Todays interview is with author duo Wodke Hawkinson which is the name under which authors K Wodke and PJ Hawkinson release their co-written works. They live in the central United States in different cities and do a lot of their writing via email and phone. Karen and PJ have been friends for years, but only began writing together in 2009.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Karen: I don’t remember the first story I wrote, but PJ and I used to write silly stories in high school. I remember some of those.
PJ: Karen’s answer is mine also. We have a collection of our earlier writings and they are quite unique.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Karen: Great writing, no matter who produces it, always inspires me. Sometimes inspiration can come from a photograph, an overheard conversation, or even a dream.
PJ: My first novel, Half Bitten, was inspired from reading the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer and the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Karen: The part I love happens after the initial idea or plan is formulated, when I actually start putting the words on the page.
PJ: I love the beginning of an idea for a story or novel. Sometimes I can’t wait to get them on paper. We have many of these beginnings that we can hopefully use someday.
Books & Writing: I understand you have written several books. Which one is your favorite?
Karen: This is a hard choice. I think I like our anthology, Blue, the best, although Betrayed would be a close second. Perhaps we haven’t even written my favorite yet.
PJ: The most challenging book we’ve written to date is the one that will soon be released. As far as a favorite, I’d have to say Betrayed.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about your last book “Betrayed”, and the main character(s)
Karen & PJ: Betrayed is about Brook, a woman who is taken captive during a carjacking and held by brutal men for several days. She escapes only to end up lost in the Colorado wilderness at the beginning of a harsh winter. When she’s running from her captors, she stumbles across a wild-looking mountain man, Lance, and fears he will harm her, too. Betrayed contains scenes of graphic violence, but it also contains a tale of tender love.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for the book
Karen: Betrayed combined a story idea of mine with one of PJ’s. When we were discussing our characters for our different stories, we suddenly realized they belonged in the same book.
PJ: Karen is correct and the two ideas meshed wonderfully.
Books & Writing: I understand you have also written a version of the book with a different ending. Why did you decide to do that?
Karen: A reader actually inspired the idea. I’ll let PJ tell you how that came about.
PJ: A close friend mentioned he had been looking forward to Brook gaining revenge and it wasn’t until he only had ten pages remaining to read that he realized there were to be no killings. This got me to thinking about writing an alternate ending in which Brook does get revenge; thus, Betrayed-Alternate Ending came to life.
Books & Writing: What is it like to be a writers duo?
Karen: Working with a co-writer is like having an extra set of eyes and a complete extra brain. It helps that we were friends for years before becoming co-authors. It’s also very beneficial that we have similar writing styles and the same tenacity when it comes to editing and revision.
PJ: Karen and I complement each other in our writings. If one of us gets hung up on a portion of the story, we pull from the other.
Books & Writing: How do you create a story with two writers?
Karen: It involves a lot of discussion and sometimes a bit of compromise. We don’t always agree, but at least we haven’t killed each other yet.
PJ: Our short story books were the funniest since we both had such diverse ideas. And though I balked at our writing our next release (not because it isn’t a great idea, just because I can’t stand one of our characters), I finally buckled down and we got the job done.
Books & Writing: You have also written some short stories. What attracts you in those?
Karen: Short stories are like mini-books. What I like about writing a short story is how you must condense the action and try to capture a briefer slice of the bigger tale, kind of like a snapshot of a particular time in the characters’ lives.
PJ: We also enjoyed writing one story in each book where we both took the same characters or idea and came up with two entirely different angles. It was fun.
Books & Writing: Which genre is your favorite?
Karen: I can’t choose just one.
PJ: I like all genres of books, the same way I enjoy an eclectic taste in music.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new?
Karen: We are just finishing our next novel, Zeke, and after that are considering writing a fantasy.
PJ: I think the fantasy idea we have will be our next novel; but, one can never be sure what will happen tomorrow.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Karen: Write often and edit even more. Produce the best quality you can, and then you can believe in yourself. It’s critical that you believe in yourself.
PJ: I agree with Karen and I can’t stress the editing part enough. You must edit your writing, then you must edit, and after that, you must edit once again. Even then, it is possible to miss something.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Karen: All well-written and entertaining writing is inspiring to me. I like Tolkien, Stephen King, Jerzy Kozinski, Jenefer Schute, Asimov and many others. I enjoy books I can get lost in.
PJ: I like JRR Tolkien, Stephen King, Piers Anthony (Xanth Series), JK Rowlings, Robert Heinlein, and the list goes on and on.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Karen & PJ: Our books are on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Karen & PJ: Wodke Hawkinson author website: http://wodke-hawkinson.com/
Website for readers & indie authors: http://findagoodbooktoread.com/
Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Karen & PJ: We would like to thank them. Time is valuable, and in short supply these days. We are honored when readers spend their reading time with us.
Books & Writing: Below is an excerpt from the book Betrayed!
She had lost the stream and was thirsty again, and the cold had reclaimed her. She took small mouthfuls of snow, but it did nothing to ease the parched feeling in her mouth and throat, and she had started to shiver again. It was another half hour before she found a shallow rain puddle in the hollow of a large flat rock. She broke through the paper-thin crust of ice over the water, and drank deeply before moving on.
The woods grew denser, and the ground became riddled with knobby roots and half-buried stones. Her progress was slow and painful. After a while, she came to a game path, hard packed dirt with few rocks. Brook thanked God for giving her a way relatively clear of obstacles. She crawled onto the path, brushing stray branches and rocks from the ground as she went, making her way steadily onward, putting more and more distance between herself and the wrecked car. The shirt she wore was now wet and clung to her skin like a layer of frost.
Snow began to accumulate under the wide-spreading branches overhanging the trail. But, so far it was just a light covering, and for this she was grateful.
After a while, she tried to stand again, pulling herself upright with the help of a tree. Pain radiated up her legs, but her feet were numb from the cold and she found she could stumble along at a slow pace. It seemed she had been wandering for hours. Providing she hadn’t been going in circles, she calculated that she should be miles from the car by now. But she could see no help in sight and no foreseeable end to her misery. She had heard that freezing to death was a peaceful way to go. Brook couldn’t imagine how that could possibly be true as she stood quaking in the frigid air. She assumed she would eventually just lie down and close her eyes, and then it would all be over. She would just fall asleep and never wake up. Tears stung her eyes again. She didn’t want to die! Keep moving, said a small voice in her head. Keep moving.
Her feet grew heavy and her limbs ached with exhaustion. Brook realized she was probably traveling further away from any possibility of help, but she had no idea which way to turn. There was nothing but trees in all directions. Trees and more trees. And she was so tired. She focused on the mechanics of taking a step. First lift one foot. Then set it down. Then lift the other. Set it down. Moving very slowly now, she trudged on.
It began to feel as if she were sleepwalking. Shadows darted here and there in the trees at the periphery of her vision, but when she turned her head to look, she saw nothing. Faint music reached her ears, like a radio playing far off. A chorus sang in perfect harmony. Angels, Brook decided with a weary smile. She strained toward the sweet voices, but each time she concentrated on the sound, it faded. I’m dreaming, but I’m awake. With dull surprise, she became aware that she no longer felt the cold. Groggy as she was, she still knew it wasn’t a good sign. I won’t sleep. I won’t sleep. Head hanging, Brook pushed herself forward, one difficult step after another.
She stumbled into a clearing at the same time she heard another nightmarish scream. Unlike the earlier screams, this one was deeper, sounding as if it were wrenched from the throat of a demented being. It jolted her from her daze. Jerking her head up and scanning the area ahead of her, Brook’s gaze fell upon a madman. He stood before her, holding the bloody remains of a body. Long straggly hair hung wild about a bearded face, and streaks of blood smeared his cheeks and clothes. He threw back his head and howled again, as if enraged or locked in the throes of some sick passion.
Shock slammed through Brook. Before she could stop herself, she cried out. The crazy man turned his head. Surprised eyes met hers, and she felt an icy fear slither down her spine. For a long moment, neither of them moved. Then her survival instincts kicked in, flooded her system with a healthy dose of adrenaline, and she turned to flee from the killer. Slipping on the snow-slick humus, she scrambled for purchase, found her footing, and ran face first into a tree. There was a sharp thwack as her forehead made contact with the wood. She slumped gracelessly to the forest floor and was still.