Thursday, 27 October 2011

New Author Spotlight - C.K. Volnek

I’m delighted to welcome debut novelist, and fellow MuseItUp author, C.K. Volnek to Flights of Imagination today. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is a tween ghost story with a twist of Native American folklore and is based on the true mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.  I was completely hooked on this Middle Grade book for 10-14 year olds, as I’m sure most young people and adults will be. From the first page to the last, Ms Volnek’s storytelling and writing skills kept me reading until the exciting and dangerous conclusion.
Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island
In 1587,117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil. Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what really happened. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, it's up to Jack to uncover what the evil is and why it haunts his island. But can he destroy it...before it destroys him?
Welcome to my blog C.K. Thanks for answering the following questions!
How did you get started writing?
Thanks for hosting me here today, Rosemary. It’s so kind of you to invite me. And I’m so looking forward to your tween book to come out next year…Summer of the Eagles. Sounds like a great story! (Thank you!)
I’ve always loved to write. I was donned ‘the storyteller’ by family and friends when I was little because I had the most active imagination. Many a night, as we sat around a campfire or darkened bedroom, all eyes would turn to me to spin a ghost story to keep us scared and screaming.
As I grew older, life settled in. I married and had children and so limited my writing to short stories and articles. My main goal during those years was to care for my family and encourage my children to go after their dreams. As my children grew, my muse returned to her desire of writing longer novels. Seven years ago, my family gifted me with my own laptop…informing me it was time to quit encouraging everyone else to go after their dreams and go after my own. Needless to say, my muse did not take much coaxing.
What made you write for tweens/middle grade readers?
I love the middle-grade/tween age. They have such a zest for life and oh so many questions. When you can keep their attention, they are like sponges, soaking up story after story. Getting their attention is the trick. My middle son hated to read. His attention span was about as long as a gnat’s wing. This challenged me to come up with stories that would keep his interest and teach him something along the way as well.
I believe the tween age is when many dreams are formed, dreams that will last their whole lifetime if they choose to open their mind to the ‘what ifs’ in life. So in my writing, I try to pose questions and possibilities to get their imaginations stirring and whet their appetite to search out what truly interests them and find the desires of their heart.  
Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?
I did do a lot of research for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, which is almost funny because I hated history in school. I was never very good at remembering dates and I didn’t think it was important. After all, what does history have to do with what’s going on today? Boy, did I learn a valuable lesson there. History has EVERYTHING to do with what’s going on today. Everything we do today will affect what happens tomorrow. The mystery of the Lost Colony could have been so very different if…Sir Walter Raleigh would have sent his men farther north, if they would have landed earlier in the season, if…if...if…
The Lost Colony is an intriguing mystery. How could 117 people just disappear? Without a trace? A minute clue was left behind, but to this day, no one is sure what it meant. So, my muse formulated her own story. To complete the story, I also explored some Native American folklore and studied the geography of Roanoke Island. The typography of the Roanoke Island is unique. I discovered there are oak trees on the island they believe were growing when the Colonists first landed. I never realized trees could live that old. I also found that in the area of Wanchese they have found evidence of various cultures dating back to 8000 BC. And I thought North America was a mere baby compared to the rest of the world. Yes, my research revealed some very interesting facts. 
Do you think reading is important for young people today, and why?
Reading is incredibly important for anyone…young or old. A book can open up a whole new world for the reader, allowing the mind to create its own pictures and interpret the author’s intentions. The pages captivate, teach, thrill, delight, and rouse the reader’s spirit. The words can tug at a reader’s heart, teaching them that valuable lesson they were destined to learn, or bring the smile that had been missing from their heart.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I believe a book is worth a thousand lives. You never know who is going to be touched in an incredible way by reading your story. 
Did you read a lot when growing up – any author in particular influence you?
I did read a lot when I was young. I took part in almost every library contest I could and won many prizes for reading the most books. I loved horse stories and after reading Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, I wanted to be the next author of a great horse story, or at least the owner of a horse. J I did go on to have several horses in my youth. And finally…my first horse story is coming out in December, 2011.
I didn’t only read horse stories though. I loved the classics: Charlotte’s Web, The Arabian Nights, Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, Huck Finn, Pippi Longstocking, Doctor Doolittle and the Swiss Family Robinson. Each has earned a special spot in my heart, creating their own unique memories as I think back on them. Two favorites though, have to be My Side of the Mountain, and The Secret Garden. I still smile fondly at the images my mind springs up as I remember them. 

Do you have any tips for new authors?
My major tip is never give up! We can be our own worst enemy and tell ourselves ‘we’re just not good enough.’ Don’t believe it! You can never truly see your true worth. Keep after your dreams. Practice. Polish. Learn. And write, write, write! You have a story to tell and no one else can tell it for you. If you don’t tell it, it won’t get told.
I have a favourite quote by William Wordsworth… “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
Life is about living what is in your heart. Be true to yourself, your family and friends and your word. And know your story might be the one that saves the reader you’ll never meet.
Thanks for having me here today! It’s been fun. I’d love for our readers to find me. I love greeting old friends and making new ones!
Where to find C.K.: Website  Blog
Email: Twitter: @CKVolnek; Facebook: C.K Volnek
Where to buy Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island:
Amazon (US); Amazon (UK); MuseItUp Publishing; Smashwords

It was great to have you here today, C.K. - all the best with your novel! Great cover, by the way.

C.K. Volnek grew up in Nebraska, enjoying life in small town USA; riding horses in summer and sledding the ginormous hills in winter. She is married to her best friend and together they have three children and four Papillon fur-kids. She loves to write, hike, watch movies and dream about the ‘what ifs’ in life, thus spawning the many stories her muse wants to share. She has had several articles published in children’s magazines, Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul and other various publications. Her debut tween novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, was released in September and she is proud to announce two more books coming soon.


  1. I do so agree that reading is important for everyone - a good book can teach us important facts that'll change our lives forever, or just give us a bit of a giggle. I think both are valuable.

  2. Morning Patsy - thanks a lot for visiting with such a good comment. Completely agree.

    Great to have C.K. here today - sorry to everyone about the bizarre highlighting. Don't know why it's doing that!

  3. Really interesting to read about your writing CK and I love the sound of your books (I too started off reading horse books as a child!)

  4. Charlie, those comments about your early reading loves popped me right back to childhood. You are so right, the tween years are so pivotal, things are felt so intently! And those classic treasures were so loved. And if I reread Little Women when I'm 90, I'll still cry when Beth dies.

  5. Charlie, I loved the Wordsworth quote! It is so true! You never know who will be helped by your writing! Also, if you are not writing from your heart the writing does not ring true. Although when you write about your own experiences you need to be objective or the writing won't have any feeling. I learned that the hard way:)

    Rosemary, I hope the UK does get to know this great book!

  6. Hi Gail - I completely agree about Little Women!

    Hi Barbara - me too!

  7. Hi everyone!
    Ros, thanks so much for hosting me. You make me blush with your kind words.
    I do appreciate all you coming by and leaving me a note. I'm so glad to meet others who liked reading about horses, believe a book can be a best friend, an instrument for life, and a great magic carpet to take us away to all those fabulous places! Whether I sigh, cry, smile or giggle, I love reading! Thanks so much to everyone! Kudos!
    C.K. Volnek

  8. How sweet of your family to gift you a laptop and encourage you to follow your dreams. What a great thing it is to have a loving and supportive family.

    Author of Concilium, available July 2012
    Concilium: The Departure, available November 2012

  9. Interesting interview and sounds like a fascinating story C.K.!

  10. Hi Michelle and Vikki. Thanks for stopping by. I am super blessed to have a great family and was so proud when they all wanted to read the book! So glad you left me a note and a wave!
    C.K. Volnek

  11. Charlie,

    You wrote - My major tip is never give up! We can be our own worst enemy and tell ourselves ‘we’re just not good enough.’ Don’t believe it! You can never truly see your true worth. Keep after your dreams. Practice. Polish. Learn. And write, write, write!

    Those words touched me because they are so true for all of us. Thank you.

  12. What a great interview! Good job. Yes, reading makes the world go round'. My kids were readers and my mom had me reading her the funny papers when I was little to get me interested. It was a good trick. Getting lost in a world other than your own can educate you, scare you or make you smile. And of course, from the writer's pen comes movies and tv shows and songs. Writing and creativity is a powerful thing.

  13. Hi Sharon, Thanks for your note. I'm honored you found my words worthy. I do believe them, but I'll admit, I have to reread them from time to time. I'm still my own worst enemy. ;-)
    Hi GM. I love it how your mom had you reading her the funnies. I'm definitely going to try that with some of my 'kids!' Great idea. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips with us!
    You all are such angels to visit!
    C.K. Volnek

  14. Hi Charlie - it's great to have you here today and I love what you said about reading.

    Hello Michelle - thanks for visiting!

  15. Hello Vikki - nice to see you here!

    Hi Sharon - doesn't Charlie speak such words of wisdom! Thanks for visiting.

  16. Hello GM - thanks for leaving such a good comment!

    It's lovely to have a mix of UK and US/Canadian visitors!

  17. Hi Charlie and Ros, lovely blog interview. I've just finished reading Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and it was one of those books you have to keep on reading to see what happens next. Thrilling and captivating. Well done.

  18. Hi Sue - thanks for visiting. I agree with you about Charlie's book - I was engrossed in the story!

  19. Excellent interview Rosemary - sounds like a book I would enjoy reading too! Loved the tips for new writers too; also a good reminder for all of us writers! Thank you.

  20. Hi Sue, Thanks for the accolades for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. So happy you enjoyed it.
    Hi Diane. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found some tips to help out. I love the kinship I've found with all my writer friends.
    C.K. Volnek

  21. Hello Diane - great to have an Australian online friend here! It really is a good read.

    Hurrah! Many thanks to wonderful friend Sara, who told me how to fix the rogue highlighting!

  22. Interesting interview, K.C. Like you, I couldn't remember dates at school, but loved history. You clearly enjoyed the historical research for your book. Thanks for introducing us to KC, Rosemary.

  23. Thanks for visiting, Joan - C.K's book is a very good read!

  24. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for stopping by. I really did enjoy researching this history. What a mystery it all is.
    C.K. Volnek

  25. Great interview, CK! I, too, read a lot as a youth. Wonderful to read what inspired you to write. :)

  26. Hello Victorine - thanks for visiting!