Interview with the April (Fool's) Challenge Winner KyleRKopp

The past, the present and the future walked into a bar. 
Things got tense...

What did Richard III say when there was a half-price Christmas sale at the local camping supplies store? 
"Now is the winter of our discount tent"

Where does Dorian Gray shop for clothes? 
Forever 21

We're sure you're already on the floor guffawing at the hilarity of our one liners - but a sentence, sadly, does not a writer make (unless you're Hemingway) - so in honour of April Fool's we ran a comedy writing challenge for our WEbook members... 

We were in fits of laughter here at WEbook HQ reading through all of your brilliant entries, but as ever there could only be one winner! We chose KyleRKopp's hilarious entry, Work From Home, They Said, because it not only had us cringing and giggling all at once, but the painfully realistic humour used by Kyle seemed natural and effortless in its deployment - well done to Kyle!

In the wake of his win, we had a chat with Kyle to find out a bit more about his entry...


WEBook: Congratulations on winning the challenge! Your story was very funny, it is autobiographical at all?

Kyle Kopp: Sadly, yes; this event really did happen, and I seem to find myself in similar circumstances ever since becoming a father.  My first foray into writing was a “daddy blog”, which I considered therapy.  I found it relieving to write out the insane things that were happening to me after my twins were born, share it with the rest of the world and when they laughed, I could finally grasp the humor in the reality that was my life.  It’s much easier to go through life looking at is a comedy rather then a tragedy.  Sometimes the only difference between the two is the audience laughing.

WB: You write humour very comfortably, is it a genre that comes to you easily?

KK: It is, though I tend to shy away from it when I write.  I’m much more comfortable with humor in a face to face, performance type setting where I can gauge the audience and make sure they’re getting the joke.  I’m always concerned that a reader will miss the inflection of certain words or miss the intended tone of the piece entirely, especially with something like sarcasm.  I get real downtrodden when an attempt at humor fails to connect because humor really comes from your soul; it’s much less crushing for me if a dramatic piece fails to resonate.  I feel with heavy pieces I craft them and build them and angle them and if someone doesn’t like them, that’s fine, it’s a structure, something I made.  With humor it pours out of me unfiltered; if someone doesn’t like it then they don’t like me.  I feel much more exposed when I put it out there.

WB: You discuss working life and the social set-up of the workplace - is the story intended to poke fun at office hierarchy?

KK: I certainly wasn’t trying to avoid pointing that out.  While I’d love to pay the mortgage off of my creativity alone, that hasn’t come to fruition yet.  Instead, I’ve had to trudge through the muck of the American workplace for the past fifteen years and the ridiculousness of the hierarchy has not been lost on me.  The average employee sees the executive leave early with golf clubs in hands and then spends the remainder o f the day grumbling about it.  What he never gets to see happen is the executive fall in to the water hazard trying to retrieve a ball on the 9th and spend the rest of the day pulling leaches off his legs.  This was a moment for me to share the reality; shit still happens no matter how high up the ladder you’ve climbed. 

WB: What is your favourite type of writing to read?

KK: I like to be able to relate to a piece, regardless really of genre.  I want to feel that it’s speaking with my voice, or at least a voice I can imagine to be coming from me as well.  I tend to not do well with fantasy pieces for this very reason.  I can’t really relate to riding on a dragon or smelting a sword of pixie alloy.  Thrillers I really get into; I can absolutely relate to panic.  I enjoy history’s very much, as I feel once you stop learning you’re brain begins going to mush, and I have a soft spot for a good relationship story.  Not a romance per se, but a grounded relationship where two people deal with life together.  My wife and I have been through some things, and when I read a story that deals with the struggle of real life and the strength a relationship can bring, I can superimpose myself into that and really draw a connection from the piece.   My wife would like to superimpose us into Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’m a little frightened. 

WB: If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?

KK: We’ll I think meeting a dead author would be a much better story, so my first answer is Oscar Wilde; I feel that’s something he would really enjoy.  But truthfully I feel an hour or so with him would become tedious as he’d just make me feel ignorant with his wit and word play.  Instead I think I’d like to spend a day with Earnest Hemmingway. He’d probably also make me feel extraordinarily stupid, but he’d do it while we were being chased by bulls or battling ferocious man eating sharks, or some other equally daunting adventure.  I feel that would ease the pain of realizing my many inadequacies.  Of course I’d probably be eaten by one of the sharks.  That might not be ideal.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Kyle! We look forwards to reading more of your challenge submissions over the coming months. 

Well done to everyone who entered our April (Fool's) Challenge - don't forget that our June Challenge is now running and we're challenging you to write without the use of sight or sound... could you be our next winner?

The WEbook Team

May Challenge Winner!

The May WEbook Challenge challenged our community to write a story based on an image... This was a first for the challenge brief - but it certainly seemed to inspire, as we had almost 70 entries to judge this month!

The Challenge Image
We asked, not only for you to interpret the image with originality and surprise, but we wanted you to think outside the normal interpretations and connotations that are naturally attached to a lone door in the woods. This was certainly a tricky task, but so many of you wonderful writers really surprised us with a powerful punch at the end of your stories! 

The judges said: "Wow, were there some great entries this month! We had a bit of a battle over the runners up in the judging room - there were just so many brilliant contenders. The only thing we all agreed on without question was the winner!"

So, without further ado, the winner of the May WEbook Challenge is....
Caitlin Easter with her fantastic entry, Blue Sky

The highly commended runners up are:

Congratulations to everyone who entered! Don't forget that the June Challenge is now running, and this month we're challenging you to take leave of your senses... Good luck!

Women's History Month

Back in March we ran a Women's History Month writing competition, we had some really great entries, many of which took the theme and interpreted in lots of unexpected and inspiring ways - well done to everyone who entered! 

As with any competition, we did have to pick a winner, and we thought that Angelb35's entry, 'Interviewing Destiny', took the challenge into a unique direction. The story highlighted issues of pollution, our interpretation of the Earth as a woman and mother, and was linguistically and metaphorically, a beautiful submission to top it all off! 

Congratulations Angelb35!!

We had a chat with Angelb35 to find out some more about her story... 

WEbook: Hi Angel, Congratulations on winning! You chose a very powerful subject for this month’s challenge - what inspired you to write about this particular female figure? 

Angel: This character, Destiny Travers, is the main character of my novel, 'Manifesting Destiny'. I chose her for my subject in this challenge because she is a very strong, yet very vulnerable, female figure. She has immense power to effect the lives of those with whom she comes in contact, but is helpless to save her own life.

WB: This is a very emotive piece of writing, is it a subject that you feel strongly about? 

Angel: Yes, I do feel very strongly about the slow and agonizing death that we are causing to our planet. The Earth is our home, our mother, we cannot exist without her. Humans as a race tend to be too self involved to realize the damage that we inflict on our environment. We can't see past the ends of our own noses.

WB: You mention several items in the story such as bacon, coffee and cigarettes and you reference the Industrial Revolution, was it your intention to highlight these in order that you could demonstrate the lack of care we take of our bodies as well as the planet? 

Angel:  The short answer to this question is 'Yes'. I reference the Industrial Revolution to illustrate that once humans attained sufficient power to make our own lives easier, we began to dump hazardous toxins by the ton into the air, water and soil that we require to sustain life. I frequently use bacon as a tongue in cheek metaphor to illustrate how we destroy animals by the thousands and consume an excess of protein and meat, just because it tastes good. I use tobacco and coffee to show that we take nature's gifts, natural medicines, and we abuse and misuse them in spite of the life threatening illnesses that come from this behavior. Tobacco use is particularly abusive not only to ourselves, but to those around us. Many of us continue to pump toxic smoke into our lungs and the lungs of anyone nearby, with little consideration. 

WB: Do you think that the Sci-Fi aspects of Destiny's history and character help to distance the story from connotations of religion and creationism? 

Angel: I use the sci-fi aspect of this character to illuminate some of my ideals that may not be 'mainstream'. I believe that it is simple arrogance to believe that we are alone in this universe, whether we were created or evolved. Also, I believe that we are all visitors to this planet. She existed long before we did, and will continue to exist for long after we're gone. We must pass her care on to our children, the next generation of visitors, in better condition than we received it in. That is not happening. 

WB: The reporter is male, do you think that is significant in the contact of the story?

Angel: Yes. The reporter is male because in spite of years of women's lib movements worldwide, men are still largely in charge of the fate of the world. This may not be a popular concept, but it is the truth. In the hands of this reporter, like in the hands of the world leaders, the fate of Destiny, and the fate of Earth rests.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Angel, and congratulations on you win! We look forwards to reading more about Destiny and other pieces of writing from you in upcoming competitions!

We are always looking for new ways to challenge our WEbook members, and our Women's History Month Competition was run at the suggestion of a member - if you have a good reason for us to run another writing competition like this one, let us know! E-mail with your suggestions, or tweet us @WEbook

The WEbook Team

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