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Welcome back for another author interview! This month I had a chat with Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir, a horror author from Iceland.
Vill and I go way back. I’ve been her editor since her first book, and she’s been one of my critique partners for just as long. We’ve seen each other’s writing at its best and its worst, and I can say from personal experience how hungry to learn this girl is and how far she’s come!
S: Let’s start by talking about what you’re reading at the moment. What do you like about it?
V: I finished reading Diabolica Britannica the other day. It’s a horror anthology which I really like because there are so many varieties of horror in it that appeals to my dark soul. Psychological, Lovecraftian, even gory stuff. I highly recommend it.
S: I read it, too, and also recommended it for its wide range! There’s something for every lover of horror – even wimps like me who can’t take much. With so much variety, what’s your favourite kind of horror?
V: Gothic with haunting scenes and also the psychological horror. Anything that can twist my mind is great!
S: Which book has influenced you the most?
V: The Harry Potter books and the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. The story telling of Harry Potter is riveting and imaginative, and I love the creepiness along with the heart of the protagonist of Cirque du Freak.
S: I haven’t read Cirque du Freak but will check it out! Let’s talk about your books though. What are you working on right now?
V: I’m currently working on Nocturnal Salvation, the third book of my vampire horror series. It’s in the editing process right now and is going along smoothly so far.
S: I must say, I personally love this stage, because my shitty first draft transforms into a beautiful thing of… beauty *ahem* But I know many, maybe even most, authors absolutely loathe this stage! How do you feel about it?
V: I both like and dislike it. I like it because I can add more meat to the bone, so to speak, and I can catch any errors or plot holes. I dislike it because I can be a bit of an underwriter so I’d have to look more thoroughly. I also tend to use many words way too often! So many convenient clutches…
S: I think we all have this problem! In my first WIP, I overused windows for reasons I can’t explain :O Do you know what’s next after this WIP?
V: The fourth book in the series. I’ve written down most of the plot so once all the hassle with book 3 is finished, I’ll sit down and write the chapter outlines. But in-between, I’m writing short stories as well and really enjoying it!
S: And wasn’t there something about a prequel, too?
V: Oh yeah, there’s going to be a prequel with Sophie at the helm. But I need more time to research physical and psychological trauma to really connect with Sophie in that book. I also need to channel my anger and frustration to it as well.
S: What do you enjoy the most about this process? It could be anything from writing the first draft to doing research to connecting with readers on social media. What do you like about it?
V: What I enjoy the most is being able to sit down with a notebook ready and write it all down by hand. That’s where my creative juices really flow out of me and I happily get lost in the process, which can be difficult, especially if I’m writing it at work XD
S: I admire authors who can write their whole books by hand so much! My hand cramps just thinking about it o.o
What do you enjoy the least? Why do you dislike this part of being an author?
V: The marketing process. I very often forget to market my books and I also often feel bad for bothering people about it. It’s hard to stand in the sea of thousands of other writers and shout out your book. But apparently, one person said that I was good at it, so I just need to discover what is good about my marketing and really hone that skill.
S: I think what you do naturally is social media. You’re killing it on Twitter, and I know you’re around on Instagram quite a bit as well. All that is marketing, whether you’re actively talking about your book, discussing horror books, or talking about your favourite cake. Marketing always sounds scary, but it can mean so many things!
Now, inspiration is an often-asked-after topic for artists of all formats. How do you approach it? Do you find inspiration, do you let it come to you, and how do you do it?
V: Music is a big inspiration for me. If I hear a song and I can let myself imagine different scenarios connecting to that song, I’ll be inspired. Watching anime has also helped a lot. Just seeing it all in action, with encouraging music in the background is very inspiring. I often listen to anime openings whenever I want to get into the groove of drawing.
S: What’s on your Nocturnal Salvation playlist?
V: Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit, Found & Lost by Survive Said The Prophet, Still Waiting by Sum 41, Start a Riot by Duckwrth & Shaboozey, Home by Vince Staples & Richie Kohan, Swan Song by Dua Lipa, Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons, This is Me by Keala Settle, and Peace Sign sung by Caleb Hyles.
S: I wish I could write with music, but unless it’s instrumental, it’s too distracting.
Authors like to joke that, if someone were to look through their search history, they’d be in trouble. What’s the weirdest thing you ever researched, and which book was it for?
V: The red-light district and the Museum of Prostituition in Amsterdam for book 2, Nocturnal Farm. I had an inkling on how the red-light district worked but I learned a lot of interesting things about it through further research.
S: That sounds fascinating! What are some of the interesting things you’ve learned?
V: That the prostitutes have a union there. They get paid salaries, get sick days and vacation time. I thought that was awesome!
S: What do you consider the most important thing you’ve learned since you first decided to write a book?
V: Patience. It’s been very hard for me because I’m a very impatient person and I want everything done as quickly as possible. But the writing journey isn’t like that. If you pace yourself and try not to worry about time and deadlines, your experience will be a lot better.
S: I relate to that so much. I rushed my first book because I wanted it out there, but guess who ended up getting it re-edited (with all the trimmings this time) and re-published a few years later? *points at self* This idiot.
When you’re not writing your book or reading others’, what do you do to relax and have fun?
V: I watch a lot of TV. It anchors me and allows for some mind-numbing fun. I also work out in the mornings, take walks while listening to podcasts, and do D&D with friends and my brother.
S: And finally, where else can we find you on the interwebs?
V: You can find me on Instagram as fangs.and.light where I post news about my books and my drawings. I’m also quite active on Twitter as VillimeyS so if you wanna chat, definitely connect with me there 🙂 I also have a blog/website which is in dire need of an update at www.villimeymistauthor.com
S: Thanks for chatting with me, Villimey!
As always, if you have a question for Villimey, leave it below and we’ll reply as soon as we can *high five*
You can find all interviews here.
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PHOO! It’s been a while since I’ve done an interview for this site. I won’t go into details again, so I’ll just throw the word burnout into the room and trust that you get it. The plan is to make these a regular thing as I originally wanted to!
This month’s interview is with the busiest of bees, Rhianne Williams. You might know her from her many writing projects or maybe from her website Little Novelist, where she helps other writers achieve their writing dreams.
Today, we’re talking about world building, how to juggle a gajillion WIPs, and what she’s working on at the moment. Video games are mentioned somewhere in there too.
S: Let’s start by talking about what you’re reading at the moment. What do you like about it?
R: I’m currently reading through the Vortex Chronicles by Elise Kova. It’s the next series after Air Awakens. I always have to be careful when reading Elise’s books as they usually give me MEGA book hangovers and then I have to not read anything for a while. I love the worlds Elise creates and honestly I just love everything Vi is also such a character. Originally I had planned to read all five books on my honeymoon but that got cancelled due to Covid and as Elise was running Air Awakens August it seemed right to pick up this series finally!
S: As someone who LOVES everything world building, I have to ask: what is it about her worlds you love?
R: Elise has such an incredible imagination. She really knows how to pull the reader into the book and make it feel like the places she’s made up could be a real place. As a patron of Elise’s I recently learned she spends months building the world before she even starts thinking about the story as a whole. Which naturally fascinated me as an author. I also got to watch her build the world for the novel she is writing with the help of her patrons.
S: Which book has influenced you the most?
R: I wouldn’t say that there is ONE book that has influenced me. Pretty much any book that I read was an inspiration. I love the emotions evoked in writing, and the excitement of a new world!
S: I completely agree. Any book that can makes us feel something is a winner! But let’s talk about your books. What are you working on right now?
R: Oh gosh! What a question. Well, at the moment, in the very time that I am writing out the answers to these questions, I am working on editing the 4 books in my fantasy series called The Kane Saga which consists of a trilogy and a prequel novella. Then I am also writing the first draft of a stand-alone dragon fantasy, AND I am working on the outlines for a new fantasy series. At the moment it’s just three novellas but I am planning on five more books in the series which has a working title of Project Kerradin.
S: Knowing you, I’m not surprised you have so much going on, but I think it’ll look like a lot to most writers. How do you balance so many projects? I had three books on the go this month, and I felt overwhelmed at times!
R: Haha! Yeah… I’m not the best role model for authors. I tend to get myself in a flap for the most part. I’ll start with the easy one. I schedule in 1 hour of writing every morning Monday – Saturday. In this time I can do between 26-1100 words. I average 500 though. Edit wise. They’re done in queue format meaning I do one edit after the other. So for example, Kingdom of Lies is with my Beta’s so I’ve gone through the critique feedback on my novella, then when that’s done, I’ll start on book two and do one round of edits on that. Then if my betas are done by the time I finish I’ll go back to book one. Outlining I just fit in, in whatever time I have. Five minutes at work, ten minutes on my lunch break, shout for my husband to write down the scene that popped into my head while I was having a shower etc.
S: *marvels at how specific 26 is* Do you know what’s next after these WIPs? Given how much you’ve listed above, this might seem like a strange question, but I know you’re always thinking about the next project!
R: Nope. I have a few ideas but I’ll probably let some of them come to fruition before. I might even do another stand-alone as I do have a little elf that has been vying for my attention, and a reincarnated gender-bend author too. I am on the lookout for new ideas though, so maybe something new will arrive soon!
S: I can’t believe you said no and then listed two ideas and mentioned you have more! I knew that no was a lie 😉
What do you enjoy the most about this process? It could be anything from writing the first draft to doing research to connecting with readers on social media. What do you like about it?
R: Writing the outline and the first draft is my favourite bit. It makes me so happy to create, and that’s the part I love the most. Creating. The other part I like is finally holding a copy of the book in my hand and having people tell me they enjoyed the story.
S: What do you enjoy the least? Why do you dislike this part of being an author?
R: Editing! I hate editing. As much as I know it makes the story better, I really hate it. If I could go from first draft to finished manuscript without the editing I would love it. I always find editing takes longer than writing the draft because I do so many drafts/revisions after the first one. For example, Kingdom of Lies is on draft 6 already haha.
S: So many authors feel that way, but I don’t get it XD Maybe it’s because I used to edit for a living? Seeing how much the draft improves through all these edits, how they start to sing… *sigh*
ANYWAY. Inspiration is an often-asked-after topic for artists of all formats. How do you approach it? Do you find inspiration, do you let it come to you, and how do you do it?
R: I let it come to me. Inspiration isn’t something you can capture, at least not in my opinion. It can choose to strike at any point. For me, it usually ends up striking at the most unlikely places. Either when I am driving to work, or in the shower.
S: Authors like to joke that, if someone were to look through their search history, they’d be in trouble. What’s the weirdest thing you ever researched, and which book was it for?
R: If i’m honest… nothing haha! I write fantasy so there’s not that much to research. Not like a thriller writer might research ways people die, or what happens if you stab someone in a certain place. I tend to just look up mythologies and then find a way to twist it.
S: But aren’t those things still just as important in fantasy novels? I read a lot of fantasy, and the body count is pretty high!
R: Well… yes. But in a fantasy you don’t have to have too much in-depth knowledge – which is what I meant.
Sure you need to be realistic, you can’t have someone running around after being stabbed in the heart, but you don’t need to know where the trace evidence would be like you would in a modern thriller/detective novel way.
S: That’s very true. And I don’t think our readers look for those kinds of details, either – at least nothing that specific!
What do you consider the most important thing you’ve learned since you first decided to write a book?
R: When I wrote my first book, I completely pantsed it. I had no idea where it was heading or what was going to happen at the end of it. But it took me three years to write that fist manuscript and another 18 months to edit it. Whereas now, I spend time outlining my books which means even if I stray from the path I always know where I need to get back to, and it takes me less time to get those words down on the page.
S: See, I’m a plotster, too, and I think your reason for outlining is why every author should at least plan a little: if you know where your book needs to go, you can’t really get stuck! And there’s nothing worse than getting stuck halfway through the middle and not knowing what to do. It might still be tricky with an outline, but at least you know what your characters need to aim for!
But I’m getting distracted *ahem* When you’re not writing your book or reading others’, what do you do to relax and have fun?
R: Play the xbox or watch TV. I’m a big binge watcher so watching only one episode is really hard for me haha! And I can literally spend all day playing Skyrim or The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. Sometimes I play the sims too but I can get bored of that super quickly.
S: I’ve lost so many hours to all of those games. Although, I admit, Skyrim has lost its magic for me. It feels depressing after putting so many hours into Elder Scrolls Online – it highlights everything that’s gone to shit in Tamriel since the good old days XD
Before you go – where else can we find you on the interwebs?
Do you remember back in January (which feels roughly seven years ago) when I posted the first ever interview of this blog? It was with my editor, playwright, and author Briana Morgan, and I mentioned that it was the first in a new series of monthly author interviews.
Well, that didn’t bloody happen, did it.
If you’ve been reading my monthly progress updates, you’ll know some of how life got in the way, and if you haven’t, I won’t bore you with the details. The important thing is, monthly interviews are BACK!
*throws dark confetti*
This month’s interview is with one of my very best author friends, Beverley Lee. She’s a paranormal horror author who taught me that everything I thought I knew about the genre was wrong 🙂
If you love horror books or the paranormal in fiction, I hope you’ll enjoy reading our interview as much as we enjoyed chatting about it.
One quick note: we did this interview a little while ago (*coughs* January *coughs*) and then life got in the way as it does, so when Bev talks about her current reads and her WIP, please note they were her current reads at the time we did the interview and that her WIP has moved on a little since we chatted.
S: Welcome to my author blog, Bev! To start with, what are you reading at the moment?
B: Right now I’m immersed in horror! I’m reading Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke and an advanced reader copy of Nocturnal Farm from Villimey Mist, but it’s rare that I have two similar books on my reading pile.
S: I may be biased where Villimey’s book is concerned, but it’s excellent, isn’t it? ^-^ And I’ve seen Kealan around Instagram quite a bit and admit I’ve been interested in his books for a while. It’s not your first read by him, is it?
B: I’m only 10% into Villimey’s book but I’m enjoying being back with Leia. If you want a good start with Kealan’s work I’d suggest Sour Candy. It’s got such a fabulous first line! I’ve read a couple of his short story collections but Kin is the first novel length one. Don’t let the fact that it’s about cannibals put you off 😉
S: As if XD What about his books keeps drawing you back?
B: Good horror isn’t all about scares. It’s the subtle way he blends the everyday with things that go bump in the night that appeals. You can imagine yourself in the same situation as the characters, which is true for any good book in any genre, I think. He also has a knack for peeling away their skins (no pun intended!) and exposing their every thought, no matter how horrific.
S: I agree, and I think this is something I understood about horror quite late. Growing up I didn’t dare touch horror books because I’d been taught that the whole genre was just terrifying scares, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons. I think your first book, The Making of Gabriel Davenport, was one of the first horror books I’d read since… goodness, I can’t remember! Probably since that short story collection by Stephen King scared the hell out of me when I was a teenager! I’m proud to say that yours didn’t stop me from sleeping, but it was creepy and disturbing. I remember a scene near the beginning especially, where everything went downhill for poor Beth.
So, I know that blending the everyday with the things that go bump in the night is one of your specialties too! What else do you love about this genre that you try to incorporate in your own writing?
B: Ha, I’m glad I could disturb you 😉 I read Cujo by King as an impressionable teen and it scared the life out of me. I can still remember reading it.
Let’s see – that there is always a grey area between goodness and evil and that’s where the best things dwell. I like to show that the supposedly bad characters have redeeming qualities, and something I always do is make sure that my readers understand the motives behind my antagonist’s thinking. Just having a cardboard cutout villain doesn’t interest me at all. I like to take what’s been done before and spin my own twist, creating my own vampire hierarchy and laws, for instance, but they have to be believable.
We all like to be frightened a little bit. It takes us away into that primal place of instinct, so different from our closeted modern lifestyle and writing it gives me that same feeling.
S: All I know about Cujo is from Friends – there’s something seriously wrong with a dog XD
I think the way you do it – by taking something that’s been done before and putting your own spin on it – is the best way to do it. We like things that feel familiar no matter how many fantasy elements are involved. So many new writers try to be original to breaking point, because finding something that’s really never existed before is near impossible these days.
Now, to me your books are definitely horror. Horror that’s more disturbing than sleepless-nights-terrifying, but horror nontheless. But when you first categorised your debut novel, you didn’t think of horror. That came a little later, didn’t it?
B: Yes, you’re spot on 🙂 When I was writing Gabriel I classified it as dark fantasy. It was only after readers started saying that the first part seriously messed with their heads that I realised that the horror tag did in fact fit. But I’m not a huge fan of putting books into pigeon holes. A good story is a good story, and that might mean it has elements of half a dozen different genres.
S: Absolutely. It’s impossible to squeeze any one book into one genre only. Most books have an adventure element or a romance element, and pretty much every book has a bit of mystery. Your books definitely fit the dark fantasy tag, but you could equally say that they’re urban paranormal and, of course, horror!
Did you have an ideal reader in mind when you wrote the Gabriel Davenport trilogy? Who did you write them for?
B: I just wanted anyone to read them, no matter how old they were 🙂 A lot of people have classified them as YA as my main characters are predominantly teenagers, but I don’t think the way I write is suited to the YA ‘brand’ (there’s that pigeon hole thing again!) And to begin with I wrote them just for me, as they were the books I wanted to read but could never find.
S: No, I agree, I don’t think they really fit the YA brand. You could argue that they’re a coming-of-age story of sorts because of what happens to Gabe, but overall there are none of the things young adults or teens would identify with. Your MC is a teenager, but his problems aren’t normal teenage issues, and you could argue that some of the others may look like teenagers but haven’t really been teenagers for a long time…
This is even more true for your newest book, which has some very dark themes indeed! Can you tell us a bit about Ruin? How does it differ from Gabriel?
B: Gabriel is definitely a coming of age story, but when I started it, I had no idea what I was going to put him through!
Ah yes, my newest book baby, The Ruin of Delicate Things, is about a couple (Dan and Faye Morgan) struggling with the death of their son. A cottage is bequeathed to Dan in the heart of the English countryside. It’s where he spent his childhood summers. But soon after arriving, things start to happen that both of them can’t explain. The old house still stands in the middle of the forest, watching over the lake. And there’s something in that house that knows what Dan did and that wants him to pay *cue spooky music*
S: I loved Gabriel’s story, but I think I loved this one even more. I was lucky enough to read an early version, and it was so deliciously dark and the pace at which you reveal things kept me glued to the kindle screen!
You may hate me for asking this, but where did your inspiration for Ruin come from?
B: Nothing makes me happier than comments like that, Sarina *heart eyes*
The first thing that came to me with Ruin was the setting. And then the characters came next, but I think I told you before that I had a problem getting the story to stick with one of them so I had to age them up. As for what dwells in the house, some of the inspiration came from a nature program I was watching, but that character went through a few changes before I was happy with how she came out.
S: Ah, see, I knew I need to watch more nature programs! What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?
B: I really enjoyed writing the darkness in Barrington Hall. It became almost a character in itself – a playground for the lost and cursed. It had definite Hill House vibes for me! And I think I have a thing for making houses characters *laughs* I loved writing Barrington Hall’s history too with all the horrors involved and the way it shaped the present.
S: I definitely got the playground for the lost vibe, especially from this one character’s perception. It made the house come alive, and I shivered when certain characters set foot inside.
But speaking of spoilers… Can you share an excerpt? Without spoilers, of course 😉
B: Of course!
As the sign for the village flashed by, Dan Morgan knew he would rather be anywhere else but here.
In this car, with the rain beating down on the windscreen. On this road, which led to his childhood, with all of its muted meandering memories. Back when days had gone on forever. After thirty years he was racing back towards it, searching for its enchantment, fruitlessly hoping it could cast its rose-tinted spell upon the agonising hellscape of his life.
He glanced in his rear-view mirror, watched as the sign disappeared in the distance, the whoosh of the tyres on the wet road a constant background noise. Faye stared out of the rear passenger window, one finger tracing a line of mingled raindrops. A typical British summer.
She’d said she wanted to sleep, but Dan knew the real reason she had moved from beside him was because she couldn’t stand the wall of silence that had descended on the long journey down. He could see her profile etched against the thin light, almost as if she was trying to disappear into it. Dark curls mussed around her face, her nose a slight aquiline, which gave strength to her otherwise fragile features.
Sometimes he caught her watching him as if he had turned into a creature she didn’t understand.
A sharp pain jabbed Dan—Dan to his friends. Daniel to his colleagues. But never Danny, not since that summer—in the ribs.
The rot had set in on the night Toby had been sliced from their lives. Dan’s fingers clenched on the steering wheel.
How can a child go out one day and never return?
It had been a brutal year. And the weight that hung in the air between them was like the blade of a pendulum, gradually severing the fraying connection to which they were both clinging.
Faye’s ears were covered by her ever-present headphones, plugged into the world of audio books. It was much easier to immerse herself in other people’s stories; her own hurt too much.
An image of Toby, laying cold and still on the hospital gurney, covered in a white sheet, invaded his thoughts. Dan had watched from the safety of the small room, that clinical sheet of glass separating him from his son, watched as the young doctor with the dark circles under his eyes pulled back the sheet. Dan wanted to scream that it wasn’t Toby—this shell of a boy with the pale blue lips couldn’t possibly be his son. His boy had been loud and kind and lovable. His son had yelled, ‘See you later, Dad!’ as he swept past the study, hopping on one leg as he stuffed his foot into a trainer.
Dan hadn’t turned his head, just raised his hand in reply. He’d been too busy, too focussed on the marketing plan in front of him, the ever-approaching deadline looming like a hand grenade with a loose pin.
Dan bit his bottom lip, closing his eyes for a moment to stop the images. Stop the guilt.
A loud, dull thud, the weight of an impact hitting the front of the car. Dan’s eyes flew open. He braked hard, water splashing onto the bonnet, the wipers sweeping back and forth in a pattern that set his teeth on edge. Please God, don’t let it be a person…
S: Now that The Ruin of Delicate Things is out in the world and doing great, what’s next for you? I know you’re working on something in its very early stages…
B: Yes, I have something very much in its infancy which is already refusing to play along with any outline I might have had. Who I thought was my main character might not be now, as two others muscled their way in last week. There’s a possibility it will link back to Gabriel’s series in some way too, either by the appearance of a few characters or settings, but it’s very early days and we both know how a first draft can morph into something completely different!
S: Now that’s exciting! And I know it’s super frustrating when the characters and plot shuffle themselves around, but it’s also my favourite thing. The book comes alive and shows you how it’s done – and we both know there are more surprises for the reader when they’re surprising for us!
Before we go and I let you get back to your cat, can you share a few links? Where else can we find you online?
B: All my books and where to find them are listed on my website where you can download a free short story, a dark and twisted fairy tale, by signing up to my mailing list.