William C. Pennington was born in Ankara, Turkey, to an Air Force father and mother. He grew up in Turkey, California, Holland, and Florida. When his third-grade teacher, Miss Jenkins, asked him on the first day in class where his hometown was, he answered he didn't have a hometown. So it was. The world was Will's hometown. When he later gave his heart to the Navy, Will continued traveling his hometown, serving for twenty-seven years at military bases around the globe. His world-wise youth and service gave him insight into cultures most people encounter only in books and documentaries.
Calling upon his well-traveled background, Will writes of the peoples he lived among and the places he calls home. He maintains a writer's blog, Writers Envy, practices his craft earnestly, and fancies reading and writing poetry above all things. A collection of Will's personal essays was published in the anthology Four Feet Down, available on Amazon. He resides in Saint Leonard, Maryland, with his wife, Jayne Michiko Ono, two rescued pups, Yukio and Sachiko, and memories of Smoky, Misty, Toby, and Yoshi. You may follow Will on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may also contact Will at email@example.com.
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Honey Ko: A Novelby William C. PenningtonPublish: Mar 19, 2020Literary Fiction
Four Feet Downby K.J. KlemmePublish: Feb 14, 2015Literary Fiction
I have no memories of Turkey. My father was in the Air Force so we transferred from Turkey to California when I was a year old. I lived in Fairfield, California, and Amersfoort, Netherlands as a child, and grew up in Tampa, Florida. I’d have to say my favorite childhood memory comes from my family’s travels through Bavaria, Germany, on vacation one year. I was seven years old and in awe of the Bavarian Alps and the German countryside. The impact of Germany’s beauty helped form my love of nature and the outdoors. I’ve been a backpacking and canoeing enthusiast my entire life. I also write quite a bit about nature on my blog.Who all are a part of your family? Do they give you any story ideas to write on?
My wife supports my writing and reads my drafts. If they make sense to her then I know I’m on the right track. She’s been my beta reader and editor since my days in college when she reviewed my papers before I turned them in. Her best advice, regarding writing ideas, has always been to write about what I know. I tend to write about the people and parts of the world I’ve seen through the Navy and Air Force, and the Sailors I served with in my twenty-seven years of naval service. I write a lot about love and romance, and about family.Where did you first meet your wife, Jayne Michiko Ono?
Jayne and I met at a nightclub in Pearl City, Hawaii on September 24th , 1985. I was nearing the end of my three-year Navy assignment at Barbers Point Naval Air Station. A friend and I went out that Saturday night to Bully Hayes, a club near Jayne’s home in Pearl City. We spotted each other across the dance floor, but it was Jayne who made the first move. She stood next to my chair until I worked up the nerve to ask her to dance. We married December 14th, 1985.When did you start your writer's blog, Writers Envy?
I made my first blog post in 2012, but I didn’t begin posting regularly until 2016. By 2012, I knew I wanted to take up writing as a hobby if not a profession. I don't post every day, and weeks can go by before I post, but I love writing and have hundreds of drafts in various states of completion. I enjoy writing poetry for the challenge of viewpoint, and also because it helps me tighten my writing. I can be wordy so poetry gives me a way to write more with fewer words.How did you come up with the idea of your book, Honey Ko: A Novel?
I deployed to the Philippines for six-months in 1983 and again in 1985. That gave me a perfect opportunity to observe the interaction between Sailors and Filipinos. I always wanted to write about what I observed but I wasn’t a writer at that point. I didn’t begin writing Honey Ko until December 2013. The impulse to write began with my blog, but I could not figure out how to open the story. One night, while reading in bed, I had a eureka moment! I jumped out of bed and wrote the first chapter that night. The rest flowed after, but I didn’t complete the novel until 2019. I stopped writing for a year to learn how to write, then picked up where I left off. The story went through four major revisions until I was satisfied. I queried over one hundred agents for representation, and was rejected over one-hundred times. To be fair, Honey Ko wasn't in its final form when I queried. However, once I completed Honey Ko, I decided to self-publish rather than go through the tedious and unpromising process of querying agents again. I don't think Honey Ko is the type of story agents want today; it doesn't fit the mold. I do believe Honey Ko would be a best seller with the right marketing. Completing Honey Ko marked another lifelong dream: writing a novel!How was your experience of writing your personal essay in the anthology, Four Feet Down?
Wonderful, painful, liberating, and rewarding. I joined a writing group on Facebook in May of 2013. That first day I submitted the first five-hundred words of Honey Ko to the group for critique. I was smug enough to think they'd be wowed by my excellent writing and storytelling skills. Reality struck instead. Although the group admin said I had good pace, another group member shredded my five-hundred word submission with a fifteen-hundred word critique. I was crushed, but that critique was exactly what I needed. Although I could tell a story and write with excellent grammar and pace, my writing was passive, wordy, undisciplined, and untrained. That's when I stopped writing Honey Ko and let the group teach me how to write. That's also when the group admin asked me to contribute personal essays to the anthology, Four Feet Down. I incorporated what I learned into the essays and by September of that year was a published writer. A dream achieved!Who inspired the character of Tom Nelson, an American Sailor deployed to Olongapo City in the Philippines?
Honey Ko was almost a memoir. Tom is partially based on me, but is really based on all the Sailors who served in the Philippines. I wasn't ready to talk about myself in eighty-thousand words so the memoir idea went by the wayside. I decided instead to describe my observations and experiences through a fictional story and characters. Some of the characters are based on real people, but most were developed to fit the story.Why did you choose to write the literary fiction genre?
By the time I completed Honey Ko, I realized I had almost written a romance. At the time, I didn’t want to market it as romance, but it didn’t seem to fit any sub-genres of fiction. I felt that, since the story was more a character study and less focused on plot, that literary fiction was a better genre choice.Is there anything from the past you wish you could do differently? What is it about?
Oh, definitely! I wish I had started writing when I was a teenager. Just imagine the journals I might have accumulated documenting my life in the Navy. I might have written a library full of novels for folks to read and enjoy, and maybe experience vicariously the places I’ve been and the people I’ve known.Every art form is open to various interpretations and reviews. How do you handle any negative reviews that come your way?
When I took a years’ sabbatical to learn how to write, I learned also that a writer must have lizard skin. That is, the ability to take criticism and either learn from it, or shrug it off if negative. It’s still hard to take negative reviews sometimes.What are some of the most profound "shower thoughts" you've had?
This is the only question that gave me pause. I usually hum or whistle in the shower, or reflect on the day’s events. Often, I’ll work out a writing problem or think of ideas for poems. But profound thoughts? I don’t know, but most of my best ideas seem to come when I have nothing with which to write them down.If you could describe your journey as a writer in 5 words, what would they be?
Heart-wrenchingly difficult but rewarding.How do you maintain that equilibrium between writing what you want and what your readers want?
Right now, I’m writing for myself. As someone who always wanted to write but started late in life, I have a lot to get off my chest. The same thing applies to my blog. I write what moves me, mainly poetry, but also about writing and, as I mentioned earlier in the interview, about my life travels and experiences. I wouldn’t exchange my life as an Air Force Brat and career Navy Sailor for anything. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have lived the life God gave me. I wish every kid could experience the travels and events I have.Which is the next book you are writing? What is it about?
I write about Susanna in Honey Ko. She was my girlfriend while I was stationed in Spain. She died of pneumonia in December 1980. Much of my writing about love could be seen as a “what if” Susanna had lived. My next novel will explore that theme through Sam’s eyes, Susanna’s husband in Honey Ko. I poured my soul into Honey Ko, as I do all my writing, and left a lot of tears on the table. Honey Ko as an almost-memoir contains a lot of me. The parts with Susanna brought back so many memories and caused me to choke back a lot of tears. A lot of happy memories too, though, and laughs and smiles. I have no photographs of Susanna and me, so the words have to do.How has your experience of being associated with AllAuthor been?
Joining AllAuthor was one of the best things I’ve done to support my writing. The opportunity to compare notes with other writers is extremely valuable and learning. The ability to create ads with Gifs and banners for Honey Ko has helped exposure. AllAuthor can best be described as a personal assistant for writers. I very much appreciate the personal involvement of Mady Joshy and his genuine concern for Honey Ko, my first novel, dream fulfilled, and my baby.
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