Interview – Koos Verkaik
When did you start writing, what moved you to start writing?
I started writing at the age of seven. First drawings of animals with a little text, later illustrated stories. I still have a pile of notebooks from that time! Bing a child of 7, 8, 9, I lent my books to family, friends, neighbors etc. and they had to pay me for that. I gave all the earnt money to charity. After that first ‘book’ I have never stopped writing – and never ever had a writers’ block! What moved me to start writing? I never wondered about that, I just started, loved it and continued.
In what genres do you write? Do you plan writing in other genres?
Mostly I write urban fantasy novels and children’s books. But it started with writing comics! I had already written hundreds of pages about a space traveler by the name of Scotty Clay and then I started writing comic scripts and my elder brother Marien did the beautiful drawings. We sold this work to a big weekly (Sjors) and had three pages a week for a long time. It made me Europe’s youngest comic writer; I was 16 years old.
In the mean time I started collecting science fiction books and knew that I was able to write like that myself. It is known now, that I wrote my first science fiction novel in a weekend when I was 18 years of age. It was published soon and then I wrote Grapstad (Fun Town) and Psycho Park, also published right s away. It was a great time, writing comics and novels and playing lead guitar in my own blues-rock band!
Later I started to write urban fantasy novels and series of children’s books: my series ‘Slimmetje’ (‘Smarty’) sold over 450.000 copies in The Netherlands only.
I wrote other genres as well. From war stories to regional novels; mostly stunning hard covers!
Tell us about your books. Why should everyone buy them?
My books are different from other writers, they are all typical ‘Koos Verkaik Books’. I love it to make the reader wonder what it is all about and where it will lead to. But I never liked books that end without the reader knowing what it was all about. Therefore I always come up with explanations. Why one should buy them? Buy one of my books and I take you by the hand, lead your through the most insane situations, you will have a great time and after having read the last word, you will say: “Yes, that was worthwhile!” Up to the next Koos Verkaik Book!
What is your all-time favorite novel? What makes it special?
HIM, After the UFO Crash attracted the attention of people from the Film Industry and I signed a film contract. Now I have to wait till the entire process will lead to the making of that film. So far, this book is favorite and special to me.
But I will choose for my newest novel, The Dance of the Jester. This is what it is about:
The end of the 21th century: the Second Renaissance.
Tycoons rule the world and name themselves Kings and Queens.
Greed is the word!
The times are rife with extravagance and decadence, extreme power and richness. The world is one big party. And there is chaos!
No one seems to wonder how this all came to be. No one seems to wonder what is actually happening. No one seems to care about anything anymore. Except for some odd outsiders. One of them is Oscar Man, the illegitimate son of tycoon Otto Man. Once he was a prince; then he became a pariah, a jester, with nothing to lose for himself and so much to win for the world…
An agent asked me if I dared to send this book to a friend of his, Mr. Bill Thompson, the editor of Stephen King and John Grisham. “He may like it, but he can also sable you down,” the agent said. Well, Bill asked me to come to the USA and to I did. We met in his office in New York, in the Empire State Building, and we worked on several of my manuscripts. Now it is published by Sarah Book Publishing in Texas.
I am a hard working Dutchman and it makes me incredible proud that I am allowed to get my work published in the USA and Canada! Soon my twelfth book will come out. Both eBook and Paperback, like all the others.
Tell us a bit about your writing process.
Writing every day, that’s the secret. Till late at night. Also in the weekends.
As I told once to a newspaper: “I must write. Not because I am a little crazy, just because I have a lot to tell.”
The first page of every book is handwritten. As soon as the feeling is good and I am on my way, I start using one of my laptops.
I know that many authors only start writing after they have made a plan of a couple of thousand words. That’s not how I work. Sometimes I can get inspired by one simple line only.
For instance: ‘How did Neanderthals survive the horrible ice ages?’
I started writing and finally I got the book Neanderthal Dreams: the Neanderthals survived by hunting for short times only and then gather by the fire – because their brains worked in a different way, they were able to meet in dreams. So most of the time the spent together in dreams, while their bodies were kept warm.
It became a complex novel, enacting in the present and the past. A businessman found the secret of the Neanderthals and built himself an imperium…
What author would you love to have dinner with?
Unfortunately that is not possible any more… Jack Vance passed away. He was such a great science fiction writer, he had a very special fantasy. I think he was more famous in Europe than in the USA (where he came from). Yes, I would have loved to have dinner with him. And to be honest, I would also have loved it to have a couple of drinks with another great person, Edgar Allan Poe… No dinner, of course, just a bottle and two glasses…
Tell us about your hobbies and passions other than writing.
Always loved to play guitar. At the age of 14 I managed to tune an old acoustic guitar to a Muddy Waters record, played along and understood the Blues scheme. Had my own band two years later. Still have my great Fender guitar from 1963! And I have a home recording equipment, with which I can make my own CD’s. Do everything myself: guitars, bass, drums, mouth harp, piano, the voices etc. Also write my own songs. Yes, this is a passion too!
We have many followers who would like to start writing a book or are already writing their first novel, any advice for these brave people?
This is difficult to answer. Actually, someone with a true writers’ heart does not need any advice. He (or she, of course) will go his own way. Yes, it is a fact that life can be (very) hard when you write a lot and earn nothing. Why encourage someone who wants to give it a try? Of course it is clever to get your money elsewhere as long as you have no success as a writer. So the only advice is: follow your heart. Listen to yourself.
And: never imitate a writer you admire, come up with your personal novel.
How often do you write, daily, every other day or?
I write every day. Do that for many, many years. As far as that is concerned, I have an Iron Discipline and also on days that the lines don’t flow smoothly, I continue working. I have no time to lose, for there is still so much I have to tell. Now I work on book 13 of my series of children’s books Alex and the Wolpertinger, but I want to write 30 different titles at least. And then there are still many ideas for novels in my head. I always write different books at the same time.
Do you keep a notebook with ideas for your novels? If so do you carry the notebook with you so you won’t forget any ideas?
To be honest – I am a chaotic person. I write ideas on laptops, sheets of paper etc. And there is complete chaos in my head. Then I start writing and it all comes together in a book. That is the end of the chaos, but soon it starts all over again. I am nervous, talk nervously, read lots of nonfiction books and take long walks with my dog. Till it’s time to sit down, calm down and write, write, write…
How important is research when writing your books?
Research is always important. Have hundreds of nonfiction books in my workroom. And love to search for things on the internet. I have a collection of books about the supernatural, but also about history. For some novels I didn’t need to do much research. But for my novels All-Father and Wolf Tears, for instance, I read many books about the German tribes and their place in European history.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Directory Of Possibilities, by Colin Wilson and John Grant. About all strange things in the world, both magic and science and especially the cooperation of the left side and the right side of the human brain. And I just finished Everything You Know Is Wrong, by Lloyd Pye.
Certainly you have had some interesting episodes as an author, fans related or others, share one of them with us.
Someone addressed me, when I was walking my dog. The man recognized me from an article in a newspaper and asked me to write a book about him. He said that aliens had invited him to come with them in their spaceship and he landed on Venus. Everyone was talking Old Dutch there… Of course I told him that I had no time…
Once I signed Alex and the Wolpertinger books in a book shop. Ludo the wolpertinger always eats dandelions. A little girl bought a book and brought me dandelions in a glass: for Ludo the wolpertinger! That was such a great moment!
A final message for our circleofbooks.com readers.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell this all to the Circle of Books Readers!
I am a happy man, always busy doing what I can do best – writing books for both children and adults. I have published over sixty different titles and have ideas to write sixty more…
It was so great when I got my first contract for one of my books in English. And now it goes on and on and when I look at my writer’s page on Amazon or at my own website, I can call myself a lucky person.
I have to thank my readers for that. I take a deep bow for everyone who took the trouble to order one of my books!