I have wanted to feature an author on my blog since it’s inception because writing is an art form, too (obviously I think this since I write this blog!). I’m happy to finally get to realize that desire with this interview of Clintonville resident, Wolfgang Parker.
Wolfgang and I first met when he was doing a show at the Garden Theater in The Garden District and just so happened to be next to another artist that I have featured, Tammy Perakis Wallace. He was selling and signing his books and because I LOVE kitty cats, I was talked into buying one of his books (the first Crime Cats mystery) that featured a cat detective that lived in my old neighborhood of Clintonville.
About 5 months later, I picked up the book and I was hooked!!! Since that time, he and I have run into each other at several events and I decided it was time to interview this writer…thankfully, he agreed!!
The Crime Cats books have been out for about a year now and since the time I first met him, Wolfgang has written and published a sequel, “Crime Cats: The Dusenbury Curse” (yes, I purchased that one, too!) and is in the process of completing his third book. Crime Cats is a mystery series for reading level ages 8 to 12 (yeah, I’m much older than this but who says that good writing has age barriers???)
Wolfgang got into writing originally through comic books but is currently working on a graphic novel that isn’t related to Crime Cats. In the graphic novel, he is strictly a writer (‘I don’t illustrate comics’ ) but he does illustrate the cat mystery books. He doesn’t have a degree in literature, writing or journalism but is self-taught, learning as he goes.
The first Crime Cats book, “Missing” , was written as holiday gift for his 19 nieces and nephews, who all live out of state. However, midway through the process, he realized the book was a celebration of the community he loves.
When asked what inspired him to write the Crime Cats series, he states:
The cats, of course. Well, them and a friend’s son who actually dressed up in a chicken costume at one time. My girlfriend and I take walks throughout the week and during those walks we visit our cat-friends around the neighborhood. South Clintonville has a lot of indoor/outdoor cats—it’s one of the things that makes Clintonville distinctive. So over the years of visiting with these guys, I’ve come to know their personalities and they are hilarious. And a lot of people ask if the cats are mine. No, they are not. All of the cats in the books are real cats. I don’t make up the names. They are all cats that live in my neighborhood. I have to get signed releases from all of the families to include them in the books. But it makes the story more real and more sincere to me.
Wolfgang also indicates that he is always reading and usually studying the narrative of other writers. As he writes each book, he feels that he grows as an author, honing his skills along the way. The first Crime Cats book, “Missing” was the first novel he wrote, so he noticed a huge difference in his flow and efficiency when writing the second book, “The Dusenbury Curse.” He’s about 8,000 words into writing his third book and is seeing how expansive the Crime Cats world has gotten. ‘I didn’t really realize it until now.’
Fortunately for the folks of Columbus, there are currently nine locally-owned retailers offering Crime Cats books. And for out-of-towners, the books are also available on Amazon.com. He also sells and autographs his books at several local arts/crafts fairs, farmer’s markets and more. Columbus area locales that carry the books are:
Clintonville Community Market (200 Crestview Road, Columbus, OH 43202)
Wholly Craft (3515 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43214)
Colonial Candy Shoppe (3519 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43214)
Cover to Cover Book Store (3560 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43214)
Laughing Ogre Comics – High Street (4258 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43214)
What the Rock?! (1194 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43201)
Maotef Gifts (997 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43201)
Heroes and Games (Level One — Greater Columbus Convention Center)
Celebrate Local (Easton Town Center, 3952 Townsfair Way, Columbus, OH 43219)
Selling books at Crest Fest
I’m very grateful for the support of the locally-owned businesses around Columbus that have really stood behind me over the last year. And I’m super grateful for the amazing support readers have given. I’m so fortunate that Crime Cats readers have taken the time and thought to post so may reviews as well.
And recently I was sent photos of a girl who dressed up as Jonas Shurmann (the main human character in Crime Cats) for her school’s Dress Like Your Favorite Fictional Character Day. Speaking as a kid that dressed up as my favorite fictional characters regularly, I know what a huge compliment that is. I was really moved.
Wolfgang’s goal for 2015?
He just released his first adult short story titled “The Kropes” that is available on Amazon for $0.99. He also plans to release two more adult short stories this year as well as the third Crime Cats book, hopefully sometime in autumn. Aside from book production, he’s looking forward to more author visits to Columbus area schools libraries.
I am self-published. I work with an editor (who was my next door neighbor) and a comic book colorist, who colors my line art for the covers. Otherwise, I’m the guy doing the writing, layouts, scanning, file prep, etc. And it is currently my job. I decided I want to write for a living so I’ve dropped myself into the shark tank.
My relationship with my editor is key to my writing. And I know everyone wants to know how to find an editor, and my advice is to let folks read your writing. You will find your true believer and that’s what an editor needs to be.
Wolfgang with his editor
Further advice for writers: Outline the story first. Always. He tells this to the classrooms when he is asked to visit area schools because he thinks it’s as valuable to them is it is to adults who aspire to write.
Wolfgang has also been a recording artist for the last 20 years. When asked if that has helped him, he said:
Not really. I’ve been a recording artist on and off for the last 20 years. But my music was for adults. In fact, all of my artistic projects have been for adults up until the first “Crime Cats” book. Being a musician and showman has given me an edge when it comes to presenting my work to people, but being the first Punk Swing artist doesn’t actually help sell kids books. But occasionally I find out the parents of some of the “Crime Cats” readers are fans. That’s still weird for me.
When asked where he sees himself going from here, Wolfgang wasn’t short on plans.
I’m planning on releasing two more short stories by the end of the year. Like “The Kropes”, they will be ebook only on Amazon (Kindle and iPad). From there, I plan to add to the stable of short stories and possibly add a print project in 2016 that will outside of “Crime Cats.” I’ll have to see.
Well, I guess I’m one of those (weird) adults who just loves to read his Crime Cats books and will most likely until he tires of writing them. And next on my reading list is The Kropes…can’t wait to see what else this multi-talented man comes up with!