K. Williams has been writing and slaying at it for more than twenty years. When she’s not just being a mother and the acclaimed author of the Civil War drama Blue Honor, the 2nd World War spy thriller OP-DEC: Operation Deceit, and the dark fantasy/paranormal series The Trailokya Trilogy, she is also a blogger, vlogger, and screenwriter. Readers love the way K can enchant and weave fact with fiction to meld realistic worlds of fancy. Follow her at her vlog/blog as well as on social media.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Sometime after seeing the film Memphis Belle (1991?). The guys were certainly what drew me in at first, but then the history kept my attention, the drama, and the idea of creating stories. I had been a big reader my whole life, so this just pushed me over the edge to start telling my own stories instead of just consuming those of others.
- What do you love most about writing? Being in another world. I can see the story so clearly in my head—like dreaming, and epic dreams are always fun.
- What genre(s) do you write and what drew you to that? I write across a few, but they all have that edge of darkness to them, something thriller. So—I write historical, thrillers, and dark paranormal fantasies. What drew me to these was the dreamy, or nightmarish, quality stories can hold. All of my books, with the exception of Blue Honor, came through dreams. Since I was a kid, I have been dreaming the world of Trailokya, and although I had intended to just pursue a visual medium for this story, I did finally write the trilogy. [My book] OP-DEC, that came about because of a 40’s film-like dream. I dreamt I was Claire coming home, and the whole dinner party, then the date, and the ending. It was a surreal and exciting ride. At first, I just jotted some notes down thinking it would end up being one of those weird dreams that fizzles into nonsense once you’re fully awake, but it held up.
Side note: The film they saw in the book [OP-DEC] isn’t the one I saw in the dream…Star Wars was playing (which would be impossible, of course, but it made me laugh! I’m a big fan.)
- How long does it take you to complete a book or writing project? That depends on how you look at projects. I tend to let ideas set in my head for a long time, that could be months or even years, before I start writing anything. For some reason, I resist the process, probably because, as with the dreams, I’m waiting for the idea to fizzle into nonsense and prove that it isn’t worth my time. If it hangs on months and years, then I know I have something I need to pursue, something that won’t lay quietly aside in the graveyard of ideas.
- What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Can you describe a typical writing day? Furious. I have a day job, the old 9 to 5. That tends to make it difficult to get a moment, especially now that I have a daughter (she’s two). I used to sit and write all day, for as long as I could, just filling up pages and pages. Then, when I hit the wall, I would review my work—edit and correct. This would reinvigorate my excitement, and I’d continue. I pretty much follow that same formula, but instead of hitting a wall, I hit a bed by my 11pm time limit. My daughter goes to bed between 8 and 9, so I have only a couple hours to get it all out. I’m thankful my typing skills are great, so I can get quite a bit down in that time. The story will play throughout the day in my head as a film, and I play, replay, and gel that information in preparation for my writing time. It actually works better than you’d think!
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I’d say that it’s the dreaming. Many of us are fascinated by the inward lives of other people, and what’s going on in their heads. My books give people a chance to enter the dream world and explore the worlds and individuals found there.
- Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they? I always recommend taking classes, however you can. It’s not always affordable, and time might not be on your side, but technology is on your side. Check out MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses)—which are almost always free. Courses that are writing intensive always help you hone your skill. Don’t just take literature courses. I want you to look into the study that is called intertextuality. That is imperative in writing, because intertext is where you meet and hook your reader.
- What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out? Having the overarching goal of success and what that looks like for you is great, but you have to take the time to fill in the blanks of the steps to get there. Success doesn’t happen in one leap. That’s an illusion. Also: You can always get better at writing, so don’t fool yourself into believing you’re the best at this skill, because hubris will hold you back. Learn to be honest but kind to yourself. Not all feedback is particularly useful, but you can always find something to learn in all feedback. Be prepared for people to hate your work and being okay with that.
- How do you handle writer’s block? Move onto something else. I have found that writer’s block comes to me when I am missing an important element for the story on which I’m working. It may take ages for that information to show up, because you probably don’t know what it is, but you will when it comes to you. Then I pick back up. Mulling a story over in my head for months (years) at a time usually helps me skip writer’s block. By the time I’m sitting down to write, the only obstacles I’m facing are time and access to research.
- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing? Good writing means good grammar. Easy enough to learn! (Take those classes and practice). Storytelling—that’s different. Great storytelling is being able to leverage intertext to reach and hook in with readers. Having something compelling to share. I don’t recommend following formulas like “Save the Cat.” It’s unimaginative and leads to boring your reader with rehashes.
- What is the most difficult part about writing for you? How do you overcome it? Right now, it’s the balance between work and life. Having a toddler takes precedence over other things, and, of course, the day job that keeps us fed and sheltered. Finding time to write, not just my blog/vlogs, but my books!
- Do you watch anime, documentaries, sitcoms, and/or reality TV? If so, what’s your favorite right now and why? If not, tell us what you’re into! Do you like TV? I watch almost all of that. Everything on that list is a variant form of storytelling. The only thing I haven’t been in love with is reality TV. I have watched some, back in the day, like Real World and OCC Choppers, cooking series… It just felt so inauthentic I couldn’t align with it. Documentaries are one of my favorite things. As I always advise, go out and study other subjects to inform your writing. Don’t just do literature courses. Anime is gorgeous. I’ve been watching it since Gatchaman in the 1980s, which you might know as G-Force, and Voltron of course. I’m a big superhero fan, too. Sitcoms are great, like Schitt$ Creek or Psych, but I tend to watch more dark things like Happy, Badlands, Man in the High Castle, Mr. Robot, TWD, Thrones, Supernatural, Wynonna Earp, and so on. I also watch a lot of foreign television: Dark, 3%, Diablero, and several Australian and British Series. My most recent favorite was Lucifer, but there are so many on my list that I love. Cartoons? Easy: Scooby-Doo.
Fun, quick facts:
- Tea or coffee? Definitely both. I have to have my coffee in the morning and will drink tea all day.
- Cake or pie? Pie (my best friends says I’m very much like Dean on Supernatural).
- Morning person or Night owl? Night owl
- City or country? Country… just a drive away from the city.
- Social media or meetups? Social media.
- Paperback or ebook? Any which way that book comes.
- Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter? Autunm.
- Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, or Pixar? All of the above.
- Board, card, tabletop, mobile, or console games? Console games and mobile. (American McGee’s Alice)
- Type or handwrite? Type books, handwrite notes (although I’m transitioning to electronic notes.)