Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Indie Author Interview: K.M. Woods

Indie Author Interview with K.M. Woods - Author of the Historical Fiction (War and Military) Novel A Whistle on the Waves.

K.M. Woods is the writer of the Civil War novel A Whistle on the Waves and the short story The Trouble With Dead Terriers. He lives in Austin, Texas. 

Interview with K.M. Woods

Author K.M. Woods
Author K.M. Woods
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
K.M. Woods: I've been drawn to writing fiction as early as sixth grade. I remember writing "my first novel" on the bus my seventh-grade year on a tiny spiral notepad that I'd pass off to other kids on the bus to see what they thought. I started taking writing seriously near the end of college when I took a playwriting class and noticed that my work was pretty weird in comparison to my classmates, weird but interesting, and I found their critiques inspiring. So ten-minute plays transformed to feature-length, and once they were, I'd hold public workshops at local theatres in New Orleans. It surprised me that these readings would draw crowds, and surprised me more that they seemed to enjoy the work, but what I fell in love with was the process of actually sitting down and letting these wacky stories take up large hours of my day as I jotted them down. Writing novels, in particular, opened up this landscape because I never felt constrained by the number of pages or by using only dialogue and stage directions. Prose opened a doorway. It's difficult to say there's much background because such a limited amount of writing actually makes it to public readers, but I write every day. I couldn't imagine life not being able to.  
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
This has changed so much over the years, but Dostoyevsky is an author whose work leaves me in awe no matter how many times I read it. The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment are both in my top ten favorite books. Othello is my favorite play, and while the brilliance in Shakespeare's poetic's is obvious, his element that I think transcends simple day to day writing is how effective his work is in brewing catharsis. You really 'feel' for his characters throughout the play all the way until their unfortunate end. Love, love, love his tragedies. J.D. Salinger, likely no surprise, was a huge influence of mine, as was Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. These guys I think brought the American fiction landscape where it is today, especially Salinger who took Hemingway's matter of fact prose and made it slightly more casual, more conversational. Who else but Jane Austin? To Kill a Mockingbird was also one of my favorite books since high school. Ian McEwan and Jonathan Letham, as a modern-day guys, are two of my favorites. Letham goes against the grain, and his characters are always interesting. McEwan is brilliant at giving you slices of life, regardless of the magnitude of the situation. He'll make you feel as though you're reading about someone you know, or yourself. 

"Being an author always made sense to me from a young age."
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a young boy. The older people in your life are always poking around, asking what you want to do with your life. Being an author always made sense to me from a young age. It was always my backup if I never made it to the NFL. 
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. Total rip off of Harry Potter, except my main character had more of a traditional rebellious side to him. He often got in fights and used profanity. 

"Once it's finished, I wait six weeks [...]"
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I wake up. Make coffee. Drink my first cup while reading a book, just to kind of get my mind ready for words. Then I write. During the drafting process, I write the first draft in pen on a yellow notepad. Once it's finished, I wait six weeks, work on something else. Then I type the draft out, print it, and do edits in pen. Once that's finished, I use the marked type draft as a guide while I write the next by hand again. I put it away for six weeks, work on something else. Then I come back, type it out again, edit by hand again, then type another draft. Usually, at this point, its ready for an editor, or a pair of eyes, but I've redrafted after as well. Depends on the book. 
Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Back in New York, it was always a coffee shop, so I carried my desk around with me in a bag. Now it's my kitchen table in Texas. Typically it consists of whatever book I'm reading, three or four notepads, and whatever loose pages have fallen out of them, my laptop, four or five pens, and a cup of coffee. All this stuff is sprawled out with little order or organization. It has to all be cleared before dinner which is about a six-minute process.  

"The hardest part is writer's block which usually comes [...]"
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
I don't find there's much that is easy about writing. It's easiest when it's fun, but it's not fun unless it's challenging, so I'm always striving to dig deeper into it if it feels too easy. Ideally, that flow state where you're so focused that the words keep coming seamlessly as though you're breathing is the ideal mental headspace to be in, but I'd struggle to say that this makes writing easy, for that state is so difficult to reach. 
The hardest part is writer's block which usually comes after you finish something. I dread the day after I finish a draft because the empty page just stares at you and spits doubts in your face. Nothing feels right on those days. The words you tend to write make you think that you should have gone into a different field. The doubt, and refusing to let it stop you, is the most difficult part. 

"It gives me purpose and a purpose that gives me everything."
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creation. Bringing something into the world that wasn't there before. That whole process makes me feel like I'm refusing to waste my life. It gives me purpose and a purpose that gives me everything. Not just joy, but my individuality. Allows me to love more fiercely, and to care, and to strive to be better in every way. To me, writing is a joy at all times, whether good, bad, or ugly. Writing gives me joy, and the most joyous part is being able to create.  
K.M. , please tell us a little about your Historical (War/Military) Fiction Novel A Whistle on the Waves.
Sure. So A Whistle on the Waves follows a young man named Brady Gallagher. He and his best friend Shane are Irish immigrants who've come to the States to escape the Irish potato famine of the 1800's looking for a new life. The US of course is right in the midst of the Civil War, and being from the river town of Shannon, Brady and Shane migrate to the Union Navy as sailors. They find early on that most American's aren't fond of outsiders, and through Brady's perception, we observe their journey through the times ravaged by turmoil. But even in the war-torn land, do we see that Brady perhaps maybe his own worst enemy as he lets doubts, heartbreak, and alcohol consumption eat away at his soul. And this unfortunate descent into the confined type of hell inside Brady's mind can only be prevented by a lovely Creole woman named Gabrielle, who takes Brady into her cottage when he's just about hit rock bottom. 

A Whistle on the Waves (K.M. Woods)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
The song, The Lakes of Pontchartrain. I heard it on the radio one morning and it evoked an immediate emotional response. I thought, 'I've gotta write that into a book.' 
Who do you see as your target audience?
That's a million-dollar question. I think a combination of young male readers and older men who are likely retired. 

"The first time you fall in love."
What makes your book special?
I'm not sure that's for me to decide, but in my mind, it's my first published novel. That's what feels special about it to me. It's like your first anything. The first time you kiss someone. The first time you have sex. The first time you fall in love. The first time you try a life-changing sandwich. You'll never forget it. It's your first time.  
How would you describe the success of your self-published books so far?
Better than expected with plenty of room to grow. 

"Write every day [...]"
Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Write every day, and if you don't, you're making excuses for yourself. If you make excuses not to write, you're not a writer. 
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am. Let's say that I'm working on a series of books set in New Orleans during the height of the American Mafia. Fiction, of course. My main character is a young person, a bit of a rebel, who finds his entire world turned upside down, and this 'family' he's recently become a part of offers him the first true place of purpose he's ever known. Then they ask him to do something serious.  
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Before Covid-19, I  thought that while bookstores might take a punch, they would still be around in five to ten years. Post-Covid, I'm not so sure. My thought is that Amazon will have a competitor make its way into the online market that will somehow that will bring about a new vibrancy to selling books. And I also think that all the new research coming out about the devastating effects of social media will bring about a resurgence in reading. Unfortunately, I think upwards of 85% of this is going to happen online, and those small independent bookstores (the ones who have Everest before them) will become more novelty spots like record stores. To look at this positively though, there's always going to be a place for a book store or a record store, even if there's significantly less of them. Paper books will never die, though most of them will be sold online. 

"The world needs to read, no matter how - they must."
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm a paper book guy. I like the weight of it in my hands and the stack of paper building up as you continue to turn the pages. I'll occasionally read audiobooks on long drives with the audible app, but I don't read e-books. That being said, I have nothing against them. If that's people's preferred method of reading, I'll proudly provide my books in that format so that you can buy them and enjoy them. The world needs to read, no matter how - they must. 

"[...] enjoy letting the New Orleans Saints give me a heart attack"
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do have a full-time job. I'm a craft bartender. I enjoy it, though I don't want to do it forever and one day I hope to be a full-time author. I enjoy cooking with my girl, running long distances, and drinking a fair amount of whisky. I'm also an NFL football junkie and enjoy letting the New Orleans Saints give me a heart attack on Sunday afternoons. 
How can readers connect with you?
The best way is through my website, though I have an author page on Facebook. K.M. Woods. I'm also on Instagram at kmwoods1. You can hear my episode of Christian McGahan's Maximum Effort Podcast wherever you listen to those.  

Thank you very much for the Interview, K.M..

About the Book A Whistle on the Waves 

A Whistle on the Waves (K.M. Woods)
Click to Read an Excerpt

War has a distinct way of crushing the human spirit, especially when the war is not your own.

Brady Gallagher and Shane Connell never knew they’d be sailors in the Union Navy. They only departed their native Ireland to escape the rot of famine, in search of a life they’d, once again, call prosperous. 

But the lands of America, shredded by the Civil War, offered a different reality. 

They will discover in their trials that friendship and love can drive hope, even in the most destitute of circumstances. 

Brady’s life changes forever when he meets a beautiful creole woman named Gabrielle.

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback A Whistle on the Waves on Amazon

Link to the eBook A Whistle on the Waves on Amazon

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