Award-Winning Author and Writing Mentor
K.M. Weiland's books have been an inspiration for me for a long time now, so it is an honor that she agreed to give an interview for Belle. You might already be familiar with her works or remember her name from our other article 5 Important Books for Novelists. She is running multiple websites, owns a youtube channel with hundreds of how-to videos on writing, posts great writing tips on social media on a daily base, writes amazing novels and mentors other authors. So let's cut to the interview:
I started writing when I was twelve and published a small newsletter throughout high school. I independently published my first novel, the western A Man Called Outlaw when I was twenty. But I didn’t really take it seriously as a business until my next book, the medieval historical Behold the Dawn, came out three years later. And now, here I am publishing my fourth novel! Storming, my action-adventure aviation novel about a barnstorming pilot in 1920 just came out last year.
Two things: reading and writing. I read widely, both fiction and how-to books, and, of course, I write every day. Honestly, those are the two greatest educators any writer can pursue. I’m always trying to be aware, when reading books and watching movies, of what works and what doesn’t and why. Story theory endlessly fascinates me.
I like to say, in all seriousness, that schedules are my secret weapon. I manage my time strictly and I’m always tweaking my daily schedule to try to get my best productivity while still balancing the need for relaxation and recharging.
I like to get my writing done first thing in the morning, while the day is still fresh. Right now, I’m experimenting with staving off email and Internet activities until the very last thing in the work day.
Minimizing distractions is key, so I’m very strict with myself about wasting time on the Internet, watching videos or even reading news sites.
Being published. No, seriously! Being published and read by others is amazing in countless ways. It has made my life and my writing richer. But it also makes writing harder. Once you realize you’re no longer writing just for yourself, but that every word you write is being read (and judged—for better or worse) by others, it’s hard to keep that thought out of your head while writing. The pressure is on, and it can be crippling. I went through a sophomore-novel stage where I found myself over-thinking my first drafts to a ridiculous extent. The result? My writing suffered, and I stopped having fun.
As much as I love and appreciate my readers, I remind myself every day that I write, first and foremost, for myself. I write because I love it—because I have stories bubbling up out of me. I focus on that and not on what readers may or may not want, and my writing is always the better for it.
I love Anne Lamott’s quote in Bird by Bird:
Two things. I feel very blessed that I am able to make a full-time living off the platform provided by my website. But without doubt, the thing I’m proudest of is being in a place where I can offer genuine help and encouragement to other writers. Being a writer is often a lonely path, and I love being able to reach a hand out to others, through my blog, and help them along the way.
I try to schedule in at least an hour and a half of reading every evening, and I’m usually able to read at least 100 books a year.
As a novelist, I am inspired by countless excellent authors and filmmakers. Specifically, Brent Weeks’s epicness, Margaret Atwood’s prose, and Patrick O’Brian’s sheer genius speak to me and urge me on.
My latest novel, which came out this past December, is a dieselpunk/historical adventure novel, set in 1920, called Storming. After an eccentric woman falls out of the sky onto his biplane, an irresponsible barnstormer must help her prevent a pirate dirigible with a weather machine from wreaking havoc on the Nebraska hometown he fled nine years ago.
So many misconceptions surround the idea of plotting/outlining, and so many writers are afraid it will take the fun right out of writing. But outlining is a valuable and exciting part of the writing process. By planning the story ahead of time, we’re actually paving the way for an easier first draft, which helps us save time, which helps us write with less fear and stress, which helps us produce a better story. Outlining is about exploring everything from character backstory to theme to conflict to plot structure.
I’m currently in the editing stage on a historical superhero novel called Wayfarer, which is set in Regency England. Having a lot of fun with that!
I’ve also just started the outline for the sequel to my portal fantasy Dreamlander. It will be called Dreambreaker and goes into what happens as the veil between our world and the world of dreams begins to rupture, and the former “Gifted” Chris Redston, now shorn of his abilities, must struggle back to his lost love, the fierce and conflicted Queen Allara, to help her overcome dangerous international intrigue and discover the truth about their still intertwined destinies—before a mysterious heretic can commit the ultimate abomination of permanently fusing the worlds.
Very soon (next week, I hope), I’ll also be starting work on a writing how-to book about character arcs, which is a natural extension of everything I’ve written on outlining and story structure up to this point.
I’m actually not big on long-term goals. Succeed, I guess you’d say, is my only long-term goal and that, of course, is pretty subjective, even within my own perspective. My biggest goal as a writer was to be able to support myself writing full-time, and I was able to start doing that in 2011. So, of course, one of my biggest goals right now is to maintain that.
I prefer to focus on short-term goals: deadlines, etc. I keep an eye on the long-term vision, but when the little goals are being met, the rest falls into place. I always have projects underway that I want to see finished and readership that I’d like to see increase.
Ben Wendtner is an Austrian writer and sofware developer, as well as one of the founders of BelletristicaZum Profil