming up some wild story about saving my family from some unknown catastrophe. I started writing my stories down when I was eleven or twelve, and throughout high school, I wrote, edited, and published a newsletter for horse-crazy girls. Moving on to novels was a natural progression. I guess you could say I’ve always been a storyteller; it’s just inborn; it’s who I am. But the writing—the learning of the craft, the studying to show myself approved—that was something I became.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m very eclectic. I love trying new things and broadening my horizon. So I don’t confine myself to reading (or not reading) any particular genres. That said, many of the books on my list of favorites fall into the categories of historical, literary, and speculative. I love Patrick O’Brian and Orson Scott Card. Can’t get enough of them. For the last several years, I’ve also been making a concentrated effort to consistently read the classics. I’m determined to read them all before I die! Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen, Willa Cather, Charles Dickens, and Pearl Buck have all become dear friends.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written seven novels—two of which are published, one which will be published in another year or two, and four which, God willing, will never be seen by anyone but me! I started out writing a story about the rodeo world, followed that up with two westerns and a story about football—before writing my first published book, the historical western A Man Called Outlaw (http://www.kmweiland.com/books.php#outlaw ) about the land wars in 19th-century Wyoming. I followed that with my new release Behold the Dawn (http://www.kmweiland.com/books.php#behold ), a medieval tale set during the Third Crusade.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m still trying to figure that one out! Truth be told, I thrive on the busyness. I love accomplishing things; I love waking up each morning with a sense of purpose; and I love scratching things off my to-do list in my dayplanner! However, I do get overwhelmed occasionally. This past year, in particular, has been beyond hectic. Now, that Behold is out, I’m looking forward to taking it just a little bit easier—for a month or two anyway.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Like so many authors, I agonize over names. If they’re not just right, if something feels less than fitting about a name, it acts as a brake on character development. I have three or four name manuals all marked up with highlighter pens and stuffed full of notes and lists. I drive people crazy with my demands to “help me think of name.” I’m sure they’re sick of spouting off a litany of names, while I sit there, shaking my head, and saying, “Nope, can’t use that one. No, that’s not quite right either.” I always know when I hit upon the right name. It’s almost as if the characters have always known what their names should be, and when I finally come across the right one, they just quietly claim it.
I had a minor character in the novel that comes out in May, who didn't like his name. I gave him another one, but that one didn't stick either. At the very end of the book, I finally pleased him. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Every book is a huge accomplishment—even if it never goes any farther than my own hands. Finishing a 100,000-word story is a marathon, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. But I have to say I am extremely proud of my most recent novel Behold the Dawn. It was a hugely special story to me—one of those lucky projects that just flow. I still look back at it and find myself wondering, Did I really write those words?
I've experienced that, too. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Oh, my black Lab, definitely. If there’s a critter on this earth that’s more expressively happy, I think that would probably be too much happiness to bear!
What is your favorite food?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t know that I’ve had a problem so large I would consider it a roadblock. I did struggle for a while, a few years back, wondering if writing was really something the Lord wanted me to pursue. Much as I loved it, much as I thought I needed it, I worried that it wasn’t an effective and responsible use of my time. I surrendered it to Him, knowing it was a gift from Him to begin with. After much prayer and seeking, He gave it back to me, and now I’m just trying to use my gift as responsibly as possible for His glory.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Write! It’s so easy to get tangled up in all the so-called rules and the fuss over how to find an agent and get published. But none of that matters when you’re starting out. The biggest challenge you face is simply finishing that first draft. Sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and let your imagination fly. Embrace the joy of writing, and avoid the crippling effect of inhibitions. All that other stuff will come later, but it’s not what’s important right now.
Tell us about the featured book?
Behold the Dawn is a gritty medieval saga, with a love story at its core. It’s the tale of Marcus Annan, a renowned fighter in the tourneys (the huge mock battles, condemned by the church, that preceded the more familiar jousting tournaments). He’s been on the run for sixteen years, trying to bury his sins in the gore and glory of the battlefield. But when a mysterious monk surfaces from the dark haze of the past, he is compelled to travel to the Third Crusade in the Holy Land in an attempt to rescue an old friend. He arrives too late and is forced to take responsibility for delivering the man’s widow to safety in France. But long-hidden secrets are rising all around him, enemies are stalking him, and, if he hopes to survive, he’s going to have to face his past once and for all.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Marcus Anan had killed before. He had killed so many times he could no longer remember them all… so many times he had become inured to the ache of sorrow as he stared into the faces of the dead.
Some had deserved to die; some hadn’t. It mattered not. They were all dead, and he could not bring them back. Unlike himself, they would never have to wonder if the end would ever come, if life would go on and on forever, taunting in its gaiety, tormenting in its bleakness.
As he reined his horse back amidst the chaos of a southern tourney and watched his allies crash into the opposing line of horsemen, he wondered if perhaps he had traveled this dark path beyond his ability to return. He watched through the barred vision of his great helm, concentrating on the steady rhythm of his breathing, forcing down the fire of battle that coursed through his veins as he waited for his quarry to extricate himself from the clangor of battle.
Today, Marcus Annan—tourneyer, soldier, and wanderer—would bring the tally of deaths yet a little higher as he played one more round in this bloody, accursed game of mock battle that had become the only pursuit of his shattered life. The legend of his name would grow, and the burning flash of battle fire would once more blind the sorrows of his heart. He would end one more life, even as his own hurtled onward, unable to escape the demons that wailed as loud on this day as they had upon their birth almost a score of years past.
Wow! Such a wonderful hook. How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can find me on my website (kmweiland.com) or my blogs Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors (wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com) and AuthorCulture (authorculture.com).
Thank you, Katie, for this interesting glimpse into your life.
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