Author Crush Friday With A.K. Wilder
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to astrologer and YA fantasy novelist, A.K. Wilder, who is the author of the new young adult fantasy novel, Crown of Bones (January 5, 2021; Entangled Teen).
Thank you for talking to us today, A.K.! We’re honored! A little bit of romance, adventure, and mystery all rolled into this epic fantasy. If you haven’t picked up Crown of Bones yet, run, don’t walk, to grab it because who doesn’t love a phenomenal fantasy?! Pick up a copy of Crown of Bones and you’ll find out why.
GLITTER: Tell us five things that readers might not know about you.
A.K.: I’ve been bitten by rattlesnakes, twice now. I felt some pain and had interesting dreams but aside from that, not much else happened.
When I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, I was married to one. And then, I was not. There is a moral here….
I ran out of air at 120 feet, sitting at the bottom of the anchor line, waiting for a school of blue sharks to pass overhead. That was off the dive boat Truth, in the Northern Catalina Islands. I definitely learned some truths about myself that day.
I train in Hokushin Shinoh Ryu Iaido, the way of the sword, an ancient Japanese martial art. At first, it was to write authentic fight scenes. Later, because I loved it.
My father named me Kim because he was reading Rudyard Kipling’s Kim when I was born.
GLITTER: How would you describe your writing to a new reader?
A.K.: I write Epic Young Adult Fantasy. That’s epic as in wide sweeping stories that cover large scale events, intricate magical systems, and larger than life characters who are usually on a quest. The difference in my writing from other epic forms is that I give it a contemporary feel which shines through the characters in their dialog, mindsets, and attitudes to each other.
It’s fast-paced, easy to read but rich and deep in scope. And even though there is always a quest and a big bad of some sort, the characters drive the story. Always the characters!
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
A.K.: As an astrologer, I was taught long ago that relationships are the mirrors held up to us by the gods. This applies to writing as much as anything else because there is always a relationship with the characters, and to the story as a whole. I just have to be willing to open my eyes and look in the mirror. Easier said than done, but it is the only way for me to be honest with myself and allow the story’s truth to reveal itself.
GLITTER: What one question sparked the whole plot of Crown of Bones?
A.K.: What if there was a girl born who could save the world, but no one would listen to her?
GLITTER: Did any research go into writing Crown of Bones?
A.K.: Oh yes. Mountains of it, because when building any new ‘secondary world’, the key is to start with a grain of truth.
For Crown of Bones, it began with creating a singled continent surrounded by a wild sea which I modelled off our earth, 250 million years in the future when all the continents are projected to return to one.
Because such a land shapes the animals and people born from it, I spent a lot of time creating a map and looking at weather patterns, herd migrations and historical battles on both land and sea. Oh, the sea…
That’s when it became realty interesting. To create an underwater race, I had to understand how they, the Mar, could live in the sea. How would they breathe? What kind of blood runs in their veins. What makes they nigh immortal? And most importantly, what do they need to walk on land, under the sun? I had to know how it all worked before I could write them into the story world.
The truth of the phantoms also took research, mostly into Jungian psychology and the nature of our Shadow. But honestly, from shucking oysters to hoisting sails, brewing herbs, extracting arrows and pulling off a field transfusion, research was, and is a constant necessity.
GLITTER: Do you also read tarot cards? Where did the idea of the Whistle Bone cards come from?
A.K.: I’ve been reading tarot for many decades, almost as long as I’ve been an astrologer. They are both, along with throwing the bones, symbol systems which transcend time. You can look forward, and back, as far as you like, or dare.
The Whistle Bone cards were born of necessity. I wanted readers to get a feel for throwing the bones, but it wasn’t practical to replicate actual whistle bones, so cards seemed like a wonderful way to bring them to life. I had an artist friend who read everything I wrote about the Bone Throwers and their rituals, and in no time, the Whistle Bone Cards were born!
GLITTER: Do you have any particular writing rituals?
A.K.: Holy Moly, yes I do.
I start each day with morning yoga, and then a cup of herbal tea (organic, from my garden) and then on to my standing desk. There I first answer any emails or messages necessary before writing my ‘Daily Divination’ – a little astrology weather report – and then on to my current writing project. There I have a set goal: write 2,000 words, edit a chapter, re-write a scene, write an interview or post. Whatever it is, I stay at my desk until complete. In the afternoon, I work at my sitting desk with anything else that needs my attention before heading to the beach for afternoon yoga.
I do this seven days a week, 365 days a year, no exceptions.
Not everyone needs to be this disciplined, but for me, it works!
GLITTER: What character do you relate to the most?
A.K.: This would be Ash. She is smart and witty and insightful, but also a little awkward at times. Because she is non-savant, she’s not ranked very high or taken seriously by those that could help her with her goals and dreams. I love that she doesn’t let that get her down, at least not for long.
I also love that she talks to herself and isn’t afraid to imagine things different from what they are. She inspires me!
GLITTER: What one piece of advice could you give any teen going through difficult times now?
A.K.: I would say, raise your phantom.
Okay, yes, I know that sounds like crazy-fantasy-writer talk, but I mean it in a specific way. As a metaphor.
Think of your phantom as your inner self, a part of you that is intuitive, wise and powerful, and always has your best interests at heart. It’s ‘you’ with a broader perspective and much better eyesight. It sees through dark walls and on to the other side.
This inner self is always with you, in your unconscious mind, sending guidance and support, but we seldom taught to listen to it.
So, when troubles come, and they will because contrast is what makes the world go around, raise your phantom. Listen to your inner guidance. Invite it up. Dialog with it. Give it a name.
Ask for help and a little light in the dark.
From there, you will be guided to the next step, be it to reach out to someone in particular, to do and care more for yourself, to rest, to move, to find one thing to appreciate….
Guidance will be there when you ask.
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
A.K.: I am sure everything I have ever read has influenced me, but two authors come to mind straight away: JRR Tolkien first of all. I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings at least a dozen times in those four years of high school, immersing in the language of the Elves and the rhythms of Middle Earth. At 16, I read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, which at the time I thought was deeply profound. I immersed in those epic and strange worlds more than the ‘real’ one I was meant to be navigating… Thank goodness!
GLITTER: What are you passionate about in life?
A.K.: Everything! The sun, moon, and stars. Kookaburras in the trees at dawn. The raging sea. Horses galloping through the field just before it storms. Cat purring in the lap. Mangos, frangipanis, orchids, and a freshly dug veggie garden.
Falling head over heels in love.
Everything! Everything! Everything!
GLITTER: What are you working on right now?
A.K.: Crown of Bones is the first in a trilogy. Right now, I am putting the finishing touches on books two and three and getting ready for the editing process with my publisher.
I am also writing another story, a spin-off, called The Bone Thrower.
Thank you so much for your insightful questions. This has been so much fun!
xx AK Wilder
A.K. Wilder is an established fantasy writer under the name of Kim Falconer. Born on the Wilder Ranch in California, she now lives on the far east coast of Australia. She is an astrologer and tarot reader, like her father before her, and holds multiple degrees, from horseshoeing, herbal medicine, and veterinary nursing to a master’s degree in writing. Storytelling is her first love, along with passions for reading, organic gardening, yoga, Spanish guitar, meditation, weight training, and the sea. Her writing is done in the early hours of the morning, when the dragons are still asleep.