Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, my name is Koos Verkaik. Time goes so incredibly fast… I’m in my sixties now…
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from The Netherlands, was born in a little village not far from harbor city Rotterdam.
Fiona: A little about yourself.
Imagination has been a part of my life since I was a kid – of course I had lots of imaginary friends. I built fantasy worlds for myself. No matter what happened around me – good or bad – I always could withdraw into myself and feel comfortable and safe. Things like that came natural, I was not hiding for the world outside, I just felt the need to create the circumstances.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Well, that is sad news, but I have to face the facts. After having published many, many books in The Netherlands, I knew I was ready for the huge English market. Started with agents who contracted me. Eleven titles were published in the USA and Canada.
Then my publisher in Canada (a dear friend who published two of my series of children’s books and one of my favorite novels, Heavenly Vision), passed away. Her two publishing houses had to close the door. My publisher in Texas, Sarah Book Publishing, went bankrupt. The editor in chief is still a good friend, the owner suddenly acted in a very uncongenial way.
All that was left was one title, The Nibelung Gold, published in New York, distributed by Simon & Schuster.http://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Koos-Verkaik/2117947729.
But there is good news as well. Very good news, as a matter of fact. A former agent started two companies, Righter’s Mill Press (a publishing house) and Three Corners Entertainment (a film company). They contracted me for ten different titles and for everything I will write in the future, for publishing and for film.
Early 2018 they will publish the first novels: HIM, after the UFO Crash and The Dance of the Jester.
A brand new start. Look forward to that.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
At the age of seven. Spontaneously. Little stories at first. But it didn’t stop. It never stopped. I still have a pile of notebooks from that time. Called it my ‘library’ and people had to pay me a nickel or a dime to read my work. The money was given to a fund for poor children. A cannot tell why I started writing, I just did it, it came natural.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At the age if sixteen I wrote a comic for a magazine, I was Europe’s youngest scenario writer then. Three pages a week. I had already written hundreds of pages about the characters. Drawing was a hobby of mine, but my brother Marien was much better with that. So he drew the comic. Sadly, he passed away. He was a clever artist.
But I first considered myself a writer two years later, at the age of eighteen. It is a true fact that I wrote a book in a weekend. Without sleep. It was published right away. Then I knew I was able to construct a novel and I knew that I would keep on writing: and after all these years I never had a writer’s block!
In those days I worked as a copywriter. There they taught me how to write in the clearest way. I left that agency after a good year and never had a boss again – I started working for myself as a writer. Eighteen years old and full of courage…
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Thanks for asking this question, Fiona! These days I read lots of books about the Big Questions in the world, about the size of the universe and about the great wonder of the human brain. My comic was originally about a spade traveler who went searching for the end of the universe. Traveling at the speed of light, he also remained younger than the people he left behind on Earth (according to Einstein’s theories).
My first book was about our brain. In order to traverse to universe for business, Earth needed a very special space ship; it should contain a human brain to make it perfect. The leading character, astronaut Adolar, says no. But his friend Jit says yes and literally gives his brain to science. He claims to be happier than all other people together, because he can make use of modern technique to experience everything he longs for. Our consciousness is inside our mysterious brain – we humans are the most magical creatures.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Adolar is just a name. I thought it was a good book title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I always build up my stories in layers. The story itself determines the style. I always come up with the most impossible, weird things, but at the end I give a reasonable, understandable solution for everything. Many writers keep you in the dark and after having read the final line, you still wonder what it was all about. Readers deserve better, they have the right to know what actually happened.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books are always a mix of realistic and fantasy items. I research the unknown, but use normal backgrounds – in the past, real time or future. Never use the characters of people I know. Make up my own characters. I love to come up with mixtures of realism and pure fantasy.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Of course I like to travel and see something of our wonderful world. Love to go on holiday by car. From Holland you can easily reach Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Germany, even Spain or Portugal. Also loved to travel to New York, when Stephen King’s former editor, Bill Thompson, invited me to discuss my work.
But I don’t need to travel for writing books. I sit down at my desk and write. Everything I need to know, can be found in my work room (a couple of thousand books) or on the internet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Different people designed my covers, but I always, yes: always instruct them. I know exactly how the cover should be and describe it at large.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No, if you don’t see it. Yes, of you understand it. My books are meant for pure entertainment, but I also give my meaning about lots of subjects. So one can read my books just for fun or read between the lines and understand what I really mean: about life, about different religions, about philosophy, about the great wonder of being here together on this crazy planet.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
It is important for me to know a lot about everything, so I mainly read nonfiction and buy lots and lots of books. One of my favorites is a German author, Hoimar von Ditfurth, who has explains the universe, the evolution, our life; very interesting.
Fiction writer number two is Edgar Allan Poe. Some of his short stories still scare me.
But the absolute number one is the American fantasy author Jack Vance. He describes worlds that are so beautiful, he can explain things in one single line.
I bought piles of science fiction and fantasy books as a kid and devoured them.
I never forget to mention TheordoreStergeon and Roger Zelazny. Great writers, hats off!
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Mister Sanders, who lived in my home village. He had a book store and decided to start a publishing company. When he heard that I was writing and publishing as a boy, he called me and invited me to his office. He published many of my books, through the years.
Even when I had moved to another town, he came to look me up. Asked me if I had work ready and paid me nice sums in cash as advance and then invited me to come with him to a good restaurant. He believed in me. Sold over 450.000 copies of one of my series of children’s book, in a small country as The Netherlands! He encouraged me and never let me down.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. This is my life. Writing is in my genes, as Bill Thompson said to me. Always earned my money by writing. Rewrote all the classics, like Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, Robin Hood etc., wrote hundreds of scenario’s for comic artists, book series under pseudonym, short stories for magazines and lots of books that really mattered to me.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. During the process there is time enough to change things. As soon as I notice that something is not told the right way or written before by someone else, I delete it and start anew. After having typed ‘The End’, I am satisfied with the result.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I am busy writing a novel and a children’s book right now. To at the same time. For the novel I had to know more about London and about the life of billionaires. Also about alchemy: I have a pile of books about that subject and went through all of them again. Yes, then you learn new things automatically. I am a collector of odd books. For my new novel I also needed the Gilgamesh Epos, the oldest story in the world. For other books I read dozens of works about UFO’s.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
As I already told, I have a contract for film for all my titles. First book that Three Corners Entertainment will deal with for film is HIM, after the UFO Crash. One of the leading characters is an intelligent woman. Have no idea who might be perfect for that role, which makes it extra exciting. We also need a hippie to play the important role of Jasper Froch. Would love to be present at the set when they finally start filming!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes, Fiona, I have answered this question many times before. The advice is simple: do it and realize that it will be a difficult journey. Or don’t do it and never complain about that decision. In other words: if you are a real writer, you will do everything you can to reach your goals. Who am I to say you shouldn’t do it? Of course it is wise to have a job and write as a hobby first. A true writer is a self-willed person and no one is able to stop him.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Sit down and enjoy my stories. And please, don’t forget to leave a nice review behind on Amazon.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
What we cannot know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge, by Marcus du Sautoy, London, 2017.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
ProbablyAlice in Wonderland. A Dutch journalist, FeijeWieringa, wrote about that:
Once I asked the Dutch author Koos Verkaik, whose reputation in the Netherlands is similar to that of Stephen King, which book had influenced him the most in his life. Without losing a second he replied, “Alice in Wonderland, that is such a weird and scary book. A lot scarier than any of my own horror and ghost stories.”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
English humor, like Monty Python. I don’t cry often. But tears will flow when my dog or one of my cats would die.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Have a good drink with Edgar Allan Poe! He would love to drink, I would love to hear him talk. And I would love to come across one of my book characters, Oscar Man from The Dance of the Jester… Yes, if he was a man of flesh and blood, I would love to be in his neighborhood when he experiences one of his many crazy adventures…
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play blues and rock guitar, rhythm, lead, bass, also drums, a little piano and mouth harp. Compose my own songs and record them. You can find some of my songs at:
https://soundcloud.com/user-224641692. Hope you like this music. I own a rare Fender from 1963, a real collector’s item.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Seldom watch TV. I wake up early in the morning, about half past six. I make myself some coffee and watch the news. I have not enough patience to watch an entire film. With the exception of a mafia film like Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, or a simple western.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My wife is from Indonesia. Sambal is the best invention where food is concerned, nasi goreng is the perfect dish. Color: green. Music: Old American blues, from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters, English blues from John Mayall to Peter Green. The old rockers, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry. But also The Byrds and even JoeSatriani. But the absolute number one is Bob Dylan (especially his first seven albums).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Play guitar in a blues band, traveling through Europe, read lots of books, and when no one looks… secretly writing another novel…
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He refused to leave before the last word was written…
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Fiona, thank you very much for this opportunity! Greetings from The Netherlands.
To everyone who read this interview: hope you liked it, hope you will also like my books!