J.W. Zulauf — Author of Enchanting Children’s Fiction

9 May 2015

Hi, Everyone. Today I’m welcoming award-winning children’s author, J.W. Zulauf. His latest series is published through Evolved Publishing and is an original fantasy series melded with a touch of horror. The Balderdash Saga is set in the underground world of the dead and takes children on a hero’s journey that appeals to both girls and boys.

Thanks for joining us, J.W. Can I start by asking what J stands for?

I wish I could say something cool like Juggernaut or Joker, but my name is Joseph Wade Zulauf. I go by Wade because I’m the third of my name, and it’s confusing in all aspects to have the same name being used for multiple people. On paper, I’m Joseph, in person I’m Wade. To me, this equaled J.W. Zulauf. 

How did you get into writing?

Well, I picked up a pen and started dragging it across a piece of paper. No, I’m kidding… it was a laptop. Heh. This question is more complex to me because there are a lot of factors. I tend to have a slightly different answer every time I’m asked, usually orbiting around the word ‘inspiration’. Today, though, I will tell you that I had a friend who relentlessly pushed me into writing my thoughts down and then took the time to teach me how to funnel them. I would say a lot of my foundation was built around this friend.

Did you always want to write children’s books or was there a moment where you decided to take that direction?

Children’s books have always been in the front of my mind, because I want to inspire youth, though I’ve worked in a lot of different areas. I’ve had a good range of work published through a bunch of genres, but I get the most excited about the children and young adult stories of mine. If I could tie it back to one specific moment, it would be when my daughter was first talked about. I wanted to write something that she could feel proud of.

That’s so sweet, and as good a reason as any :).

I love the artwork and tone of the covers. Did you have a vision of what you wanted or did the artist show you something you hadn’t thought of?

I wish I could take credit for them! They’re so well done. I have a unique relationship with Luke Spooner. The man is a genius, and the way we work tends to be that his art helps develop the stories and characters, but for the covers it was 100% his brain, and then some fine tuning from the cover team at Evolved Publishing.

Do you have set times for writing?

In a perfect world, I would say yes, but that’s far from the case. Now that I think about it, I don’t seem to have set times for anything in my life right now. Some days I write at seven in the morning, and others I write until midnight. Sometimes I’m restricted to writing on my phone.

Wow, that sounds tricky. I always press the wrong keys (chubby finger syndrome lol).

When it comes time for edits, do you find you’re cutting a lot of stuff or adding?

Both. I add and cut a lot. Then I cut and add some more. Then, when you think that I’ve finished adding and cutting, I do it again. Rewriting is writing. From my experience, anyone can put a story together, but the real author comes out in the rewrites.

If you’re stuck on a plot problem, do you sit in front of the computer until the answer materializes, or does the answer come to you when you least expect it, like in the shower, driving, walking, etc.

I definitely don’t just sit in front of a computer waiting. That sounds like a prison. I don’t want it to sound like it just pops into my head, either, because when I decided to work on something, I live in that project through everything I am doing. I think about it every minute of every day. I live and breathe it and drive my wife crazy talking about the same stuff over and over. It may take a few minutes, but it may take a few months. Writing and I have a strange relationship.

Can you tell us a bit about The Balderdash Saga?

Yup! I’ve got a guide to Balderdash that begins with The Underground Princess. 😉

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on The Shaman’s Salvation (The Balderdash Saga Book 3), the short story “King Hurlock,” and all of the things that come along with building The World of Balderdash. In particular, I’ve just gone through a rework on my website, and I have a tee-shirt (and other items) store in the works. I’m also trying to find unique ways to make events fun for kids. I think that I will be living in this world for a long time to come.

You’ve previously won an award for a short story; do you still write short stories?

Yes. In fact, I just launched “Roland the Pirate Knight,” which is the first to a series of standalone shorts revolving around the characters from Balderdash. A reader can pick up these shorts and be able to read them from beginning to end without having to read the main installments, but if they do read the series, it will enhance the characters for them. It’s all part of the same world. I do spend time working on other pieces here and there, but my focus is on Balderdash.

How many books are planned for The Balderdash Saga?

Three books (The Underground Princess, The Prince’s Plight, and The Shaman’s Salvation), but I plan to expand through the short stories. There are currently three short stories scheduled this year (one has already released). “King Hurlock” and “Princess Scarlet” are next. In terms of the main installments, I don’t have any immediate intentions of expanding, but you never know what the future may bring. 

What’s one important thing you would tell people if you could?

“Reading can change the world. Always read!” These words have become my mantra over these past few months. I find myself penning it in every book I sign and repeating it to everyone I come across. I want to say it here and repeat it again: “Reading can change the world. Always read!” I think it’s important for anyone to read at any age. The brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with practice, and reading is a direct workout. I beg you to take even a few minutes every day and read, but remember that if reading feels like a job and the content just isn’t grabbing you, then you’re likely reading the wrong thing.

Also, I do support the process of screening what you and your child reads, and yes, that even includes my book!

Thanks so much for the great answers, J.W., and good luck with the short stories and your Balderdash world — it looks like an awesome place to visit.

Readers, if you would like to get in touch with J.W. or see what he’s up to writing wise, you can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, his website or at Evolved Publishing. And to make it easy for you to check out his books, just click on any of the covers below, and you’ll be transported to Amazon. Happy reading!

The underground princessThe prince's plightsRoland


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