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Monday, January 30, 2012

Author interview: C.K. Volnek

C.K. Volnek is the author of tween novels,
 Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and A Horse Called Trouble.

So you've written and published Ghost dog of Roanoke Island, A Horse called Trouble and The Secret of the Stones will be out soon.  How goes it?

Hi Josh, thanks for having me on your blog today. The writing is going fine. Wish I could say it is brilliant, but I’m in the throws of learning everything I can about Marketing and it is mindboggling! If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of advice, it would be get a web page and build a presence on the web five years before my books came out! Ha.

Seriously, marketing is a beast in itself for an author. As an author nears publication, they have to be aware that they will have to share their writing time with not only marketing and publicity, but also with networking. All three elements are important to your book. And if you leave one piece out, the other two suffer. It’s a major juggling act.

As for my writing, the Secret of the Stones is Book One of my series, The Lost Diaries of Northumberland. So, I’m in the middle of writing Book Two, The Secret of the Wood. It’s a fun story, based on the legend of Merlin and Vivien but based in the present time. Young Alex Ramsey is on a mission to discover the mysterious secrets bound in the Lost Diaries of Northumberland to rescue the greatest wizard that ever lived…Merlin. (Yes, Merlin isn’t really dead. He was saved by a loyal wood nymph and lays in a perpetual sleep until the mysteries can be solved.)

I am also working on a Young Adult novel that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s titled The Three O’Clock Hour and is based on the tragic school bus accident from my home town that took the lives of three students and one parent. It is a difficult book to write, but there are so many miracles surrounding the accident, the story needed to be told.

When did you first start writing? Do you recall your first writing project? 

Oh my, my first writing project. That was many moons ago. Like most authors, I have at least one skeleton book in my closet. That first baby never made it. But it taught me a lot and helped me grow in my writing.

I’ve always wanted to write books. But life got in the way for a number of years. Children, work, a house payment. My writing was limited to short stories and articles during that time. About eight years ago, I decided to get back into my passion of writing books. It’s not always easy to find the time to write, market and network, but it’s a passion I love and enjoy and will continue to strive and grow.

When did you finish your first book?

My first finished book is actually The Secret of the Stones. After spending much time in a great critique group, I shelved it for a while and continued onto Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and A Horse Called Trouble. That was about seven years ago. It only took about six months to write the book but I took a few years to edit it.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?  If So, how do you get over it?

I can’t say I really get writer’s block. My muse has about fifty more books for me to write so I’m never lacking on a subject. However, I have an internal editor which throws a curve into my writing a lot of times. She is an annoying girl and one I try to sneak around. If she crops up, she can cause me great grief with doubt, worry and overworking my story. She also has a friend named Procrastination that I must fight with once in a while as well. When they tag team me, I don’t get anything done!

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

That’s an interesting question. I used to say I was a panster through and through. But I’ve found that each book requires a different style of writing. The Secret of the Stones was off the cuff the whole way. Now with the second book in the series, I am outlining it to make sure I follow the clues correctly. I have a rough outline and edit that as I research and write. My first draft is going to be riddled with changes and NOONE will ever see that one! lol. It’s a different style of writing for me, but it’s fun.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I love to read and I can honestly say I try to come away with something from every book I read. When I was little, I loved Black Beauty and was determined to be the next Anna Sewell. I do admire many authors now…Jane Yolen and Janet Lee Carey are two I really enjoy reading.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? For example, you write about a teen who experiences abuse in her past. Is that drawn on experience? 

I think a writer writes a lot from experience. Maybe not directly, but your life comes in very indirectly. I did have a lot in common with my MC, Tara, in A Horse Called Trouble. Tara wasn’t popular or cool. She didn’t have money or a name to be proud of. Neither did I growing up. And it is sad how others can pick on kids like that. Tara was put down, pushed around and made to feel very small. She had virtually no self-esteem and no reason to fight for herself. Though I did not experience life to the depth of my MC, my own emotions and frustrations rose to play in my manuscript. And that’s okay. It creates authenticity. It also creates healing for the writer and reader alike. In Tara’s case, the healing started with an unlikely hero, a horse called Trouble. He gave her a reason to fight, a reason to stand up for herself, a reason to want to heal. She found her own self-worth and this is something we all need to find for ourselves.

What was your favorite chapter in A Horse called Trouble (or part) to write and why?

My favorite chapter in A Horse Called Trouble is the next to the last chapter. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and I was able to tie up the mystery, show a major growth in Tara as well as provide her with an ending sure to make everyone smile.

I believe most kids can identify with Tara in one way or another. She is a character a reader can root for and hope things change. So how else could I end her story but with the antagonist getting what she deserves and Tara receiving the best gift she could ever get. To find out what that gift is, you’ll have to read the story. ;-)

Do you own 1. A horse and 2. A dog?  Names?

I have always had animals. Had many horses growing up though I have none right now. Would love to have one, but the city would frown on keeping one in my garage. Ha.
Dogs…I don’t think I will ever be without fur-kids. At this moment we have three spoiled Papillons. Sally is my lovely little shadow and Isaiah and Emma are tiny runts and do not even weigh 10 pounds between them. None of them consider themselves small though. They are just big dogs in a little body. Papillons are a fun little breed, full of energy and smart as a whip. We had a fourth little boy named Noah who we lost in November. He was the trick wizard and a certified therapy dog. The only problem with my pups is, they can’t control their licker. ;-) They know no strangers, only friends they haven’t met yet.
Tell me about your writing environment. Do they use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at their feet? Cat on the desk? Just whatever makes it comfortable to be productive. 

Laptop. Sitting in my big overstuffed chair with two dogs sleeping at my feet and the other sleeping by my side. Everyone else in bed. TV needs to be turned off and Yanni turned on. Also need my diet coke close at hand. Ahhhh….finally. J

Star Wars or Star Trek?

LOL. The first Star Wars that came out in the 80’s. Loved the creative creatures they came up with.

My daughter thinks the new Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), is ‘soooooo hot’ ugh!  Any thoughts on the matter?

Hmmm. He is eye-candy. Tell your daughter she had good taste. ;-)

Other than writing, what are your passions?

There aren’t enough hours in the day for my passions. Sigh. Besides writing books and blogs, I love to hike. Hubby and I take several trips to the Rocky Mountains and other closer state parks to hike back to the hidden lakes. Breathtaking. I also like to sing and dance. I am known as the lady with all the flowers around her house. And I’m having fun letting my creative artist out to design book covers.

What do you think of what's happening with the publishing industry right now?  Any speculation as to where it is heading?

The publishing industry is ever changing. I’m lucky to know many fellow authors in both the traditional publishing as well as indie. I have one indie friend who is a NY Times Best Seller. It’s amazing to watch her book sales. I know I’m a very small fish in a huge ocean and I’m enjoying watching it all and finding my own wave to ride.

Why do you think the female to male ratio of new YA authors is so high?  Why do you think it is so hard to get tween/teen boys to read?

That is a hard question. I have two sons and one daughter myself, so with them in mind...I think girls embrace their creative side with writing and art, a little more so than boys. My middle son is very hands-on, but it is hands-on with electrical, cars and wood—boy stuff. He can’t sit still long enough to read a book unless it is of the ‘Goose Bumps’ variety.

I think it’s harder to get kids to read because of everything else available to them, especially boys. TV, Video games, sports, etc. Kids are sooo busy. Almost Too busy. I hope the forecasters are right when they say that e-readers will drop to about $20 in the future. This is one way I believe reading can compete with technology.

Best show on TV?

To tell you the truth, I’m out of touch with TV. I am disappointed with the way Hollywood flaunts sex and money so I really don’t follow anything with a serious passion. I watch a lot of HGTV House Hunters and have been enjoying the crazy reality shows like Storage Wars.

If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

If I could, I would have to dine with our Lord, Jesus Christ. I can only be humbled and comforted knowing he loved me enough to die for me.

What makes you laugh?

Silly questions. ;-) I do love to laugh and kids are the best way to get me to laugh. Maybe that is one reason I enjoy writing for tweens as much as I do. Kids are God’s way to express that the world must go on.

Who's the best character on The Walking Dead?

Too funny. I do know the story. We watched the first season, up until the last episode when our cable decided to change the channels that were accepted in our plan. Ughh!!! I have never been so angry. After that, I lost track of the characters.

If you could have one preternatural power, what would it be?

Wisdom. I wish I knew when and how best to speak up and when to sit down and shut-up.

Have you ever been paintballing?

This is one luxury I have not experience though I’ve been told it is a riot.

You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down and see a tortoise. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.

A.Why is that? 

It’s a Snapping Turtle and I’m afraid it would bite my fingers off. I’d probably go find a stick to try and turn it over though. I could never do anything to intentionally harm something.

B. What movie was that question from?

Okay…I admit it…I had to cheat. The quote is from Blade Runner. But have never seen the movie so I had to look it up on the internet. Sorry. But one can find out just about anything on the internet.

Okay last question... really: Have you managed to make peace with all the social media marketing required to get your name out there as an author or do you feel overwhelmed by it? How do you find a balance between 'working' that market and being creative (writing). I find it easy to get sucked into everything and completely distracted from writing.  How do you cope?

Cope? Does anyone really cope with the crazy business of marketing and networking? LOL. One could network and market 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it still wouldn’t cover everything. I do what I can and have had to learn that sometimes I have to step back for a bit to keep my sanity. Though, I have made so many new and great friends. It is rewarding. It’s brought the ever introverted being inside me out to greet and play.

My advice to our readers is to not be afraid of the giant world out there. Whether you are a writer or not, go out and meet and greet as many people as you can. The world wide web has brought us so close together and our newest best friend is right at our finger tips, with the wealth of new cultures and new worlds ready to unfold.

Thanks for having me today, Josh. It’s been extremely entertaining! God speed and happy writing!

C.K Volnek is one of the most kind and genuine folks I've met during my travels through the virtual world that self-promotion has become.  Most writers are so focused on pushing their sales that they forget that the people on the other end of the computer are...people, not just potential sales.  It is clear from our brief interactions that this is not the case with C.K.

C.K., I'd like to extend you an open invitation.  Come back and visit as often as you'd like. Thank you again for the great interview! I wish you much success.

C.K. Volnek can be contacted at  ckvolnek@yahoo.com

Her web page: http://www.ckvolnek.com

She is also on Facebook (C.K. Volnek) and Twitter (CKVolnek), Good Reads and Jacket Flap.

Check out her book trailers:

Her books are available in both e-book and paperback:


As always, stop by my website for updates, videos, short stories, writing contests and more.


  1. Hi Josh. Thanks again for having me on your blog today. It's been such a joy to meet you and I wish you much success with your series, The Never Chronicles. Happy writing! And greetings to all your visitors!
    C.K. Volnek

  2. This is a fascinating interview. Josh asks such interesting questions. I agree with regard to social media, except that I'm overwhelmed by it. Secret of the Stones looks like it will be a great read; can't wait to get my hands on it.

  3. That's a lovely interview, Josh and Charlie - such interesting questions and answers! I completely agree about the problem of time for promotion and social networking - a symptom of this online world, I'm afraid.