Today, I bring you Forward Scribe's first interview with M.K. Williams, the author of Nailbiters!
JES: Great to have you here, M.K. Tell us about yourself.
MK: Great to be here! Aside from being an author I would define myself as a runner, an avid fan of movies, and a person who is trying to make the world a little better each day.
JES: I see you were raised in Philly. I wasn’t raised far from there myself. What part?
MK: I grew up in the Northeast of Philly before moving to the ‘burbs. I lived in Levittown for a while before moving to University City for college. Where are you from? I always love meeting people the greater Philadelphia area now that I am living in Florida.
JES: That's awesome. I'm from the greater Philadelphia area, too. Growing up, was there a book you read that made you go “Man, I just have to do this for a living”?
MK: My mom was always reading and she always spoke so highly of her favorite authors. After I read Harry Potter in middle school I was completely addicted to reading. I loved the different worlds that I could visit and I knew I wanted to create something like that, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that would be yet.
JES: Did you have another ideal career besides writing?
MK: For a while I wanted to be a math teacher, then a lawyer, then a math teacher again. I always thought I wasn’t dedicated enough to be a writer, so I didn’t focus on having a career as a writer until a few years ago. I realized there would always be someone who would criticize my work or say that it wasn’t that great but, I enjoyed writing and that is enough for me.
JES: When did you first start writing?
MK: I was really big into writing poetry in high school and then short stories in college. Finally, I kept working on one story until it became far too long to be considered a short story and it eventually became a novel.
JES: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
MK: I’m kind of a work-a-holic at my day-job so when I’m not there or writing my next book I like to work out with my husband and read.
JES: What does your process look like? Any rituals? Necessary music?
MK: I always keep a notebook with me so that I can jot down any ideas for current projects. I absolutely have to have music when I am writing, it helps me to get into the mindset of my characters. Playlists are available here.
JES: Has you real life and writing life ever merged?
MK: Not too much, thankfully no alien invasions to date. However, about a week before Nailbiters was released there was a strange cloud formation that was going viral on Facebook and I was very worried that aliens might invade before the world had a chance to read my debut novel.
JES: What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
MK: I try to focus my research on reading other books within the same genre. This helps me get a feel for what has already been done. Reading some novels outside of my genre has helped me as well. Sometimes I get so focused on the little details of my character’s daily lives, it helps to read something about larger global issues to give me some perspective.
JES: Where do you come up with your ideas?
MK: The idea for Nailbiters came from a very scary dream that I had. The ideas for the stories that are in The Games You Cannot Win came from some current events. They come from the oddest places, but I find a way to weed through the ridiculous ideas and come to something that tells a story worth reading.
JES: I read up on Nailbiters and I’m intrigued. How did it come about?
MK: It started out from a very scary and bizarre dream. I jotted it down and then left that idea alone for a while. After another dream, I had some idea of where the story might go. And then several years later the story was finally complete.
JES: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
MK: The hardest part of writing Nailbiters was getting into the right head space. The material is very dark, but I tend to be a very happy and easy-going person. To get into the right frame of mind I needed some dark music to listen to.
JES: Did you follow the same process with Nailbiters or was it different?
MK: I used a fairly similar process when I wrote Nailbiters and when I wrote The Games You Cannot Win. Although, those stories weren’t nearly as dark so the playlists were much more upbeat. With Nailbiters, it was one story so I tried to write in order as best as I could, but I did skip around when I had a solid idea for a scene or an interaction between the characters. For The Games You Cannot Win I worked on one story at a time so that I could finish one before moving onto the next.
JES: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in the creation of Nailbiters?
MK: I learned that I had the courage to write the story the way it needed to be written. I didn’t sugar coat it, or edit something out because I thought it would be too dark. I learned a lot about who I am as a writer.
JES: Do you have a favorite chapter?
MK: Yes, I will openly admit that I do have favorites. For Nailbiters, I think my favorite section was the third: “The Fear of Man.”
With The Games You Cannot Win, my favorite story was “Escaping Avila Chase.” It was really fun to write and I found myself laughing out loud at several of the passages.
JES: Can you share a sample of Nailbiters for us?
MK: Of course!
“I paused and listened to the distant wind, battering the high cliffs that were far off in the distance. I looked at the incomprehensible patterns that our footprints had left in the red-orange dirt. I tried to focus on the land and the miracle that had pushed this patch of ground up from the depths of the ocean after Pangaea had started to drift apart. How many thousands of years had this spot been at the bottom of a forceful river, carving beautiful designs into the rock and leaving the now endangered humans a wonder to marvel at? I let my thoughts drift to the magnificence of nature and time and wondered how quickly our species would be forgotten.”
JES: How can we get in touch with you?
MK: The easiest was is through my Facebook Page. I try to respond to each comment and I am always up for answering questions from fans!
JES: Where can we find Nailbiters?
MK: Nailbiters is available on Amazon for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and everywhere eBooks are sold. It is also available at several libraries around the country.