Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guest Blogger C.K. Volnek on Writing for Young Readers

Today's guest is C.K. Volnek, a talented writer of middle-grade historical fiction, which she likes to combine with fantasy elements. It makes for an entertaining and fascinating mix.

*   *   *
Hi Anne, Thanks for inviting me here today. I’m so honored to be among the wonderful guests you’ve showcased here.

What made you decide to write for younger readers instead of Adults? And will you ever write an Adult book?

I was an avid reader when I was a kid, jumping from one adventure to another, seeing the world and enjoying the multitude of stories through the eyes of my new friends, the main characters. To a child, the world is new and exciting and alive. There are secrets just waiting to be revealed around every corner and mysteries ready to be solved. I love the younger mind…they’re so open to what is happening around them rather than being totally focused on what is happening to them.

And so I choose to write to them, to give them stories to entertain and amuse, as well as inspire, encourage and motivate them to grab the world and make it a better place. If we can arouse the desires in the youth of today, no telling where they will go when they become an adult.    

Your books, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island (about Roanoke Island) and The Secret of the Stones (about Merlin) are both Historical fiction. Is this going to be something you will continue to do?

It’s funny you’ve picked up on my tendency to write historical fiction. I HATED history in school. LOL. It was all I could do to memorize the dates and places, let alone try and figure out who all the players in history were. Besides, I never understood what history has to do with today. Why did I need to learn about something that happened in the past? What was it going to do for me today?

As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize history has EVERYTHING to do with what happens today. It’s all cause and effect. Just as in Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, if the Lost Colony had arrived on Roanoke Island earlier in the spring, they might have been able to plant and store food instead of sending their ship back to England for more supplies. If the Spanish Armada had not sailed against England, John White might have been able to return directly to Roanoke Island with the much needed provisions, instead of arriving three years later to a deserted colony.

I hope, that even though my story of Ghost Dog revolves around a fictional character and ghost, the historical facts shine through to inform and educate my reader as to the way these people lived, the injustices done and how certain prejudices could have been avoided.

The Secret of the Stone is a bit of a different story. It’s based on the historical legend of Merlin and King Arthur. A much lighter historical flavor and one my reader can enjoy a laugh or two with.

I looked up some of the facts in your book and they were all true. What kind of research did you do for your books?

The history behind the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island is fascinating. My muse couldn’t get enough, trying to sort out and solve what happened to the missing colonists. As I dove into this mystery, I found myself getting deeper and deeper, and loving every minute of it…the vision of Sir Walter Raleigh, the failed first attempt of colonization by Ralph Lane, his disgraceful retaliation against the Native Americans after the disappearance of a silver cup, the arrival of the new colony and the birth of Virginia Dare, the first English maiden born in the New World. Fascinating jewels of history. I researched the people of this time and even found the list of the original colonists’ names. I included several of these characters in my book, though they are clearly speculative. Even the ghost dog was researched. I discovered there was evidence of an English Mastiff coming over on the Mayflower so I envisioned a dog such as this accompanying the first colony, therefore creating my character, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.

The Secret of the Stones was a little more difficult to research. Merlin is all about legends. And there are a lot of legends surrounding Merlin. But it was so interesting to read through the different legends and see how they weave together. I pieced certain elements together, uniting all the pieces and my story was formed. And with my story, I create my own new legend…that Merlin still lives, held captive in the hidden castle and it’s up to Alex Ramsey to discover all the clues and save him in this series of fun and adventure.

Is there an Author who inspired you?

It’s hard for me to choose just one author who has inspired me. I try to glean something from every author I read. If I had to go back to my younger years, I would have to say it was after reading Black Beauty that I was inspired to be an author. I was determined to be the next Anna Sewell. I adore her vision to create such an eloquent story through the eyes of the grandest horse of all times. I can only hope that some child will enjoy my stories as much as I enjoyed hers.

When not in Author mode - what do you and your family like to do for fun?

I have so many things I like to do when I’m not writing. Family always comes first and I enjoy making a big dinner so we can all sit around and talk. I’m a crafter so I make jewelry, quilts, tole paint and crochet. I also love the outdoors and can be found hiking or walking my four Papillon pups around town. And yes, I did say four. They’re like potato chips, I couldn’t stop at one.

Thanks again, Anne, for having me on your blog today. It’s been a joy for me to meet so many new friends. If anyone would like to contact me, they can write me at ckvolnek (at) yahoo (dot) com. 

*   *   *
C.K. Volnek's books are available through Amazon, through MuseItUp Publishing, and at other online retailers.

Her book trailers are on YouTube.

You can learn more about C.K. Volnek at her website and blog.


  1. Thanks for hosting me here today, Anne. It's so great to meet your friends and viewers! Thanks for visiting with me. :-)
    C.K. Volnek

  2. I too read and re-read Black Beauty. In fact I loved it so much, my first novel (written in seventh grade) was about a horse. My grandmother typed up my handwritten pages for me and I fell in love with writing when I saw my story typed on the pages like a real book. Enjoyed your interview. Best wishes!

  3. I just read a book about the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. How timely!