Today, I bring you an interview with award winning multi-gene author Tyler Wittkofsky. He is also a mental health advocate. Tyler's own mental health struggles have influenced his writing, and he hope it inspires others to seek out the support they need.
Today is the 1st of June, and guess what? Tyler's new book titled 'The Seeds of Love', is released today, and will be the first in a series. So, let's find out a bit more about the author.
Tell me about yourself
My name is Tyler Wittkofsky, I am a published author and mental health advocate from Leland, North Carolina. I am a two-time graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with degrees in marketing and business analytics. I have a wife, Grace, and two dogs, Dutch and Belle.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing all of my life, but really got back into it about two years ago when I wrote my first book ‘(Not) Alone.’
Tell me about your debut book of poetry tilted ‘Coffee, Alcohol, and Heartbreak: A Poetry Collection’. It sound like it is full of emotion, written during a dark time in your life.
When I was going through one of the darkest times of my life, my mental health was at its worst and I was unmedicated, ashamed of my diagnosis. I wrote this collection over four years. They were my escape from reality, my expression of how I was feeling. I remember sitting outside my college classroom writing these poems on my phone all the way from Community College to University. They hold a special part in my life, and you can kind of tell what my life was like at the time. There are major shifts in emotions from one poem to another, but that's the beautiful thing about being human.
You are a Mental Health advocate. Does this passion inspire most of your work?
Absolutely. I want to make it a normalized topic and I’m not afraid to explore it. I want to make people realize that their mental illness isn’t anything to be ashamed of, that it isn’t something that prevents you from being successful. I want to make a difference, and I’ve always said if I can make one person laugh or smile everyday, I’m doing something worth doing. More people need to understand what it’s like to battle mental illness so that they can be better prepared to help their loved ones.
You have a book being released on the 1st of June titled ‘The Seeds of Love’ (Sunflower Kisses Book 1) Can you tell me more about it?
‘The Seeds of Love’ is my first stab at writing the romance genre and is the first of a five novel series I have planned. I’ve written romantic scenes before in some of my work, but never a full fledged novel. I’m a hopeless romantic and I love those cheesy rom-com movies (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days is my favourite) and wanted to give it a try. I have always been a hopeless romantic. In fact, my now wife and I lived three hours a part when we first met, so I had to be creative with how I showed her my love. There are parts of ‘The Seeds of Love’ that are loosely based on my life and my relationship with my wife. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of romance books that tackle long distance relationships, but with the way our world is becoming more connected digitally, those types of relationships are becoming more and more frequent and those stories need to be told. I loved writing it, it felt good to be able to showcase this young couple’s love, but also highlight the struggles they have to overcome. It has ups and downs throughout the story, but I wrote it like a real relationship. The honeymoon period, then the trials and tribulations.
What does your writing process look like?
My writing process is a bit sporadic. I try to dedicate an hour a day to writing when I’m working on a project, but it doesn’t always happen like that. Typically I’ll start writing and write for hours because I’m so inspired. I’ll plot and plan the book in my mind while I’m driving or while I’m laying in bed at night. I have so many spreadsheets that help me to keep track of characters, plot points, locations, etc.
What does writing success look like to you?
Writing success to me is being able to write full-time. I would love to get to a point where I can write full-time and be able to comfortably live.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Blurbs. I hate writing blurbs. I can write an entire novel, but when it comes time to summarize it in a paragraph I forget how to write.
What has been one of the most surprising things you have learned creating your stories?
One of the most surprising things I have learned creating my stories is how hard marketing your book really is. My degree in college was in marketing, so I have a good understanding of the concept. But finding your right target audience, creating graphics that catch attention, and overall ads and promotions is like a second job.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I would say my spirit animal would be a deer. They represent love and kindness, which is something I try to live my life by and express in my writing.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing I like to spend time with my wife and dogs. I love playing board games and card games and binging our favorite shows. I volunteer my time to nonprofits and youth sports as well.
Thank you to Tyler for sharing the inspiration behind his work. If you would like to check out his work, click on the links below.