We’re happy to be back with another interview with one of the authors from the ‘Beyond the Gate’ anthology. This time we’re interviewing Karl Leis from Australia, who claims to be a ‘Yet to be published author’, despite the fact that he actually started out as an authorpreneur at a very young age. He took self-publishing to heart before he was 10. Read the fascinating story about that, and learn more about what Karl plans to write about in the future.
Hi Karl, happy to have you with us today. Can you share a bit about yourself with our readers?
This is fantastic, thank you so much for having me!
I’m in love with writing, and have been ever since I was nine. We had an author in to talk to us, but I can’t quite remember her name. Anyway, she told us to write a single sentence to start a book that would capture the reader’s attention. So, being the nine year old I was, I created a Super Dog that would run around and fight crime. The first line of this first book was, naturally, “The skeletons have gone to the toilet again? I should have known!” And thus, I had begun the first book in the first trilogy I would ever write. The year after, when the three short stories were finished, and were now accompanied by a collection of terrible drawings, I journeyed to the local markets and sold 1 copy for $4 or all 3 books for $10.
I actually made a small fortune for a ten year old that day, and I had gotten my first fix. I had lost myself in the world of this Super Dog, and his side kick, a Ghost who was first thought to be evil. Instead of sitting in front of the television for a couple of hours, watching the screen in bliss, I had created something I was truly proud of.
I still have the remaining few copies of those small stories. What I took away from that day was golden; I now knew that I could write.
Now, a whole lot of years later, I’m living in Queensland, Australia and am able to fall back into the incredible worlds of my imagination on a daily basis. Other than writing, I also enjoy sketching, a few of which can be found on my website.
Your indie career started early. That’s all kind of awesome. Have you written anything for publication besides those books?
At the moment, the only story I’ve told that has been published is The Gatekeeper, as apart of the Beyond the Gate anthology.
Currently, I am working on a fantasy story that, in its simplest form, is about a vampire that travels through alternate universes. Other than these two titles, and the trilogy I wrote when I was a kid, everything I have written has been lost and/ or forgotten. It wasn’t until I found the Self Publishing Podcast that I got up the courage to make my writing any more public than it already was.
Tell us a bit more about your vampire story. Are they sparkly, fat, or more traditional, and what’s the story about?
In short, the story plays with the concept that in the very distant future, humans find a way to ‘capture’ people as they die and move them into a new universe. When these incredibly powerful people created this new universe, they thought they would have a lil’ bit of fun, and thus turned the dead into vampires. I am unbelievably excited to explore this world, and can’t say much more without giving anything TOO BIG away, but I can say that this story explores the gap between the low, middle and high class, even after death.
(Even in the after-life, you can die.)
I promise they aren’t sparkly. I’d say they’re more traditional than anything. None of them are nearly as fat as Reginald.
What or who are your biggest creative influences?
That’s easily Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt and David W Wright. I have read most of their work, and am addicted to their words.
Really, everything I read adds to my archive, but it’s these three guys that continue to shape the way I think about writing the most.
What is your writing environment like and is there anything you’d change about it?
My writing environment is at my glass desk, with music hammering at my ear drums. To my right, I have a cork board where I keep record of how much I have written in a session, and how fast (eg. 1500 Words per Hour). I also keep any important notes on characters and/ or locations on this board, just to make sure I have an easy way to access such information while writing.
I would change a lot about my small office, if I could call it that. For example, I sit in what I perceive to be the absolute most hellishly uncomfortable chair in existence, but at the moment it’s what I’ve got, and what I’ve got is good enough.
What kind of tools do you use for your writing? Any software that you couldn’t live without?
Naturally after watching the SPP guys for so long, Scrivener is my go-to tool for everything I do. Scrivener makes my life SO MUCH easier when it comes compiling and sorting documents(swell as writing). But it isn’t the most important tool I have at my disposal. The single entity that trumps all substances – the one thing that gets me through the day is Coffee. Without my daily multiple-dose of caffeine, while being a whole lot healthier, I doubt I would be consistently reaching my goal of 5000 words.
What made you decide to participate in Fiction Unboxed and write in this shared world?
Well, as I said before, finding Fiction Unboxed was the turning point for my writing. Before this point, I was too afraid to place what I wrote in the public eye. That, and I thought that I absolutely needed a publisher to do such a thing.
I found the Kickstarter page after it had been up for 12 hours, and was instantly amazed at what these three strangers had accomplished. Over the following weeks, I would watch 15 hours of these bumbling, but amazing people talk about the wondrous world of self publishing.
Because of the circumstances in which I found Fiction Unboxed, it was only natural that I would eventually write in their world.
What was the most important thing that you learned from Fiction Unboxed?
Write dammit! Just write!
But I’d say that falling in love with your world is extremely important as well.
Tell us about your story in the “Beyond the Gate” anthology?
Well, this is a hard one. I would love to go right out and say that my story is whatever you perceive it to be, but I feel that would make me sound far too pretentious, so I wont even go there.
Really, it’s about a dwarf called Doug that lives in a mountainous village called Ethos. When Doug loses something dear to him, he starts off on a journey to find a way to fix what he had lost. If you don’t like endings that don’t give you all the answers, I would not recommend this book, and I’m aware of how silly that is for me to say. The thing is, I wrote this story for the people that like to try and figure out exactly what happened themselves, because I, myself am one of those readers. My next full length novel will make much more sense. I promise. Ha!
I am currently working on a full length novel, which will hopefully be published by the end of the year.
Other than that, I have around about one million ideas floating aimlessly around my head that I will most definitely get around to eventually.
Is the full length novel the vampire story that we talked about earlier, or is this another story?
Yes, my full-length novel is the vampire story. But I do have millions of other ideas bubbling around in my head, always mutating, always expanding. The only problem is, I don’t have time to write them all just yet.
I’m giddy, waiting for the day that I will consistently be able to just sit back and let my fingers do their work – to be lost in the wondrous worlds that I have created.
Thank you too, Karl. This was really funny. Best of luck to you in the future.
If you haven’t already, you should definitely go grab your copy of Beyond the Gate – it’s free everywhere. While you’re at it, be sure to visit the book’s website, and learn more about how the book came to life, all the authors, and the people who kept pushing forward to get it out into the world for your enjoyment.
Karl has also made his story from Beyond the Gate available in paperback (which of course isn’t free, but might want something you want to add to your print collection in the Engine World). You can find it here.