Interviewing rocks. I never know who I’m going to come across when I put out word I’m looking for people to interview; each guest ends up being so interesting and each has something special to share. So meeting Kurt Stradtman was another pleasant surprise. Unpretentious, honest, and bearing excellent writing tips, I must say I am glad our paths crossed. So without further ado, please stay with us a while, dear Reader, and get to know today’s guest author and his book, Transcendence (which is available for pre-order via his website kurtstradtman.com until the end of November when it can be purchased online (e-book will be available in December).
Thank you so much for joining us today, Kurt. How about you begin by telling us about yourself?
My name is Kurt Stradtman, and I am a certified holistic life coach and certified advanced LOA practitioner. I was born on the Georgia coast, and still call it home to this day. I lived briefly in Atlanta, Georgia, but found that I was far too lonely (no friends, family, partner) I decided to move back to the beach.
What other artistic interests do you have besides writing?
I am interested in all forms of artistic expression. My interest in art was sparked when my mother took my sister and I to Paris and saw the Mona Lisa for the first time, and Van Gogh paintings at the Musée d’Orsay. I realized that long ago, Van Gogh himself created the brushstrokes that were in front of me. After my sister and I started college, and using my newly acquired credit card, we both picked a weekend trip and visited the best Art Institutes (i.e. Chicago, New York, D.C., etc.). So yes, I would say I have an interest in all forms of artistic expression, be it dance, acting, or singing. I feel the art, thus I experience it.
Wow! Those trips sound incredible!
What are your preferred forms of writing and genres, and why?
My first book, “Am I The Person My Mother Warned Me About?” was a satirical memoir of college that started as a blog. I guess these writings could be considered short stories, even though the original blog was real life recollections. I thought writing autobiographical satire was my niche, but after writing “Transcendence”, I fell in love with the fiction style of writing. Even though my fiction is based on real elements of my life, and the characters are roughly based off real people, doing this, I maintain a large amount of control to include in the writing (i.e. character emotion, conflict, epiphany, etc.) and now, fantasy fiction will be my forte in writing. Fantasy writing in particular allows you to keep a completely blank slate, you create an entire universe. The laws of physics do not apply in your fantasy fiction world, thus allowing you limitless margin in creating your fantasy world.
Do you believe in ‘bad books’? As a reader, what do you think makes a good story?
I have read my fair share of bad books, believe me. I won’t name any names, but some were bestsellers (I don’t know how!), but there are several elements that make a great book. First is not to be cliché. Vampire novels are very popular now. Vampire novels are becoming cliché. Vampire novels have young characters, and a romance. Cliché. I tried to prevent “Transcendence” from being cliché by tapping into the witch market, which we all know is the next genre. We have werewolves, vampires and zombies, witches are just the next organic market. Also, my characters are in their mid-thirties, a nice break from the YA genre. Having said all that, no book is “bad” per se. Just like people, all books aren’t made for everyone. A book you think is ridiculous could be a poster on someone else’s wall.
Good point. Writing is very subjective and we all have our individuals tastes.
What elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
In my opinion, the basic elements of a book, especially the first of a trilogy are three mandatory essentials; Introduction, Implementation, and Impact. In the first part of a book, you find the Introduction. The opportunity to get to know the characters, learn who everyone is, learn each characters power, etc. This usually takes up majority of the first book, or the beginning of the book, if not a trilogy. Then on to Implementation. At this point, the introductions are complete, the reader knows already who’s who and what’s what, so they can get down to business and start fighting the bad guy, or pursuing the mission. Then the third, and final element is Impact. The aftermath of the battle or event that culminated in the second book or film. This is the opportunity for any loose ends to start being tied together.
I really like how you broke that down. I’ll have to remember those points.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence you?
My biggest influence in writing is music. I almost turn OCD while writing, because sometimes, I listen to a song on repeat. Literally the same song over and over for an hour. If I find a song that somehow motivates me, even if the song is completely unrelated, it influences the pen to paper for me. Also, several synchronistic songs work their way into my writing. For example, when I first began writing “Transcendence”, I was sitting at home, drinking my wine and “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry was on my internet radio, and the words began to flow. When I was writing the last paragraph of the book, the same song began to play on my internet radio. A metaphorical opening and closing of the novel.
What draws you to write in your preferred genre?
I don’t necessarily say that I write in one particular genre. My book, “Transcendence” could be listed in horror, general fiction, thriller, mystery, or even young adult. Because I implement all of these genres in my writing. General fiction because, well, it’s fiction. Thriller because there is a good guy versus bad guy conflict throughout the entire novel, and several close calls that would keep a reader on the edge of their seat. Mystery because the reader doesn’t know “why?” things are happening and there are several plot turns that keeps the reader wondering who’s good and who’s bad. And finally, it could be listed in horror, because a lot of elements in this book could hit very close to home to a reader, making the fiction even scarier, because they could relate.
The novel, “Transcendence”, surrounds Leo and his twin sister Jade. As I said earlier, the characters are “mid-thirties” and set in their career and comfortable with their life as it stands. Leo, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and his long time partner Eric break up, sending Leo into a spiralling depression. He decides to go visit his twin sister, Jade in Jacksonville, Florida. After arriving in Jacksonville, the plot begins to develop. After meeting a strange woman, Leo and his sister are told that they belong to a secret coven created to protect a sacred text that was created in the heavens and holds all the knowledge of the universe. Leo and his sister are atheist, so the idea of something created in the heavens was an absurdity. To top it off, in addition to being destined to protect a book that nobody has ever heard of, they are told that they are witches. The begin to realize that they will have to risk their life in protecting this sacred book, but as humans being agents of free-will, they are given an option of whether or not to partake this endeavor The coven will have to risk their life to prevent the book, not from falling into the hands of not someone, but something.
The cover looks great! Wonderful job!
Do you promote other writers on your blog? If so, why is this important to you?
I am always interested in promoting other writers on my blog, especially writers in the self-help genre or like-minded, since my website mainly surrounds my life coaching.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Motivation and Writers-Block. Finding the motivation to actually write is a tough one. I have a movie reel of the book running through my head non-stop. I can see the characters, I can hear them, I see the entire plot playing like a movie, but getting that thought from my brain to my paper is hard. Also, Writers-Block is a big challenge for me. Not so much writers-block in that I can’t think of what to write, but I can’t think of how to write it.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Augusten Burroughs is by far my number one inspiration, actually, I decided to write a memoir because of his inspiration. His satire is what influenced “Am I The Person My Mother Warned Me About?” and its comical approach to everyday life. Even though “Transcendence” is deep, some comic effect is found, but being a Life Coach, I like to implement this same comic approach in my Life Coaching (blogging, and in person), because I feel subject matter that Life Coaching deals with is deep and serious, and adding this comedy to serious situations removes the anxiety from a client and uses a “Real-World” approach.
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?
My advice is take your time. If it takes you one year, or four years to write your novel, remember that the book will outlive you. Take your time and make sure it’s perfect. If you get writers block, watch movies similar to your plot. Not to copy, but to start the gears turning. Watching a movie takes far less effort than reading, so you can see how the movie director approaches the plot and it can inspire the writer.
I love that line about our books outliving us. That puts things into perspective.
How can readers get into contact with you?
Kurt, it’s been wonderful to have you with us today. Thanks so much for coming by and for talking with us about yourself, about writing and your book. Best of luck with its release! Readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview–let us know! Drop us a line below or chat up Kurt at one of his links.
Have a great week everyone!