Up The River? Or Down In The Dirt?
Summary Execution has become the preferred fate in a place where even angels fear to tread. Those unwise who elected for prison or are deemed unworthy of a quick death are condemned to The Ward, the former capital-city-converted-city-prison of Sacramento, California.
Among the Grim Reapers coming in the forms of smiling rib cages and riding out the eleventh-hour, cannibal-afflicted Vikings, a Roman-inspired death cult, and a paranoid Mafia Syndicate, wage an ever cascading campaign of annihilation against one another.
It is in this war-ravaged tomb, where the Angel of Death and Tango Primary Five are destined to meet.
With darker forces at play seeking to destroy any last hope of salvation, Tango Primary Five and the Angel of Death are left with no alternative:
Unite The Ward… or choose a side.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Kyle Waller whose book Ward from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love dystopia but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for Kyle Waller, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Kyle Waller!
Kyle Waller was born on September 24th, 1994 in Fairfield, California where he grew up in a world that was ever sun-drenched with occasional odd spells of rain and Autumn winds.
A survivor of Depression and Suicide, Kyle, in time, realized that Mental Illness was something that could be overcome, but he was one man, and there’s a whole world out there that has to contend with their own forms of Mental Illness. Others were struggling, and the possibility of freedom from Mental Illness shouldn’t be something that was just for him. Kyle set about erasing the stigma and bringing awareness surrounding Mental Illness to the masses via the unorthodox method of vivid and engaging Dystopian Fiction.
Kyle is also the recipient of the President’s Call to Service Award from former President Obama and two awards from the 114th United States Congress for several years of National Service in response to major disasters such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the California Wildfires.
Now, how wonderful does Kyle Waller sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
Thank you for hosting me, Aimee. For starters, I’ve earned the President’s Call to Service Award – an honor awarded on behalf of the former President of the United States – as well as two Congressional Awards from the 114th United States Congress for National Service rendered to the Nation in response to major disasters (think hurricanes Irma and Maria and the California Wildfires). Which also transitions to what my day job is when I’m not working on my passion: I’m a disaster relief caseworker that works exclusively with homeowners who’ve lost everything. I’m either the 1st or 2nd person they’re gonna talk to along the recovery process. As such, you can imagine the stress and raw Human emotions I’m hit with on a daily basis. When I’m deployed, I work 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week, doing nothing but solving people’s problems as best as I can under high-stress situations as the norm.
So not only is my writing a passion, it is also a means of release, a detachment from the harsh disaster I’m responding to, a way for me to maintain and restore my sanity as the days blur together and I need to keep my morale up in order to best serve the survivors.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
Well, I’m one of those people who dives straight into interviews- so let’s jump right into the fire without flame-resistant socks (not that we’re going to need them). I’ll be honest with everyone: I’m a survivor of deep depression that nearly resulted in me committing suicide back in 2009 at the age of thirteen. I’m twenty-four now. I shouldn’t be alive today- clearly I am, but to walk through the trenches of darkness as I did- anyone who does that will be changed. But I’ve found it’s up to you and Faith to determine if you’re gonna emerge out the other end a monster, or someone who manages to have kindness and a will to serve the world as best you can with the talents and skills you do.
When you live in those trenches, day after day, seeing nothing but darkness and having to forge your smiles to save face so people don’t start wondering if something’s wrong (because back in 2009 and still to this day, Mental Illness was and is something with a black sheep taboo stigma that demonizes everyone attached to it), it starts to wear on you. You lose the ability to appreciate the little things, and you certainly don’t feel like you can share what’s going on in your head with anyone else for fear of being labeled ‘Cray Cray’ or ‘Insane’ – once that happens you lose all credibility and no one believes you in our current society. Being thirteen and having to contend with all that alongside paranoia, well, my depression, my darkness, did a stellar job at convincing me that it was the only thing that ever cared or could care about me. It made me paranoid that the whole world was always plotting against me. It made it so I had an extremely hard time trusting others, and to this day, still has remnant influence (though I’m very happy to say the influence is waning).
In time, and with the help of God and good friends, the depression that once had such a firm grasp on my conscious has since been rendered to a shadow, hereafter broken without its former power. My experiences, my survival, my knowing I’m far from the only one who’s had to work with Mental Illness and overcome it, has prompted me to write Ward, the first in a planned series, that explores the depths of Mental Illness via the unorthodox method of vivid dystopian literature. Bring the masses into the fold regarding Mental Illness and getting them to be open-minded about it all, requires an outside-the-box plan of attack, a manner in which people, foreign to the concept, can digest the concept in a manner that’s entertaining enough to keep them interested. Ending the Stigma, is the reason I write. That, and I don’t have a choice.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
Write with passion. Write with a mission. One of the biggest downfalls I see in our time is the creation of content that either lacks quality control, or doesn’t have any real meaning behind it. It’s as if everyone’s following the carbon-copy cookie-cutter approach, not because it works, but because it’s safe. That only takes people so far before they eventually get tired of reading the same novel in a rhyming format. People lose interest in rhymes they’ve read a dozen times. So defy the norm, break convention, put your soul and energy into your work- people will notice the difference, and appreciate it. Suck your readers in, convince them not to leave, make sure your work’s formatted in a way the reader will appreciate it.
Be ready for a long campaign and a long career. Never walk away from your ambitions, never surrender, never become a drifter. If you want to write for a living, you’ll need to be dead serious about it. It’s all a state of mind. To succeed, you have to want it, you have to know you want it, you have to be willing to marshal ahead even if you have to marshal ahead on your own for a while. Do not conform and be a clone, be you. Craft you. Craft quality. Craft a message with a meaning. Don’t be afraid to defy the traditions (except when it comes to formatting – stick to that like doctrine). Don’t craft the story that makes it – craft the story that needs to be read.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
The passion you invest into it. When it comes to art in general, people can readily tell if someone took the time to dedicate their energy and soul into creating the absolute best product they possibly could, or if they rushed through the process just to get something onto the market. It’s in the world-building, it’s in the believable and relatable characters you bond with, it’s in the credible plot you convince your readers to invest in. When you take your time and really invest your research, your passion, and your message into your work, the dedication permeates through all layers of the world you’ve created. It’s what distinguishes your novel from the infinite sea of self-published novels hoping to make it big in the spotlight for the wrong reasons and gives you a fighting chance against the traditionally published works that were in the spotlight before they came off the printing presses.
If you invest your passion, if you invest all of you, there is no way you can go wrong.
Speaking of your passion, why did you decide to make Mental Illness one of the core aspects of your work?
When I was neck-deep in the trenches battling my depression and odd bout of suicide, I was convinced no one in the world could understand what was going on inside my head. And if no one could understand, how could anyone care? Back when this was all going on, I didn’t tell anyone- the paranoia in me had my mind convinced that if I told anyone, they would put me into a straitjacket and lock me in a funny rubber room and throw away the key. I recognize this was all a lie long after the fact, but in the moment, it was doctrine in my mind. In time, the depression and bullying convinced me that isolationism was the safest policy- if I isolated myself, how could those who wanted to harm me reach me?
The problem with that plan of attack was that my greatest enemy wasn’t external, it was already sitting upon a throne inside my mind, playing with the keys to the kingdom. I felt like I was engaged in a civil war that was destined to last until the end of my days, however late or early that day came. Isolation was its greatest weapon- no one to turn to, the depression had me all to itself… and it very nearly won with its final designs for a knife paving the way to a tombstone.
Fast forward to a little over a year before this interview when I’m beginning to draft Ward (and after 75% of my depression is dead and gone)- and it hits me like the sky’s crashing down: you need to write about Mental Illness. You survived, but barely, but you survived nonetheless. How many don’t? How many more are terrified at being demonized as insane for speaking out, but really, really, want their voice to be heard? Who lives in the shadows because fear’s got too powerful a grip on them? Boom. In a single moment in the dark in-front of my computer next to a singular burning candle the scent of spiced cinnamon, the whole premise behind my work changed faster than the beating of a heart. It became more than just another story for readers to maybe grab onto and read for a while. To me, it became a sort of living testimony, a means for people who have no knowledge of Mental Illness to be introduced to the subject in an unorthodox (and admittedly sometimes extreme) manner, but in an entertaining manner that’s easier for them to digest. To make people comfortable with discussing Mental Illness, they first have to be introduced to it, they have to willingly look at it with open eyes and an open mind and see what’s on the table. It’s my belief that everyone knows someone who has a form of Mental Illness- this impacts someone you know. Get to understand it- open-mindedness will serve you well here.
That being said, I don’t believe in supposed Safe Spaces or Trigger Warnings- I find them to be utterly useless and unbecoming of our society. I believe in tackling problems bluntly and out in the open, all the chips on the table and not tap-dancing in a minefield- dive in head-first with knowledge and facts and take out the problem.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
My research is, and has to be, extensive. Given how I’m writing about Mental Illness, a subject that’s entirely black-sheep-taboo to a lot of folks, careful research and an accurate portrayal of what can happen in a person’s mind is absolutely paramount. With Depression and Suicide, having fought it for twenty years, I think it’s safe to say I’m an expert on those matters. When it comes to other possible conditions, I know only the theoretical aspects- the best and rawest level of knowledge is passed on by the survivors and fighters who never surrender, who keep going through the sleepless nights and dragging days.
That being said, I am not familiar with all the conditions I intend to write about. To that end, for those who wish to have their stories told, but may not be wanting to put their names in the spotlight, if you’re willing to tell me your story, if you want the world to understand your journey, I will hear what you wish to share with me. If I am to accurately represent the Mental Health collective to the world, I will need the testimony of those who’ve survived and overcome their conditions- they know best, after all. We’re here to break the stigma of Mental Illness- and in that- we’re absolutely going to succeed.
Are you doing any collaborations with other authors or artists to help raise awareness on Mental Illness? If so, tell us about them.
Indeed, I am in the process of working with several fellow artists and non-profits on raising awareness on Mental Illness. I think when it comes to Mental Health, we need to establish a shared language for innovation under one solid federation. Different points of view, different stories and outcomes, one voice, one vision, one purpose. The problem with discussing Mental Health is two-fold: many are fearful to speak, and those who are willing to do so are scattered, we don’t have a coordinated loudspeaker to stand behind in order to deliver a singular and unified message. We don’t have any real way to unify, let alone begin to bring the public into the fold.
Perspective The Short Film is a short documentary directed by Jay ’Superior’ Doodnauth – designed to bring attention to Mental Health in minority communities by giving the public a visual glance into the world of Mental Illness. “Everyone has a story.” says Jay, and his intent to show the world that Mental Illness is merely a Human thing- and not something to be looked upon with suspicion- has already begun making waves in his native homeland of Canada. Given how his premier sold out and the Canadian Government has taken a strong interest in him, I’d say he’s on the warpath to erasing the stigma and bringing a lot of like-minded individuals together to come to a stigma-erasing solution. Jay ‘Superior’ Doodnauth and I are in the very early stages of working on a potential collaboration, but it’s far too early to go into the details at this time. Stay tuned.
Another collaboration in-progress is with the non-profit I Talk To Strangers, an organization dedicated to the uniting and exchange of ideas through person-to-person contact of all backgrounds and perspectives all over the world. Ideas are being implemented regarding enhanced outreach for 2019, but as it is with Perspective, we are still in the developmental phase of this new strategic plan.
Listen, the purpose of mentioning these fellow organizations isn’t to promote them per se, but to showcase the notion that unification has already begun to end the stigma surrounding Mental Illness. Our partnerships are new, but we’ve hit the ground running, and we’re only gaining traction as more and more forces unite under this common banner. This is only the beginning.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I absolutely read whenever I’m not reading and rereading and reading again my own work. A part of my research, especially with the sequel to Ward (we’re expanding into the realm of the supernatural and the sciences we yet don’t understand a bit), I need to immerse myself in the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, some of Stephen King, and others.
Those are the works I’ve yet to read. Thus far, my favorite authors have been Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember In The Ashes series, Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night and The Glass of Time, among others.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
Ideally, within the next year at the latest. As I said at the beginning of the interview, my day job is disaster relief, and right now we’ve got a million things going on- hurricane relief, wildfires, flooding- going for 10-12 hours a day 6 days a week gets taxing after a while. But even still, I find a way to work on my craft, even if its but an interview or a paragraph, progress never stops. This is my calling, and I’m not going to ignore it, nothing can stop me. Know that everyday, we advance a step closer to the sequel- and we’re going full psychological on everyone who picks it up. You thought Ward was intense, you’re not ready for it’s darker sister, believe me.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Kyle Waller! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about Kyle Waller, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,