Congratulations to SJ Wilke, 1st place winner of Inkitt’s Midsummer Mystery Writing Contest!
Welcome SJ! Can you tell us a little about your winning story, A String of Murder?
Sure! Laura sees strings. Strings are memories people create during heightened emotional episodes. These strings are left behind on inanimate objects, creating a history that Laura can read. Not a bad skill to have for an antique appraiser. However, not all strings are good.
When she bumps into a serial killer with twenty-three bloody strings attached to his knife, things become personal. Her best friend, Carol, is dating him. Laura suspects Carol is his next victim. She tries going to the police, but they think she’s a kook. Travis Dyner is a respected member of the community. He broadcasts the college football games. The police say this isn’t the first time someone has tried to stop him calling the game. But what can Laura do? All she has are his strings. How can she use her talents to catch him in time to save her friend? …and possibly herself.
Sounds intriguing! Where did the idea for this particular story come from? Did you have the ending in mind when you began, or did it surprise you?
Many times a story starts as a daydream. Or a blip of an idea. Or a person who can do something unusual, like my character, Laura, and her unique psychic ability. The book, A String of Murder didn’t end up the same as when I first started it. The psychic ability of the character was the same, but I changed the circumstances.
When I write out an idea, I usual write a first chapter to introduce the main character. I like to put her in a situation that lets the reader know what she is like – how she works, what her special talent is. Then I like to write the ending. After that I just have to fill in the middle. Of course, the ending may get tweaked with how things go, but it will be of the same idea of an ending that I first wrote.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have worked a career in computers and psychology which has provided me with the experiences to create the worlds within my books. I have traveled the world and seen enough personalities to create whatever character I need. I have been writing on and off most of my life, but have been writing novels for the last ten years.
I am now a semi-retired cat lady who takes long walks everyday, with way too many book ideas in my head and not enough time. This year I am aiming for a record of writing seven books: four of the Bitten series, a Dragon book, and two Banter books. I am currently on the fourth Bitten book. The last book of the year will be book four of the Banter series.
What is your writing routine like? Do you have a favorite place to work? Do you write every day?
I write every day, and I have an extra wide comfy chaise lounge where I sit. I’ll start right after breakfast with a cup of tea. I have windows I can look out to see the world. A cat or two is usually asleep on the back of the chaise. They like to oversee what I am writing. I am usually either editing a book or writing new material, and I pretty much do that all day long.
What does success as a writer look like to you?
Success means seeing a few book sales and having people actually wanting to read what I write. It’s finding agents who want to represent you or a publisher wanting to publish you. It’s when you’ve written something that draws out the emotions of the reader, and they feel obliged to write me comments about it. I love it when my readers hate a character that should be hated.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how to you move past it?
I have never had writer’s block. However, with that said, if I get to a place where I don’t know how to proceed, I either work on another book or take a walk. I have an overactive imagination so it doesn’t take me long to come up with ideas.
What are you working on now, or planning for your next project?
I have two series I am alternating between. They are the Bitten series and the Banter series. Bitten is fantasy/thriller that follows Nattie while she learns about another type of human, Viperians, that lives in her city, and suddenly becomes part of their society. They have fangs and venomous bites. Not the typical Vampire story.
Banter is a gun-for-hire who ends up working with the police. The series follows her through her life changes from hired gun to police officer. Banter is a lovely practical lady who likes to think a bullet is quicker when dealing with a criminal.
Congratulations again, and good luck with your upcoming projects!
Interested in learning more?
- Check out SJ’s Inkitt profile and browse his books!
- Meet the other winners! Read Shawn McLain’s interview here. Read Steve Gee’s interview here.
- Want to learn more about how to succeed as an author on Inkitt? Check out our Ask Inkitt articles for insider tips on success!