Tag Archives: books

Author Interview: Victoria Grefer

I met Victoria via google+. I enjoyed many of her posts there and eventually we fell to chatting about writing. I decided to download her novel The Crimson League and discovered a delightful fantasy novel. Naturally, I needed to invite her for an interview here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Victoria GreferMy name is Victoria Grefer. I’m a fantasy novelist, and I’ve always loved language, especially foreign languages. I studied Spanish in college, and I’m fluent. I can also read French and Portuguese. I love American football, and even once had a professor tell me once, “It’s not often you associate the hyper-intellectual with the sports fan.” I still don’t know whether to consider that a compliment or to be offended, but I know my football stats. I also love cats, and cribbage, and sitcoms.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing in the third grade. My first stories were about me and my friends solving mysteries. They were short, and no one ever knew who the “bad guy” would be; I didn’t exactly have a real plot or context clues in place. I started writing because I had always loved stories. I loved reading, especially Nancy Drew books.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The moment I first considered myself a writer was when I finished the first draft of my second novel. I was twenty-two, and really excited to have two novels under my belt. A first edited novel—no matter how bad it was, and believe me, mine’s pretty bad—and a completed draft of something else helped me find the confidence to call myself a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My most recent book is titled The King’s Sons. It’s book three in my Herezoth trilogy, wrapping everything up, so writing it was an emotional experience.
Herezoth is a fictional kingdom where some people are born with magic in their blood, though the majority aren’t. True sorcerers are rare, as magic was forsworn through the ages as public opinion turned against it. Nevertheless, sorcerers still are born on occasion. Most “magicians” in Herezoth have remnants of sorcery, which means they are born with a single, subtler power: telekinesis, or the ability to read minds through touch, for example. Each installment of my trilogy involves the heroes standing up against an enemy who can bring powerful magic to his or her aid.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote a first and then a second Herezoth novel. Then I realized my characters weren’t finished. My sorceress protagonist from book one, the king, the sorcerer Duke of Ingleton: my favorite characters were screaming at me that they had unfinished business.

I’m so glad I wrote The King’s Sons. I love how the plot of book three is the cumulative effect of events that unfold both in book one and book two. Magical artifacts that appear in book one to a small degree become vital to efforts to maintain peace in the final installment.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My teacher in my senior-level English class once told me, “You write like Hemingway.” What she meant is that I value clarity and conciseness over baubles and a string of dependent clauses. I say what needs to be said with as few words as possible and little adornment. I admire writers who can write beautiful, breathtaking scenes of description, but that’s not something I’m good at.

One other thing associated with my style is that each of my novels is a completed story in itself. That’s why I was able to have book two take place fifteen years after book one. Book three takes place ten years after book two.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Book one in my trilogy is titled The Crimson League, after a resistance group that rises up to fight a sorcerer who has stolen the crown. Book two is titled The Magic Council. Since I was writing a trilogy, I wanted a title for book three that fit the mold: The (Descriptor) (Noun). I settled on The King’s Sons because it draws attention to two of my favorite characters: Hune Phinnean, the youngest of three princes, and protagonist Vane Unsten, the Duke of Ingleton. He considers the king the closest thing to a father he’s ever known.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I didn’t write with a message in mind. That said, I think there’s a strong thematic link between all three installments of my trilogy: the necessity in this world of taking a stand for what is right and being faithful, honest, and selfless, even when the price for that is heavy. Dignity and self-respect are priceless.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I was surprised when I started editing The King’s Sons to realize my life situation at the moment I was writing was reflected in the story, although distorted, of course. One character named Francie, a member of the king’s Magic Council, is attacked and almost killed after ten years of service. (This is the prologue, so it’s not a spoiler). This brings about a quarter-life crisis.

When I wrote about Francie, I was considering withdrawing from a doctoral program in Spanish literature, though I was in my third year and had already earned a Master’s degree. I had always thought I wanted to be a professor; I had gotten things wrong, and a lot of what Francie struggles with on an existential level in The King’s Sons, I also was confused about. Frustrated about.

I did leave my program. It was the right call for me. Honestly, I think developing the character of Francie and seeing her overcome much greater obstacles than what I faced gave me the courage to make that decision.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was my first introduction to fantasy literature, and made me fall in love with magic. My personal novels owe a lot to her. As a writer, I admire how Rowling never gave up, even though she was rejected many times by agents. I also admire the depth and heart to be found in Rowling’s secondary characters. Not just everyone can achieve that, and I feel that the overall richness of her cast of characters by far outweighs any of the problems with her books. I strive to make sure my secondary characters have depth like that.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

Victor Hugo. His masterpiece Les Misérables is by far my favorite novel ever written, for the beauty of its story and its message of faith, sacrifice, and redemption. It truly has helped shape the person that I am. I learned French to be able to read the book as Hugo wrote it!

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Brad Covey designed my covers. He approached me, after we met on Twitter and became friends, with some ideas and proofs for covers, and I was thrilled to go along with them. He is talented, friendly, and always willing and able to incorporate any needs the author has. I am constantly getting compliments on the covers he designed for me.

I love how Brad’s covers—through the use of architecture and statuary—not only designate fantasy very clearly, but also hint of the richness of Herezoth’s history. The legacy of magic and magic’s abuse in the past is something my characters cannot avoid, no matter how they try.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write for you, not to please others. This is key. So key, in fact, that the title of my upcoming writer’s handbook, expanded from the content on my blog, is Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.

Write to fulfill whatever part of you needs to create in order to feel fulfilled. Be pleased with your stumbles, not frustrated, as long as they’re stumbles propelling you in the right direction. Remember, we all need time to figure out the way to approach writing that works for us, personally, because no two writers have the same process. It’s a very individual thing. Never think you’re doing something wrong because you’re doing it differently than someone else.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time to give me and my novels a chance. It’s very humbling when some tells me they’re reading my novel; that means more to me than I can say.

The Crimson League Book CoverVictoria Grefer
Chicago, Illinois

Cover Artist: Brad Covey



No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome to another Monday of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. My surfing this week has gone a little in new directions, tending more toward reading and genre than in the craft of writing itself. I hope this change of pace proves to be refreshing! Enjoy.

Writing by hand. Modern day fetish?

What Every Writer Needs to Know About Copyright

Marvel Comics and Film Noir – What they taught me about writing.

9 Awards You Don’t Want to Win

New DRM Will Change the Words in Your E-Book

10 Things You Don’t Want In Your Novel

5 decades of books, 5 Genres and African writers who’ve found unique and refreshing ways to tell the African story.

Writing Fantasy: A Short Guide To The Genre

How to Make Adverbs Work for You

Believe in Your Drawer Novel—Even the Book that’s Doomed to Sit in the Dark Can Help You Become an Author

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week, I revisited blogs that I haven’t viewed in awhile. I found a nice article from David Hewson about his popular Scrivener book “Writing a Novel with Scrivener”, which I highly recommend. An articles about world building. Finally, a very nice tutorial video on how to use the copy editing software Smart Edit. Enjoy!

Storyville: Tips on Putting Together a Short Story Collection

10 Ways to Start Your Story Better

Worldbuilding: Thinking Inside The Box

10 Things Aspiring Novelists Should Know

Writing A Novel with Scrivener Keeps on Running

How to De-Clutter Your Mind and Become a More Productive Writer

Using a Critique Checklist, or, How Not to Look Like a Twit

Are You Meeting Your Writing Goals? Try These Productivity Tips For Writers

Inserting Images in Scrivener

Smart-Edit Software Video Tutorial

Author Interview: Mary Louise Davie

Being a science fiction writer myself, I appreciate authors that take the time to delve into the actual science of the universe and then wrap it around their story effectively. Mary Louise Davie is such an author and it is my great pleasure to introduce her to the readers of No Wasted Ink.

Mary Louise Davie - AuthorMy name is Mary Louise Davie, I love the scientific, the theoretical and I love the morning sky. I grew up in Scotch Plains, NJ and now live in West Milford, NJ where there are sunsets on lakes and bears and deer; Very conducive to creative thoughts.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was about eight. I remember a ‘novela’ I wrote when I was eight with an OakTag cover and written on that paper that has the lines to guide your writing and blank space at the top to draw a picture. It was a story that took place in the Pyrenees, about a little girl and her horse, a Palomino.
I liked the feeling I got when I wrote, when I was inside the world I created.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was eleven I wrote poetry. I loved TS Elliott and mimicked his style. An English teacher I had took my poetry to her graduate professor and based on his commentary it went on from there. I began to recognize that writing was part of who I am.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Earth has suffered tremendously – from the climate changes that have made North America into a frozen tundra and Europe into a desert. The oxygen of the world has been depleted causing people to require protective suits and oxygen masks. Travel is curtailed thanks to constant solar storms which also make communications spotty. The governments of the world put a moratorium on war and work together to build three space ships in the low gravity environment of the moon: the Memnoch, the Clinton, and the Sanacion. This follows the Sanacion and its mission to travel fourteen light years to a black hole, go down the black hole, use a bomb of star material to blow a hole in it and escape to a new universe and a new earth. At least that’s the plan. Several hundred people on a ship, some military some civilian, there’s going to be conflict. This tells the story on several different levels from Colonel Steve Jensenn who commands the Sanacion with Lenora his second in command or Jake who is the civilian leader and leads a revolt over the panic about facing the black hole and the singularity. It is an adventure of humanity out in the universe.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was researching the black hole from a scientific point of view, running the equations, reading all that was written about and it led me down a path to a thought experiment. I took that thought experiment and placed characters in it and let them tell me what happened and this became the book. Their lives and the science combined.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I do not use one particular style. When I was at University of Maryland, I learned a major lesson in my creative writing class that echoed things my mother had taught me. You can be creative in Expository Writing. It was as if it opened up the flood gates and my writing style was born.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Sanacion pronounced (sa•na•ción) is a Spanish word that means healing. Given the Earth’s state and the need for a healing of mankind, it felt right to name the ship and the book Sanacion The Black Hole Mission is the heart of the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message is in humanity. Finding out what the scientific truths are even when they weren’t what they thought before, the conflict that is always there, be it between military and civilian or individuals such as Steve and Kevin; the tale is a cautionary tale and one of the little and big triumphs as mankind finds his ( or her ) way in the universe and in life. Hopefully mankind is able to overcome the pitfalls that he brings on himself.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

While none of the experiences are truly based on anyone or any event, as an author I am sure that some slip in.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

TS Elliott and Arthur C Clarke are my biggest influences. TS Elliott for his precise word choices and Arthur C Clarke for his descriptions and ability to stir imaginations of readers and scientists alike.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

To be honest, she wasn’t a writer but the lessons she taught especially regarding English and literature gave her the role of mentor. My mother was an English Teacher. She always shared her love of reading or of correct grammar, of writing styles and much more. She taught me so much over the years and I hope she knows how much a part of me what she taught has become.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The art was done by Tom Rodriguez. I was inspired by a picture of a black hole swallowing its companion star and he turned it into a picture that translated into Sanacion. He was selected because he is one of the best.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

First, read lots, and second write every day, in a journal, short stories, whatever format feels comfortable. Lastly find your voice and genre. It may not be in the first one you try, but when you find it, the writing will become natural. Oh, and one more – follow your characters. I may decide what happens over all in my books, but in the specific scenes the characters go where they choose and develop on their own.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have really enjoyed seeing those of you who come out to the conventions or talking to you on line. From talking about science in general to Sanacion: The Black Hole Mission, and in answer to one of your most frequent questions, the next book Sanacion: We Are The Aliens will be out in several months. And to those that haven’t read me yet, I’d love you to start the journey now, but if not you can join in any time the next book doesn’t need you to read this one first, though it does enhance the experience!

Sanacion The Black Hole Mission Home Book CoverMary Louise Davie
West Milford, NJ

I am an author who loves all things above the exosphere and who would stow away on a mission to Mars in a heartbeat. Space is my passion and writing is sharing my vision with you.

Cover Art: Tom Rodriguez
Publisher: Brighton Publishing


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksI have lots of great offerings for you to peruse today. From writing tips, to classic literture, to more about the kerfuffle going on at SFWA. Enjoy!

18 People Who Missed The Point Of Classic Novels

Speech Tags Speak Louder Than Words

Triberr and Blog Promotion: It Does Actually Work

Why Good Writers Sometimes Give Bad Advice

Video: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

25 Things To Know About Sexism & Misogyny In Writing & Publishing

The Zombie Robert Heinlein Rises From the Grave Yet Again to Annoy the Politically Correct

10 Ways to Start Your Story Better

Are e-books good for your eyes?

New press hits on ‘third way’ between traditional and self-publishing