7 Questions With Author Kenneth Wolfson
Kenneth Wolfson is a lifeguard by day and self-published author by night. While guarding the pool, he spends the long hours of empty time plotting out his next novel. Once he returns home he unleashes it all onto the digital pages and spins character-driven space operas to their zenith of storytelling and scale.
Kenneth Wolfson has been writing since he was ten years old but he only published his first novel Vindication last year at age twenty-four. He is currently hammering out the sequel, Thunderdome.
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Are you a plotter or a Pantser?
My writing habits have developed over the years, like a character arc. For my first ten years of writing, I was a total pantser. No plan, full speed ahead. When I wrote off the top of my head, and re-wrote in later drafts, my story and characters felt like they grew organically as I added and changed plot elements and character details throughout the book. Outlines just took too long for me to build as I wrote forgotten book after book.
That changed when I actually published my first novel. Vindication took three and a half years to write. The majority of that three years my novel was a mess. I learned the lesson that if I wanted to put out books at an efficient rate, I needed to start planning them out.
I began Thunderdome with a decent-sized outline of plot points and character traits, and it’s been a far easier ride.
What are some major setbacks of the profession?
Writing is the loneliest profession. I can’t state this enough, because it is so isolating. To get your book done you need to sit down in your favorite space and stare into your computer for hours at a time. When I write fiction I’m immersed in my own world and cut off from other people for huge chunks of the day. It’s demoralizing to just look up and realize the whole day has gone by without seeing anyone.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Desperation, and the crazy, ingenious plans those desperate people come up with to survive. Thunderdome takes place in the free for all of the corporate regions, filled with death, and angry humans happy to deliver death. Commander Adrian Huxton is one of the toughest humans around. And he’s the only person standing between his terrified refugees, and certain extermination.
There will be space combat, as commanding his ancient supercarrier Vindication, Adrian will need every last bit of his military experience and intellect in order to protect the people he cares for. Life in the wild west of the corporate sectors is a challenge, but if anyone can get it done, it’s he and his crew of equally desperate officers.
What’s an approximate price authors would pay to get their book out there?
I self-published Vindication, and I’m going to self-publish Thunderdome. Let me give you the direct financial impact of publishing.
Content Editing: $850 (I regret this. Did it too early in the writing process.)
Line Editing: $2100 (Had to re-do it myself after.)
Advertising post-launch: $220 and counting
$3420 spent on one book, over 3.5 years. Self-publishing Vindication taught me a lot of lessons the hard way. Number one is writing is free, but publishing ain’t cheap.
How does a day in your author life look like?
I spend the first half of my day at work, lifeguarding. As I’m standing out in front of a pool dealing with unruly parents, there’s no time to sit down and write. There’s plenty of empty time for me to think. I spend my time plotting and theorizing about writing.
Then I get home and put my fingers to the keyboard. My writing spot is my front porch, with a beer in the summer. In the winter, I either trek through snow to Starbucks or sit down at my dining room table and write. I keep typing until I’m too tired to form coherent sentences.
What is your definition of a first draft?
The first draft is a foundation. I write it as fast as possible without stopping for anything until I roll up to the final sentence. No editing, just a rough framework put out. This is the framework I build on in all future drafts.
What are the five immediate tasks you hope to accomplish in the near future?
As I said, I’m fairly new to planning. So I’ll just draw up five goals on the spot and have at them.
1: I’m going to finish tomorrow’s fourteen-hour shift at work. This is my last shift of my summer.
2: On my week off, I want to write 3,000 words per day. I’m on the final chapter of the second draft of Thunderdome and I want to finish this.
3: I’m currently pushing at work to get promoted, from regular lifeguard to supervisor.
4: I’m going to start advertising my first book Vindication in the run-up to releasing
5: When I began writing Thunderdome, I set a goal to publish it in one year. I’m four months away, and excited to finish.
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