Book: The Wizenard Series: Training Camp
Photo Courtesy of Wesley King
Author: Wesley King
When he is not writing, Wesley travels extensively around the world and gives workshops and presentations for thousands of students annually. In the Summer of 2019, he will be embarking on a trip around the world on his classic sailboat, the Highlander."
1. What city inspired the Neighborhood Dren in your book “The Wizenard Series: Training Camp”
No one specific area; more of an amalgamation of areas that we have visited, lived in or worked with students. Of course, I did some direct research, including in Philadelphia and Camden, watching some of the AAU teams there and getting a feel for their day-to-day lives and pressures.
2. This book combines two well-received genres (sports and fantasy), where did the idea come from for writing this book?
Kobe had a very well-developed picture of his universe and his messaging: sports and fantasy were at the heart of everything. We worked together to develop this story through trial-and-error, resulting finally in this very original narrative style and focus.
We could have certainly made it easier on ourselves, but that's not Kobe's style, nor mine, so we wanted to do something ambitious that challenged readers to reflect on both themselves and the people in their lives.
3. If you had to compare the players on the 'Badgers' to any current or historical basketball team which one would it be and why?
Good question. They are last place, with everything to prove. Given the grit, passion, and teamwork-first mentality they just displayed, I like to think they have a little bit of the current Los Angeles Clippers in them (don't tell Kobe).
4. Wesley, you did a fantastic jump of writing 5 integrated stories in one book, how easy or how challenging was this to do for you?
Challenging to be sure; balancing the plot flow, consistency, and balance of perspectives was one of the most daunting challenges of my career so far. When presented with the idea by Kobe, George R.R. Martin said, "I feel sorry for your writer." That should tell you everything you need to know.
5. One of the biggest themes in the book is courage and overcoming fears, which character do you see yourself the most in? Which character do you see Kobe [Bryant] the most?
I went back and forth. I was tall and skinny and incredibly self-critical, so obviously, Twig resonated with me. But they all had aspects that meant something to me. For Kobe, Rain is obviously the star, and maybe had some of that outward bravado that Kobe has mastered. That said, I think he is most aligned with Reggie, the character who takes second stage in the sequel.
6. Kobe says he wishes this book series was available when he was a youth, in your opinion, what's your biggest takeaway from this story?
I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I write all of my books for my younger self. My biggest takeaway is to continue to find and face my own darkroom... to be aware and honest about our fears and emotional scars are to master them.
7. How much different was this writing project, from other books you have written in the past?
Well, it was my first really collaborative experience, which was great. Kobe had boundless energy, ideas, and creativity that was poured into this book. And, of course, the reception and release were vastly different: media spotlight and attention and debuting #1 on the NYT...that has all been very surreal.
8. A lot of people say that this book has a “Harry Potter” feel to it, did that book series play a role in your writing of this book?
I think only in the sense that Kobe and I are massive fans; I wouldn't say it had a direct contribution beyond fueling our own love of all things magical.
9. Being a Canadian writer, how cool has it been to see players such as Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, and Tristan Thompson shine in the NBA? Have you seen a rise in love for the game of basketball in Canada?
It's great. Basketball is ever-expanding here, and these elite players are just the tip of a growing movement. I love to see increasing participation in the youth levels here and these pro players provide that tangible aspiration for young players.
10. Overall, what was your writing process like for this book?
Lots of rewrites and editing. That is always my process: write fast and loose, get EVERYTHING onto the page, and then begin sculpting from there.
11. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Stop trying to write something great. Or even good. When we put pressure on ourselves, we stifle the process. Just write and know you can perfect it later.
12. What’s the best book you have read in 2019 thus far?
This is a tough one...I am going to say The Fifth Season by N.K Jemison (I finished the whole series in a week or two).
13. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Of course...I don't know how to do anything else! I have two books coming out in 2020: the next installment in the Wizenard Series, and a companion novel to OCDaniel. Both are raw and poignant and I can't wait to share.
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