In conclusion to “Seriously, I Will Read Your Book“
Speculative / Fantasy Fiction Writer Mik Wilkens Interview
Mik Wilkens, fantasy fiction author of The Silver Cage is a creative force, from illustrator, writer, trophy designer, graphic artist, programmer, multimedia developer, and webmaster. You can find Mik on Twitter, her website, her blog or Facebook.
~Florence Fois is the winner of The Silver Cage ~
- When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I fell in love with writing in the sixth grade. We had a sort of free period once a week during which we could choose from several different activities. One of the activities was to write something based on a couple of sentences printed on an index card that was drawn randomly out of a box. I always chose that activity. Once I started doing that, I realized how much I loved to write.
- What was the inspiration for The Silver Cage?
My inspiration was twofold. One of my favorite fantasy authors is Katherine Kurtz. Her novels inspired me to try writing books of my own. They also taught me the importance of having a logical magic system in a fantasy story. Rather than just having some intangible force called “magic,” there needs to be a source of the power and some kind of rules that the characters have to follow to use that power. That idea was one of the driving forces behind The Silver Cage.
The other inspiration was my desire to write a modern fairy tale that could be enjoyed by adults whether they were fans of fantasy fiction or not. By ‘fairy tale,’ I don’t mean the traditional, short folk tales written for children. Instead, I use the term as defined by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay ‘On Fairy-Stories.’ Tolkien said that fairy tales are not stories about fairies or other fantastic creatures; rather they are about the interaction between humans and such beings. David, a sensible, modern-day businessman, is the human that interacts with the fantastic creatures.
- What process did you go through to create Lucasia?
Many of the physical properties of Lucasia—the kingdoms, place names, geography—are based on a world I created decades ago as the setting for the many campaigns I ran as a dungeon master for D&D. While I was mapping out the story of The Silver Cage, I worked out the properties of Lucasia that were essential to the basic plot, but a lot of the details and history of the world came to me as I was writing.
- How did the idea of Springs with Power and veils to cross over into another world come to be?
I worked out the idea of the Springs as a source of magical energy when I first came up with the idea of writing a story with a logical magic system that was essential to the plot. The details of exactly how the Springs worked revealed themselves as I was writing the story. I created the idea of the veil that separates the different worlds when I was working on tying the novel’s title into the story. I like my titles to have more than one meaning, and the veil created one of at least three different meanings of the title The Silver Cage.
- Lucasia is a very complex world with a hierarchy of fantastical characters including drakes, elves, faeries, magical animals (such as shakorn), wolfkin, mages and witches. Before you put them onto the page, was their creation first visual or made solely on the page?
I’m really a “seat-of-the-pants” writer, in that I don’t do a lot of planning ahead of time, so most of the details of the different creatures and races that inhabited Lucasia, as well as their hierarchy, came to me as I wrote the story. The only “rule” that I followed in creating the different creatures, characters, and objects, was that I wanted everything to be based on familiar fantasy elements, such as dragons, unicorns, and magic swords, but I wanted each of them to have some sort of twist that would surprise readers.
- I was very captivated by Karel’s character, a former dragon who is condemned to live in humanoid form. What was your process in breathing life into this gold-skinned character?
Karel is based very loosely on one of my husband’s D&D characters. That character gave me a very basic framework for the character in the novel, and as with most of the other details of the story, he just sort of revealed himself and his history as I was writing.
- Tell us about the artwork on the cover of the book.
My editor wanted to stay away from artwork that blatantly said “fantasy” because she doesn’t like fantasy stories, but she really liked The Silver Cage and hoped that the somewhat mysterious cover with just the wolf image would attract more than just fantasy fans.
- What is your daily writing process?
I don’t have one. I write when I feel like writing.
- How do you balance writing with work, home and family?
I own my own business and work at home, so I have a pretty great boss (me) who lets me write “at work” anytime I want. The only “family” that I have to deal with is my husband and my pets. None of them mind me taking time out to write; my cat likes when I sit down at the computer to write because she can sleep in my lap, and my dogs just come and give me sad looks until I pet them.
- What process did you go through to get your book published?
When I first started shopping The Silver Cage around, all of the publishers interested in fantasy novels required agents, so I spent most of my time trying to get an agent for the book. LazyDay Publishing was the first actual publisher I sent the novel to, and they accepted it.
- What process did you go through to have your book made into a Kindle ebook?
My publisher took care of that.
- What do you love about writing fantasy?
I write both fantasy and science fiction (mostly space opera), as well as other types of speculative fiction, but fantasy is my favorite because of the freedom it gives me to create worlds and characters without limitation. Fantasy is wide open because of all of the different subgenres within it: high fantasy, urban fantasy, fairy tale fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, etc. You can put almost anything into a fantasy story: cars, faeries, guns, dragons, werewolves, vampires, even starships. There’s really very little you can’t do.
- At the end of the book David has a final decision to make about his life in Lucasia. Is there another book in the works?
Yes, at least one. It’s called The Golden Drake, and it pretty much starts right where The Silver Cage ends. Actually, the first chapter starts a little bit before The Silver Cage ends. The first draft is about 2/3 finished, but I’m also working on several other novels, so I don’t know which will be finished first.
- As a writer what are your thoughts about social media and how it helps writers in today’s market?
I think social media such as Twitter and Facebook are essential publicity tools. They make it easy for a writer to connect with both readers and other writers.
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