Author Interview: Koos Verkaik
Koos Verkaik, a ‘Dutchy’ with spunk and an inexhaustible drive and fathomless imagination, is one of the most productive authors of the moment. Besides a fast-growing pile of novels in his specific genre: Mystery, Adventure and Magic, he also writes children’s books. Koos wrote his first novel, a sci-fi, when he was only eighteen years old, during a weekend; it was published immediately—he was only sixteen when he wrote a series about a young space traveler who went in search of adventures on a far-away planet; it got published in the weekly newspaper (three pages each week). He wrote his first novel, the Sci Fi Adolar, in a weekend! It got published right away… He published with big Dutch publishers such as De Arbeiderspers in Amsterdam.
With his books All-Father and Wolf Tears, he earned the name critics gave him of The Dutch Stephen King. Koos Verkaik is the writer of about 60 books, both children’s books and novels, many hundreds of comic scripts, he has been a copywriter and is working on different screenplays and new novels now.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Koos Verkaik: I love almost all the short stories by Edgar Allan Poe.
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Verkaik: I receive messages from all over the world from starting writers who ask me to help them. What I advise them, comes down to this: read as much as you can, but never imitate another writer – develop your own style. Get your work edited, it has to be 100% perfect English. Then try to find a literary agent in your genre. The agent will decide if your work is good enough for publication and if so, he will send it out to the right publisher. In modern times with the internet and its unlimited possibilities, we see a lot of badly written books on the market. Work with good agents, work with good publishers.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Verkaik: I have a big workroom with a couple of thousand non-fiction books on the shelves. It is quiet there. I can listen to music and concentrate on my writing.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Verkaik: Most of the time all I need is a single line. Take my new book, for instance: Nicolaes Nimbus. On the cover, you see one sentence: High Tech vs Ancient Magic. That is enough for me. I trigger my imagination. I have read piles of books about magic and piles of books about modern science.
My books are popular in India. Mrs. Merril Anil is from India. She wrote the very best review for Nicolaes Nimbus – it made me so proud! You can find her beautiful review at Amazon India. This is what she wrote:
“Who is Nicolaes Nimbus? As the book blurb mentions, the book is a quest to find the mysterious Nicolaes Nimbus. Having read the author’s previous masterpieces, I can truly say that there would have been no one better to craft this masterpiece than Koos Verkaik. What I didn’t expect was to be scared and thrilled at the same time. The magic is unbelievable in the book. The author was truly in his full element while writing the book.
The book Nicolaes Nimbus begins with snippets of each of the eras and characters and instances and then slowly takes you through a fantastic roller coaster ride. I felt that the book presented with these beads in the beginning and towards the end, it was threaded to form a beautiful piece together. It is the magic of threading and joining these pieces that worked the magic for me. It’s like you see the puzzles fit and yet leaving you craving for more.
There is an ambiance to the book that slowly creeps around you and almost grabs you and creating one scary yet amazing journey. One of the masterstrokes of the author’s book lies in the details. Each of these details tends to jump out to make bigger and unexpected twists and thrills to the book. He never deals with easy and simply slopes which makes the reading even more adventurous and grasping
His language and narration skill have a character of its own. This can’t be explained as you have to read it to get the feel of it. It’s tricky yet simple. A fine picture of saying some of the most intense and in-depth facts with the simplest of words.
The language, flow and pace of the book is amazing and it’s the core theme that makes all the difference in the book. It is a very unique theme to handle and the way he has crafted a very unique tale out of it is amazing. Make sure to read it in broad daylight to save yourself from scary dreams. Believe me towards the end you will thank me for this advice. Buckle up for a joyride…”
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Verkaik: I wake up at 6 in the morning, start writing at 8 o’clock till late in the afternoon. Of course, it makes me tired. It is work, it is hard work – but I love it.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Verkaik: That is different for every book. Sometimes the research takes longer than the writing. And some of my books count round 80.000 words, others count 140.000 words. I am used to writing different books at the same time – a novel, for instance, and a children’s book.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Verkaik: No complaints about how things turned out, would do nothing in another way. Started writing when I was 7. Wrote comic scripts at the age of 16, my first novel was published when I was 18. And I also worked as a copywriter, learned to tell things the right way, short and to the point.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Verkaik: Robinson Crusoe. Very intriguing. I wrote my own version for a publisher – as a matter of fact, I have re-written dozens of classics for different publishers. Mostly thick hardcover books. That was so nice to do. Publishers always ask to come up with text as soon as possible, so I learned to work fast.
There has been a time that I wrote four different novels each month. Meant for the commercial marker, easy to read books. So I had to write more than 500 pages in 4 weeks.
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Verkaik: There is a great magazine here in The Netherlands, called ‘Fantastische Vertellingen’, translated: Fantastic Tales. Full of interviews and short stories. Recently they placed a big article about my early works, about my first fantasy novels.
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Verkaik: Nothing – everything in my life is okay.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Verkaik: No one, to be honest. I am a blessed author, never had a writer’s block. As soon as I sit down at my desk, I am able to produce text. Some scenes come automatically, other scenes will take more time. But it is always fun to write, to compose a good story.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Verkaik: Yes, of course, that is part of the game when you do promotion for your work. I look at my books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, place all interviews on my own website, read the new reviews.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Verkaik: Yes. I like to do that. Every now and then I turn up myself in my books, as a background figure. Or I use a special name, like Erik Korsakov. If your place the letters in the right order, you will get Koos Verkaik… And there are more tricks, but I better keep them for myself.
Besides, you can read my work in different ways. As pure entertainment, or read between the lines and find out what I think about different things.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Verkaik: Of course, I do. And fortunately, all my reviews are good. Every time I read one, it makes me happy and proud. I already told you about the India review of Nicolaes Nimbus. That is such a great review. And this was written about my book HIM, After The UFO Crash, by Mrs. Marjorie Springer:
“HIM, After the UFO Crash by Koos Verkaik is a book you'll read and then you'll wonder did you really read what you did. Before beginning, though you must be sure to have your seat-belt on nice and tight, then hold on because you're about to go on one twist and turned ride of your life. Once you open the first page, it will grab and hold you tightly until you finish reading the last page. Then when you think you have just read a fantastic part, up comes another one, then there is more and more. You will be kept on the edge of your seat as you read all the action, thrills and suspense that is on each and every page. The writing is amazing. After reading Him you may (as I did), wonder can this someday be in our future. This book is a must-read for all. I gave it 5 stars but wished I could give it more because it deserves more. Koos Verkaik hit it out of the ballpark with this book.”
And here is dear Mrs. Merril Anil again:
“I have always been amazed at the author’s ability to take you on a journey that at the beginning appears to be something else and doing a 360 on you at the very end which makes me so envious and enthralled at the author’s cunningness…”
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Verkaik: It is in my character to be able to have different opinions about many topics. I am able to see things from both sides, I can be an angel or the devil’s advocate. I tread about magic, about strange things happening in our world, but also about science. I am a book collector and read, read, read. Every book makes me think differently about things. And I am also able to find important passages back. I have a special mind for that.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Verkaik: Nothing, not a single word.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Verkaik: As many as possible. I start early and work till late.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Verkaik: I have written commercial books! Lots and lots of them. More than 60 different titles under pseudonyms. And more than 60 under my own name. I have been a copywriter, I made records, I wrote hundreds of scripts for comics, I have been an editor for different publishing houses. The trick has always been that I had work that I could do at home, in my own workroom. That gave me the time to work on my own books.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Verkaik: My still growing collection of non-fiction books makes it possible for me to find all intimation I need. And then there is, of course, the internet. Sometimes I read up to ten or twelve different books and make notations before I start to write a novel.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Verkaik: It is something I do together with my Literary Agent and my different publishers.
Look what my Literary Agent writes about me and my work:
And this is information from my publisher about my new novel Noclaes Nimbus:
Interviews work out fine. I am very pleased with this one because I have many, many fans in India who read my work. Facebook is perfect for marketing, I place my announcements in more than 50 different groups for readers and writers – on a daily basis!
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Verkaik: I write in Dutch and then translate into English. I have some new novels that are not edited yet. All my books are corrected by the best editors in the USA. So I have to send the new manuscripts out for editing and then my agent can work with them.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Verkaik: I was only 18. I wrote a science fiction novel during a long weekend. It did not change my process of writing. But the process of printing was so nice. The printer asked me to come and see how my book was made and I stood there as a boy of 18 watching the press that printed all those sheets for my novel. And later I walked through a busy street and suddenly saw my own novel in the shop window of a book store. I stopped and gazed at my own book. It made me very happy!
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Verkaik: Such a nice question. Because I had that same thought earlier. And this is what I wrote about it on Facebook and LinkedIn (with a photo of my very first interview):
“When I was still a boy, I drew comics and wrote stories, got published and interviewed.
Youngest comic scriptwriter in Europe at the age of 16, the first novel published when I was 18. I promised myself to become a writer. More than SIXTY BOOKS later the promise is fulfilled. When you buy one of my books, you also reward that boy from the past…”
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Verkaik: There are no other writers among my friends. But as I said, I receive many messages from writers who ask me for help. And then I give them advice.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Verkaik: When I write, I do not think about a certain type of reader. But I see to it that I write real entertainment, I take the readers by the hand and lead them through my worlds of fantasy. All I want is to give them a great time.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Verkaik: Two things, actually: Read. Write. And; be honest to yourself, write the best you can. Try to be original.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our ravireads Blog Readers?
Verkaik: Koos Verkaik is one of the hardest working authors today; 60 different titles under his own name, even more than 60 under pseudonym! He a true master of the genre: Magic, Mystery and Adventure!
Now Outer Banks Publishing Group comes up with his new novel, the sensational, breathtaking Nicolaes Nimbus; high tech science vs ancient magic…
Scientists and wealthy owners of high-tech companies have pumped millions of dollars into the search for immortality. But does the future look bright or is there disaster waiting behind the horizon of time? The world is getting more complicated by the day, but who’s actually in charge?
A group of scientists in Germany has unmasked a cheating visionary. An intriguing phenomenon from the past turns up. Who is Nicolaes Nimbus? Is he an immortal man of flesh and blood from our ancient past? The hunt is on! The secret is priceless! Who is in control, the scientists or the mystic? The intriguing novel Nicolaes Nimbus embraces modern developments… and warns against ancient magic that never dies, waiting for the right time to manifest itself.
We live in a very interesting time, with a period of magic and superstition behind us and a period of unknown technical progress in front of us. You might say that we live in an interim. Allow me to tell you the facts in short lines:
We see the world through the filter of our brain – brainstem, midbrain, frontal lobe.
As human beings, we are still in evolution and we cannot imagine how we will see our world after our frontal lobe has grown more and more.
Scientifically intervention will make us almost immortal, hyper-intelligent, make and totally different from what we are now.
Today we stand with one leg in the past (the magic and superstition I mentioned) and one leg in the future (longing for all possibilities that make us live healthy and strong for ages).
Magic is still around us and more than often we are afraid of the future, of what eventually will happen to the human race.
That is what Nicolaes Nimbus is about; ancient magic vs high tech science!
Thanks to Koos Verkaik for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.