Today I am launching the first of many author interviews and I am kicking things off with Victoria Grefer. Victoria is the author of The Herezoth trilogy and the recently released “Writing For You”.

Brad Covey: Thanks for doing the interview Victoria! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 Victoria GreferI’ve always been a bit of a hybrid between a creative type and an academic type. In addition to writing fiction and a ton of bad poetry I don’t show to anybody (haha), I’m a scholar of Spanish literature. I came pretty close to getting a doctoral degree and becoming a professor, but realized the lifestyle of academia was not for me, even though I loved the atmosphere of learning. Spanish literature has influenced my fantasy fiction in a lot of ways, from the magic language my sorcerers speak all the way to the characters I write.

BC: You recently released the third novel in your Herezoth trilogy, “The King’s Sons”. Can you tell us a bit more about it and how it was crafting the trilogy?

 VG“The King’s Sons” might be my favorite book in the trilogy just because it brings everything that passes in the other books to a head and unites some of my favorite characters in a common cause: fathers and sons, nieces and uncles…. The trilogy takes place over 25 years, with each book telling the story of a crisis in the kingdom of Herezoth that’s somehow linked to the others. With that amount of time, I was able to work with multiple generations of characters and watch characters grow and develop as they enter different stages of life. I really enjoyed that aspect of writing my trilogy.

My experience writing a trilogy might be different from that of other authors who have penned a series. I didn’t realize when I started, or even when I wrapped up the first installment of the trilogy, “The Crimson League,” that I was writing a trilogy. The first novel could almost stand on its own, but I knew when I finished it that my characters weren’t finished yet. They were shouting that at me. So I wrote a sequel, and then a third book that wrapped up all the overarching arcs and subplots. That made me feel it was time to stop.

BC: Are any of the characters in the Herezoth trilogy inspired by real people?

 VGI try not to base characters off real people. I do have a couple of characters based off famous characters, though. Laskenay in “The Crimson League” is based to some degree on Fantine from “Les Misérables.” She’s not a prostitute, but she’s dealt with a lot of loss in life the way Fantine has. Also, Zacry Porteg is based off the literary type of the picaro: the crafty, cunning boy in dire straights forced to trick and steal his way out of bad situations. The picaro originated in sixteenth and seventh century Spanish literature, which was my area of focus in grad school.

BC: Have you ever written something that one of your characters has done that annoyed you in real life?

 VGThat’s an awesome question! I kind of wish I could say yes, but I look inward more than outward when I craft a character, so if anything, my characters are reflections of me. Their annoying habits are my annoying habits. One of my favorite characters, Kansten Carder, is a young woman fighting in the resistance who has a penchant for complaining and looking on the negative side of things. I definitely tend to be that way when I’m open with someone and truly acting unguarded.

BC: Tell us a bit more about your brand new release, “Writing For You”.

 VG“Writing for You” came together because of my creative writing blog, Every day I write about creative writing or marketing creative writing, so I organized, expanded, and added new content to my posts, arranging it all into chapters of a writer’s handbook. The end result is a mix of my personal experience as an author as well as what I’ve learned about the “science” of writing through four years of graduate courses in literature and literary criticism.

My favorite thing about “Writing for You” is its range. It covers not only writing mechanics, but also the emotional struggles we writers tend to face, such as the dreadful inner editor who’s always telling us we can’t write anything worth reading. I also have chapters on independent publishing and social media marketing. I’ve had a lot of success on social media, and people have asked me to write blog posts related to social media, so I figured people would find a chapter on using those marketing outlets as an author useful.

BCWhat made you want to release this book?

 VGHonestly, I don’t think I would ever have had the confidence to write or release “Writing for You” if not for my blog following. Over a period of time, various people who stopped by my blog were kind enough to suggest to me that I compile my posts into a book, because that would be something they would want to read. After enough people told me the same thing, I figured, why not? It could be a fun project as well as a useful resource for fellow writers, especially new writers struggling to find their confidence and their voice.

BC: What inspired you to start writing in the first place?

 VGOddly enough, I guess I would have to say the Nancy Drew books! I started reading them in third grade, and I loved them so much that the first things I ever wrote, at age eight, were mystery stories based on Nancy Drew. I’m sure they were absolutely hilarious…. Would really love to read them if I had them still. I have no clue what happened to that notebook, unfortunately.

BC: What has been the most challenging aspect of being an independent author for you?

 VGI think marketing. I’m an academic, not a sales expert, so marketing has been a touch-and-go, learn-as-I-go endeavor. Also, the doubt that comes with publishing can be tough to keep a handle on. Did I publish too soon? Is my work any good, really? That kind of thing.

BC: What’s next for Victoria?

 VGI think another set of Herezoth novels, if all goes well. I have a first draft of the first novel in a new Herezoth series, but it has issues and I’m not sure where to take the overall story arc. If I can get the basics hashed out—and they’re starting to come together—I hope to write at least a two-book series to follow up the original trilogy. It involves some of the same characters as the first books, but in a much more minor capacity. I’m intentionally writing it so that readers won’t have to be familiar with the original trilogy to understand it.

BC: In closing, do you have any words of wisdom for authors just starting their journey into writing?

 VGMake sure you are writing for the right reasons: writing to fulfill yourself in some way. It will be tough in a lot of respects, and you won’t like what you’re producing when you start, but keep writing and reading. The only way to get better is to practice. Writing is like any other skill: you’ll get better the more you do it.

BC: Thank you again for joining me for the interview Victoria, it has been a pleasure.

VGThanks, Brad! It’s been great. Your questions really got me thinking, especially about how I go about forming my characters and where my inspiration comes from. Creative inspiration is such an odd and fickle thing…. I don’t think it works the same way for any two people.

Make sure to pay Victoria a visit at her pages below and I’ll be back next Friday with another interview!

Author links