Sunday, May 17, 2015

Writers of the Future Part 2: An Interview with Peter J Wacks

One of the exciting things I had the opportunity to do at Writers of the Future was to interview authors after the ceremony was over. My first interview was with Peter J. Wacks. He was very personable, and I enjoyed talking with him.

What advice do you have to give to new writers?

Besides write every day—which is a big thing—make sure it’s a discipline, and not just an art.

Also, it’s never too soon or too late to get started. I was first professionally published when I was fifteen years old. I have friends who were professionally published when they were in their 60’s. If you love it, do it, and you’ll find a way.

What about those people who say they don’t have the time?

I heard this story from Kevin J Anderson, about Frank Herbert taking 15 minute breaks while working as a journalist. During his lunch breaks, he would whip out his notepad  and write for fifteen minutes. That book was called Dune. There’s always time. There’s always time—even if it comes in 10 minute increments. 

If you were to write twenty five words per minute (which is 1/3 the normal typing speed), You would get two hundred fifty manuscript pages before you know it. And after a year, you would have a whole book.

My son loves comics. Where would you tell him to start with writing graphic novels?

It really depends on what he likes. You’ve got to follow what you love when it comes to what you want to write.

I would encourage him to look at Bill Morrison for the Simpsons. He does a lot of learning to writ e and young writer resources. Simpsons is big into literacy. Also, Comic Con International has a program with these awesome packets for teenagers who want to write. 

But ultimately, when it comes down to, your story - find a way to tell it. Whatever it takes, whatever medium it’s in, just tell it.

What is your favorite part of Writers of the Future?

Boot Camp. The week leading up to the ceremony. Watching these guys come in just completely dazzled. What? Why am I here? I don’t deserve this. Then they get to sit down with all these legends and then watch them go through all that course work and get the personal connections with these people who care that they’re the next generation of writers and they start to learn that there is a circular community. That every generation cares about the next generation when it comes to writers. We’re all in this together. No matter what level of success or failure we’ve and. And watching them learn that first hand over the week leading up to that ceremony. Unfortunately it’s not a part many people get to see.

Do you have an author who inspired you to write?

 I’m about to lose all my geek cred. I have many authors who have inspired me to write. My first author that inspired to write is when I was 8 years old. I was already writing, but it inspired me to write more and to explore more and that was Plato and the allegory of the cave.

I saw that as the allegory of the writer and not of the Cave. To strip away the shadows and show the people the world. At least as I could understand the real world when I was eight. “I’ve got to show the world how cool this stuff is.” And that fire was in me after that.

And that flame got coaxed into a bigger light by Tracy Hickman with the Dragonlance Chronicles when I was about ten years old. So I would say at the beginning, that was really it. What got me going. The odd couple - Tracy Hickman and Plato.

So authors go between "My book is awesome" and "This is the worst book ever." How do you tell them to get through the lows.

You saw the video at the beginning? About thirty seconds before, I wondered what I had just done.

You tough it out and finish the story. You write problems for your characters and then you write them through it. So if you’re at a low, write yourself through it.


Thanks, Peter! It was great to interview you. If you want to know more about Peter, here is his bio:

Peter J. Wacks is a bestselling cross-genre writer and the Managing Editor of Kevin J. Anderson's WordFire Press. He has worked across the creative fields in gaming, television, film, comics, and most recently, when not busy editing, he spends his time writing novels.

Peter, in his editorial capacity, has worked on stories by Tracy Hickman, Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland/David Wolverton, and many others. He has also helped bring some of the seminal works of the 20th century, like Allen Drury's Advise and Consent, back into print. 

He has been a panelist, guest speaker, and Guest of Honor at a combined total of over 250 conventions, Trade Shows, organizations, and Colleges - including GAMA, Mensa, & UCLA. 

When he isn't working on the next book he can be found practicing martial arts, playing chess, drinking Scotch or IPA, or fighting with swords.

You can find his books here.

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