Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Interview: C.K. Volnek

C.K. Volnek, Author of The Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

Hi Trudy,
Thanks for having me here today. It’s wonderful to join you and your readers and visit about my book Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.
Where did you first learn of the "lost colonists of Roanoke Island and what made you decide to write a book about them?
I admit I never thought I would write a ‘historical’ fiction story. I hated history as a kid. Too many dates to remember. Besides, what did history have to do with what happens today? Now I understand, history has EVERYTHING to do with what happens today.   
The idea for Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island came after I read a news article about the Lost Colony. I was so intrigued with the mystery, I continued to research to find out more about this mystery. How could all these people just disappear? Then I read about how Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane destroyed a Native American village just because they thought one of the Native Americans stole a silver cup. My muse was so appalled she had to come up with her own version of what happened to create a story evoking the value of acceptance and tolerance and the power of forgiveness.
How long did it take you to do the research for The Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island?
The research was the fun part of this story. I spent about two months researching the information before I began writing. But I continued to research as I wrote, even adding actual names I found from the manifest of the original colonists and other valuable information regarding the history of Roanoke Island.
What was the hardest thing you encountered in writing your debut novel?
The hardest part of writing is my own self-doubt. I love to write, but like many authors, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to doubting oneself. That little internal editor in my head sprouts horns and pokes at me with his sharp pitchfork. I’m blessed to have not succumbed to him this time. 
Why did you choose a mastiff as the ghost dog?
That is a great question. The reason I chose a Mastiff is during my research I read an article about the dogs that came over on the Mayflower. A Mastiff and Spaniel are mentioned in historical documents of that voyage. Mastiffs were quite revered by the English and I was impressed how they would have brought one over to the New America. I have met several Mastiffs and they are the most loyal and trustworthy dogs as well as strong and the breed was the epitome of what I wanted my dog character to be like. So, for me, there wasn’t a choice what dog I would choose, it was determined by history.
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
My favorite part was weaving the folklore and the true mystery together. It was a bit of a challenge, though a fun challenge at that, and the pieces fell together like a puzzle.  
Have you always been interested in history and historical legends? If so, tell us some of the others you are fascinated with.
As I mentioned, I used to hate history. But now I am so intrigued with it. I recently was asked if I could go back in time, where would I want to go. It was so hard to choose one time! What was it like to live as an early colonist? What was ancient Rome like? How did the shepherds feel when the angels filled the heavens with song at the birth of Jesus? So much fascinating history.
I also love a good mystery. And history is abundant with wonderful mysteries. One legend I am working on researching is the ‘ghost dog’ of Saint John Bosco. This dog appeared from nowhere and protected Bosco when needed, only to disappear until his protection was needed again.  
Have you traveled to Roanoke Island as part of your book writing and research?
I admit, I have not traveled to Roanoke Island, though I did research the geography, flora and fauna of the island. I have tried to stay as true to the facts as I can, though I did add a small rise in my story to allow for the cave. Most of Roanoke Island is very flat so this was a small author liberty.
Growing up, which authors inspired you the most and why?
I loved to read as a kid. But it was after reading Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, I knew I wanted to become the next great writer. It’s taken me a little longer thank I had planned to be published, having to set my goals aside for my family, but I’m glad I never gave up on my dream.
Did you dream of becoming a writer when you were younger or decide you wanted to do it later?
I have always wanted to write. But life took me in another direction for a while. I got married and had children and my writing was limited to short stories and articles. I needed the security of a regular kind of job so I used my creative abilities and became a commercial artist. I never gave up on my passion of writing and as my children grew, I began to writer longer pieces. One Christmas, my children gave me my very own laptop so I didn’t need to compete for time on the only PC in our home. They were the first ones to believe in me and my stories and I am forever in their debt.
Are you planning on writing another novel and if so, could you tell us a bit about it? 
I’m so glad you asked. I have my second novel coming out this week! A Horse Called Trouble is a tween horse story about a girl who must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse who has taught her to love and trust again.
A Horse Called Trouble
Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Tara Cummings has been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she’s skeptic and suspicious, with no family, and no friends.

Horse therapy “will teach trust, perseverance, respect, and the value of teamwork,” or so says the program’s instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only broke her heart, perseverance meant more failures, and no one respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid. 

At the farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. Tara is frightened of the enraged horse, until she realizes Trouble is as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. Pushing aside her fear, a special bond is formed, much to the surprise of everyone at the farm. Trouble trusts Tara, and Tara in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again herself.

But, Tara’s confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble’s mean and manipulative owner is the one and only Alissa, Tara’s nemesis. Can Tara overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse who freed her heart and gave her life value and meaning? Or will Alissa destroy them both? 
I also have a third novel coming out in April. The Secret of the Stones is another tween fantasy. Merlin’s magic, enchanted stones and a mysterious prophecy thrust Alex into mystical mayhem with humorous consequences. This is the first of a series titled, The Lost Diaries of Northumberland.
Thanks so much for inviting me here today, Trudy. It has been great fun visiting with you. Great questions! I am so thrilled you enjoyed Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island and I hope you like my new books just as much.
Thanks again.
C.K. Volnek

Would you like to learn more about author, C.K. Volnek? You can visit her website at

Thank you for the wonderful interview. It is always so fun to find out what really goes into writing great children's books. 


Charlie said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Trudy! Was so very gracious of you help get the news out about my book. Am so pleased you liked it.
C.K. Volnek

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