We are extremely delighted to invite the Utah-based author, Bill Kilpack, to our platform and share his valuable thoughts with us. He has recently finished writing his fantasy novel, Order of Light: Book Two of New Blood and is thoroughly excited about it.
In this exclusive interview, we discussed a lot of things, including the theme of his books, professional journey as a writer, personal life, and much more. Despite his busy schedule, Bill has come forward and candidly answered all our questions.
Here Are the Excerpts
Hello. Welcome to TheCheckerNews. Please introduce yourself.
Ans: I am W.D. Kilpack III, author of the New Blood Saga of fantasy novels. I go by Bill. I am born and raised in Utah in the United States. I attended Westminster College, where I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As an undergrad, I double-majored in communication and philosophy, while completing the Honors Program. As a graduate student, I earned a master of professional communication with a writing emphasis. Something that seems to surprise people is that I was also a high-performing athlete. I qualifying for international competition in Greco-Roman wrestling.
I am currently a communication professor and a nationally recognized wrestling coach. I am married to my high-school sweetheart and father to five children, as well as helping to raise five stepchildren. I am still in Utah, where I continue to live, coach and teach.
Were you always passionate about writing since childhood? Explain.
Ans: As a kid, I wanted to open my own comic-book company. I loved to draw and tell stories, and I loved superheroes. (I still do!) So that was my dream until I was 12. Prior to that, I was learning that I could write. When I was 9, I wrote a poem that my teacher, Ms. Adams, entered into a contest without my knowledge. It won first place and was published. I started writing for the school newsletter in fourth grade and drawing the comic strips. In sixth grade, Mrs. Ferrin, who taught my Language Arts and Gifted & Talented classes, let me write a new chapter of a novel for every writing assignment in those two classes over the year, regardless of the actual assignment. As a result, by the end of the year, I wrote my first novel. From that moment on, my career goal changed to novelist. In eighth grade, Mrs. Demond, who was my Computer Science teacher, read my handwritten manuscripts for a sci-fi trilogy I had written, and pulled strings for me to be her student aide, but my time was to be spent typing up my books, since I didn’t have a computer at home. In ninth grade, my Honors English teacher, Mrs. McKinnon, was extremely supportive, reading my stories to the class and persuaded the school to laminate a bunch of maps I had been drawing when creating the setting for that first novel I wrote when I was 12. In tenth grade, Mrs. Sawaya, who taught my Journalism class and was the newspaper and literary-magazine advisor, really pushed me to write. She read my work, got me to take part in newspaper staff as a writer and cartoonist, until I was editor-in-chief my senior year. For the literary magazine, she selected a lot of my writing and art, and I eventually served as editor for two terms. However, when I was 15, I was actually hired to write for the first time. I was offered an editorial position for a sports publication. That made me realize that my teachers weren’t just saying great things to be nice. Funny thing, the sports publication rescinded the offer to be an editor and changed it to a reporter position when I told them I didn’t have a driver license.
Who are some of your favorite authors and role models in life?
Ans: I love science fiction and fantasy. My influences include Homer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Piers Anthony, Robert Holdstock, Robert Adams, John Norman, Melanie Rawn, Shakespeare, Aristotle and Robert Frost. The most inspirational writers would be Homer, Tolkien, Martin and Artistotle.
Aside from the Iliad and the Odyssey just being great stories, that they were written so incredibly long ago just makes them that much more amazing. Tolkien, of course, took the genre to a new level, showing us all how the Homeric quest story can be repackaged. Martin has championed my favorite type of fantasy, which I call “realistic fantasy,” where the people have real-life issues they are dealing with, and magic is more subtle. Aristotle, again, that his work took place so long ago and is still being taught in schools is incredibly humbling.
After the success of Crown Prince: Book One of New Blood. You also wrote Order of Light: Book Two of New Blood. Comment on it.
Ans: What I call “realistic epic fantasy” is what I really enjoy writing. Sometimes, there is so much emphasis put on the grandness of magic, almost like wanting to create fireworks, that it overshadows the characters and plot points. So magic is more subtle in most of my writing. I want my readers to really know the characters as people, and have emotional responses to their trials and challenges.
I love heroes who are imperfect, like real people. I love villains that you love to hate. And I love seeing characters who shift between the roles of hero, villain, and victim. Isn’t that the definition of “drama”?
In Crown Prince, Natharr is faced with the coming of things that were revealed to him by the Daemon of Sight, as well as to his father, who served as the Guardian of Maarihk before him. A lifetime of plans are all finally happening now, yet he has to deal with things that Sight did not reveal, like Darshelle, who he takes with him as the wetnurse for the newborn Crown Prince. He is then torn between his duty as the Guardian of Maarihk and personal fulfillment, raising the crown prince with Darshelle; between duty and love. His decisions have long-lasting repercussions.
Can you briefly explain the theme of Order of Light: Book Two of New Blood to our readers?
Ans: My most recent novel is Order of Light, book two of the New Blood Saga. It continues the story of Natharr, who is Guardian of Maarihk, one of a long line of protectors dating back to the Firstborn Age, before the Aa Conquest. Natharr’s is an ancient role, rooted in his Firstblood, giving him Sight to see what is yet to be, adhering to his sacred duties even in the centuries since the Firstborn were forced to the brink of extinction by the Aa.
Natharr still stands guard over all men, Aa or Firstborn, Seeing what will come to pass, deciding what is unavoidable and what is not. He spends decades planning how to save the life of the newborn Crown Prince Vikari so he may one day reclaim the throne in the land where Mankind was created back in the time when the Olde Gods still walked.
In Order of Light, the role of Guardian of Maarihk has been condemned as anathema, and Natharr’s very existence has been relegated to legend. Nonetheless, he resumes his ancient responsibilities as Mankind’s protector. He joins with a mysterious Firstborn companion, Ellis the Elder, to journey into the snowy reaches of Biraald, where his Sight promises he will find those who secretly adhere to the ways of the Olde Gods.
Although Biraaldi bloodlines show their Firstborn heritage more clearly than even in Maarihk itself, the two nations have never enjoyed peace. It has been far worse since the rise of Brandt the Usurper to Maarihk’s throne. Natharr and Ellis must navigate threats not only against the Firstborn, but the Maarihkish, as they seek out the sympathizers he Saw who are brave enough to resist Maarihk’s tyranny. Only then can the damage be repaired from when Natharr chose personal happiness with Darshelle and the young crown prince (in book one, Crown Prince) over his weighty responsibilities as Guardian of Maarihk.
Briefly explain your literary journey to our audience. How many books have you written so far? How can we buy them?
Ans: I think that my writing skills have matured over my life to a point that I am pleased with. Getting a masters degree in writing really helped me learn the tools far better than I ever had before. Coaching has helped me in terms of how to tailor messages to make them easier for people to understand. Teaching communication and grading assignments has done the same.
Winning awards and getting good reviews gives me the fuel to keep going. Anyone who has been writing knows how hard it is. You can’t please everyone and, as often as not, it’s about being in the right place at the right time. That can be really discouraging. So it was amazing when the Sinister Soup podcast named me Author of the Month for Crown Prince. When it finished second in the Online Book Club’s 2020 Book of the Year competition in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, it was also a great boost to my morale. When I received word that Crown Prince won the Firebird Book Award, it literally kept me from sleeping that night, I was so excited. In short, there are so many times when writers are told “no,” it really makes the successes that much more meaningful.
The easiest way to learn more about and/or buy my work is through my official Web site: www.Kilpack.net. I have links to my books there, samples from the books, photos from readers, a link to my YouTube channel (where I’ve posted videos readers sent me), and an online registration to join the Knights of Ril. It’s the communication hub for all my goals and dreams. I am also on Goodreads, Bookbub and LinkedIn.
How has been your professional journey as a writer and wrestling coach so far? Any regrets?
Ans: My journey has had a lot of starts and stops over the years. When I got married and had kids, I put a lot of my writing goals on hold. Raising five kids takes a lot of time and attention, and I wanted to give them my focus. Now the youngest is in college, so I’ve been able to go back to pursuing my dreams as a novelist. That’s not a regret, it just is. What I would really want now are more hours in the day.
As a wrestling coach, I’ve had a lot of success. My freestyle and Greco-Roman team has won national titles, and my wrestlers have earned hundreds of All-American finishes, as well as their own national titles. I don’t have any regrets there, either. I have been doing it long enough to see hundreds of young athletes grow into adults, applying lessons they learned on the mat in their lives. The greatest compliment a coach can have is when the athletes he trained start coaching. I’ve had a great many do just that.
How did you spend your time at home during the COVID-19-induced lockdown?
Ans: I did a lot of writing and promoting of my books via online means. I would have loved to be doing book signings, etc., but that wasn’t possible. I also spent a lot of time remodeling my house, including building a huge deck. All that work made it a new home with upgrades in pretty much every room. That has been very gratifying, aside from forcing me to learn new things.
I was able to teach my college courses online and was very pleasantly surprised how well that has gone. Students who might not have participated in a face-to-face classroom took part in discussions when on camera, or with the camera turned off, or through chat. I didn’t coach during the lockdown, because it’s impossible to avoid spreading in a sport like wrestling. That gave me more time to devote to writing and promoting my books.
Finally, please tell us about some difficult moments that you successfully overcame in your life?
Ans: Everyone has hard things in life. As the cliché goes, life is hard. I wrestled for 12 years, played football for eight years, was a boxer and a gymnast, all of which have left me with nagging injuries. As a result, I’ve had four surgeries in the past nine years, aside from the ones I had earlier in life. But that was part of my life as an athlete. Wrestling is the hardest sport there is, which requires the ability to keep going, regardless of pain and hunger and illness and coming back after losses. There are people who I lost to for three years before beating them the first time.
Divorce was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I overcame it by approaching it the same way I did an opponent on the wrestling mat. It was something to survive and overcome, regardless of pain. During that time, all five of my kids (two boys and three girls) wrestled, which allowed me to spend more time with them as their coach, be it at practice or traveling to big tournaments around the country. All five of my children won national titles, and one of my daughters even did in the boys division. My kids and I were also able to interact through playing Dungeons & Dragons and Marvel Super Heroes. That’s something I would recommend to other parents in that situation: role-playing games require interaction. There’s no better way to create quality time, as far as I’m concerned.