AUTHOR INTERVIEW: James Wylder, Poet/Playwright/Raconteur

DSCF1669I met James Wylder at InConJunction, and spent three days sitting next to him and selling each other’s books.  He’s cool.  You should check his stuff out.  

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the author of “An Eloquence of Time and Space” the Unofficial Doctor Who Poetry Book“, the plays Cryptos and God Save the Pres.! as well as my first book of poetry, Cascade. I graduated from Hanover College in Southern Indiana, and currently live in Elkhart, Indiana. I’m also the co-owner of Shotgun Angel Games LLC, and I won second place in a costume contest as Seneca Crane from the Hunger Games once.

What about your work?  What projects do you have going right now, and what older work are you proudest of?

Right now I’m serializing a story on my website called 10,000 Dawns, with a new chapter being released every Thursday. I’m also editing several of my books for an upcoming release. 10,000 Dawns is the really exciting one for me, as every chapter has its own piece of artwork drawn to accompany it by Annie Zhu, and each chapter is also being released in an audio format by the Southgate Media Group as a free download. People are really enjoying it so far, so I can’t wait to bring out the rest of the story!

On the game development end of my work, I’m working on a Tabletop Roleplaying Game called Greys by Gaslight that features investigators in Victorian London fighting alien invaders. Essentially it’s “The X-Files: 1888.”

Cover2Can you tell us more about 10,000 Dawns?  (Later Luther edit: I phrased this question in kind of a dumb way.  Of fuckin’ course he can.  I would have been really entertained had James just answered “No.  I cannot tell you more about my story.”)

It’s a science fiction story about a teenage girl named Graelyn who takes a research internship in an underwater city, only to find out the secluded city is being used to attempt to create a portal into a parallel universe. The experiment works, and Graelyn is thrown into a reality where she finds out she grows up to be a person she finds abhorrent. How she reacts to this, and how she changes as a character are the big questions of the story. Using science fiction to peel back the layer’s of a person’s character and self-image has been fascinating, and a lot of fun as well.  The mix of drama and fun is what’s drawn readers to the story so far. There is real character drama, and exploration of the future and alternate universes, but also things like the dance sequence in chapter two that people adored. I’m very proud of it .

When did you realize that writing was something you really wanted to do?

I’ve wanted to write ever since my Dad was reading Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn novels at my bedside! Or maybe even before that. I used to make my sisters and mom write down the stories for books I would then (badly) illustrate. Its been in my bones as long as I can remember.

I know you just came off a fairly extensive con tour.  Do you have any suggestions or advice for authors about getting people at conventions or book signings interested in their work?

Have a hook. That is by far the most important thing I could advise. There are tons of people at booths all over the convention all: why should people stop at yours? What makes yours special? You might be afraid a hook will push people away because it will alienate people who aren’t interested in what you’re drawing them in with: and you’d be right.
But you will lose far more sales from people who aren’t interested in your work because nothing could draw them in at all than you will from the few who go “Well that doesn’t sound like something I’d like.” You’d never have gotten their sales anyways.

For me, my hook was Doctor Who. I dressed as the Doctor nearly every day at the conventions I was at (with a few exceptions due to heat in the facilities making wearing a full suit for eight hours a health hazard) as well as bringing a banner that said exactly what I was selling- Doctor Who poetry!

1062516_587283344625317_854549267_nWhat’s your social media presence like?  Outside of conventions, what are you doing to promote yourself and your work?

I have my website, jameswylder.com, where I am currently serializing my story 10,000 Dawns, as well as a Facebook page for myself and several of my most important works. I also am on Twitter as @arcbeatle, and you can find me on tumblr at 10000dawns.tumblr.com.

Outside of conventions I do interviews like this one, and try to break through the clutter on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I find it much easier to get fans interested in my work in person. I also do stops at regular old bookstores and cafes, and between those and conventions that’s where most of my publicity comes from.

I’ve been struggling to make my online presence really notable, and its an egg I’m just not adept at cracking compared to my skill at in person interactions. Hopefully as I keep learning I’ll be able to promote myself better in both forums!

What’s the best response to someone who tells you “I don’t read poetry” or “I don’t read plays”?

For some people, its as simple as what they said: they know they don’t like poetry or theatre, and there is little I can do to change that. However, the best response I can give is to hand them one of my books and let them read it. There’s so often a look of joy and surprise as they find poetry and theatre that they find they can relate to and touches them or makes them laugh.

I feel like a lot of people have the impression that poetry and theatre are elitist mediums that have to be elusive from their every day lives, and they certainly can be. Whenever I see someone teaching children Shakespeare’s plays or sonnets and bulldozing over the witty humor in it because they see the text as ‘sacred’, I cringe. A lot of people have kept that mentality that poetry and theatre isn’t something they can let loose inside– when that’s exactly what it should be there for!

So just saying to give it a chance is the best I can do. It so often works wonders.

An_Eloquence_of_Time_and_Space5 (1)What’s your favorite poem from An Eloquence of Space and Time, and why is it your favorite?

My favorite poem from the book is one of the shortest, and also the most complete. As a poety being able to create a short poem that truly captures and expresses the truth of something big is a much larger accomplishment than making a very long poem that does that.

3.3 Gridlock
trapped on a turntable
round and round we go
with Sally Calypso

Is there a poem that has been your readers’ favorite?

The poem that has always gotten the best reactions from readers has been the one for the episode “Smith and Jones”.

3.1 Smith and Jones
A Judoon Platoon on the Moon?
why did you assume that would be a boon
only a loon would attune to the goon
that harpooned Doctor Eun and its
not even noon in June to Harpoon
with Judoon on the moon! So soon!
Don’t listen to a tune on your Zune,
I know I make you swoon across this lunar dune
you’re a Doctor? I am too! Fate like runes!
bandits together like raccoons
leading to our Judoom

Smith and Jones to the rescue then
to assume the doom Judoon will zoom
into the room and entomb us like a womb
with a boom on the moon

we’ll weave this all up like a loom, this doom
and then no more Judoon
will harpoon in platoons on the moon
I assume?

Speaking of Eloquence, I see that that book’s production was actually successfully funded through Kickstarter.  Can you tell us more about that?  Did it work out as well as you hoped?  Have you thought about using it again since then?

When the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who started to creep onto the horizon, I really wanted to do something special for the fans of the show. After all, it had been my favorite show since I was a little kid. I’d already done a Kickstarter to fund my first book of poetry, Cascade, so I thought this would be a great way to go about bringing this book into the world as well. As it turned out, it far exceeded my wildest expectations! The book met every single stretch goal I put in front of it,to the point that I ended up having the money to write a poem about every episode of Doctor Who from the whole first fifty years of the show– plus all the episodes of the spin offs! It was a daunting task, but I think it turned out spectacularly.

Not only have I thought about it, but I’ve used it twice since then. I have five more books funded by two different Kickstarters coming out in the next few months, which should be exciting!

Kickstarter is a wonderful tool for creators to get the funds they need to make what they want to. I should warn would be Kickstarters that its not just free money. To actually get funded takes a lot of work, and your backers will expect you to fulfill your promises. Plan your project hard, and don’t take it lightly!

There’s a new season of Dr. Who coming.  Any thoughts to updating the book?

I’ll definitely be doing a “Volume 2” at some point– but I’m probably going to wait till Peter Capaldi finishes his whole run as the Doctor. After all, I blew through 50 years of TV for the first book, I’ll need a nice meaty amount of Doctor Who to chew on for more poems!

I can’t wait to watch Series 9 of Doctor Who– Peter Capaldi is so good in the lead role, and I know he’s going to do spectacular things with it.

God_Save_the_Pres.!_Cover_for_KindleLet’s talk about fandom for a moment.  You’re obviously a big Dr. Who fan.  What else are you into?  Any hobbies/life passions outside fandom and wordsmithery?

Oh plenty. I’m a gigantic fan of Decipher’s WARS Universe, for which I run the only fansite: thezocho.weebly.com. I also love Star Trek, Star Wars, the Middle Earth Universe, the World of Darkness…. Oh goodness I could go on forever. I’m a giant nerd.

I’m fairly new to comics, but I’ve loved Ant-Man since I was a little kid (unusual, I know) so the recent movie was a big treat for me. I’m also big on Captain America, Black Widow, the X-Men and Batman (thanks to Bruce Tim’s excellent animated series). Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe started I’ve never missed a film or a TV show. They’ve got me hook line and sinker at this point… Though I’m still waiting for a Black Widow movie (C’mon Marvel, make it happen!)

I also love running, though sadly with all my writing and touring I’m out of shape. Exploring nature is a big hobby of mine. Oh, and roleplaying games. I’ve been playing those excessively since I was a tot as well!

Anything else we should definitely know about?  

Right now I’m a part of Southgate Media Group’s Charity Drive to help raise money for a child fighting cancer named Ben. If you want to help donate to his recovery, use the link here.

Just in case you missed all the links, here’s where to find James out there on the interwubz:

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