Author Interview: Kai Wai Cheah

Author Kai Wai Cheah is Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer.  I am quite honored to include him among our featured authors here on No Wasted Ink.

Author kai wai cheahI’m a Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer from Singapore, writing under the names Kai Wai Cheah and Kit Sun Cheah. While specializing in fantasy and science fiction, my personal writing preferences lean towards lean, dynamic and authentic, combining the finest traits of modern fiction and pulp stories from the early 20th century. I’m also a member of the PulpRev movement, which seeks to revolutionize fiction by gleaning lessons from the pulp masters of the past. Other than writing, I also enjoy reading, movies and gaming, and practice the Filipino martial art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at 12 years old because I was bored.

As a child, I was a bookworm. I routinely devoured books much more advanced for my age. Physics, biology and chemistry encyclopedias; folklore, myths and fairy tales (not the watered-down versions for modern children; but stories of good and evil and horror and bloodshed); books about the military, war, firearms and technology. I started reading adult novels in primary school, and never looked back.

One December morning, I found myself with nothing to do. The Primary School Leaving Examination was over; I was just killing time waiting for the results and my secondary school posting. I’d already read every book I had in the library. I decided I could write a book of my own. I fired up my computer, grabbed research material, and wrote the opening chapter of what would become a 300-page military science fiction epic.

The novel was also utterly terrible, but I kept writing and never looked back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Shortly after beginning work on my novel, I decided it was something I wanted to do as a career. I began referring to myself as a writer at the age of 13, soon after completing the first draft of my first novel.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest published novel is titled Hammer of the Witches, the second novel of the Covenant Chronicles. The story follows deniable operator Luke Landon, who is tasked with investigating international vigilante network Hexenhammer to determine if it were responsible for a major terrorist attack on a refugee camp. However, he quickly discovers a conspiracy that will stop at nothing to rule the world. And behind that conspiracy is the Unmaker, a fallen angel who aims to drag all souls into the Void.

The Covenant Chronicles is one part spy thriller, one part dark fantasy, one part military science fiction, set in a world where magic and daimons exist, but not gods… until they awake.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like all my stories, inspiration came from many sources. The first major source came from the thriller authors I read in my youth: Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Daniel Silva, Greg Hurwitz and Stephen Hunter. Harry Turtledove showed me the possibilities that lay in the genre of alternate history, while Jim Butcher influenced my approach to worldbuilding and writing, and John Ringo introduced me to military science fiction. The physics-based magic of Larry Correia’s Grimnoir trilogy was a significant influence on the magic system of this series — but I also stole ideas from Dishonored, Final Fantasy, and Alan Wake.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style varies a lot. I find that it morphs to fit the kind of story I’m writing. The Covenant Chronicles series trends towards dark and introspective, with bouts of high-octane action; my upcoming A Song of Karma series is a little lighter and contains poetry; another story I’m working on focuses heavily on atmospherics and senses and technology. Other things like structure, dialogue, formatting also morph to fit them.

For the Covenant Chronicles, I’d like to think of it as what would happen if Tom Clancy and Larry Correia collaborated to write a futuristic urban fantasy series with strong espionage and counterterrorism elements.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Hexenhammer quite literally means ‘Hammer of the Witches’.

It’s also a reference to how the group (and Luke Landon) sees themselves: a hammer to crush the (metaphorical) witches threatening civilization.

A pity I couldn’t include a literal hammering, but that can wait for Book 4.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire series is a shadow war between good and evil — but the dividing line between the two quickly becomes blurred. To navigate these treacherous waters, and to keep his soul (and the souls of others) from falling into Hell, Luke Landon must develop a moral compass and stand true to his principles. I would like readers to understand the value of having firm ethical principles, of refusing to compromise with evil, and to understand that all actions have long-term repercussions.

A secondary message is that evil outcomes can arise from actions motivated by good intentions — and that good outcomes can also flow from evil actions.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, but I drew many plot elements and technologies from current affairs and modern-day developments. These include the European migrant crisis, quantum computing, brain implants, fake news, and more.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Everyone I mentioned above as inspirations. They bring different strengths to the table: prose, plotting, characters, research, worldbuilding, and more. I study their stories to improve my own.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I don’t have any mentors. However, I am studying the business practices of Silver Empire, Chris Kennedy, Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach. Marketing is one of my weaknesses. I think these authors and publishers have an excellent grasp of marketing, and there is much to learn from them in this regard.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Scott Vigil. I didn’t select the illustrator; Castalia House did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Don’t stop until you’re done. Then, write some more. This is the secret to achieving your writing goals, whatever they may be.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my books. Please look out for my upcoming stories Hollow City and Dungeon Samurai.

Hammer of the WitchesKai Wai Cheah
Singapore

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Hammer of the Witches

Cover Artist: Scott Vigil
Publisher: Castalia House

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Welcome to my top ten writer links!  Each Monday I highlight articles about the craft of writing that I found useful in my weekly surfing of the internet.  I hope you enjoy this bunch.  There are plenty of informative pieces to ponder here.

Writing Contests are Important: How To Tell the Good Ones from the Scams

7 Things Your Character Is Hiding

4 Ways to Boost Your Digital Marketing Strategy

A Little Something Extra

Six Mistakes That Can Kill a Great Plot

3 Tips for Writing Action Scenes

How To Use Your Book Cover To Sell More Books

Twitter Pitch Like You Mean It!

Useful Time Management Hacks Every Writer Should Know

Writing Characters That Are ‘Smarter’ Than You

Author Platform: Using Facebook by Wendy Van Camp

author platform using facebook
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

The author platform is an important part of being a modern author. Your platform is how new readers find you and become intrigued by your writing. It is the way returning readers keep track of your events and your new books, stories, and poems. It is how your readers discover your book signings and other promotional events.

Your website and newsletter are the first tiers of your author platform. But social media can supplement these two powerful tools on the internet. The main social media outlets you should consider are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. I also recommend Medium. This article will discuss using Facebook as part of your author platform.

Facebook can be divided into three different categories. Your personal profile, an author page, and an author group. Each part has a unique use and you don’t necessarily need all three parts to function on this platform.

YOUR FACEBOOK PROFILE

When you first signed up for Facebook, the first account you create is your Facebook profile. This is your personal account that needs to have your real life name. It is also a place that you should set to be private for yourself, your family, and personal friends. Facebook will only allow you to have 5000 followers on your personal account. This might seem like a lot in the beginning. All too quickly, you will use up that 5,000 follower limit if you use your profile as a promotional device for your books. I’ve found over the years that the personal profile functions best as a connection point with writers, magazines, and other personal areas of interest.

In my case, if I have not met you personally or if you are not related to me, I do not add you as a friend on my personal Facebook profile. I also keep my conversations there under a privacy filter. You want to remember that all people on the web are not your friends. Anyone can read your public profiles. This could mean people that you do not want to know personal details about you could read your information. Remember the security of your personal information is important.

I mainly use my personal account to access groups on Facebook on a variety of subjects. I belong to groups devoted to science fiction and fantasy books where I keep up on tropes. A couple of writing societies where I learn more about writing craft. Facebook is a place of many great connections that have been invaluable to me as a writer.

YOUR FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

As an author, your first task on Facebook after you set up your profile should be to set up a Facebook author page. This is a public page that you will use to talk about your writing. I use my Facebook page to post links to articles, stories, and poems that I publish in various online magazines. I promote the books and articles of my friends. Occasionally, I run promotion posts for my books and write general comments about my writing process.

I make a point to not show the emotions of my day to day life. I don’t post about my pets or life activities. I keep all discussion and links on my author page about the subject of writing. I try and not allow the author page timeline to be a time suck either. Facebook doesn’t show my posts to many people and I’m not willing to pay to “boost” my posts. I still believe that having the author page and making sure a few posts go on there each week is important. Most readers will expect to be able to find you on Facebook. If readers come looking for me, I want them to find relevant information that could prompt them to travel on to my website.

What you should use your Facebook page for is to host a Facebook launch party for your books. A Facebook launch party consists of several authors showcasing their books while you act as a moderator to the entire event. You will arrange for contest prizes for people who sign up for your newsletter. You will use the launch party as a vehicle to announce your new up-and-coming book. If all the authors make an effort to invite their personal profile friends to the party, you can have a significant crowd see everyone’s books.

Other than using your page for a launch party or to announce your blog posts and other writing, I would not use Facebook in any other way. While it is true there is a robust ad system that can be utilized to sell your books directly, promoting blog posts and short stories are not worth the money. Facebook ads are useful, but only if you can budget a large amount of money and have a book that is popular enough to make back that money in sales. These ads do not require a page to purchase, you could do it from your profile and bypass having an author page altogether if all you want to do is run ads for your books.

YOUR FACEBOOK GROUP

The final way to use Facebook is to start a Facebook group for your author brand. This group would be about your books and characters and be a place where your fans can chat with you directly. Some authors use the group to post excerpts from their works in progress and gain critiques from their readers. Other authors host online events in their groups. It can be a dynamic way to interact with your reader base. However there is one drawback, a Facebook group takes a great deal of time and energy to manage. You will have to deal with trolls and disruptors in the group. This can be draining on your creative time. While some authors are outgoing and thrive in this sort of environment, introverts may want to stick with only having the Facebook page. This is less intensive to use. It is the method that I personally have chosen.

In conclusion, the best parts of your author platform are your website and your newsletter. Both of these are assets that you own entirely. A Facebook author page is important to have because most people will expect to find you on Facebook. Make it easy for them to find you and find a way to your website and blog. Have links to your website and blog on your Facebook author page and have a sign up for your newsletter. If you use WordPress for your blog, WordPress can be set to automatically post a link of every new post on to your Facebook page. This makes populating posts into your page easy and effortless. In this way, Facebook and a Facebook author page will be an asset as part of your author platform.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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