Author Spotlight with Victoria Wren
Get to know the lovely Victoria Wren in this exclusive interview.
Victoria lives in Essex, in the UK, with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Since the age of thirteen, she has written short stories and novels for young adults, creating worlds she wished were real and characters dear to her soul. A huge fan of paranormal fiction, Victoria loves writing stories that will capture your imagination, and scare the life out of her kids or anyone who wants to read her work. She is the proud author of the Wild Spirit series and looks forward to publishing more books this year.
Oh how I am thrilled to have you here Victoria. Now I have stopped harassing you about how brilliant I found the first book in your Wild Spirit series, and how I jumped up and down knowing there is more to read. It made my day. What was your reason and inspiration for inventing this world surrounding Cedar Wood, and Win and her magical family?
It came to me during the first lockdown, but the character herself had been kicking around for some time. I’d never quite found the right place for her, and when my work came grinding to a halt, I had a chance to delve into the world. I love small-town stories, where everyone is linked, everyone knows everyone, and there are no safe places to hide secrets. So I loved the idea of this small, American town, linked with witchcraft but actually hid a great big mystery in the heart of these vast, spooky woods, and then Win comes home to navigate her way through this world. One of my favourite quotes was "No, we are not witches, but we aren't exactly normal either". How long did it take you to create the 'Curse of Win Adler', did you feel like it was easy to write or did you fall into some sort of difficulty when planning and publishing your book? Often if I start a project, I begin with discovery writing first, seeing where it takes me. I got a few chapters in, then paused because I felt like I’d headed down a dead end. Then with some brainstorming, it came to me, and from there, it flowed. Once I can see the ending, I plot towards it.
The main difficulty in writing was that I’m British and I chose to set my entire story in the USA. But luckily I have some wonderful American beta readers who’ve helped me with US grammar, vernacular, slang, and now I feel like it would be hard to switch back! I did a lot of research about US schooling, all little details that need to be right. I hope I have gotten most of it right! In later books, the characters are going through college years and proms, so that’s been really interesting! For those who don't know about the Wild Spirit books, can you explain to your readers, and the readers of my blog what the first book entails? So in book one, we meet Winifred. She is sixteen years old and her health has taken a huge decline, and is far from the high achieving student she once was. In a last ditch attempt to get her well, her father takes her to her mother’s ancestral home of Cedar Wood to live with her sister and grandfather, where she soon learns her family’s dark past. The Curse of Win Adler was my debut, and an introduction to the world and characters, its full of mystery, dark secrets and an ancient curse. It also explores the strength of family and love, and perseverance. Win does a lot of self-discovery in the first book, and it only touches on the powerful character she becomes in later books in the series.
You say you love Paranormal fiction, here's a question for you. Do you believe in another world, ghosts etc? What are YOUR beliefs? I do love a good mystery and I’m naturally drawn to anything spooky. Although I also always look for a logical explanation! I love a ghost story, and having grown up in a four hundred year old home, a lot of spooky things did happen, some of it couldn’t be explained. So, let’s say I have a very open mind! Have your children read your book, or any of your family? What did they say when they first read it? My girls are a little too young to read it yet! My husband and mum have read it, and other things I’ve written. I think they mostly think I’m quite eccentric and my mum asks why I can’t write a nice romance!
How did you start of wanting to become a writer? You have also written short stories, could you put the link in this interview if you have one so we can delve right into those too?
I think I was about thirteen, and I wrote a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, because of the television programme that was on at the time, it was a reworking of a classic and I absolutely loved it. So I wrote my own, and then other things. I was generally a day dreamer as a child, and I would be up in my room scribbling away. It progressed to full novels when I was in my twenties.
What comes first for you within your writing, do you think your characters are developed first, or is the plot, and the rest follows?
It might sound a little strange, but as I’m quite a visual person, I tend to get an image, or see something that might inspire a feeling or mood, and then from there it’ll be character that comes next, and Win was hanging around in my head for a long time before I found a home for her.
What do you do to relax and set your mind ready for when you write? I used to be a pantser, but now I follow a rough outline, and try to stick with it as much as I can, that way I find I write a lot faster. To get in the mind-set, I usually listen to music while I write, try and clear any jobs or answer any emails beforehand so that I can focus on writing. And then put my phone away! As well as writing, do you enjoy reading? If so, who is your favourite author and why? I do love reading. I used to read a lot of Stephen King, but growing up I was a huge R.L Stein fan, and L.J Smith. Now I read anything and everything and don’t have a favourite author. I have read quite a few indie books this year, some of my writer friend’s books that I adore. Your genre you wrote in the Wild Spirit series is conveyed around Fantasy/Action/Paranormal/Adventure, do you think you will ever spread out to other genres, or stick to one that you know? I would love to write a romance, but would maybe do that under a different name. But I do truly love writing YA, and it always tends to go dark, whatever I write! I particularly love nostalgic YA, the type that I read as a kid, some steam but not too spicy, dark enough to chill your blood but not full on horror. If you have any advice for writers starting out, and struggling to get their first draft done what would you say to them?
I think don’t sweat the small details. I see a lot of writers become very hung up on character details, and while that is important, the small details you can easily add in once you’ve finished. Write it as quickly as you can. I know a lot of writes advice not to even look back, but I find that if I do that, I end up disconnected from the story. So I do think reading over and a light amount of editing works while first drafting, so you don’t feel like you’ve a mountain to climb when you do eventually finish and go back to editing.
Who is your biggest supporter in your life in terms of supporting your writing?
My husband without a doubt.
You are a wife, and a mother to two children, how did you get the time to start to write? I'm a mother myself and I barely have time to go to the toilet on my own without getting interrupted about their siblings breathing in their direction and crying! Ha! How did you manage your time? Any advice for any parents/guardians that they could benefit from? Yes, I do totally get that. When I started this series, we’d just gone into a lockdown and my children were home-schooling, and my day job ground to a halt. As they are older, I manged their home-schooling and got writing in during the afternoons, and it was freeing because there were no clubs to run them to, no places to go or visitors coming over. Now it’s very different because they are back in full swing, so it’s much more difficult to carve out time. I tend to get all my jobs done and then I write in sprints of a couple of hour blocks before the school run. It can be frustrating as I want to hyper focus, but they come first.
Your characters are completely diverse and extremely well developed, who would you say you connect with more inside your novels? Oh, I love them all. I think it might surprise readers but I do identify quite a bit with Ella. I grew up feeling a bit of an underdog, a shy wallflower and it wasn’t until I was writing a short story for her recently that I totally got where she’d come from, which was me. And up to that point I hadn’t realised how similar we were! I love all the characters, even the adults and I also love John, Ben and in the later books Jake and Evan. I adore writing for Luke, creating his snarky voice and for Jake (who comes along in later books) I have a massive dad crush on Jake, and he was the only good thing that came from a failed draft of my third book. I ditched the rest but kept him! I think your writing could make a fantastic TV programme, or a film, and EVEN a game, is this something you'd consider in the future, and who would be your go to, to play your characters? Oh, that’s so nice! I’ve been asked before about actors for my characters, and honestly there was only ever two who I had in mind for the male leads. John Hickory I always saw as a bit of a meld of Kurt Russel and Jeff Bridges, that silver haired, dashing older man. And Grayson, well, to me he had the boy next door look, someone Win would totally fall for and that was Chris Evans. Rowan’s whole look and persona was inspired by an actress from The Walking Dead. I’m often asked this as I ask my cover designer to create character art so I do have to think about how they look, which is so hard! I loved the Grandpa John in this book, and I also had a sense of empathy and confidence for Win, and Rowan, what inspired you for the names of your characters, are they based on anyone you know? I don’t have anyone I know in these books, everyone is totally unique and from my imagination. As for the names, I love old, traditional names, and because the story centres so much on family, those names would have been passed down through the years. Winifred is named after her great grandmother. I have a whole family tree mapped out for them, going back to the 1800s, and I wanted to weave passing down the family line through the story. All the characters are linked, bound together, which adds to the small town vibe I was going for. You created a magical fantasy world with incredible depictions of the scenery, and spaces between CedarWood and Mercy, and the connection with Boston. I felt as though all the time I was reading this book and it was unravelling that I indeed, was part of this world myself. Is this what you wanted the reader to achieve? Yes, absolutely, I’m so pleased you felt like that. The town, the houses are almost like characters to me, they have their place and history within the story and it becomes really important the further along the book series you read.
How long did it take you to realise that your book was not a standalone novel, and infact, you could write up many more to make up this series? It was as soon as I was nearing completion of the first book. I knew Win wasn’t going to make her final ‘transformation’ in the first novel, it was more about getting her stronger, ready to face the changes to come. And there is a pretty formative ‘event’ that sparks her change in book two and I knew that it needed its own book. I actually feel like there is enough story and enough world to keep going and going, but I do need to stop somewhere. Maybe book six? Tell us something we don't know about you! We can keep your secrets! Have you ever googled yourself?
God, no, I wouldn’t dare. It’s not a secret but in my real, non-author life I’m a makeup artist and have been working in the wedding industry for the last twenty years. I’ve made up a lot of bride’s faces, and they have plenty of dramas believe me. But I love it.
What do you like to do to relax? I love movies, and my favourite TV series. But a nice bath is good, while the kids let me. Although my eldest is getting to that bathroom hogging stage so I don’t get long! Can you tell us something about the future in store for you, and what us readers and followers can expect in your current projects? I have lots of projects in the future that I’m really excited about. I’m finishing up the fourth book in the series and hoping to send it to my trusted beta readers soon. I also have another short YA series that I’d like to write, which might be after I outline book five. I’m also in the process of writing a new adult standalone fantasy, which I’m really looking forward to getting out next year!
Thank you so much for taking the time to have this interview with me. I really appreciate the time and your effort in your fantastic creative writing! Take care!
To buy Wild Spirit, The Curse of Win Adler, check out the link below!
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