Q&A With Spencer Sekulin

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Q&A With Spencer Sekulin 

Mickey Mikkelson has connected me with so many people. Today’s guest that he connected me with is author Spencer Sekulin. Spencer Sekulin and J.R. Johnson won a writing contest and a trip to Hollywood for a master class workshop and had their stories featured in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers Of The Future Volume 39. 

Q: Spencer, would you like to tell the readers of the blog and I about your story that is featured in Ron Hubbard’s book? Where did the inspiration come from for the story?

A: My story, The Children of Desolation, can be described as a post-apocalyptic fantasy, set in South Africa. I won’t spoil anything, but as the back cover reads: determined to save his wife, Tumelo takes an unlikely client through South Africa’s ruins to the heart of the Desolation, a journey that will cost or save everything.

Needless to say, things get a little messy.

The story itself began as a title without a story. I often have random ideas pop into my head, and I thought that title sounded awesome—except I had no story for it. So, I typed out the title on a blank document. It proceeded to collect dust for at least five years. Then, one rainy August day, various unrelated story ideas began to click together. Some of them were inspired from books I’d read, others from video games I played, but the most important inspiration was my experience in the medical field. Having witnessed many people in dire times, and having experienced it myself with people I loved, I was better able to make the heart of the story—Tumelo’s drive to save his dying wife—more visceral and real. I think that the more we live, and the more we live through, the more we can write.

Combined with some really good music to get me into a flow state, I started writing, and soon I had a 14,000-word story. Two revisions later, and after cutting 2000 words, I had the version that won the contest.

Q: What was it like winning the writing award and a trip to Hollywood for a week-long master class workshop?

A: It was a wonderful shock. My expectation for my story was to win an honorable mention, not to come second place in the quarter. So, when I got the call, I was floored. A year later, when I boarded my flight to Los Angeles, I was still floored. Me? Winning a contest like this? I saw myself as just a hobbyist writer, yet suddenly I was stepping into a world of professionals.

The experience was incredible. The awards gala was beyond my wildest dreams, and it was an honor to be recognized for something I wrote. But most of all, it was the people I met that made the week so memorable. The other winners, artists and writers alike, were a great bunch of people. We had a blast, and I made many friends. The masterclass was even better. The professional writers who graciously dedicated their time to the workshop included Jody Lynn Nye, Tim Powers, Kevin J. Anderson, Dean Wesley Smith, and Robert Sawyer. Big names who write awesome books, and I was learning about the craft from them. I was honored, and I learned a lot. I am thankful for that.

Q: What advice would you give anyone wanting to be a writer like you?

A: A writer like me? Hmm. There’s so much advice out there on how to write, and while a lot of it is good, you need to pick and choose what works for you and make your own unique toolkit. Everyone is different.

What I recommend is that you start writing now. Don’t put it off for someday. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking you need to be better or more educated or better positioned. Don’t let fear of what others think impede you. Reject perfection. Embrace the process. Start, and start for one person only: yourself. You are your first reader. You are the most important reader. Write for yourself. Write not for fame or fortune or to see your name on a bookshelf. Write because it is fun, meaningful, and good for you. It’s hard at times, but if you write for the right reasons, you’ll keep coming back. Start wherever you are, and see what happens. You’ll be surprised.

Q: Are you currently writing a new story right now? Is it a short story or a novel this time?

A:  I always have something in the works. Lately I’ve been finishing several novellas of various themes, though all of them are either fantasy or sci-fi. I will soon be starting a short story inspired by my recent travels in Japan, and after that, I hope to settle down and work on a novel based on my winning story, The Children of Desolation.

It’s a lot of work, and I love it.