Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interview With C.K. Volnek

Please tell us about you, your books, and list any websites you have and any information you'd like to share with our readers and writers.

Hi Linda,

Thanks for this gracious offer to tell you a little about me and my books. My name is C.K. Volnek and I write for children, middle grade and young adult. I love the curious minds and passion with which our youth live by, so open and ready to embrace to the possibilities of today. My goal in life is to never truly grow up where I lose that wonder. I live in the wide open state of Nebraska. A recent visitor commented that she thought she could see five states from here. Maybe not quite. But I do love the openness and space. Spring is my absolute favorite time of the year as I look out over the big blue sky and rolling hills of green dotted with baby calves.

My first novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, is a tween mystery/adventure/ghost story coupled with Native American folklore and the history and mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

Evil haunts Roanoke Island and it’s up to young Jack Dahlgren to destroy it, before it destroys him.
In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil.

Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American sage, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what this evil is and where it came from. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, Jack must uncover why the evil haunts his island, but can he destroy it ... before it destroys him?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, by C.K. Volnek, is due to be released September, 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing


My second novel, A Horse Called Trouble, is a tween horse story. Having grown up with horses, I have been lucky to experience first-hand the love and trust a horse can give, and can pull from you in return. After visiting a troubled youth horse therapy program, this novel was born. It a story where the reader can empathize with the misfortunates of thirteen year-old Tara and root for her and a horse called Trouble.

A Horse Called Trouble

A troubled tween must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse that has taught her to love and trust again.

Tara Cummings hasn’t had an easy life. Abandoned by her mother at the young age of seven she’s been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she finds herself skeptic and suspicious, with no family, no friends, and forced to participate in horse therapy.

Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only got her heart broken, perseverance only gets her put down, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid.

At the therapy horse farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. At first she’s afraid of Trouble, until she realizes he’s as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. She pushes aside her fear and a special relationship is formed as she alone manages to calm him, much to the surprise of everyone at the farm. Trouble trusts Tara, and Tara in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again herself.

Tara’s self-esteem grows through the therapy program as she begins to work through her shyness and reservations. But her confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble’s manipulative owner is determined to have him destroyed because of his ‘dangerous’ nature. Tara must overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse that has freed her heart and given her life value and meaning.

A Horse Called Trouble will be published in December, 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing.

Visitors can find me at:
Website: Blog:
e-mail: twitter: CKVolnek

2) I see you like to write for the young adult and children. What do you find most challenging about writing for that age group? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

I do love writing for children. They are fun and so full of life. My own children are the apple of my eye. My middle son hates to read and I took it as a challenge to create stories children would be interested in and want to read. And if they learn something along the way, whether it’s history, something about themselves, or something to make their world a little better, then that’s a bonus.

3) As a lover of history, what kind of research do you do for weaving history and folklore into your books?
My story Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is based on the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. It is such a mystery. What did happen to the 117 colonists? Did they die in a storm, or at the hand of others? Did they move inland and join the Native American tribes? Will we ever know?

I did quite a bit of research when I was writing my story, complete with uncovering the manifest of the actual colonists and using some of their names in my story to keep it as authentic as I could. My reader will get to understand a little of what life might have been like back then. They will get to know the characters, good and bad and hopefully take some lessons away to make the world a better place. I also added a mythical monster from Native American folklore.

4) Do you usually have more than one story going at a time? If so, how do you manage your time?
My muse is a pesky creature. I have three works-in-progress going at the moment, plus several more pleading in the back of my mind to be able to come out. I never have trouble finding something to write, it’s more, which story am I going to write today?

5) How do you develop your characters? Do you use people that you know?

I do tend to use many elements of people I know…good and bad. I draw from all experiences in my life, remembering those people that have had the most affect on me…good and bad.

6) Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the experiences in my book are purely fictional, but many elements are from personal experiences. Life can throw some pretty crazy curves. Happy memories, sad memories all blend into the patchwork quilt of our life.

7) Did you learn anything from writing your books? If so, what are they?
I did learn a lot about the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island when I wrote this book. The mystery still baffles me and I find myself both angry and proud of this venture. I am proud of the colonists for their bravery to come to a new world to try and make a new life. But I am angry at Sir Richard Grenville for burning an entire Native American village just because he thought a native stole a silver cup. It was because of this I wove the lessons of tolerance and forgiveness into the story of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.

8) How do you manage your time?

Time is a brutal creature. I still have a day job and will continue to keep it until my writing provides for me, which I hope to be sooner than later. J Even though my children are older and mostly out on their own, there are still many things that take demand of my time. Family, friends, church, hobbies…but I always try to keep my evening for my writing. I kick my feet up in my comfy big chair and have at least two to three of my puppies laying on the chair or ottoman with me and write into the wee hours of the night.

9) Do you have a set format for writing? Do you use an outline? Do you know the beginning to the ending before you sit down to write? I have written short stories where I didn’t know how it was going to end. Has that happened to you?
Most of the time when I start a book I have the basic idea of the story complete from beginning to end. But I dare not plot the whole thing out because my muse will ultimately change it. I have a basic outline, write and research along, making tons of notes for my muse to take into future chapters. There are usually many twists and turns I never expected when I first sat down to write the book.

10) Do you have any last words for our readers and authors? What would to tell a beginning writer?
I would tell a beginning writer over and over again, to always believe in themselves and never give up. Everyone has a story to tell and it won’t get told if you don’t tell it. And it just may be the story to save someone’s life in one way or another.

It has been my pleasure interviewing C.K. Volnek, and hope to continue to be friends long after this interview. Order her books today and let me know what you think. Charlotte, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, to do this interview. It was really an honor.

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