Meet the Author: Sean K. Vlk
Happy Thursday Eve Bibliophiles and Book Nerds,
It’s been a while since I did a meet the author segment, and I’m happy to introduce Sean K. Vlk into the fold!
Before we start, a little backstory. Sean and I belong to a Facebook group where we are allowed to self promote. One day, he posted that his horror short stories were free for the day, so I checked them out and downloaded them.
Now, I’m usually really awful (I mean AWFUL) about downloading stories and books electronically and then completely forgetting about them. It’s something that I’m trying to fix over the long haul, but I figured I would start with baby steps, and I’m doing so with Sean’s works in the horror genre.
I read The Ballad of Bonnie Rotten not too long ago (my review is here) , and since then I had to talk to this guy! It turns out we have quite a lot in common, so not only have I had the pleasure of getting to know another horror novelist, but I’ve also made a good friend. Couldn’t ask for more!
All right, enough of my blabbing. Let’s get into this digital sit down, shall we?
Sean K. Vlk
Sean Vlk was born in Tampa, FL on July 5, 1988 to parents, Mark Vlk and Valerie Besley. At age 3, his parents divorced, and he went to live primarily with his father in Lincoln, CA. His father, through no fault of his own, was working the majority of the time for the US Coast Guard; a 20 year veteran, leaving Sean alone to his own devices. Throughout his childhood he enjoyed many pleasures: cinema; music; reading; and most importantly–discovering his passion for writing. He began writing small poems, short stories, and novella for his friends and acquaintances in school, finding that most found his work to be amazing, creative and detailed.
Today, he resides in the scenic countryside of Odessa, WA, with his partner, Tasha, and his three children: Jude; Kyla; and Riley. He released his first novel, The State, through self-publishing on August 24, 2019.
Hi Sean, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
You’re in an amusement park. Which ride do you get on?
I get on the scariest, loopiest, most bloodcurdling ride they have in the joint. I absolutely love rollercoasters. The sheer force of them are wonderful. Not to mention, it’s quite frightful to think about. Really. If one bolt rattles off, one nut is loose, one railing is off balance, you could be taking the last ride of your life… what a rush!!!!
Haha, I always choose the same thing! The more terrifying, the better. Maybe I’m just an adrenaline junkie, but I think it’s so much fun to get on a coaster full of spins, flips, and crazy descents. We are the same type, my friend!
Sean and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
I would say my writing is something of an acquired taste. However, not in a bad way. My narrative is usually strongly mixed between the third and first perspective, giving the reader the ability to enjoy inner thoughts and what is happening around the character.
Also, I do happen to have something of a “potty mouth.” However, I believe that is part of the work. Sometimes you need the bold use of an F-bomb to get the point across. I feel there is certainly nothing wrong with combining rich, intelligent language with a sprinkling of profanity.
Furthermore, I do happen to have a strong fascination for horror and death. No more so than the average broken mind, I suppose. With that in mind, no matter the genre I write in, there will always be a showing of such fascination. Death will be described in overly abundant detail. Blood will always be present. I honestly cannot see it not being so in any of my further projects.
Nice, very interesting! I am also a big fan of using action in my works, maybe not full-on gore all the time, but it can get bloody very quickly given the situation.
I’m something of a potty mouth myself, and I can appreciate a great simile or metaphor in conjunction with a well-placed F-bomb. Hey, if the story calls for it, so be it! Bring on the profanity!
How do you find inspiration to write?
Hmm… usually it starts as an idea out of thin air. Something unexplainable. If I am working on something specific; a current novel, I usually have a brief outline of the major points to follow.
Although, sometimes it does not work as such. Sometimes a character runs their own path, completely different than what I had imagined in my head. At that point, I will usually split the tale into two directions, then choosing the best course of action. I realize it’s tedious, but I want to give the best story. So please believe that once a novel has been cemented, I have attempted every angle for the situation.
So, to answer the question, while working on a project, I simply designate a period of time, tell myself to sit down and get to work, and do so. Simple as that.
I definitely agree with you there. When I get ideas, they seem to be at extremely random intervals; when I watch a show, when I work out, even just by looking at a random object.
That’s a very unique way of testing things out, I like it! I generally plot things out, but if the character seems to be going in a different direction, I let them and see what happens. If it’s still good, I don’t end up changing the improve sesh that just happened.
I also plan out my writing time on a daily basis (stop stealing my thoughts lol!) and that’s how I get the majority of my work done. Otherwise, I’d probably have very little to show for myself.
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
I sit upon my favorite Lazyboy in the living room, turn on some music on random (ranging from classical orchestral to present rock/metal) and type away on my laptop.
Yes, that’s the way to do it! My cozy room is my bedroom, but I think it’s important for every writer to have a safe space to write in without distraction (unless they can write amidst chaos and noise).
I am also very eclectic in my musical tastes, however, I only listen to ambient music while writing. For some reason, words in music can distract my mind while writing.
I always find it interesting how authors and bloggers alike lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
For years, I worked as a factory mechanic. It was grueling, honest work that I both appreciated and detested. I love to weld, tinker, fix something that is broken. You know? Work with my hands. The hours, however, we’re awful. Although, the paychecks were sizeable.
Now, I happen to work from home, managing a paintball business and assisting my father with renovations to his house. I find it rewarding, and love all of the time I get with my family. Not to mention, I can write for a large portion of each day without interruption.
That’s very intriguing! I’ve never really had a hands-on job before. I always worked in some kind of office and now do finance in downtown Kansas City.
But I am SUPER jealous of you getting to work from home. That’s been a dream of mine for quite a while, perhaps one that I should start to pursue. I’m glad you have some serious time to sit down and write. That’s really important for any of us. On a good day, I’ll maybe get an hour and a half to write.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since about nine or ten. I was always fascinated by reading, and always dreamed of having my name on the spine of an actual novel. So, I guess I have been writing for about twenty years.
Me too! I was always one of those daydreaming kids in class. I only got serious about seven or so years ago, but it’s definitely been a constant in my life.
Why do you write?
I write for two reasons:
One is for the sheer joy of it. When bringing a character to life, developing a story from nothing, creating lives and scenarios that otherwise wouldn’t have existed–it’s a priceless feeling.
The other is for the reactions of the reader. And yes, I realize that is cliche as America pie, but it is the truth, nonetheless. Writing takes a lot of work, a lot of thought and attention. Therefore, when someone takes the time to not only read it, but appreciates the story-connects with it or the characters on a real level-it is simply sublime. You get this overwhelming sense of accomplishment. You provided that. It is an amazing feeling that I will never get tired of receiving.
Those are some great reasons. I personally feel that anyone not writing because they enjoy it should find another hobby.
Nope, not cliché at all. I write to entertain as well. I want to keep people on their toes, but most of all, tell a story that they’ll enjoy and remember for years to come.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Honestly, all of the little philosophical nuisances I sprinkle in there. Some are obvious, while others are subtle. For example, in my debut novel, The State, I used a few major philosophy-based points throughout in order to reach the conclusion with a certain level of pointed catharsis. Whether people have noticed these or not, is still left unseen. Rest assured, I will always present things of such a nature in all of my works.
That’s intriguing. Sometimes in my writing social issues may be addressed, but it’s not ever my intention. It just kind of comes through with the writing.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes, I certainly am. At the current moment, I happen to be writing a horror novel, The First Sacrament. It follows twenty-four teenagers who have been forced into a slaughterhouse by an unknown cult, then forced to kill one another within twenty-four hours. Something of a game. It’s been a bloody, philosophical, and rather psychotic delight thus far.
In relation, I am also putting together a compilation of shorts, The Untold Horrors. This will be a mixture of stories relating to this fictional town, Rosemont, WA where the novel takes place. Two such shorts are already on Amazon. The Farm: A Short and The Ballad of Bonnie Rotten. The release will hopefully coincide with the release of The First Sacrament.
Oh wow, sounds like a bloodbath. Sign me up!
That’s awesome! I really liked The Ballad of Bonnie Rotten and plan on getting to The Farm asap. Short stories are great in that it’s a brief departure that the reader doesn’t have to put too much effort into and you get the payout pretty quickly.
Describe your writing style.
This is always a tough one. If I had to pin my style down, I would have to say a mixture of classical philosophy writers, Stephen King, Orwell and Poe. Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn, just attempting to explain how I would see my writing by the influences in which shaped it. Hopefully, I am not coming off as arrogant in my assumptions.
No, you’re totally fine. I think we all have our ways of explaining how we write, and from having read one of your short stories, I can see where you’re coming from. Your work can be poetic and yet dark, ominous, and violent at the same time. It’s a good mix!
What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer?
Persistence. I believe that in any creative field, we; as artists, wish to believe that people will find our work instantly amazing, gaining us instant gratification and fame. The next person to catch a movie deal, or grab one of the Big Five of publishing houses. Maybe even syndicate into a small series on Netflix.
However, the simple truth is that there are way more writers than there are readers. Not everyone will appreciate your work, for there is already so much to choose from. The hardest lesson is that your work may go unnoticed, possibly for a long time. However, if you can appreciate lessons from the greats, Poe and Melville went virtually unnoticed during their time as well. Not all art is appreciated during its time.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Persistence and a hard skin is vital. Some people won’t like your book, and at first it will feel like no one can find your book. You’ve got to give it time, and use the lessons you’ve learned along the way to help you move forward.
Besides, there are always positives. Starting from zero, things can only get better, and once you start to build your following, they aren’t likely to forget you or stop supporting you in your writing endeavors. At least that’s how I see things.
What are some of the challenges you face as a writer?
Social media. Being self-published, the responsibility of getting my work out into the proverbial cosmos is entirely up to me. Conversely, I am a rather introverted extrovert. Meaning, I enjoy people, but in a smaller sense. I have a small group of friends and rarely share more than what is asked. Therefore, social media is a draining venture for me. Sharing my life in a public sense, putting my work out there for all to judge, it can be maddening and even downright exhausting.
I totally agree, social media can be quite unnerving. I’m self-published myself, and it’s hard to stay present in the stratosphere without becoming tired at some point. In those cases, sometimes it’s good to take a little breather, then get back in the game.
Not including family, who supported your efforts to become a published author?
Fortunately, I do happen to have a lovely group of friends who; besides my family, have been more than helpful with the process throughout. Be it beta reading, editing, or even just idea bouncing, my friends have been quite supportive of my endeavors as a writer.
Me too! Actually, I’ve never paid for editing services. I have close writer friends who will help me edit and give their honest opinion of my work, and in return I try to help them when I can as well.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I am a relatively new writer myself; publicly speaking, however, I would suggest to new writers that they do their homework. Look for your audience. Reach out to reviewers, pre release. Get a feel for your target market and get your manuscript into several hands before publishing. You always skip over your own mistakes, especially when writing for a lengthy amount of time.
Another piece of advice would be to read. Read. Read. Read. The more you read, the more you learn new words, new structure, new character development techniques, new ideas. The best authors happen to be avid readers, and for good reason.
Don’t become discouraged. Sometimes, people will not accept a writer’s work in the current market, and as such, that work may go unnoticed. All of us aren’t going to write pieces that are widely accepted. We can’t all be a future Collins, King, or Rowling. Some authors don’t become noticed until many of their novels have been released, while some are never noticed. Be patient. Build relationships with fellow authors and lovers of literature. Accept constructive criticism.
Most importantly, enjoy your own work. Don’t try catering to others or sell yourself for the next big thing. Write from the heart, be original, don’t let others dictate your creative vision. At the end of the day, the art is yours and yours alone. Write something you can be proud of.
All of these are wonderful tips for writers. Write from the heart, keep up with your fanbase (or the growing of one), and have self-faith. These things will get you far, although it may not seem so in the immediate present.
Fun Facts About Sean
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
I love music. I have been in several bands in the past, usually as the lead singer. I play several instruments and can be sometimes found singing Jim Morrison tunes at local bars for karaoke.
I love to read. I don’t so much have a library as I have a massive scattered collection. My house is filled with books, everywhere.
I love movies, especially horror flicks. Old, new, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a compelling, bloody, and thoughtful movie, you’d better believe I will be watching it. Some of my favorites are works of Tarantino (excluding his newest movie), Zombie, Hitchcock, and Craven. I also love Kevin Smith, all of his works are brilliant.
I love tattoos. I have too many to count. I would love to eventually have a contest involving fan art, the result being, I have the winning piece tattooed.
Wow, we sure have a lot in common. I was a choir kid growing up. While I gave up on musical stardom about a decade ago, I do enjoy some good old-fashioned karaoke here and there. Anything 90’s is my jam.
I do have two small bookshelves at home, but most of my books are scattered around my room, though it is somewhat organized.
Interesting with the tattoos! I’m way too indecisive to ever get one. I’ve been mulling it over for a decade already, so I doubt I’ll go through with it., but that’s a great idea with the fan art.
Pancakes or waffles?
Either. As long as there’s syrup, I’m good.
You know, I’m not big on syrup. I might use a little, but you can have most of my share.
What’s your favorite place that you’ve travelled to?
I was always a big fan of the beaches in Florida. They were always so beautiful, although, the humidity was pretty unbearable.
Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a fan of humidity or summery places unless I’m in a pool. Actually, for some unknown reason to me, I have a fear of the ocean and any large natural body of water.
My favorite places so far have been Seattle (of course, not getting close to the water!) and Denver.
Are pineapples on pizza blasphemy or no?
Eh, to each their own. I wouldn’t grab such a topping for myself, however, if nothing else was available, I would partake.
That’s very fair of you. Personally, I don’t like mixing savory with sweet in most scenarios, pizza being one of them. The meats all the way!
What are your favorite tv shows and movies?
Rick and Morty, American Dad, South Park, It’s Always Sunny, The Walking Dead, Family Guy… and so many others. But, you get the idea.
Resevoir Dogs, The Crow, Alien (every single feature), Sin City, Deadpool, Tombstone, Braveheart-anything by Rob Zombie or Kevin Smith-Guy Ritchie films, and (to share a secret) musicals. I grew up on The Rocky Horror Picture Show and can sing every line.
We sure do have a lot of the same tastes in TV and movies. I usually either want to laugh or be completely terrified (though that rarely happens anymore). Oh, it’s on! We are having a Rocky Horror singoff, you and me pal. Bring it!
What kind of music touches your soul?
I am very eclectic in my musical tastes. However, classics such as Pink Floyd and The Doors, always have a special place in my soul.
Ah, I really do enjoy me some Pink Floyd. I think for me there’s too many to really list, but if I heard Radiohead circa the 2000’s I would be extremely nostalgic. Either that or any 90’s music in general.
Who are your favorite writers?
Wow… tough question. I honestly can’t narrow them down. I love Stephen King. Absolutely love his work. However, I have always been drawn to the classics of Bradbury, Twain, Orwell, Huxley, Socrates, Plato, Bellamy, Poe… I mean, the list is never ending. I don’t believe I could narrow it down to a few.
It’s okay, I really enjoy your examples. It’s something of a trick question anyways, at least in my opinion. I too can’t really say who my favorites are, at least not in those broad terms. Once upon a time, I started off reading David Eddings, Stephen King, and Philip Pullman, but honestly they’re not technically favorites anymore.
Some of my recent favorites that I can tell you about are Victoria Schwab, Teri Polen, and April Daniels.
What are you reading now?
Currently, I am rereading A Necessary End by Chris Tetreault-Blay. It is an amazing tale, very well written, with believable characters and excellently constructed dialogue. I am a part of a fantastic book club on Facebook, Give Me Nightmares, and his book was the elected November read. Of course, though I have already read it, I don’t mind in the slightest. Rereading a wonderful book always gives you the ability to catch something you may have missed. In addition, I can speak with the author firsthand, so, that’s always a plus.
Thanks for the recommendation friend. Just added it to my TBR, as it sounds right up my alley. Just don’t be mad if I don’t read it soon. My TBR is WAY out of control.
I’m actually about to read your short The Farm next. I promised myself every few books I would take a breather and read some kind of short story to switch things up. Super excited!
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
Prague. I have always wanted to visit the birthplace of my ancestral roots. Not to mention, it is a breathtakingly beautiful city.
Heck, I’d go too. I’ve actually never been outside the states. I’d like to see Canada in the next few years, so I’d say that would be my pick. Any one of their big cities, I really wouldn’t care which.
How would you conquer the world?
No way. Too much responsibility. I wouldn’t want the world. I’m no Tony Montana.
Lol! Extra brownie points to you for saying no thanks. To be honest, I’ve been a bit tired lately, so I’d probably rather Netflix and chill with some wine or go on a vacation instead of taking over the world.
What did you read as a kid? What stuck with you the most?
The Stand by Stephen King. I was fascinated by his level of detail. The attention. Moreover, what a story!!!!
Ah, you know, I’ve heard a lot of things about that book but have never read it. I’m guilty of getting book-shy if its past a certain length. I like my books to be relatively short, maybe 600 pages or less. But who knows, maybe I’ll pick it up one day!
Mine was Animorphs, then Goosebumps as a close second. What thrilling stories!
Sean and His Works
Tell us about your new book .
The State, published on Amazon in late August of this year, is a dystopian piece following the protagonist, Agent 216 as he makes his transition from top Agent to the leader of the Resistance. It is a beautifully bloody ride built on substance, questioning the imperatives of human existence, perception-based altruism, and the very bounds of reality. It was certainly a fun one to write.
You had me at dystopian! I’ve already added this one to my TBR and can’t wait to read it. If it’s anything like your other works, I’m going to really enjoy that dystopian-horror combo!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
I actually wanted a very bold, easy title. Having read plenty of dystopian fictions in my youth, I wanted something to that effect. The State was the ending result. I feel it is intentional in is simplicity, pointedly so. As though a system of government wouldn’t attempt to be clever in their intentions. At least, those were my thoughts on the title.
I totally agree with you. Sometimes the KISS method is simply best. And for what it’s worth, I think you’re right with the government point you made.
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
As I stated, I grew up on classic dystopian novels. I always wanted to write my own, be a part of the group. However, I wanted mine to be different. Simply put, most classic dystopian fictions are lacking action, death, and blood. The significance is always there, but generally, they lack a certain level of shock. In such, I wanted to write a bloody tale focusing on some of the more pointed truths of such a totalitarian existence. Namely, the death and utter disregard for life. Hopefully, I live up to that.
Yes, I’m so glad you brought that up. I too have read at least a few dystopians, and I did find that they lacked those elements. Not to say that they weren’t great without them, but the fact that you’re doing a dystopian in your style is exciting!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
The reaction from others. To have them feel what I felt while writing it, for them to read a particular scene and feel the way that character felt, it is just amazing.
Oh, I bet there were jaw drops and hands covering mouths in surprise! There’s something amazing about getting that great reaction from your readers.
Do you have a favorite character in your new book? Why are they your favorite?
Agent 216, the main character. In the beginning, he is this detestable man. A puppet used by The State to do horribly unspeakable things. However, he eventually transitions to be the lovable and credible leader of the Resistance as (and I’m telling a secret here by revealing his name) Danton.
The reason I love his character so, is the transition he makes throughout the work. It speaks to me, and; from what I understand, others as well, on a very personal level. We all want to believe we are the heroes of our own stories, that we are the decent ones. With Agent 216, it shows that we may be the hero or the villain. It all depends on our beliefs, our understanding, our outlook. Moreover, its all but a matter of perspective. I may be the hero to me, but to someone else, I may very well be the villain. To me, it has always been something of consideration, and thusly, made for the most appealing character in the work.
There really is something about that kind of character that holds some appeal to me. One that you can’t stand at first, but then you start to see a different side to them throughout the novel. Hero? Villain? The coin can easily land on either side, and that’s an intriguing concept and question to explore.
Fun fact, I actually have a detestable character planned for an LGBT horror novella I plan on writing in the near future. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from reading your book!
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
I didn’t want it to end. When writing the ending, I was a little tearful. Not just because of the ending of my journey, but for the characters as well.
Oh my gosh, I felt that way about my first finished novel (still unpublished to date)! It really is sad when it ends, but hey, there’s always another great adventure just waiting to be written.
How much of your book is based on your own experiences or those of someone you know?
Since this book has a lot of murder, I will say only about fifty percent. Haha. Only teasing.
One of the scenes that I used a great deal of personal experience to write was a berthing in the “husband” perspective. I realize that the process is scary as hell for the one giving birth, of course, but I wanted to devote some consideration for the one holding the hand as well.
LMAO, I can’t with you! I can be extremely morbid, so I trust you’re not an axe murderer … or do I?
Oh wow, that’s quite an intense experience to share with the world. Just … wow.
What kind of research went into writing your book?
A lot of military tactics and language research. I wanted to make sure that the scenes were believable. I also love history, specifically Roman culture. Thusly, that was also researched at length for the piece.
Totally. It’s your book, so of course you want it to be as accurate as possible. I’ve googled some STRANGE things to be accurate, and I bet you’ve done the same.
What criteria did you use when selecting the cover for your book?
The cover has gone through many phases, however, I feel very comfortable with the current Agent cover. I wanted something simple, something bold like the title. Hopefully, that message is being properly conveyed to others.
Hey, I like the cover. It definitely gets my attention, especially with that blood spatter!
Was there a message in your book that you were trying to convey?
Hmm… there are actually several. However, I don’t believe I can reveal them without giving up some crucial details about the work. So, I guess knowing they are present will have to suffice for now.
Haha, touche touche.
If your book would be made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
I have already been given suggestions for the lead. Keanu Reeves and Jim Caviezel. Personally, I wouldn’t mind Ryan Reynolds. He is a very talented actor with a lot of depth. Not that the other two aren’t, that is, just that I wouldn’t mind seeing Reynolds in a serious role.
I have a deep respect for Keanu and Ryan, though Caviezel doesn’t ring a bell (I’m terrible with names!). Maybe I’ll give you my thoughts after I give the book a read. 🙂
All right, looks like we’re out of time. Before you go, what other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
After the next two I mentioned above, I will be tackling the genres of crime/detective, sci-fi, and western. All of which already have a story and outline. I never want to be held in one specific genre, rather just recognized for my style of writing.
Wow, that’s very ambitious, I love it! I also plan on exploring a wide range of genres in the next ten years or so. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Sean K Vlk. I always have a great time chatting it up with him, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Sean and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links
Amazon (The State – Kindle Edition)
Amazon (The State – Paperback)
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loved the interview! Very proud of my grandson!!
Thanks, it was a lot of fun for both of us!