Name: Charles Siefken, 19 years old, and Wendy Siefken 45 years old.
Mother and son writing team
Where are you from?
We are from Laurel, Iowa. A small little town with small town values.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.
Charlie, is a recent graduate of high school and now a published author. Currently living at home and working on more books to come.
Wendy is a home maker and currently attending class for utility technician class.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Our latest news is we were recently featured in a local paper Marshall Times monthly edition. We also just gave a book away at a recent promotional event for the book “What She Knew” It was promoted and hosted by Kim Mutch Emerson. It was a blast!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
We started writing in 2009 for school projects. Charlie has learning disabilities, dyslexia and cross modalities. The principal, Mr. Kozak, gave Charlie the challenge of if you write your story and get it published you will get credit for it. He had to use math, geography and of course English in his story. We also had to put a recent historical event in there too. Can you find it in the story?
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
On November 22nd 2011, when we received our proof book in the mail and held it for the first time in our hands! Our finished product!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Charlie is a big fan of Christopher Paolini and his book Eragon. He looked him up on-line and found out he was a high school student also. He was homeschooled. But the main thing was Christopher was a kid, just like him!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know if we have a specific writing style other than the characters have a habit of hijacking the story and telling it themselves! We have the general idea, but the characters give us the details.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Couldn’t come up with anything else and it beat Charlie’s zombie story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes and no. Just that no matter how bad things can and sometimes do get, life goes on and love can happen even in an apocalyptic time.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well,,, we researched on the circulatory system of canines and humans to see how similar they were. Surprisingly very similar! We looked up military vehicles and the flora and fauna of the area the characters are in. We looked up caves up in the New York area. Sadly no dry caves up there we could find. So pretty much not much is realistic! Dragons, werewolves and zombies. Places, yes, story line, no. lol
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the characters are based on teachers Charlie had in school. He would tell me about them and say he wanted to add them into the story, he told me about the teacher and we chose a character for them to be.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? Anything fiction.
For Charlie, Christopher Paolini and for me a combination of Terry Brooks and Louis La Moure.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Christopher Paolini and Terry Brooks.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Charlie – “The Son of Neptune”,
Me “Elfstones of Shannara”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Fiona: What are your current projects?
“Kai’s Journey, A New Beginning” and we have several other stories in the works as well.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. The East Marshall School and Mike Donahey from the Marshalltown Times Republican. I know it’s more than one but they both were very instrumental in our process!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Oh that answer is a big definite YES for both of us! We both love to write. I have loved writing all my life and when I had kids I told stories. Lots and lots of stories. All had dragons and ogres and fairies. Fantasy stories. Charlie has always had ideas for stories in his head fighting to get out. So yes. Now if we could just make money doing it! That is the next trick! We are working on it! We are working on it!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The only thing we would change is not have waited so long to publish ourselves. We tried the traditional route and found that if you are an unknown, write about zombies, dragons and werewolves you will hit file 13. But that’s alright we are loving the ride!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Charlie, It started with Eragon, but really took off in Mrs. Dobson’s English class when she allowed him to write in any style he wanted to. For me it was a way to escape the real world and have a fantasy world of my own making.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Kai survives the zombie virus due to the werewolf bite which has healing powers as well. Werewolves are immune to the zombie virus. Can still be eaten and torn apart but not turned. Kai wakes and has no memory of who he is or how he got where he is now. His werewolf change is much more powerful than a normal werewolf. Less controllable.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time to write and also at times when we hit a writer’s block.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
We both like Rick Riordan because he can write in first person and also narrative in the same book. You can also know from more than one person’s view also. He is a rule breaker!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not any further than our local library or the computer. My husband, Charlie’s dad is a truck driver and can give us detailed information on local areas and what they look like. He has driven truck for over 30 years. He has been everywhere. Hubby takes pictures of area’s if we ask to get a better sense of the area’s.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
CreateSpace. Some day we hope to be able to buy cover art but for now we used CreateSpace which has amazing art in themselves.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editing, over and over and over again!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
We have learned so much its hard to know where to start. We learned how much work it is to write a book and to edit it, research, querying, marketing and advertising. All of it was a new venture for us. It was hair pulling and frustrating at times but it has all been fun!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, Never , ever, ever, give up! If you really want to write and be published, keep trying, keep working at your craft. If one says no, go to another source. Keep going.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, from both of us. Stay in school, no matter how hard it is or seems at the time, keep up with your schooling and never let others take your education away from you.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Wendy) Well, I have been a jack of all trades, so to speak, I have worked in greenhouses, post offices, customer service. But the one thing I have always been is a mom.
Charlie) is set on being a writer. He doesn’t know what else he would like to do.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?