My Interview With Koos Verkaik
If you haven't figured it out yet, interviews are my favorite part of the job. I love getting to talk and learn from authors who have so much more experience than me. I was honored when Mr. Verkaik messaged me. This interview was a pleasure to write.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I was able to write, I started making stories. I was seven years old when I started to fill notebook after notebook with adventures about different characters. The ‘books’ were for rent for 10 cent and I gave the money to a charity organization. Later, at fourteen, I wrote hundreds of pages (with a ballpoint) about a space traveler. Two years later I wrote comics about that – published in a weekly, three pages each week. Made me the youngest comic writer in Europe. When I was eighteen, I wrote a novel for adults and it was published.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
As I said, I was eighteen when I wrote my first serious novel for adults. I wrote it in a very, very short time – a long weekend! And the subject is popular again these days, it was about artificial intelligence and the changing of the human brain; in my story a man gives his brain to science and it is built in a space ship. He claimed to be happier than every other human being in the world, but the main character in the book thinks different about that. After that book I continued writing novels and also started working as a copywriter for a big agency in Rotterdam.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Go for long walks with my dog. And I play guitar since I was fourteen. Became a blues fanatic and formed different bands. Now I record at home, playing my Fender from 1963, a collector’s item. For who is interested, you can find some of the recordings here. And then I love to read. Both fiction and nonfiction. Have lots and lots of books in my workroom and of course I use them mainly for research.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
It came as a surprise to me that publishers were interested in my work when I was still so young. After working as a copywriter I started working for myself. Different printers also had a publishing company and needed text to keep their presses rolling. I wrote for magazines, produced book series, gave them everything they asked for. That was a hard but good time to learn how to write. There have been times that I wrote four books per month, all for the mass market and under a pseudonym. That surprised me: that I was able to do that. I worked on IBM equipment and two representatives asked me if I was willing to come to a laboratory where one could connect my brain to a computer to see what happened when I was writing. I have not done that, but it was remarkable that they were so interested in what happened there under my skull when I was writing as fast as I could…
How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I don’t count all the books I have written under pseudonym, that were just commercial things that made me survive. I have written over sixty different titles. Different novels are favorite: Dance of The Jester, All-Father, Wolf Tears, Heavenly Vision, to name some.
When I started writing series of children’s books, it turned out well right away. Made a series of twelve books and sold over 450.000 copies (different publishers, many reprints) in The Netherlands only!
Now I have a series of four books, published in the USA by Outer Banks Publishing Group, North Carolina; Saladin the Wonder Horse. In The Netherlands 80.000 copies got sold.
All right, now my favorite series of children’s books: Alex and The Wolpertinger!
I am working on book fourteen right now, intending to write thirty different titles.
This is a big, big, big adventure and I really love all the different characters.
A very kind review says it all:
“Alex and the Wolpertinger - The Monster Inn by Koos Verkaik is a must read. It is a short book but has a large story to tell. Once you open it, it will grab you and hold you down and you'll watch the pages turn and turn and turn some more until you reach the last one. You'll even find a few twists and turns thrown in. A magician needs help. Alex is sent to get somebody. Then Alex begins his fun adventure. Alex gets shrunk and becomes so small he can talk to small animals. This book is adventurous and funny. I just loved it. I gave it 5 stars but it deserves more. It would make a great gift to give. It would make a great addition to your child's library or any library's bookshelf. I highly recommend this book to everyone. You will not regret picking up this book. I look for more fun books from Koos Verkaik.”
The series is also published by Outer Banks Publishing Group.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers?
Like a doctor’s recipe; read and write, every day.
If you want to become a writer, then start writing. And read what other writers in your genre have done and read nonfiction to know how things work, when things happened, what is going on in the big world.
Develop your own style. Don’t do what others already did.
What do you think makes a good story?
A story has to be original. That’s the main thing. You have to catch your readers with the first lines. And then lead them through a world that is only known by yourself, take the readers by the hand and show them thing they have never seen before. That is my goal; entertain everyone with good books. I have a lot to tell and am not afraid to give my own opinion about important questions, but it always remains pure adventure. As I said: Magic, Mystery & Adventure, that is what it is about where my novels and children’s books are concerned.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
First I wanted to become an astronaut. Collected everything that had to do with space traveling. But when someone asked me what I really wanted to be, I always answered: “A writer.”
How did you come up with the idea for your series of children’s books Alex and The Wolpertinger?
I spent many a holiday in Germany, especially in Bavaria. There I heard about a fable figure, a wolpertinger. It tickled my fantasy and I created my own wolpertinger in a medieval setting. Little Alex is a boy from the Alps and enters the land of King Clover. A prince takes Alex to his castle Robber’s Nest and set him to work in the kitchen. In order to help a magician, Alex has to go to the mysterious Downhills, where monsters, dragons and wolpertingers live. Wolpertingers are teasers, people are afraid of them. But Alex becomes best friends with Ludo the wolpertinger! They travel to the Monster Inn, where the most odd creatures gather and then the big, big, big adventure begins…
Thank you so much for your time, Koos. This was a fun and interesting interview, and I enjoyed working with you very much.
You can purchase Alex and The Wolpertingrer, The Monster Inn here.
His other books are available here.