Today I have the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite authors, Vanessa Wester. I have reviewed Hybrid, Complications and Return from The Evolution Trilogy.
I was introduced to your writing via a tweet asking for honest reviews for Hybrid and fell in love with the characters, reading the entire trilogy and barely putting it down.
I am so grateful that you took a chance on me, and am blown away by how much you liked it. Feedback really does inspire me to continue...
How much of your own personal life was used in creating Steven and Caitlin in the Evolution Trilogy? Were there any influences of people you know in real life used when creating the trilogy and characters?
I don’t want to give too much away, but if I explain a bit about how my writing came about it might help.
A year before 2010, I was all set to go back to teaching (secondary math) when I found out I was pregnant again. After being a stay-at-home mum for seven years, I felt frustrated by my limited choices, regardless of my academic background. My husband works away a lot and I NEEDED an outlet for my imagination and creativity.
However, my third child (a baby girl) was such a gift. I embraced being at home with her and decided that I did not want to go back to work... I wanted to be home for my kids. So when I watched an interview with Stephenie Meyer (yes, I was/am a huge Twilight fan) I finally went for it.
Writing allowed me to talk about things I had experienced... Being at university, falling in love, dealing with different friendship groups from a range of backgrounds, overcoming family issues, coming to terms with pregnancy and the responsibility that comes with it, the frustration of living in a small community, and taking some risks and having fun!
By writing a paranormal trilogy I could also let my love of science fiction and general intrigue loose. I wanted a reasonably plausible story. The fact is that once the ‘first love’ irrational attraction passes you have to consider the reality of being in a relationship and the sacrifices involved. I gave up my career when I had children, yet allowed my husband’s career to flourish. For us as a family, this has been great. But, for my own personal well-being it has been tough at times.
I also witnessed several family tragedies which made me put my own life in perspective... as once said in the movie Titanic, “To making each day count!”
Everything we do has a consequence. That is what I explore in this trilogy.
In the trilogy, we learn of a different type of paranormal being and without creating spoilers, what made you decide to create a paranormal being like these?
This is easier to answer... I am a GEEK GIRL!
I was raised on a diet of Marvel cartoons, Scooby Doo, Fantasy (Enid Blyton books & I love unicorns), and I love GOOD vampires... Thinking of films like The Lost Boys, Interview with a Vampire AND I was obsessed with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (I have always been in love with Angel). Think of my creation as a cross between Spiderman and Angel and you might get there!
Throughout the trilogy we're introduced to an expansive cast of characters, all of which are rich in their backgrounds and personalities. How were you able to keep the characters in the stories realistic and relatable?
I have no idea... but I suspect my huge extended family back in Gibraltar made it easy for me to imagine them all. In Gibraltar, we have a diverse and rich culture where people from many religions and cultural backgrounds respect each other’s traditions and beliefs. I also like having fun making people up!
In addition to The Evolution Trilogy you've published several other stories and a couple of collaborations. Is writing with others harder than writing alone? How do you make writing with one or more authors work?
I only edited some of the author’s stories and it worked out okay. The hard work came in formatting both the eBook & paperback and designing the cover. I learnt a lot from some of the authors actually, which helped my development – reading a range of styles was a fantastic opportunity. I made good friends and raised some money for charity. It was great
whilst I had fun.
Due to the fact that the collaborations were hard to sell, I decided to include some of the stories I had written in my own anthology, FIRST DATE (Love & Regrets). The first story, First Date, is based on my real experience. This anthology is now free – I want people to read what I write. If it does not sell, then I make it FREE!
What is your favorite story that you've created?
The entire trilogy counts as one story for me. To date, it is the most amazing thing I have ever achieved...
Who is your favorite character?
Steven Thorn. He is a good man with a great heart, who sometimes does stupid things in the name of love!
I have to admit, he's my favorite book boyfriend to date!
How long does it take to go from your mind to the page to publication?
If you had asked me this last year I would have said 6-12 months. Now, I think 2 years. I just don’t have as much time anymore. To write fast you need to be prepared to let it rule your life... I can’t do that anymore.
What have you learned throughout the writing and publication process as a self-published author?
HUGE question... the short answer is that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Nothing is impossible. I also think the world of publishing is shady ... there are a lot of people willing to make promises and take money who don’t deliver. I am not a fool and do not give my money away needlessly, but many do unfortunately!
What do you think about publishing in the digital age? What benefits and downfalls do you think there are publishing when e-books are more available than they used to be?
The digital age for music, video, and books is amazing! At the click of a button, job done!
However, where books are related I think Amazon, in particular, should have a better vetting system. Smashwords does a much better job at screening content, but they are less known. The amount of times I see terrible covers, writing, content, etc available makes me cringe. But, I love the fact you can either get a refund, sample or read books for free – makes it easy to try an author without getting stung at the end.
Ultimately, people will always try to sell you rubbish if they’re just in it for the money. That’s the way of the world.
Do you use an editor?
I was lucky enough to have an ex-school friend from many years earlier edit my books, as well as a few sharp local friends, and several beta readers. An author I met online, Susan Buchanan, also edited HYBRID and found some more stuff I’d missed. I am a perfectionist and do correct things if they are found, so the book currently out there is not what was published in 2012. I listen, I fix, I learn.
In future I might pay for an editor if I can’t get the help I've had to date. But, let’s put it this way... if I pay an editor I’ll still be paying for the cost a few years later!
Who does your cover art and how do you choose what art to use?
I do all my cover art! I have used pictures my dad, sister-in-law, and I have taken. I have fun creating stuff... It could look better if I paid for it, but I take pride in doing things myself at the moment.
How do you juggle all the responsibilities of being an author, a mother, a wife, marketing your current books and writing new books?
I don’t ... I’m taking it one step at a time. All I can say is, I’m glad I have an iPad.
Today, for example, I took my youngest to school, then helped a friend sort out school PTA accounts (I have an Accounting degree!), then worked on this interview, met up with my in-laws for an hour, went for a walk, did the school pick-up, took my girls swimming, made food for the kids, am now finishing this interview before I put my youngest to bed (love bedtime stories), and then tutor (math) tonight, before I either read or write (undecided).
Writing time today has been zero... although, this interview counts since I get to revisit why I do what I do!
It’s all good – better to be busy than bored!
Who are your biggest literary influences?
Agatha Christie, Stephenie Meyer, Ken Follett, John Grisham, Sarra Manning... to name a few!
You've done a variety of things in life, a little bit of everything, so what made you decide on being an author? How did you get to this point in your life?
I always loved reading and writing as a child – I wanted to be the next Agatha Christie until the age of 12! But, since I was good at sciences I steered in that direction and forgot how much I loved using my imagination until nearly 20 years later!
How long have you been writing?
Do you use an outline, just write as it comes and edit later, or another method?
The trilogy was a mixture... started as a write as I go exercise, but as it developed I have to use a structure to ensure that I was not getting characters or places mixed up. I have to admit that I did not know how I would end it until a few weeks before I completed it. As you know from the ending, it could have gone a different way very easily. In the end, I had to follow my gut instinct and go for the ending that felt right for me. Spoiler alert: I wanted Caitlin to get the right ending (or is it beginning?) and Steven to make the right decision...
Do you set a guideline for writing such as so many words a day?
If I could I would... this is not possible at the moment.
If you had to give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would you tell your younger self?
Nothing... I would not change a thing!
Sometimes, writers get too bogged down on writing and don’t just do it for the love. When I started I wrote for complete escapism. Now, my innocence has gone. I know writing is only the beginning of a rather grueling editorial & marketing process! Why I bother I don’t know... I just want to do well! I was always the conscientious type!
The last I knew you had two different projects you are working on writing right now, one being a historical romance and the other being a prequel to The Evolution Trilogy, Emily's story.
Where did you get the concept for your historical romance? What is it about?
My father wrote an article about my great, great grandparents who lived during Victorian times. He found letters written by them and their daughter, as well as photos. The article brought me to tears... I knew then I wanted to write their story.
They were the first Beanland(my maiden name) generation to live in Gibraltar and originally came from Lancashire. The history is rich and I have spent months reading books about the period and the conditions both in the Cotton Mills of Lancashire and the Royal Artillery. As well as researching Jamaica (where they got married) and of course Gibraltar.
What made you decide to write Emily's story?
I started this story last year, before RETURN was published... I wanted to show how she became so twisted and bitter. I have finally got my teeth into it again (after not being satisfied with it) and it’s getting there. A short story has become 25,000 words and going...
Will there be any more books with the same characters as The Evolution Trilogy?
I do have another trilogy in mind, which is currently bubbling away in my brain. The Redemption Trilogy is set twenty years in the future... I hope I actually get to write it one day!
Do you have any other projects you're working on?
Yes (I know... I am terrible at focusing).
A chick flick romance – my first novel! A contemporary romance. I also have a children’s story I started. I might never finish any of them!
Do you have any upcoming events that you'd like to tell us about?
I am talking at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival in October. Very exciting... I am doing a children’s workshop (just for fun) and talking about my writing journey.
Thank you SO much for having me here, and for your continuing support. You really are MY
BOOK FAIRY... HUGS.
About The Author
Vanessa Wester is bilingual in English and Spanish, since she was born and raised in Gibraltar. With a degree in Accountancy and Law, she initially worked for two leading accountancy firms, before she changed career and became a secondary school mathematics teacher.
Over the past twelve years, she has devoted her time to the upbringing of her children, whilst giving up a lot of her time to help voluntary organisations.
Vanessa developed her writing bug in 2010 and has not looked back since. She is currently an author of mainly adult and young adult fiction. HYBRID is her debut novel. You can continue The Evolution Trilogy with COMPLICATIONS and RETURN.
In addition, Vanessa has also published anthologies in aid of charity. Three adult collections, via the Short Stories Group, and three children's collections, via kids4books.
She has also released a novelette called FIRST DATE, which is based on her true story.
Writing is one of her passions. Reading the other. The day she decided to start writing her ideas down she found another way to lose herself in a book, whilst finding an outlet for her imagination. It is the best way she can think of to escape from everyday life.
She now lives on the Isle of Wight, UK.
You can learn more about Vanessa from her blog post here.
Connect with Vanessa via Social Media
THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY
Publication Date: August 3, 2014
Book: First Date (Love & Regrets)
Publication Date: January 9, 2014
I'd like to thank Vanessa for her time today, we all know that juggling multiple responsibilities takes time and she spent part of it here with us today.
Also, remember if you download her books, please be sure to leave a review!