I am here at the farm of Author Wendy Siefken and son, Co-author Charles Siefken near Laurel, Iowa. Thank you for inviting me to your home to interview the both of you. Let’s start interviewing you and Charles while we wait for the main character, Kai Drake, of your trilogy ‘Kai’s Journey’ to arrive.
Wendy, Charles, and you are the first mother and son writing team I have come across. Could you tell us a little bit about how this came about? Well, Charlie had issues in school with learning difficulties due to his being dyslexic and having cross modalities. When it came to writing in his journal, he wouldn’t write the topic of the day for his English class but would write stories instead. His teachers were happy that he was writing something so accepted it. He discovered books about this time and started reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini. School remained really difficult with the teachers always requiring note taking in class and extensive writing from him. He was ready to drop out in 10th grade when the principal approached him and said, “If you can write us a story that includes, Math, English and current events and get it published as well as tell us how you did it, I will give you a pass/fail grade and we will get you graduated.” Well, believe it or not he did it as well as keeping up on his other classes as well. It gave him something to strive towards. Therefore, by the time he graduated high school he was a published author.
Charles, how hard is it to have your co-author be your mother? It’s not really all that different than writing with someone else.
Wendy, your trilogy has quite the array of unique characters being introduced, how hard is it writing a fantasy without falling into the old stand-by characteristics that you read or see in the movies and still make your story believable to the reader? We did our research and found folklore from way back that showed a bit of a different twist to modern “monsters”. So we figured we would tweak it just a bit but keep a grain of truth in there, and make it our own. We developed our characters and what we wanted them to be like before we started writing.
Charles, I have been told by other authors that sometimes the characters of the story will try to take the story on a complete different path than where you want the story to go. If this has happened to you, how do you deal with it? Normally when this happens we let the characters lead us to see where it goes. If it works better than we had planned we keep it. If not we change it back to the original and the character just has to deal with it. Ha ha ha.
Do you wrestle it back from them or do you go with the flow? Usually we just go with the flow and 9 times out of 10 it is better than we had originally planned.
Wendy, how hard is it not to take the ‘mother role’ while wearing your author hat? It is really not hard at all. When we are working on a story, we are just two people who think a lot alike and have different ideas that work really well together. When we are working on a story, he is my writing partner. When it comes to him doing his chores, he is my son.
Charles, which one of you is the plotter and which is the pantser of the team? We are more of a pantser than a plotter. Both of us agree on that. We do have a general idea of where the story is to go but we don’t have it set in stone. It can and generally does change.
Wendy, which is your favorite character in your writing and why? I think Lily is my favorite character in the series. She is kind of shy and quiet but very protective of her family.
Charles, same question, which is your favorite character and why? Boris is my favorite character. He is just so three-dimensional and is a heck of a guy.
Wendy, how do you get past a writer’s block in the story line? Usually if I run into writers block, I talk to Charlie, if that doesn’t work I have often talked to my hubby as well. Sometimes we just get in a gabfest and really discuss the story, characters and where they could possibly go from the stuck point. It could be while sitting around a bonfire, at a restaurant or even in the living room. I don’t recommend talking about the killing off of characters in a restaurant full of people though, you get strange looks.
Charles, you are training to be an auto technician, how would you answer people who feel that an author has to have a degree in the field of English to be worthy of someone’s time to read their novel? You do need English to write a story but you really need experience to write a believable story. It’s creativity that comes up with the stories and practice that helps to hone that skill. Education can help but it isn’t a necessity to be an author.
Wendy, what is your take on someone taking a story say like ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and changing up a few things and bringing it up to date then claiming the story as their own? It’s plagiarism plain and simple. It’s O.K. to say like originated from blah blah, but it’s not wholly your idea because someone else wrote the story first. Give credit where credit is due.
Whoa, I just saw a wolf run pass the door and around the corner of the house. I did not think wolves were common in Iowa. Hmm? (Knock, knock) Wendy gets up and lets Kai in. Kai comes over and Wendy does the introductions.
Kai it is so nice to finally meet you. Your story is intriguing. I have had an enjoyable time interviewing your creators as we waited for you. If you take a seat next to Charles, we can start with your part of the interview.
Kai, as the story opens you are traveling alone after the zombie apocalypse when you come across a white wolf being attacked by a group of zombies. What possessed you to rescue a wolf from the zombies when it could have turned on you then you would have had to fight both the wolf and zombies? In my world, good or bad, everything fights against the zombies. There was something in the wolfs eyes that let me know it wouldn’t hurt me. I had to help.
Kai, your secret kept you from seeking other groups of survivors why was it so easy to want to join Clover’s group? A person can only be alone for so long. Even a loner like me can want human companionship. The desire to belong somewhere is usually with most people.
Kai, you had a nightmare about you and Clover that came true later in the story. Do you have the gift of prophecy? (leaning over to the open window he whispers) “Clover, what is prophesy?” (Kai listens, then sits back up) I don’t know if I have the gift, but it happened that one time yes.
Kai, when you found out about the secret of Clover’s group why didn’t you run the other way as fast as you could? Because they hadn’t hurt me up to that point. They accepted me, so I accepted them too. We all have our secrets.
Kai, your family was at ground zero when the zombie apocalypse and for quite a while it was just you and your housekeeper Rita. Can you tell us what it felt like to be so alone for so long? It was really bad. I mean it was great being with Rita and all, but every time we tried to join up with a group and they found out my name, well, we usually had to make a run for it.
Kai, your group set out for Butte, Montana with the help of Louie to escape the militia. Can you tell us about what you were feeling as you set out for Butte? I felt really good. I mean, we had a purpose instead of just existing day to day. I had a group that was becoming my family.
Kai, what were your most inner thoughts when you met the outer space dragons? (laughs) I thought I was dead and this was some sort of weird heaven. I didn’t know what to think at first but then when I realized I was alive I feared they would eat me! Let me tell you, I was sweating bullets for a little bit until they told me they don’t eat our kind.
There are so many more revelations in the trilogy but I think we will allow the readers the enjoyment to discover them. Once again I want to thank Wendy, Charles and Kai for allowing me to interview them. You can find out more about Kai’s adventures at the following websites: