I think it’s the same reason that an artist paints, a musician plays, and an outdoorsman hikes: something starts brewing inside until it reaches a point that it boils out. We had a story trapped inside, and it wanted to come out. Like all passions, it took work and discipline to make it come alive, but once we released that story from within, more and more wanted to bubble out!
What inspires you to write?
In the World of Arcas series, the stars are a huge inspiration for us. The night skies hold heroes and monsters and villains who don’t have to be confined to the past. We felt that they could come alive in a fresh, new way for people who gaze upon them today.
When did you find yourself taking your craft seriously?
I think when we were half-way through writing The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, it suddenly dawned on us: “Oh. My. Goodness. We may actually finish writing this!” Writing a novel always seemed like a huge task that could never be completed in the midst of jobs, kids, and busy lives. Once we realized that we might actually pull it off, we got serious about exploring the next step of publishing.
How many books have you written, and what are their titles? What literary projects are you working on today?
All of our books so far are in the World of Arcas series. We published The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister in 2014, and we just released Arrows of Darkness in October 2015. We have a third book in this series that we are working on now to finish off the current arc of what we think will be a trilogy.
Who is your favorite character from your book(s), and why?
We have many favorites, but Otava the bear, was the most fun to write. He’s a burly, powerful creature but is quite paranoid of others. He’s a bit of a “prepper” who’s obsessed with both weapons and the culinary arts. Everything about him makes you want to give him a giant bear hug, but such a gesture would make him oh-so-uncomfortable!
Where do you get your story ideas?
The backbone of our stories comes from the stars and constellations. Our characters, places, and beasts are all inspired by the stars in some form. We’ve built on ideas from mythology, astronomy, and some from art and images taken from deep space objects like nebulas.
Can you give us a picture of your writing journey, from the beginning to now?
Since we write via computer, every time we edit, we merely save a new version of the story. Using the Greek Alphabet, we usually we start at “Alpha” and publish around the “Theta” version. In The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, we originally started the story by describing Jackson’s country life, then we moved into the woods toward his imaginary dragon fight described below. Later, we decided to cut the beginning scene completely and started the novel right at the dragon fight. We extended and detailed the fight, so the reader wouldn’t know at first whether it’s real or imagined.
Do you have any events, book signings or readings coming up?
In December, we usually partner with the local astronomy club to inspire students to learn more about the stars during a Christmas parade and shopping extravaganza. Later in winter, we will be at a large youth event called “Science Alive” at our library. And in the spring, we are planning on being in Chicago at Bookcon!
What genres do you write in, and what would you like to write in the future?
At the moment, we are solely in the Fantasy/Sci-fi realm, but we also have some future ideas for thrillers, realistic fiction, and exclusively Sci-fi.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
The best thing so far has been hearing random comments from fans who’ve enjoyed their journey through Arcas. One middle-schooler did a class report connecting our book to the stars. Others see us around town and ask when the next book will be ready for them to read. It’s humbling and amazing to see others excited about our story.
Finding the right rhythm of life is always a struggle. Like many authors today, we are trying to balance writing time, family time, recharging time, job time, and church/community time. We want don’t want to be overly consumed by any one area, but all of these are important to us!
How do you deal with writer's block?
One of the great things about writing as a couple is that we usually don’t have writer’s block at the same time. When one reaches a blank spot, the other steps in and drives the plot for a while. We have also found it helpful to get a babysitter, get out of the house, and brainstorm together at a restaurant with the stimulating power of good food.
How do you handle marketing? What has worked?
For our first book, we hired an independent marketing consultant for 3 months around the book release. She helped us join in on community events and got us interviews with our local TV stations and newspaper. We’ve also used Netgalley to gather reviews, FB advertisements/post boosts, and book tours. All of these help with name recognition, but honestly, we sell the most books at physical events where we can release a paperback directly from our hands to the reader’s.
What hasn't worked for marketing?
Facebook advertisements can reach a lot of people for a small amount of money, but we haven’t actually seen it generate sales.
What's next for you?
Though we know we have a least one more book to write in the World of Arcas, we aren’t completely sure how long the series will go. We have exciting ideas of stories that would awaken the heroes and wars from ages past, but we also could end up extending Jackson’s story beyond the trilogy arc. We have book ideas outside of fantasy, but we are definitely going to finish Jackson’s escapades before we tackle any new realms! Nevertheless, the star-studded world of Arcas will probably always be beckoning us back for just one more adventure…
What do you want readers to know about you?
Though many people think of writing as a solo sport, that definitely has not been our experience! Besides writing as a duo, we also reached out to a close group of friends and family throughout the process. Some helped us with editing; some just encouraged us to continue to writing and would ask us frequently about our progress. It’s a powerful thing to surround yourself with people who support you, challenge you, and encourage you. Find those people in your life and hold on to them!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We are thankful and blessed for each opportunity to share the World of Arcas with others. We hope that you will give it a try and join in the adventure!
B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of the World of Arcas series. Their Arcas adventures began with The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister and now continue with Arrows of Darkness. When the Woolets aren’t working, writing, or chasing their four little girls around, they are active in their local community and church. The couple enjoys creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana.