Evolution Thursday: KW Penndorf

Story time had always been KW’s favorite ‘subject’ in school. But when her second grade teacher opted to read from a tattered old diary, KW’s view on books changed forever. Books were now alive, with adventures, dilemmas, far away locations, heroes, villains, drama, and quite frankly, story. Everything was so real, well at least in her imagination at any rate. She wanted to live in those stories… and she has.

In her senior year of high school KW interned at CBS three days a week, making sure to keep her grades up or the gig would be off. By sheer nature of the job, stories surrounded her there. In college, she spent a semester abroad living with her sister and brother-in-law in Denmark – where, yes, one can only imagine the crazy stories two sisters conjured up! Then after college, she moved to Germany and at the age of 25 she opened her own company – a language school, full of (you guessed it) stories abound. At 29 she moved back to the States, bringing home with her the greatest story and souvenir ever – her husband.

On a train ride into NYC, a vision came to KW’s sleepy commuter mind: a girl finding a dragon egg in the middle of a Viking graveyard. Presto! The premise for her debut novel was born. A story, which KW hopes, will change a child’s view on books forever.

KW, what gave you the idea for your novel?

I had been to Denmark and visited this awesome Viking graveyard some 10 years prior to the sudden idea of my story. I say sudden because it was – I was commuting to work and half asleep on the train when out of nowhere I “saw” a young girl standing in that Viking graveyard holding an oval object. Quickly I told myself, how cool would it be if the girl for some reason swallowed that object and got pulled back into the Viking era. From then on, I knew I had my story.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

I needed a way for the girl to get the object, so I first wrote a scene depicting the girl with her two sisters at a fair. I had them visiting a sort of gypsy fortune teller and that’s how she got the object. I hated the idea as soon as I wrote it and quickly deleted it.

Were there any scenes that you loved but ended up cutting?

I loved an action scene with a cursed sword I had invented, but it just didn’t fit. The good thing, though, is that I’m writing a series, so I can insert the scene in a later book!

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

I’ve had several, mostly relating to why a character is driven to do something or think in a particular manner. It normally then involves me having to write add something to an earlier chapter so the reader will also go, “A-ha!”

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

From the original idea of the little girl going back in time to figuring out why and how she’ll make good of it all, I can 100% say I’ve enjoyed the ride. I almost feel like the story created itself, although I can recall the many hours I tried to force myself to think of a creative idea for whatever scene I was working on.

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

Well for starters, the other books in the series. But aside from this series, I have a murder mystery I’d love to work on. But for now that’s far away, even though the whole book has already been plotted out.

Next week, I’ll have Kate McKeever on for Evolution Thursday.

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