Monday, November 1, 2010

Ghost Dog of Roanoake Island's author C.K. Volnek

I’m pleased to welcome children’s author C.K. Volnek to my blog today. She says, “Everyone has a story. Happy, sad, good, bad, all rolled up in the simple truth of who we are. We may think we are nothing special, but in fact we are everything to someone. I grew up in Nebraska, enjoying life in small town USA; riding horses in summer and sledding the ginormous hills in winter. I am married to my best friend and together we have three children. I am proud to announce my first two novels, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and The Secret of the Stones, will be released in 2011.”

Katie: Please tell us a little bit about your book, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.

C.K. Sure, Katie. Thanks for allowing me to join you today. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is a modern day ghost story with a twist.

Twelve-year-old Jack Dahlgren has discovered an incredible secret outside his new home on Roanoke Island…a secret that could ultimately unlock the age-old mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. The mystery of how, in 1587, 117 colonists disappeared without a trace. But the secret Jack has found is terrifying. A horrible evil creature is haunting Roanoke Island and it’s up to Jack to stop it.

Shrouded in Native American folklore, Jack must piece together the clues surrounding the missing colonists and how this evil came to be. With the help of newfound friend, Manny, an Indian Shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack accepts his task to uncover the secrets of the horrible evil and find a way to destroy it, before it destroys him.

Katie: Is this your debut novel? What is the motivation behind writing this novel and future novels?

C.K. This is my first contracted novel, Katie. And I’m pleased to have two more following close behind it. All three are Middle Grade novels.

I love writing for this age group. Kids are so open and ready for adventure…if you can keep their attention. I understand this dilemma first hand. My middle son didn’t like to read; too many other distractions to pull him other directions. So, my muse decided to make it my mission by motivating me with fun adventures that tweens will enjoy reading, and if they learn something along the way, then that’s just icing on the cake.

Katie: What made you choose to write about this historical time frame?

C.K.: My story takes place in modern day; however the reader does get to relive the history of the early colonists as my characters experience what life was like during 1587. It was, and still is, an incredulous mystery. Just how does Jack Dahlgren get to experience the past? I can’t give away too many secrets, but if my readers like ghost stories and Native American folklore, they’ll enjoy Jack’s adventure.

I have to smile when I think of how the story came to be. After coming across an article about the Lost Colony, my muse went on the warpath. The mystery enthralled her and she asked question after question. How? Why? Where did they go? I couldn’t answer her. She wouldn’t rest until she came up with her own answers. And so the seed for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island began to grow. This is my version of what happened to the mission colonists of Roanoke Island.

Katie: Do you think you will write more fiction based on historical facts?

C.K. I haven’t written a story based in the past yet, but much of my writing is based on the past. I’ve been told ‘you have to know where you came from in order to get where you’re going.’ I do believe there is a lot of truth in that statement. And I love to take history and make it alive. It isn’t the dull and boring subject many kids think it is. History is full of real people, real adventures, real heroes.

Katie: What kind of research did you do before writing this book?

C.K. I did a lot of research about Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony as I was writing Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. I researched the island, historical facts of the early colonists, Sir Richard Grenville and the Algonquian Village of Aquascogok. I even found a list of the colonists’ names and used actual names to create my Colonist characters. With these historical facts, my readers will discover that history is alive with wonderful adventures.

Katie: What’s your favorite part of this book?

C.K. The story is rather suspenseful and very action-packed. But I think my favorite part is in the end, when Jack makes everything right. Jack has taken on a great responsibility and in doing so, learned a lot about himself, his family and the power of forgiveness.

Katie: I see that this is an e-book, to be published with MuseItUp Publishing, with another two in the wings. What made you decide to go the e-book route?

C.K. My books will first be introduced as e-books through MuseItUp, but the traditional print version will follow. But e-books are making a big impression though in readers today and I believe we will see this even in middle grade books. My local librarian said that almost half of all books sold are now sold as e-books and I’ve even heard of a school that did away with text books and gave every student an e-reader. I think it is going to start spreading quite rapidly. But, I do admit, I’m glad to have the traditional print version available as well.

Katie: What three things have you learned about publishing an e-book?

C.K. I’m still in the process of learning all the ins and outs of publishing. I’m working hard at marketing my name and making people aware of my upcoming books. Technology is amazing and sometimes I feel like I’m barely keeping abreast of the waves. There’s web pages to create, blogs, facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube, as well as joining groups like Jacket Flap and Good Reads. It’s been a fun adventure, but I have to watch myself and make sure I leave time to write.

Katie: What is one piece of advice that you would give to an author who is considering publishing their book in the e-format?

C.K. My advice isn’t so much for the format of the book because I see most publishers offering both versions. My advice is for the author seeking a publisher. When an Author is looking for a publisher, they need to choose wisely. There are many good publishers out there, but there are some that aren’t so good. I have contracted my three books with MuseItUp Publishing because I respect and trust them. That is an element that is important to me. I have known Lea Schizas for several years, working with her before she and her team opened the publishing doors of MuseItUp Publishing. It gives me comfort to have my books find a home with someone I know and trust.

Katie: Thanks, C.K., for being a guest on my blog today. You can learn more about her on her website,, her blog, httP:// She can also be contacted at


Beth Reinke said...

Katie, what an interesting interview of C.K. The book sounds intriguing and like something middle graders would love.

Charlie said...

Thanks Beth. It is a book I hope kids will enjoy and learn a little about history as well. Thanks for hosting me Katie.

C.K. Volnek

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Once again a great interview! I learned a lot about C.K!
It sounds like a great book for middle graders.

I am also a part of MuseItUp Publishing and I second what C.K said about Lea and the whole group. I am thrilled to be a part of it with my YA novel and happy to have a home at last!

C.K wishing you much success with this new book.:)

BarbaraB said...

Charlie, congratulations on what promises to be an interesting book. This sounds like a good way to get to know that era of American history.
Katie, nice interview.


Charlie said...

Thanks lionmother! Likewise for your book. I'm excited with the number of visitors MuseItUp is getting. For only being open for a short time, they are really gaining quite a following. Thanks again!

Charlie said...

Thanks Barbara. I admit I didn't know a lot about the Lost Colony myself until I did my research. It truly was fascinating. I also hope my readers will gain an understanding of tolerance and forgiveness from reading my story. Thanks for visiting!

Unknown said...

Nice interview ladies. Insightful questions and interesting answers. C.K., I know your book will do well. As a retired 5th grade teacher who taught about the explorers and early settlers, I would have loved to use your book in the classroom. Good luck.

Debra K. Dunlap said...

C.K., your book sounds wonderful. I remember reading as a child about the Lost Colony and found it fascinating!

Charlie said...

Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the views of a past teacher. That makes me feel positive as I work on a teacher's guide. Thanks too, Deb. The Lost Colony was such an interesting mystery. Thanks for stopping by.
C.K. Volnek

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview Katie and Charlie. The mystery surrounding Roanoke Island sounds fascinating.
You are so right Charlie, about finding a publisher who you can trust.
Ebooks seem to be the way to go. I don't know if they have taken off quite as quickly here in Australia, but they are becoming popular.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlie,
Nice interview - your insight on choosing the right publisher is excellent.
I'm looking forward to purchasing your books for my grandchildren. They are going to love them both. Congratulations on your success!!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Was nice to learn more about the author and her book.