Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Interview with Author Victoria Hanley

VICTORIA HANLEY is the author of The Seer and the Sword, Healer's Keep, and The Light of the Oracle as well as two books on writing and publishing--Seize the Story and Wild Ink

We will soon be hosting a contest for copies of Healer's Keep! Stay tuned! :)
Here is the interview:

Your YA Fiction books all have interconnected plots or settings. How did you organize all of this in your mind and create three separate stories that are so ingeniously woven together?

I wish I could tell you that I laid all the plots out ahead of time in an outline, but that's not true. When I write, I feel as if I'm groping my way through an unknown land and trying to find a path that surely must be there but isn't yet visible. Once the first draft is finished, I go back to make sure all the threads are woven together in a way that works.

You have also written a few books on writing for young adults. How does this compare to writing fiction, and what inspired you to write these?

Seize the Story, my book on how to write, grew out of leading writing workshops for thousands of teens. I love teaching, and also love seeing the wonderful writing that teens create once they have a few tips. My goal was to write an instruction book that would read more like a novel than a textbook. Wild Ink, which is a guide to publishing YA (young adult) books, was written to clear up many misconceptions about the business side of publishing, and hopefully save would-be writers some of the pangs of trial and error.
Nonfiction was easier in many ways than fiction, because I knew in advance exactly what I wanted to say. No wandering in the dark. :)

What has been your favorite thing about being a Young Adult Fiction author?

I like to say that a young person is a person of any age who wants to do--and WILL do--new things, things with unknown outcomes. Writing for teens keeps me young.

What is one thing about the experience and process of getting published that interested/surprised you the most?

I was almost entirely clueless about the business side of publishing when I started, so there were years of trial and error. Literally every part of the publishing aspect of writing surprised me in some way. (It's all in Wild Ink.)

How do you decide on the natures of your protagonists?

By the time I write about my protagonists, they seem quite real and alive within themselves. That's just the way my mind works--and I'm not alone in that approach; many writers relate to their characters as if they were actual people. The challenge becomes to write accurately so that readers may come to know the characters too.

Did you have any mentors that led you to writing, or did you choose that path without guidance? If so, why?

No mentors, unless you count all the books that I read. I grew up in a household without a TV, so reading was the main source of entertainment! And from early in childhood, I enjoyed making up stories. I didn't seek out mentors because it frankly did not occur to me to do so. It seemed like bringing other people into it would just make it more difficult to trust my own voice. I probably could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble if I'd done things differently, but I'm still glad that I trusted my voice, and still think it's the most important thing every writer must do. (It's also often the most difficult thing.)

What is your fondest memory of being a writer, getting published, etc?

The moment when my first publisher decided in favor of publishing The Seer and The Sword. That's when I knew the dream was real.

Keep dreaming!


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