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August 14, 2017
By Drucilla Shultz
We touch base with last year's finalist from the general fiction category to talk obsessions, second novels, and traditional publishing.

This article is the third in a series that catches up with the finalists from last year’s BookLife Prize.

Prior to being named a BookLife Prize finalist in the general fiction category, Kipp Wessel an MFA graduate from the University of Montana, published short fiction in a dozen publications and taught fiction writing at the University of Montana and the Loft Literary Center.

His debut novel, First, You Swallow the Moona modern tale of heartbreak and wilderness—impressed guest judge and author Eleanor Brown, who said. “The moody, magical backdrop…create[s] a vivid and memorable story for anyone who has suffered heartbreak and loss."

BookLife caught up with Wessel via email to see what he’s up to now and what advice he has for aspiring indie authors.

What has happened as a result of you being a finalist in the 2016 BL Prize?

After being named a BookLife Prize Finalist, the novel received interest from traditional publishers. And that interest inspired me to consider the novel’s broader market potential. It’s still an Indie title, but if it can find the right agent or publishing house—I’d be thrilled to see it widen its reach and audience. The BookLife Prize nudged that door open.

What are you working on now?

My second novel. I’m in the early draft stage. I get to dive in, explore, haul in the nets and comb through the flotsam and jetsam to separate the thumping heart of what’s there. I love this part of the writing process—from obtuse fragments moving through the ether into focus.

What’s one tip that you have for other indie authors?

Write about something you are in love with or obsessed with or both. Preferably both.

Writing a full-length manuscript is a committed relationship. You wake, walk, talk, and sleep with it for the foreseeable future. So, make sure you begin with subject matter you are drawn to absolutely. It helps if that subject matter is larger than you are. Because then you’ll have to work extra hard to find your way into the marrow of its meaning, and for an artist—that’s the challenge that builds its own momentum, stamina, and reward.