Today I'm talking with multi-genre author David W. Wilkin about his Regency work.
1) What moved you to become an author?
Well, I have always liked stories for as long as I can remember. I don’t really remember the first adult reading experience, but when I was 12 I went to summer camp and my counselor recommended the Lord of the Rings back then. What a great book, and this was 38 years ago, 1974. Long before we had the animated movie, or the more recent movie (which a high school friend was the producer on!) It didn’t change my life, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of wanting to turn my stories into stories for everyone.
So when I graduated college, I had already sold an article for a gaming magazine. I started playing around with longer work. My short stories have always been hard for me. I just have something to say and it takes a lot of words to say it. (I think maybe I am a little verbose.) I sat down and wrote Tranquility Hilton. The story of the first moon colony, where the hotel franchise is to the Hilton chain. Yet, what happens when a wealthy couple, fallen on bad times, also sees their very valuable diamonds and other jewelry stolen from the vault on opening weekend.
They have to be wealthy, since it isn’t cheap to go to the moon and be tourists there (though with the way sales are going for spaceshots, there are a lot of rich people.) I wrote that, and now, in hindsight over 25 years later on with a lot of classes on writing and a lot more practical experience. I know why it was rejected and what it needs to be made viable. I even managed to transfer the digital data from many computers and backup systems so I still have access to it. (The real main theme of a novel about those living and manning the first hotel on the moon isn’t the robbery. It is the longing for Earth that they are separated from.)
As I mentioned in some other interviews, the reason I write Regency Romance is all about Cheryl, my wife. We met at a Regency dance and wooing her involved my writing a few pages of a story and sending it to her, until I won her heart.
2) Tell us about your current novel.
The current novel that I am excited about and think that everyone should come and get a copy, is Jane Austen and Ghosts. I wrote it very quickly because the idea came to be quickly and the story was just all there. Then nuance came as I started typing.
There are a host of novels about Jane and our Regency/Victorian era writers and novels now meeting the supernatural, zombies, sea monsters, and of course the very timely favorite vampires. I had never read any of these, having read through Dracula twice in my life. That is quite a tale, and I tackled my project and then delved into one of the others. I can see where there is a fascination for the material.
But the inspiration came to me because of the success of this sub-genre and my cousin who finds ideas to make movies. Well the whole cult of these books and success of Twilight and others in the field suggested that Patrick was going to buy, or someone who did Patricks job at another studio, these stories and make a movie. And with my friend Mark (of Lord of the Rings success) as well making successful movies, what would happen if one studio cornered the rights and had to now make that movie. Oy Vey! Jane like Billy Bigelow in Carousel should be allowed to come back to Earth…
Or even come back with a few friends. And in Hollywood, there are a lot of those who have passed to the next life that Jane might now know who could come back with her and provide inspiration on how these novels really should be made into movies.
Though the authors of the novels within the novel are caricatures, like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for instance, or Lady Catherine. The detail of Hollywood and the parallel plot lines to Jane’s work should provide anyone who likes Jane’s work with some fun along the way.
3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?
As I mentioned, the things that came together were the current fad in Regency and Victorian era writing with the supernatural and the realization of these movies coming out. But I did not just weave that into the story alone. Studios and production companies have more than one iron in the fire, else they won’t be able to go into production on the next project.
So as the main plot of our novel, to begin work on the screenplay for the Jane project is being discussed with the authors of these special novels, there is another movie project about to start shooting the next week. Not to say that Adam Sandler features in it, since he is a public figure. But that a character based on Adam and a project for him is a sub plot seemed like a lot of fun to also weave into the story.
That along with the succession plan of the production company which speaks to mirroring the success that Elizabeth Bennet might find with Darcy and his ten thousand a year.
4) What did you find most challenging about this book?
Weaving in and out of the studio like feel to the novel. Setting the scene. The dialogue and interaction of the characters came nicely, as did the plot and subplots. But to give it a tone of Hollywood, (And I used to work for Dick Clark Productions many years ago) was the challenge.
I try and take the reader on a journey that will keep them entertained and certainly make them feel they are getting bang for their buck. I lace my novels with humor, and maintain that my characters act consistent in the way I have established them. That they be true to themselves in their time. With Jane Austen and Ghosts that is easily done as it is modern era. With the Regencies I write, my characters can think philosophically of a world where slavery is no longer allowed, since Wilburforce was working towards that goal. Where the vote is for all men, and even women to an extent, since we have had the revolution, though even in America, only holders of land could vote. The Terror in France shows that giving away too much power to an uneducated proletariat could have a devastating effect, so my heroes can not be as modern of thought as democracies are today. (But then they will not be as corrupt then as politicians are today.)
5) Tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I was 6 ft and almost 1 inch. Now I’m shrinking.
That was probably too little.
I’m a man writing Regency Romances. That has to be a little different.
So why? Why do I like the Regency?
I have written elsewhere about how Southern California at one time started a craze in Regency Reenactment. With that craze came the locals running a monthly dance practice so all would be ready for the two big events each year that are held. A Regency Ball held in Fall called the Autumn Ball, and then A Regency Assembly where the group would go to a hotel and take it over for a full weekend of activities, dancing, and another Ball.
A friend, thinking they had a woman to introduce me to, urged that I go to this dance practice, and though I did date the young lady once, I went back to the practice at various times because others knew of it. It was a good way for my friends and I to have fun doing these dances, and as time went on I became quite good and taught them, as I also did the dances I had mastered in my Medieval/Renaissance reenactment group.
I further became hooked on Regencies when one of my closest friends told me to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. Once into that and Heyer’s use of language I devoured a dozen more. (Well I didn’t eat them, but you understand.) Then I met Cheryl at the Autumn Ball. I had been writing in other forms, so as we maintained a long distance romance for a few months, I began to write her a Regency Story/Novel a few pages every few days until we were together.
My writing group thought that it was some of my best work and better than the Science Fiction I was sharing at the time, so I grew into Regency Romance.
6) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on?
My next Regency is Beggars Can’t Be Choosier. I have been looking for readers because I tackled some issues as a male writer I have needed women to ready. Basically if I handled a miscarriage and also childbirth correctly. I haven’t been in labor, so I wrote based on my interaction with women on the subject. It would still be good to have others tell me if I nailed this or not. So I am still looking to find that feedback. (Any Volunteers?)
But I want to put this through my editing cycle as well as Two Peas in a Pod, a humorous look at Regency Twin look a likes, as well as some mad cap humor. (I always want to capture a certain Beatrice and Benedict repartee in my hero and heroine.)
If I could do this full time, then I am sure we could see 4 new Regencies a year as well as several fantasies. I have two ideas for series that I want to develop. One in the early Regency era, when France is on the verge of the Terror, and then another much later. A Ruritanian Romance series.
7) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.
In Jane Austen and Ghosts there is a reveal that takes place near the end. I don’t know if everyone can guess at it, but one can see how tricky I make my Jane as a Ghost. A little bit more of the willfulness we see in Elizabeth Bennet that we don’t see in many other of the Heroines of Jane’s.
It is so common for so many to have imaginary friends when we are young and a few times those friends have been portrayed as ghosts, well perhaps I linked that idea together, though as the late Robert Jordan would say RAFO! (Which means Read and Find Out) Designed to propel sales of the book. I think far more fun will be to look at the past Hollywood Icons and Legends who journey back over to visit us at DeMille Brothers Studios. Some of whom are not only famous, but infamous, and some you may have to be immersed in Hollywood lore and legend to identify.
I will say that the last few paragraphs I had a great deal of fun with and hope my readers appreciate it.
8) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like?
Well Jane Austen of course. For Regencies I am also influenced by Georgette Heyer. I have a few modern day writers of Regency Mysteries. The Beau Brummel and Jane Austen Mysteries. The late Kate Ross. If you love Regencies, run, don’t walk to find these 4 gems. (Oh and now, Galen Beckett but this series is got Fantasy elements, the prose is dynamite though.)
After that, I think Robert Heinlein and Charles Dickens helped to form me as a writer. The late Brian Daley, the Late Robert Asprin, the Late Robert Jordan. There really isn’t a theme. I am just younger than the writers I read and whom I like and return to reading. For those who take a look at my Fantasy work and other work, they may see how I am influenced.
9) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in?
Aside from my influences, who I listed, this last year I have read Burt Golden who has a mystery dealing with the March Madness tournaments. Burt was a former College Basketball coach so knows that area pretty well. Nathan Lowell who has written a science fiction series reminiscent of playing the Traveller role-playing game, Patrick Rothfuss whose second book is not nearly as strong as his first book.
Dave Poyer who is a delight in Modern Naval fiction, ER Burroughs who I thought had written better when I read him as a teenager, and Michael J. Sullivan whose first two books were much better crafted than the third where he through in traditional fantasy elements without regard to logic.
10) When writing, what is your routine?
I spend way too much time in front of my computer writing. Somedays I will sit and come up with well over 30 pages. I have sprints where I want to work on 100 pages a week. And then I have distractions where I have to take breaks and work on the website, or the blog.
It takes a good hour to come up with 3 pages in first draft, an about an hour to edit ten pages. In a three hundred page work then, that is about 100 hours to write the first draft. Thirty more to go through my edit. Then I enter the edits. At least another thirty and about a week of prep. About 200 hours? That seems low. If I sat here and was not distracted and got paid for that time, could I do a book every five weeks? 10 a year? Well probably. But then how much should I get back for each book?
Is $8 worth your time to read for two to three hours what took me 200 to write and polish and work on? So far, I think that my take on providing story, my interpretation of Boy meet Girls, Boy loses Girl and Boy then gets Girl, will take you on a journey you’ll enjoy.
11) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?
I had not been thinking of myself as an artist until recently. Then I realized that these stories and tales are art. And that while I have fun with them, they are as much art as some of those writers I read. Then there is craft to this as well. Knowing how to string words together. But to weave in plot points and subplots so the characters become more than one dimensional. That has taken time to learn and develop.
So so be successful at storytelling, I have become both. But it is a kick to be an artist.
12) Where should we look for your work?
I can be found at the iBookstore, and Amazon, Nook and other online places for eBooks as well as physical books. I have created one webpage that sums it all up which I humbly (proudly, arrogantly, annoyingly) titled David’s books:
I can also be followed at my blog where I place excerpts of the current work, and a lot of research:
And I can be followed at Twitter: