John Wilker is a science fiction writer and conference organizer. Having attended countless cons at this point, I can imagine that they provide some potent inspiration for the sci-fi. He is the author of the Space Rogues, an epic adventure series with a healthy dose of Flash Gordon. (I’m in love with that sentence, by the way.) I managed to solicit John for a Bezzie berating, so let’s learn more about him.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Where the Red Fern Grows. Read it in 4th grade, so moving.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
For now. I run a small conference company. Small being, me. I organize 3 conferences a year and consult on a few others. My goal is to be able to scale back my conferences and do the ones I love and that aren’t financially risky, and make my living off writing.
Have you ever gotten readers block?
Yes. In my mid twenties when I was a cubicle dwelling software monkey, I read 2-3 business books a week usually. I’d read when commuting on train, I’d mastered reading while walking, since it was a 20 minute walk to/from the office to the train station. I’d read at home for hours on end. The books were ALL business. Biographies, how-to’s, self help style. The entire Rich Dad run, etc. Now I can’t read a business book to save my life. It takes months, of reading in fits and spurts, i just burnt myself out on them.
What is your role in the writing community?
I’m an introvert, so I participate online, and am building up some gumption to get get out to smaller events and such. I’ve never been interested in critique groups and the like, so there aren’t a ton of meetups near me sadly. So all that to say, I’m not overly involved in the community.
How many bookshelves are in your house?
Not many. My office closet is shelved, and 2 are dedicated to books, and … other stuff. My wife and I have almost entirely gone digital. My Kindle is packed with some 500 odd books.This is mostly because through my twenties and thirties, my wife and I had entire walls dedicated to books, then I moved twice, then we moved together. Books are heavy as hell! If a book is on my shelf it means something to me. The missing book between Nevertheless She Persisted and Lord of the Rings is Rebel Without a Crew which I’m reading now, so it’s on my desk.
Whose work do you enjoy reading the most?
I love Joshua Dalzelle’s Omega Force, and Ryk Brown’s Frontiers saga. I love space opera that can be fun and funny at times. Both have been hugely influential on my own writing. Charlie Holmberg’s Paper Magician series was an excellent and fun read lately. I used to read a lot of “fantasy” but have fallen out of love for it for the most part, but stuff like Charlie’s is fun.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Ziggy Saves the Space Needle came out in third grade, so … 1985-86. It won the Puget Sound Young Authors contest. It only took about 25 years for my next book. 🙂
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Wil, but mostly for the wish fulfillment. I mean who wouldn’t want to live a life of adventure on your own starship, doing what you want, etc. Granted he has a bout of depression and anxiety after being alone for so long, but he finds a family and friends eventually. I also like Bennie, because I get to make him be “super alien” he mangles earth expressions, has mostly horrible interpersonal skills, but also can shine when the time is right.
Have you ever changed the ending of a series based off the reaction of your fans?
The ending? No. Other parts? Yes. Wil, the main character of the series has a casual relationship with someone who was a throw away character in book one. I got so many emails and notes in reviews about the character that she came back for a cameo in a short story, then came back to subsequently (spoiler alert) join the crew of the Ghost.
Is privacy an issue for you?
5 years ago, no. I signed up for all the apps and whatnot. Now, yes. I’m more active in paying attention to apps and the data I share. I just recently ditched Swarm, the check in app from Foursquare. I’ve been a user since they launched, and am an level 2(IIRC) admin on their community data clean up site. I just couldn’t keep checking in and giving them data to sell to venues and restaurants, etc. I’ll pay for something rather than use it for ‘free’. As they say, “When something is free, you’re the product.”