You hear a lot about platform as a writer. It’s not enough to pen a good book. You also have to figure out a way to help market it. “Build a platform,” they say. “Establish your brand.”
Not only does Peter Wacks throw down some snazzy lines as an author, but he’s got the platform thing down. We can all learn something from this Bram Stoker Award Nominee. Yes, you read that right. The Horror Writer’s Association trophy is highly coveted and Peter is on the short list along with his co-author Guy Anthony De Marco for their graphic novel Behind These Eyes. Peter is also the creator of Cyberpunk CCG, a card game based on the Cyberpunk 2020 world created by R.Talsorian Games. Two children’s books brighten his resume: The Little Airship That Thought It Could and A Steampunk Journey. Then there are his novels, The Second Paradigm, a time travel Science Fiction work, ingenuitive enough that he was a guest speaker at Mensa, and Howl, a vampire and werewolf dark comedy.
So you see…games, novels, children’s books, graphic novels—here’s a Leonardo daVinci of diversification.
CIR: Welcome to the Rock, Peter! Are you stoked about the Bram Stoker award possibility (I couldn’t resist)? Our RMFW pal NYT bestselling author Jeanne Stein says “Behind These Eyes has it all: great creepy story, world class graphics, ending that will leave you gasping….”
PW: First a quick thanks to the Rock for having us on the Blog, as well as to Jeanne, we appreciate the review and are stoked (mhm, me too) that she enjoyed it. The nomination for the Stoker was kind of a jaw drop moment. Guy and I were both very appreciative of the support and compliments of the great folks in the HWA that have been encouraging us. The possibility of winning the award isn’t something we’ve really talked about; we’re more focused on the next project, a graphic novel with the working title Shotgun Wedding.
CIR: Behind These Eyes is a play on the evil that lurks in all of our hearts and it’s compared to Lovecraft works. Care to expound on the inner demons thesis?
PW: To me, horror is all about the inner demon - in the reader. While gore and viscera get a knee jerk reaction (at least from me they do) they pale next to an evil that the reader can identify with. The writing of Behind These Eyes was tightly focused on portraying an inner evil covered with a sympathetic good. As we scripted the Graphic Novel we created every setting and situation as an echo of real fears and horrors. Losing things we could love. Protecting our home. Losing control of our lives. All of these are parts of the inner demon, letting the reader glimpse the horror that exists behind everyone’s eyes.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say this – for all the darkness we wrote into Behind These Eyes I am a firm believer in facing your inner Demons.
CIR: Now I’d like to pick your brain about multi platforms. I would think that inquiring minds and authors who are zapped from just trying to kick out a manuscript would ask: How do you find the time?
PW: I realized long ago that I could be a writer or I could get sleep and have healthy relationships. I made my choice, best not to waste it, right? On a more serious note, I set alarms. We all know rule one, which is finish the darned manuscript. For me, rules two and three are write for eight hours a day and work on each project every day. So, four projects means 2 hours each, seven days a week. Every break is set as an alarm on my phone.
Kevin J. Anderson gives a great speech about 11 tips to productivity. One of those tips is knowing when to stop. By creating a structure that works for me and defining my times, especially when to stop on each project, I am less likely to get distracted by FaceBook and more likely to get my projects done. Find the method that works for you, and be relentless about finding the time to write everything you want to write. None of us got anywhere by not writing, after all.
CIR: I must confess that I don’t know much about card games. Is Cyberpunk CCG like a role playing challenge? Are you working on new games?
PW: A CCG is, in a way, a roleplaying story which is competitively played using cards. Cyberpunk CCG was a fun project, as there was an overall story arc which influenced each new set of cards, and those story arcs were determined by the tournaments. Getting to write (and design) something that fluid was amazing.
I am currently working on Interface Zero, a Savage Worlds (Pinnacle Entertainment Group) setting published by Gun Metal Games. It is a fun mash-up Cyberpunk, Cypherpunk, and military sci-fi. I am writing the novelization of the trigger event for their second edition, as well as assisting with chapters in the core book and a few supplemental sourcebooks and adventures.
I do also have three games of my own design on the drawing board, but they aren’t a high priority and I don’t have them on the calendar to shop around till 2015.
CIR: Is there any advice you’d like to offer about multi platform development to writers such as myself who are tunnel-visioned on only their manuscripts?
PW: Wow. Um. Yes. Tons of coffee and very supportive friends to start. Really though, it is daunting. So was your first novel. If you really want to pursue being able to handle multiple projects you need to learn the job, just like you did for your first book. Set time tables that are realistic. Practice. If you know you can write a short story in a week, try writing two simultaneously in 14 days. Then do it again… and again. As you develop speed and can handle two projects faster together than apart, start slowly increasing the size of the projects. You get it – practice makes perfect. Once you are proficient in working on multiple stories – then you can branch out to multiple platforms using the same methodology.
CIR: What panels will you be on at Comic Con?
PW: You know, I would love to tell you, but the great folks over at DCC are working hard on finalizing the Author Track panels, so I can’t say for sure yet. I know I’ll be doing six or less panels there (maybe as few as three) as I requested a light panel load and they were talking about having me on panels in three separate tracks (authors, comics, games.) I do know that when I’m not on panels folks can find me at my fan table or at the table I’m sharing in artist alley. Look forward to seeing you all there!
CIR: Thanks, Peter!
Interview conducted by Gusto Dave