Wesley King is the author of the Edgar Award–winning OCDaniel, which Booklist praised as “complex and satisfying” in a starred review. It was named a Bank Street Best Book of the Year and received Canada’s Silver Birch Award. Its companion, Sara and the Search for Normal, received a starred review from School Library Journal. King’s first middle-grade novel, The Incredible Space Raiders from Space!, was called “a well-drafted coming-of-age story” by Publishers Weekly.
King is also the author of Kobe Bryant’s New York Times bestselling Wizenard series. He lives in Nova Scotia.
Author Q&A with WESLEY KING
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
I take a lot of inspiration from the people and places around me, of course, and I’ve written a lot of books dealing with the issues in my family. Mental health is a very important subject to me, and many of my books feature characters grappling with anxiety or depression…even when the books are set a mile underground or on a quasi-magical basketball court. Sara was different: she was the friend I needed when I was Daniel’s age, which is why I loved writing about her and am so thrilled that young readers are connecting with her story.
What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?
I was reading adult books at a very young age, both because my parents had a ton of them lying around and because there seemed to be fewer kids’ books in general…or at least ones targeted at middle grade and young adult readers. But one title that always sticks out is My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, which was given to me by an astute teacher as a side project one day. I think that book played a big part in inspiring my love of adventure (both in person and in my writing). And not only did I see myself in those books as a young reader, but I still do today: I read a lot of adult fantasy and science fiction so I can happily pretend I am the middle-aged, slightly cynical protagonist in those books too.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?
I think the major one is the sheer scope of the editing process; I never realized that editing is often longer and more arduous than the writing. It’s what truly shapes the book to meet your original vision, so I’ve really learned to embrace it and actually look forward to editing. So take that, twenty-three-year-old Wesley who thought his debut Microsoft word draft was ready to publish. You had so much to learn.
What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?
I think self-doubt and self-motivation are always creeping around most authors (at least the ones I like to read…self-deprecation tends to seep into the narrative), and these days I’ve also been stubbornly (and foolishly) reluctant to adapt to the new age of writing: social media outreach. I think a lot of writers will have to find new ways to connect with readers through those platforms, and personally I’m just waiting for AI to figure it out for me.
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
I will steal the advice of countless other authors before me and say: read. It’s probably obvious, but you really do have to read a ton to have the background and narrative feel to set out and write your own book. But I would also say that while doubt and self-deprecation are normal, you do have to have a dogged inner confidence in your work: you need to believe in your voice and that you have something to say. I believe in you, but I’m just some weird author in Newfoundland, so that’s not overly helpful. You’re going to have to push through that doubt to make sure your voice is heard, and then you’ll probably write something amazing that finally pushes my books off the shelves. As a fair trade-off, if this message inspired you to start, I formally request a signed copy of your debut.