Q&A With Author Valerie Willis
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Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what kind?
Absolutely! In fact, music is a big part of my writing. Each novel I work on has its own playlist that I am constantly adding to as it helps me picture certain moments in the storyline. The type or genre of music varies due to the story and characters. Most can find a good mix of classical, metal, rock, alternative, pop, and more mixed into these playlist. For example, the “Cedric” series tends to have a blend of rock, metal, and classical music from Three Days Grace to E.S. Posthumus to even Garbage.
Have you self-published a book? How did you find your experience?
All of my work has been self-published due to a push from a few agents who gave me some resources and encouragement to do so. I was super nervous to go this route, but once I dove deeper into the details and process I found it to be a better fit for both my writing and my schedule. It has been a very positive experience and I am thankful for all my college courses in Print and Graphic Design. This is a great option for writers like myself who tend to write cross-genre stories instead of a single focus.
Which do you find harder to write: the beginning or conclusion?
The beginning of a story is the hardest thing to write. Why? This is where your story first meets its reader and if you can’t hook them here, then it doesn’t matter what your conclusion even looks like. The first chapter, the first few words and paragraphs, can either keep a reader or push them away. I find myself constantly fretting over this; editing, revising, and experimenting with the first chapter more than any conclusion I have written. Here you need to leave the reader no doubts as to WHY they will be diving any further into your book.
How do you plan your stories? Do you use storyboards?
Planning is essential. This is how I keep writer’s block to a non-existent state. Being an artist and writer, you will find stacks of sketchbooks filled with notes, outlines, character roughs, biographies, and much more in my bookshelves or stacked on my desk. I plan out the start, the end, and slowly fill in the major events needed to connect these points. After that, it comes down to what the character needs to experience in order to grow and be ready for their own story’s conclusion. It’s a combination of storyboarding and brainstorming when you look at it all.
Where do you find your inspiration for characters?
I’ve pulled inspiration from many places. It spans from dreams, music, history, or mythology. For example, I was lying in bed when TOOL’s “Laterlus” came on the radio. Closing my eyes, I enjoyed hearing it for the first time and as the song progressed, I started picturing what sort of character a song like this might represent. Soon after a story and background started to build up as I brainstormed and outlined beyond the character’s creation. Plotting out a story becomes a snowball effect at this point for me, and then I find myself exploding to write it all down.
Valerie Willis is known for her wild imagination and ability to express her creative ideas through writing and art. Fantasy romance readers can look forward to the “Cedric” series, an on-going series that blends history, mythology, and her own imagination. The first book in this series, Cedric the Demonic Knight, has received high ratings and great reviews. She also aims to finish her “Tattooed Angels” trilogy for teens by Spring of 2016.
Do you ever listen to music when you write?