Meet K. Kazul Wolf, fantasy author, past Pitch Wars mentee, and current Pitch Wars mentor. Her graphic novel SACRIFICES OF SHADOW is out now!
Let’s talk about your fantasy graphic novel SACRIFICES OF SHADOW. What made you decide to make it a graphic novel instead of just a novel?
It actually wasn’t something that I sought out myself, originally! I submitted Sacrifices of Shadow as a short story for an anthology that Villipede Publications was putting together. It didn’t quite fit the theme of the anthology, but the editor loved it so much he wanted to try and make something out of it, so it ended up as a graphic novel. I’ve always loved visual arts, so it was an amazing experience.
What was it like working with an illustrator? Was it difficult having someone else draw your characters?
I was very lucky in that the illustrator on the project was very open to my suggestions—though I didn’t have to suggest much in the end. He really got the tone of the story, and his style was so unique and a perfect fit.
While Sacrifices of Shadow is a fantasy, you’ve tried writing other genres. Why do you think fantasy matches your writing better than other genres? Do you think you’ll stick to fantasy or maybe give another genre a try again?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I love fantasy because I’m the master of “what if.” I’ll have a simple concept but I listen to a song, or watch a movie, or read a book, or just walk down the street and keep adding “what if”s until the world is too big and too weird to fit into most other genres—though one of my current WIPs is a sci-fi. So, I don’t always stick to fantasy (especially with short stories, I love going all over the place with them), but it’s my favorite for a lot of reasons. Dragons being a big one.
You wrote an article about asexual representation in writing Are you still working on writing stories with asexual characters?
Yes, most definitely. At this point, all of my novel-length work has at least a main character somewhere on the ace spectrum. I still believe it to be critically vital to young readers to know that the spectrum exists for so many reasons—most of which I go into detail over in that article I wrote, so I won’t go all broken record on you. But now, more than ever before, yes, my books are filled with asexual characters. In fact, the main character in Sacrifices of Shadow is asexual, too.
A lot of writers focus on getting an agent, but until that point they give less thought to what comes after. Unfortunately, some authors leave their first agents and hunt for someone who is a better fit for their career. Do you have any advice for other authors who may find themselves in the position of debating parting ways with their agent?
It’s hard advice to hear, and even harder advice to follow through on, but it’s absolutely true and so important: No agent is better than having a bad agent. Unfortunately, the deeper I get in the writing community, the more common people needing to part ways seems to be. You’re definitely not alone if you’ve gone through it. My first agent parted ways with me, so I do know that the struggle that follows is very hard (and if anyone reading this is going through this and needs to talk, don’t hesitate to hit me up), but it’s infinitely better than having a bad business partner.
And a bad agent for you doesn’t mean they have to be monsters; sometimes it comes down to never being able to agree on edits, lack of communication, ineffective sub methods, or sometimes even it’s just that your personalities don’t click. Any of that, and anything else, is totally okay! If you’re at the point where you’re seriously considering your agent isn’t a right fit, I suggest having a heart-to-heart with your agent and trying to talk it through. If things don’t change, or you come to something you absolutely cannot compromise on, it’s probably time to start looking for another agent.
What’s your current writing and career goal?
Well, writing-wise I want to finishing cleaning up my two WIPs, and start writing a new novel. Career-wise, getting a traditional publishing deal is what I’m aiming for. A vague, nebulous goal, but it’s been set!
You’ll be a mentor in Pitch Wars 2017, but instead of picking from the slush you will be mentoring a #teenpit winner. For those who haven’t heard of Teen Pit, how would you describe it?
It’s like a mini-Pitch Wars for young writers to get an invaluable experience and a taste of the professional writing world. Instead of your whole book, mentors give feedback on your first chapter or 20 pages, and help you polish your first 250 words plus a 50-word pitch for a judging round. The grand prizes this year were entries into Pitch Wars, which is how I ended up already having an amazing mentee before the wishlists even go up!
You were an alternate in Pitch Wars 2014, your first year as a mentee, and your mentor was Evelyn Skye. How rigorous was your editing experience with Evelyn, who claims to be an intense editor? Did you ever worry about not finishing in time?
I think that my edits were not quite as intense as Evelyn’s mentee for that year, but they were pretty tough! However, I love revising and it’s my favorite part of writing so I spent every moment I could focusing on polishing and implementing my notes. I think I even finished a little early! Though in my second year, I ended up re-writing a novel into another age category and cutting 20k, and that one I definitely pushed it a little closer to the deadline with line edits. I thrive under deadlines, which I think is a really big help when in such a time restrictive contest like Pitch Wars.
Any advice for mentee hopefuls who are afraid about not being able to handle Pitch Wars edits or how to deal with the time constraints?
If you’re a slow reviser, or have other commitments during the Pitch Wars period, it’s definitely going to be tough. But, that’s the business. The contest might be a bit faster paced than some traditional edits, but I’ve had friends who’ve gotten edits and need to have them back as of yesterday. So if you’re aiming for traditional publishing, it’s a necessary skill and Pitch Wars is a great place to nail it down. Use every spare second—and I do mean second—working on your novel. Carry a notebook or use your phone around to take notes whenever you have ideas pop into your head when you’re out. Plan easy meals in advance so you don’t have to spend as much time on them. If you have a significant other or a family, definitely talk to them about how you’re going to be less available to be around for kids/activities/whatever, and what they can do to help support you through this once in a lifetime opportunity. Some mentors may go light on you, but more often than not they’ll have you critically look at every single scene of your book and shine it up to the best it can be.
To end on a fun question, if you had a pet dragon what would you name it?
After long and careful consideration: Potato.
Want to know more About K. Kazul Wolf? Visit her author website.
Sacrifices of Shadow is a graphic novel in the vein of dark urban fantasy, written by K. Kazul Wolf and illustrated by Matt Edginton. Anya is on her way to visit a friend when she comes upon a strange man lying in the road. It’s the middle of the night, pouring rain, and through the headlights it looks like something has just tried to tear this guy to pieces. He asks if she has a weapon on her, and before she can scoff or run back to the safety of her truck, something large begins to growl behind her…
Anya finds herself drawn into an eldritch world where hellish hounds stalk the between-worlds, magic-infused firearms are bought and traded, and shadowy entities in human guise appear to be eerily common.