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Kirkwood Reads: Science Fiction and Fantasy

By Erich Pilcher
On March 2, 2018

Three Kirkwood authors read from their published books during a special event Feb. 27.  For those who missed the reading, below is more information from the authors.


Jed Petersen

History Professor

Q: Where do you get your inspiration for writing?

A: I get inspiration from so many places. I love reading, watching movies, having rich conversations with others and just thinking about how life can be so simple and so complex at the same time. I’m always looking for new ideas or to improve old ones. The trick is to open up your mind so that when inspiration hits that you recognize it, and that you write it down before you forget it. I think all authors find inspiration wherever it hits you. 

Q: How many books have you had published?

A: At this point I have four books published, with three more coming out this year. I am writing a series called “The Krypteia Conspiracy” with two co-authors, Michael Koogler and Jaren Riley. “Kingmaker” and “Risen” have been published in that series, with “Ferryman” coming out this spring and “God King” coming out in the fall. I have written a YA vampire series as well. The first two books, “Orchard” and “Cove”, have been published and the third book, “Violet”, is being released this summer. 

Q: What led you to choose Sci-Fi/Fantasy?

A: I’m naturally drawn to Sci-Fi/Fantasy because in my heart I love world building. This might seem strange, as almost everything I’ve ever written is in the modern world but I love to create extra layers within that world. Secret societies, dark forces, struggling heroes. 

I love to put my characters in extreme situations, and when you add extra possibilities from different genres, it allows you to take your characters to places you couldn’t otherwise. 

Q: Are you interested in any other genres?

A: I love historical fiction and have a few ideas for books that would work there. I’m a fan of dark comedies, so would love to try that as well. I’ll read anything as long as it is well written, so I think I would be comfortable writing just about anything if I thought it was a story that needed telling. 

Q: What are some challenges you have had in regards to writing

A: The most difficult challenge is finding the time to write daily. Just sitting down and typing. It’s amazing how many times I work my way out of a corner or write something that totally fixes a difficult section just because I’m working on my book. Other challenges are writers block and technical difficulties (like when I lost an entire manuscript despite thinking I had it saved in three different places).

Q: What advice would you give to Kirkwood students aspiring to be authors?

A: Just keep working. Keep writing. Even if its garbage. It will get better! Hone your craft. Take courses. Read what the greats have done and learn from them. Find a support group. Research the business side of things. 

And most of all, smile. This is fun. Treat it as such and no matter how many books you sell you’ll be a success. 


Dennis Green

KCCK Station Manager

Q: Where do you get your inspiration for writing?

A: I’m a life-long sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery fan, and am always kind of daydreaming about plots and characters. One day, I was doing my radio show, and misplaced a CD that I could have sworn I had taken off the shelf. I looked everywhere, and finally found it in a place I thought I had looked already.

I found myself thinking “What if I slipped to a parallel universe where the CD was in a different spot? And what if we do that all the time and just don’t realize it? That was the genesis of Traveler.

Q: How many books have you had published?

A: Traveler and Prisoner are the first two books in the Traveler Chronicles. I’m working on the conclusion, Hunter, which I hope will be out next year.

Q: What led you to choose Sci-Fi/Fantasy?

A: As I said above, I’m a lifelong fan.

Q: Are you interested in any other genres?

A: Traveler is not only a sci-fi novel, but also crosses over into mystery/detective, and thriller. My next book may be a comic thriller about a has-been musician. I’m interested in many genres.

Q: What are some challenges you have had in regards to writing

A: The biggest issue is always finding time to write. Since I am working without a deadline, it can be hard to prioritize time to write.

Q: What advice would you give to Kirkwood Students aspiring to be authors?

A: The best preparation to become a writer is to read. Widely. And a lot. I’ve never really taken a writing course, but after you read a book a week every week for twenty years, you start to internalize the grammar and structure you need to write a story.


Catherine Schaff-Stump

English Professor

Q: Where do you get your inspiration for writing?

A: Lots of places! What I read inspires me. Sometimes I’ll see something that will trigger a story. Sometimes I write about things that have happened to me, and I disguise them.

Q: How many books have you had published?

A: I’ve published two: Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler for kids, and The Vessel of Ra for young adults. I’ve also been in a few magazines and anthologies with short stories.

Q: What led you to choose Sci-Fi/Fantasy?

A: Actually, Sci-Fi/Fantasy chose me. I’ve always been interested in the genre, particularly fantasy. And I am a serious geek. I watch SFF television, movies, animation, lots of stuff.

Q: Are you interested in any other genres?

A: Yup. Historical and horror.

Q: What are some challenges you have had in regards to writing

A: It’s hard to find time to write. I teach at Kirkwood and love it, but writing is like another full time job! You have to make time every day to write, revise, write some more, plan events, travel. It’s a lot of work.

Q: What advice would you give to Kirkwood Students aspiring to be authors?

A: Read a lot. Go to college and maybe study something else besides writing, so you have something to write about. Keep writing and writing and writing and writing some more. Realize most writers don’t make a lot of money, so try to get a job that supports your writing and gives you some time (like being a teacher at a community college!) 

Finally, write for yourself. Money, fame, all that isn’t going to necessarily find you, but self-satisfaction is always something you have if you let yourself have it.

Q: Anything to add?

A: Writing is a great way to meet interesting and cool people. No one really writes a book alone. Get out there and meet other writers.

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