Author Joanna Volauka writes sci-fi, fantasy, and dabbles in horror of the creepy-but-not-slasher variety. She appreciates a good setting description any day of the week and tends to give her pets cameos in the things she writes. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
Hello! My name is Joanna Volavka and I’m a bit all over the place, but I’d say the key things to know about me are that I love animals, I love to travel, and I geek out about things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Disney! My day jobs have tended to be in conservation or environmental education, and I’m always usually volunteering if I’m not working for an animal place. My first job out of college was as a zoo educator and I still love teaching people about animals!
When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote my first book at the age of four. It was called Silvia the Flower, and I illustrated it as well, then dictated the words for my mother to carefully print onto the pages, which were stapled together. I don’t think I ever really stopped.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This is a difficult question as there are days where I still don’t think of myself that way! Writing has been a thing that I “do” for a very long time, though. I decided that I wanted to be an author in 7th grade, though.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My current book is called Threadwalkers, and it’s a time travel story about a girl whose life seems to be unraveling around her until her best friends forget her and her mother vanishes into thin air! She has to find a way to stop people who have gone into her past to try and erase her before they succeed. Think of it like A Wrinkle in Time meets Back to the Future and you’ve got it!
What inspired you to write this book?
This story started as a sort of mental game I play with myself where I follow thoughts along a logical course to come up with an interesting solution—in this case, what type of scientific explanation might there be for ghost sightings? I thought, well, what if we aren’t seeing ghosts in the classical sense, but just thin parts in the fabric of spacetime and are witnessing the same location with living people, just at another point in time? And then what if you could affect things on the other side? The story grew from there.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I am a total word-vomiter and I have no shame in admitting it! I sit down and just dump everything in my head onto the page. My attitude is badly written words are better than none at all—it can all be fixed in editing! And once I get into the mental zone of writing, I find that the ideas just flow naturally, which is nice.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The title of Threadwalkers is the name of an important group of people in the book, and to which the protagonist belongs. But I don’t want to spoil anything for you if you read it!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Threadwalkers emphasizes the importance of family and friendships, and of finding yourself in the middle of life feeling like it’s in complete upheaval, which I think anyone who has ever gone through adolescence can relate to.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
I have never, to my knowledge, traveled through time, except in the regular way; that is to say, I’ve only moved forward and the usual rate of 24 hours a day.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I think that we are all combinations of the various books we’ve read, so it’s hard to pinpoint a single style. Authors I admire may not be very similar to me, but I still enjoy them and can learn a lot from them. I love Maureen Johnson’s narrative voice and the way she can set a scene; I admire the way Libba Bray builds worlds that feel so fully developed; I love a good mystery and have devoured everything by Agatha Christie I could ever get my hands on.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My biggest advice for other writers is to just keep doing it, plugging away bit by bit. I still feel like I have so much to learn, and even just going through the publication process is an education so that I learn more with each stage from the first draft through figuring out what the heck to say when I sign a book. (I’m still looking for creative things to write other than just signing my name, so feel free to make suggestions!) I think the other thing is that persistence really is the name of the game, and don’t take rejections personally. I viewed my querying process for this book a lot like online dating—sure the rejections were discouraging, but if the other person said no, then it wasn’t a good match anyway! I had to wait for the right match.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you all so much for investing in this story! My book sells pretty much by word of mouth alone, and I appreciate each and every one of you who have read the book, written a review, or recommended it to a friend. Thank you. (And a special thank you to those who have sent me your favorite dinosaur. If this applies to you, then you know what I mean.)
San Diego, CA
Publisher: 50/50 Press