Welcome to Author Interview Thursday hosted by the Never Too Old for YA and NA Books group on Goodreads.
Today we welcome Shereen Vedam! You may know some of her books:
You can find all her books HERE.
And you can buy her books HERE.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
No. I work in business administration analyzing data, developing systems to track information, and graphing trends. Writing isn’t my career. It’s my joy.
My work, however, has influenced my writing process, in that I tend to graph chapter sizes to space them out equally. When I edit, I color code dialogue, narrative, action and description to ensure they are well balanced. I even have a macro that will highlight weak words like ‘always”, ”very” and“ comfortable”, also words ending in “ing”, and unnecessary, passive or wordy phrases like “with her”, “for you”, “of the”, “going to” “think”, etc. I don’t eliminate all of these words, but the macro does make me aware of words that I might be overusing.
In other words, I’m a nerd in writing as well as in my day job.
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
A novella, about 2 months, with another to edit. A full-length novel, multiply that by 3.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
Good question! And this probably also speaks to my analytical nature, but I love themes and view them as part and parcel of my world building process.
First, I decide on 3 abstract concepts that speak to me for a particular story idea. It helps if these concepts are connected to our basic human needs, because then the concepts will connect an author’s work more intimately to a reader experience of that work. This happens because we all share similar needs and desires. Search for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and you’ll find a wealth of thematic concepts that are connected to our deepest intrinsic desires.
Once I’ve chosen my concepts, let the world building begin!
1) I sow each concept into my imaginary world’s foundation;
2) I merge them into my main story lines, and
3) I ensure the concepts are central to my secondary characters’ lives.
For example, for my current project, the 3 thematic concepts I want to work with are:
a) water, essential for life in so many crucial ways (this is a basic survival need from Maslow’s Level 1);
b) respect, for others and by others toward us (Maslow’s Level 4); and
c) ability to accept facts of life (the highest level we can reach in Maslow’s hierarchy, Level 5).
The craft part in this process involves doing this work in such a way that the themes play out subconsciously in a reader’s mind, not overtly. So much so, that if you ask a reader what the themes were in the book, they might say nothing stands out, but the story really spoke to me.
In A Beastly Scandal, the book that’s currently out, the three concepts were:
a) Food (Maslow’s Level 1)
b) Sexual intimacy (Maslow’s Level 3)
c) Self-esteem (Maslow’s Level 4)
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Usually on weekends.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
There is no balance. If we carved out my life like a pie chart (you guessed I’d bring up graphing again, didn’t you), writing would take up the biggest slice.
What elements do you think make a great story line?
Great characters, everything else is window dressing.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Learning to edit. I’m still learning. I hope I never stop.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Too many to count. My favorite book is always the one I’m currently working on.
Do you have a favorite character?
In A Beastly Scandal, that would have to be Earnest, the Irish Wolfhound pup. He stole the limelight in every scene.
Where do you write?
In my office.
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
What directed, and continues to direct me, is my basic laziness. I enjoy other people giving me editorial guidance, proofing my work, producing a cover and a trailer, formatting my book, etc. And, getting back to the laziness issue, I don’t want to have to do the work of finding various people to do all that work for me. So I enjoy having a publisher who does all that and am willing to share my royalties in exchange for this time-saving, quality service.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
Funny thing about that. I suspect my sister-in-law wants a signed copy of A Beastly Scandal, and was sorely disappointed when she didn’t receive one for Christmas. That’s because I was saving it for her birthday. It went in the mail to her earlier this month (she lives across the country, on the eastern end of Canada). I hope she likes it.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love traveling. Hope to go to San Antonio, TX this July for the RWA convention. Never been to Texas before. In the past I’ve traveled to London, Bath and Brighton in the UK and to Spain and Greece. And once I traveled across Canada, province to province.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
This is a lifetime commitment that requires really thick skin, a lot of courage and patience. So settle back, because this is going to be one heck of a ride.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
My inspiration, years ago, was Enid Blyton. My stories have a lot in common with hers because friendships play a big role in both our work, as people who are young, or young at heart, have fun and exciting adventures together, and along the way, form a stronger bond with each other.
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
My critique group and my local RWA chapter are an invaluable resource.
Are you working on anything now?
My goal for 2014 is to write the third book to a new series. I plotted this latest book last December and plan to begin writing in March.
Their titles are:
F The Coven At Callington (completed, and was a finalist in a Terry Pratchett fantasy contest a couple of years back),
F The Warlock from Wales (completed), and
F The Love Spell in London (my 2014 writing project).
While my first 4-book NA Regency romance series (contracted to Belle Books/ImaJinn Books) were FAIRYTALE-INSPIRED Regency romances (i.e. their plots were inspired by well-known fairytales, with paranormal elements woven in), these next 3 are NA Regency romance FAIRY TALES (i.e. they have fairies and dragons and brownies, oh my, and have a “fairytalish” structure). A friend of mine says reading these books is like entering two realms of existence, and watching as one slowly merges with the other.
Thanks so much for stopping by today Shereen! It was great to have you here!
Her mother was a grade school teacher by day, and by night became a put-upon mom of a wandering child. Her father traveled around the world looking for a walkie-talkie doll for a child who loved to do both.
Her family moved her to Canada in the hopes of reining her in and teaching her restraint, but all too soon Shereen moved herself across the country in search of brand new adventures.
She finally landed on Vancouver Island, a new paradise all her own, filled with people and pets and plants (including an awesome giant Weeping Sequoia) that nurture her love of reading, writing and dreaming.
Inspired in the past by outstanding fantasy authors such as Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks, she now devours books by Martha Wells, Terry Pratchett and Hilari Bell.
Shereen has generously offered to give away a Kindle copy of A Beastly Scandal! So fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
I enjoyed reading your interview and wish you the best with your book releases.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Thanks so much, Ashantay! All good wishes are much appreciated.Delete
Enjoyed your interview. I don't think I could ever "chart" anything. For one thing, I'm not that computer literate. And I like writing by the seat of my pants. But I know it works for some people. Maybe someday it will for me.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Everyone has their own method that works best for them, Shirley. Some of the most successful authors write by the seat of their pants. It's a great way to let the creative energy flow. :)Delete