Maybe the hardest working author around (and a jester as well…)!
“Writing is as necessary as breathing to me!”
Tell us about yourself
I was born in The Netherlands, near Rotterdam. It is said that men from Rotterdam (Europe’s main port) buy their shirts with the sleeves rolled up – they are used to work hard. I consider myself as one of the hardest working writers. Get up at half past six, start working at half past eight till late at night. Writing book after book, both novels and series of children’s books.
Fortunately I have a big work room with a view on a garden. Surrounded by a couple of thousand books (mainly nonfiction) and CD’s with my favorite music.
How many books have you written?
Over 60 under my own name. And more than sixty under a pseudonym to make a living.
Have you always been a writer?
Started writing at the age of 7. Could live from the pen because I started writing scripts for comics and writing articles for magazines. Helped publishers as an editor and corrector. Only once I have worked for a boss, as a copywriter for a big agency in Rotterdam. The boss was a giant ex heavy weight boxer with a big mouth and I was in my early twenties. Let’s say I learnt how to write short and to the point the hard way… After that time I worked for myself.
What is your preferred genre?
Love to write series of children’s books. Saladin the Wonder Horse and Alex and The Wolpertinger are two series that are published in the USA, by Outer Banks Publishing Group in North Carolina.
And then I write novels – one after the other. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, that is what I like.
How did you start this journey to become a writer?
As said, I started writing when I was 7, got published when I was only 16. As a matter of fact I already wrote stories before I started wondering why I did it. And when I asked myself why I was writing, I did not know the answer. It is in my blood, in my genes, it is just what I do. Every day. I have so much to tell.
What have you written so far?
Novels, series of children’s books, hundreds of scripts for comic artists, wrote songs and made albums and was a copywriter. To make a living, I wrote 4 books every month for a big distributor. Always had inspiration, never had a writer’s block. Sit down, start writing… The same way a painter can be obsessed and never puts his brush away.
Tell us about your current book
This week The Nibelung Gold is published. By Outer Banks Publishing Group. And this is what it is all about:
At the end of the nineteenth century, the rich have great
interest in the occult; tables dance everywhere, and ghosts speak in many a
Willem Wolf, a wealthy young man, has a passion for exploring psychic phenomena and exposing the charlatans. He believes many are fraudulent and he becomes a one-man inquisition hunting for the truth, first giving the psychics the benefit of the doubt until he sees through their trickery.
Then he decides to find out what happens when more than a dozen mediums concentrate on the same thing at the same time. He finds himself in a mesmerizing world where the intriguing story of the long-lost Nibelung Gold seems to be a fact.
Wolf begins a journey he never expected, dealing with dishonest and evil people while searching for the truth of the legendary Nibelung treasure or Rhine Gold that has been lost since the 5th century along Germany’s Rhine River.
What is the inspiration for your current book?
I am interested in everything that has to do with magic. Have a nice collection of books about all the mysteries in the world, about human history, about alchemists, about… everything! More than often I need no more than one single idea to create a book. For The Nibelung Gold I was thinking: what, if a group of magical fortune tellers concentrate together on one person, what will happen to him? I combined that with the old European saga of the Nibelung Gold and started writing. I am very happy with the result. This is a book for people who like to know more about occult events from the past.
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Wolf, the young investigator who becomes the victim of his own ventures. What happens to him is incredible, insane! But I always explain everything in my books and at the end of The Nibelung Gold the readers will know what exactly happened to Wolf.
Is there anything of you in that character?
For me this is the most important question! It gives me the chance to explain myself.
I am a bit like the different jesters I wrote about in my books (The Jester of Nottingham, Dance of The Jester, Wolf Tears, All-Father) and all the odd characters in other books. And I really studied the history of jesters from 2000 BC up till now.
Often I am a jester myself, telling the truth to the King, having mercy on the poor, saying and doing what I want. And like a jester, I can always see things from both sides, I understand the police officer and the bandit. But don’t confuse that with uncertainty, I know what I am doing.
I can describe all possible characters and I can feel what they are supposed to feel.
More than often I smile while I am writing, feeling myself like the jester who kicks the shins of the Kings and gives the underdogs a chance.
What sets your book apart?
I write Koos Verkaik Books, which means that they are original and typical for me as a story teller. I never write in a way others have already done. It is always my own style.
What’s your favorite part in the book?
There are many parts I would like to mention, but please read this – it happens early in the book, when Wolf and his partner start testing a peculiar woman:
Jacob took out a peculiar object, which he had made himself. He had taken a mirror out of its frame and replaced it with transparent glass. On both small sides of the frame he had fixed a support, so that he could place the frame on the desktop and use it as a screen.
He placed the die behind it.
“Just taking precautionary measures,” he said.
“And how about the money?” asked Wera.
“In a little box in my desk. If you pass the test, I will give you the money straight away. I hope you don’t mind that the die is behind glass now. . . .”
Wera stood up.
“Not at all. Investigators take all kinds of measures. And they are absolutely right to do so. I’m happy to abide by your wishes.”
With quick fingers she started to unbutton her dress. Jacob raised his hand.
“You don’t have to undress yourself!”
Wera made a wild hissing sound. Jacob kept silent and remained standing at the side of his desk.
Now Wera started using words again to communicate.
“I want to show you that I have nothing to hide. Don’t tell me that this procedure is new to you. It is expected from many an experimental subject, and the investigator would often prefer to hold the subject’s hands as well.”
Wolf tried to concentrate on the die behind the glass. It did not work. When he automatically looked at Wera again, he was overwhelmed with feelings he had never experienced before.
All her clothes lay on the back of the chair. She stood proudly upright, with her hands on her hips. All of a sudden Wolf realized that there was another category above absolute beauty, which could not be described.
Now she spread her arms with the palms of her hands turned upward to show that they were empty; then she spun around on her heels a couple of times. Her voice resonated in all corners of the big room, as she spoke in a melodious tone:
“Choose a number of the die, Mr. Van Beek.”
“All right. Five. Yes, I am thinking of five. . . .”
Jacob’s voice sounded uncertain.
All of a sudden there was the sound of creaking wood. All the drawers and little doors of Jacob’s impressive desk flew open, and the desktop seemed to warp. The skillfully decorated legs came loose from the floor. Then with a loud bang the desk landed on the parquet again.
The marble die began to move.
First it slid to and fro with a soft rubbing sound; then it started to turn around and around, faster and faster. It flew up and shot through the glass pane in the frame. Pieces and splinters of glass rained down, while the die skimmed along walls and cupboards like a bird escaped from its cage.
Moving back above the desk, it remained hanging in the air for a while, motionless, denying the law of gravitation, and then it fell straight down. Bouncing on the desktop, it caused pits and scratches. Then it lay still. Wera repeated the number that Jacob had chosen.
Wolf jumped to his feet. His shoes crushed glass into grit as he walked up to the desk. Together with Jacob he stared at the die. The white, red-veined marble of the upper side showed five deep-drilled holes.
Later Wolf would not be able remember for how long he had stood there staring. What he did remember was Wera was dressed again when he finally straightened his back and turned around. Never before had he felt so strange and confused. He became so sick that he staggered back to his chair quickly and sat down. Through the mist before his watery eyes he saw how Wera walked up to Jacob and reached out her hand. Jacob, who still had not recovered himself and trembled with fear, nodded in silence and took a flat wooden box from a desk drawer. He opened it and paid Wera the promised thousand Dutch guilders.
Wera moved her hand past her head and felt that the plaits in her hair had come loose in several places.
“Where can I find a mirror?” she asked.
Jacob led the way to a door and opened it for her. As soon as she had left the room, he walked back and sat down opposite to Wolf. There was an expression of bewilderment on his face. On his skull, which was bald with the exception of a narrow white brim of white hair, trickled thick drops of perspiration. Nervously he plucked at the sideburns that grew along his puffy cheeks almost down to his chin. He rolled his eyes in reaction to the fact that he was searching for words with which he could describe the situation.
That was all he finally managed to say.
Wolf stood up again. He had found in the labyrinth of his thoughts a way that would lead to the release of feelings of panic and sickness:
“I am well aware that it is still early,” he stammered, “but what I need now is a good swig of brandy.”
What was the most difficult part to write?
Not a single line was difficult to write. I enjoyed writing The Nibelung Gold! When I was still a boy, I wrote a book during a weekend – and it was published right away. Since that time I write fast and have fun while I am busy. Oh, and I still love it when a book is ready and printed. Hold in in my hands, place it on the shelf between all my other books. That is such a beautiful moment. And The Nibelung Gold is very, very dear to me.
What was your favorite book to write?
Dance of The Jester! It will be published this year by Righter’s Mill Press in Princeton. For film I signed a contract with their other company, Three Corners Entertainment, also in Princeton. In a few days they will also publish my book HIM, After the UFO Crash and later ten more novels that I have already written. Dance of the Jester is special, very special…
How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day?
Sitting behind my desk at half past eight in the morning. And then I work till 5 in the afternoon. There is a time difference between The Netherlands and the USA and mostly I receive mails from my publishers in the afternoon. I have all the time during the evening to answer them.
Why did you want to be a writer?
It comes naturally. That is all I can say about it. Why does a painter paint, why does a composer compose? The talent is there, the perseverance is there. So you start working. And believe me; not for the money, not for the honor – no, just for yourself. You want to create something. Writing is as necessary as breathing to me!
How do you get your ideas?
I read lots and lots of nonfiction books, always make notes, always look round for ideas. There is always complete chaos in my head and I need to get rid of that. Feel relieved when I type ‘The End’ and then it starts all over again when I write the first lines of the next book.
What do you have planned next?
HIM, After the UFO Crash is about to get published. Followed by Dance of The Jester. Plus new books in my series of children’s books Alex and The Wolpertinger. In the mean time I am busy writing a now novel (and I just finished two novels). When I reach the age of 120, I will still not have told all the stories that are in my jester head…
What advice would you give new writers?
Read a lot. Never give up. Write every day. Don’t hesitate. Be yourself, don’t imitate.
How can readers get in touch with you?
My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
My website: email@example.com
Read Koos’ earlier interview here: http://meet-fantasy-and-childrens-author-koos-verkaik