William Schlichter has a Bachelor of Science in Education emphasizing English from Southeast Missouri State and a Masters of Arts in Theater from Missouri State University. With eighteen years of teaching English/Speech/Theater, he has returned to making writing his priority. Recent successes with script writing earned him third place in the 2013 Broadcast Education Association National Festival of Media Arts for writing a TV Spec Script episode of The Walking Dead.
His full-length feature script, Incinta, was an officially selected finalist in the 2014 New Orleans Horror Film Festival. Incinta received recognition again by being selected as a finalist at the 2015 Beverly Hills Film Festival for a full-length feature. Incinta has advanced in several other script contests, including most recently being an Official Selected finalist in the 2016 Irvine Film Festival. His next life goal would be to see his film transferred from the pages to the screen.
Writing has always been his passion even through traveling, raising twin children and educating teenagers. While he specializes in the phantasmagorical world of the undead and science fiction fantasy stories, William continues to teach acting, composition and creative writing.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
SKA: Serial Killer’s Anonymous follows seven confessed murders who decide to stop killing. They form a self-help group, meet in the dark and discuss their killings in attempt to find a way to quell their urges. Only one of them is lying to the group.
It’s a dark thriller and in part some of the murders are biased on real serial killers. I used a lot of my research for the movie script I wrote and had so many more ideas I wanted to explore and couldn’t fit it into one film. This book explores the minds of the killers.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
I had to consider this question for a while. I have always wanted to be writer. And I have always worked towards my goal. I am a terrible speller, but spell check has assisted in correcting that issue.
I think finding the time to write all the stories that bounce around in my head is such a challenge. You have to stay focused on one project at time. Many times I write when I should be doing other work. This is a problem when I should be grading papers. Also protecting my writing time. You have to write every day. I try for 1000 words a day.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Catching my own mistakes. I write fast and tend to skip words. Sometimes it’s where to go with a story I get an idea and I write. It might be a great first chapter, but I have no idea what else to do with it. Picking a story idea to follow can be difficult.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Nothing. When I became a father that put a cramp in pursing being an author. The needs of my kids came first. I would never trade those years. But now my girls are adults, I have shifted back into full swing towards achieving my goals as a writer. Besides years of experience and I did write which only makes me a better author.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I almost always worked on my Silver Dragon series. I would rewrite and write the next installment. My goal was to have that series published. Now that I am published, I have opened myself up to other story ideas I have outside my SD universe. I have written thrillers and have a fantasy story in the works. I even have an outline for a political thriller.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
I have two unpublished about to be published, the third installment of both No Room in Hell and Silver Dragon Chronicles to be released in 2019. I wrote half of No Room #4 for Nanowrimo 2018. My current Fantasy Detective story is about ¾ complete and I made some decisions about the main character and wrote a novella of his earlier life. I don’t know what will become of it, but it really helped me to shape the character. I have books four, five, six and part of seven for my Silver Dragon Chronicles written. They must be rewritten and some of the changes I made to the cannon must be fixed before they are ready to go to an editor. I have a short story that is accepted for an anthology. I could follow it up with a novel. I have several more chapters of a half dozen book ideas I want to write including another standalone serial killer novel.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read them. Many times one person likes a part of the novel another person bashes the same part. I am just happy they wrote a review. Most people don’t. In my own book and movie choices I don’t follow what most critics say. I go and see a film or read a book and decide for myself. If they read my work. I hope they like it enough to read the next one, but if they don’t that’s okay too. Even when they don’t like it the work held value enough for them to write down their feelings. Which is something I keep trying to get my students to do. I don’t say bashing doesn’t bother me, but I don’t dwell on it. I have a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it the best way I can.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I do have one intentional Easter egg I insert into every novel.
My editor also pointed out I tend to have a character with a limp and she made a few other notes on tendencies I have. So now I change those up just to mess with her. But I didn’t realize I had some writing quirks until she pointed them out. Makes me wonder how many other authors don’t realize they too add in the same elements in each book and don’t think about it.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am friends with lots of published and unpublished writers. I am part of a writer’s group in Warrensburg, Missouri. We meet twice a month and share writings. Such immediate feedback helps to improve my work. I recommend finding a group and attend or attending a creative writing class or two. You don’t need a degree, but I learned a lot from a terrible writing teacher once. I learned what not to do.
I have other author friends I will shoot questions to when they come up, and I am shocked when they do the same. I feel I have no idea what I’m doing and yet people seek me for advice. I know I teach creative writing and composition, but I still feel I have so much to learn. I do find editing student papers also helps me catch errors in my own work. You should never write in a vacuum, but you need to share your work with people who won’t be ‘yeah it was great’. You need honest criticism or you won’t improve.
My fellow writer Susanne Lambdin is great and honest. We have done writing panels together at comic cons. We have different styles and yet complement each other. I seek advice from her. Most authors are willing to share their knowledge if you just ask. Find an author you want to write like and ask them what they do. And read. I read as much as I write. Most authors do.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t get married.
And after that. It would be to have taken those screenwriting courses sooner. I earned my Master’s Degree in 2013 and picked up some techniques I really feel helped me polish my writing. I share those with my students wishing I had known this information when I was in high school. I believe I would have been published sooner.
Most importantly, never give up the path to success is not a straight line. I told my first grade teacher I would write a novel and I have.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Through teaching writing, the biggest trap (and what makes them hate me) is the inability to let go of what they have written. The beginning author writes a chapter. They spend weeks, months or even years perfecting this chapter. It’s the most beautiful piece of writing they will ever create. And it doesn’t serve the story and must be cut. They take it as a personal attack or they feel they wasted their time. They have not. Every time they write and rewrite they are getting better at it. But sometimes no matter how good a paragraph seems it doesn’t fit into the story and must go. And they can’t let it go. When you cut your work to the bones and still tell a good story it is ready. I recently read a freshman effort by a published author and he spent pages beautifully describing this Victorian home and it had nothing to do with the story. It destroys the flow of the book and many readers won’t keep reading. The worst offence was we never returned in the book to this home.
It hurts, but cut the unnecessary bits.
One other area is the outline. I write the last chapter first. I like to know where my characters will end up. I then do a basic plot outline. And this is where some writers and comp teachers get upset. I am not married to my outline. It is not a stone-cold road map it is a suggestion. If my characters need to go in a different direction, then I follow. If they toss the map then so be it. Sometimes we get back to the final chapter. Sometimes I have to rewrite to match the direction the character traveled. But I don’t get upset because I didn’t stay true to my preplanning. If anything it was a direction that wasn’t meant for those characters.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
I have found doing comic cons and bookstore signings is the most effective way to market myself. There are 15 million books on Amazon and no one will find you by simply being published. I go out, I meet people. I set up a booth and I speak to people about my work. I now have people who come to shows to get the next one. It moves me every time someone wants to read my work and I hope I never lose that feeling.
I also get myself on horror podcasts and do panels at comic cons about writing. I put myself out there.
I treat the marketing part as business. And putting a face on my product really sells. I invest in a book show, set a sales goal, and sell books. I could do some online marketing and spend the same amount and not sell anything. I have a large UK Twitter following and don’t see any UK book sales. But I do comic cons and book lovers come to my table. Since I write horror, I attend horror shows and meet horror fans who would never discover my work through an internet search.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
I read so much as a child. And unlike movies which I will watch repeatedly I am a read a book once kind of person. My grandmother would read Bugs Bunny's Carrot Machine to me when I spent the night at her house. But the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read every one I could get my hands on. And there were all flavors for a while. Even the Dr. Who one.