Monday, October 8, 2012

Interview with Indie Writer, Jake Vander Ark!

We are so excited to give you Inkspiration's first author interview with the friendly and talented Jake Vander Ark, self published author of The Accidental Siren, Lighthouse Nights, The Bradywine Prophet, and The Day I Wore Purple!

Jake, welcome! You are the very first person to be interviewed for Inkspiration. Feelin' special?

Inkspiration looks very professional and I'm excited to see what you do with it! I am honored to be your first interview!

You’ve said that you aren't a very big reader, but that you love film. How do you feel about the argument that films are 'inferior' to novels, and are not as good at 'telling' stories as novels?

I've been attacked by several other writers who say that you must read so many books per year if you want to be a real writer. Apparently, the only way to learn structure, character development, and the english language, is by reading books. As you pointed out, I disagree. Is it important to know how to read? Absolutely. Grammar and spelling are also vital to being a professional writer. However, I also believe that you can learn just as much from good television and movies as you can from books. You just need to know what to look for, you need to ask the right questions, and you need to supplement your learning experience with actual books about writing. If you want to know more about my influences or the way I learned to write through television, check out my blog post!

Would you want your novels to be adapted to film? If so, what would your biggest concern be in changing mediums?

Yes, yes, yes! I actually wanted to be a director and screenwriter before I turned to novels. In fact, Lighthouse Nights and The Day I Wore Purple both began as screenplays I wrote in Los Angeles. If I ever find a real publisher, they'll have to pry the film rights from my cold, dead hands. If my books ever turn into movies, I'll be writing the screenplays! Because I started with screenplays, I don't think I'd have many concerns changing mediums.

Do you have any actors in mind for certain characters?

I never picture actors as I write... I don't have any problem with it; I guess my brain just doesn't work that way. When the book is done and I can step away from it, I'll often see actors that I like for certain rolls. I saw Super 8 again recently, and I think Elle Fanning would make a fantastic Jules from Lighthouse Nights. Daniel Day Lewis is probably the only actor who could pull off William Carmel from The Brandywine Prophet... but now I'm just dreamin'!

Your novels are all very different. The Accidental Siren is almost a fairytale. Lighthouse Nights is very dark. The Bradywine Prophet is spiritual, in a sense. How do you manage such a range? Do you make a purposeful effort to do something different than your last project? Or does it ‘just happen that way’?

And The Day I Wore Purple is science fiction! Honestly, it just happens that way. I never start with a genre in mind... only a "what if" question. "What if a girl could be objectively beautiful?" Fairytale. "What if two teenagers made a profit off suicide?" Dark teen thriller. "What if a man heard the voice of God?" Spiritual. "What if we could live forever?" Sci-fi. Also, I think that all four books have a "mainstream" quality. That means that, although they may have conventions of a given genre, they are interesting enough to transcend niche markets. At least, I hope so!

If you could go back and tell your fifteen-year-old self anything, what would it be and why? Do you believe he would be proud of you?

Good question! I think I would tell him that the paths before him are more different than he can possibly imagine. I would tell him that pursuing an artistic career can be extremely gratifying, but it can also alienate people, make him look irresponsible, and leave him penniless. The other path, however, is monotonous, unchanging, and never crosses with the first. If I knew that at fifteen, at least I would know what I was getting into.

How do you react to a bad review? How do you react to a good one?
I've had plenty of negative comments on Wattpad, but I haven't received a bad review yet. This doesn't mean that they're not coming... only that my books haven't been out long enough to find haters! I did live through four years of brutal critiques at art school. I think that gave me a thick skin, so I'm not too worried.

I react to good reviews with a happy dance. Seriously. Until May of this year, I had never received feedback from a stranger. When praise for The Accidental Siren started rolling in, I think I did a happy dance for a week. I'm still not used to it... every compliment means so much to me... my fans have no idea.

What was the biggest surprise you got when deciding to become a writer? What was different than you expected? What was the same?

My biggest surprise was that I enjoyed it. I wanted to be a director from middle school until two years after I graduated from college, and I always vowed that I would never write my own screenplays. However, if you want to direct your first film, you need to write it yourself. So I forced myself to learn. When I made the transition to novels, I found that I enjoyed writing description and dialogue... I was in my element while rearranging story notes on my wall.

The biggest difference in my expectations was how difficult it would be to get people to buy books. I assumed that anybody who liked my work would run out and buy it... or if it had ten five-star reviews on Amazon, strangers would be curious enough to buy the Kindle version. This hasn't been the case yet... and I'm still trying to figure out how to promote my work.

And finally, what Inkspires you?

I love that word!

And to be honest, I have no idea what inspires the big concepts behind my novels. However, if you're asking about inspiration for character traits, plot lines, or anecdotes, I find bits and pieces in every day life. I carry a notebook wherever I go, and if I hear a joke, see a name on a street sign, ask myself an interesting question... I write it down and save it for later.

Want to learn more about Jake?

You can visit his website/blog, visit his Goodreads, like him on Facebook, and/or follow him on Twitter!

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