I'm very happy to welcome the lovely Vanessa Wester to the barge as the last of this current spell of weberviews (there will be a couple more in the coming week, though, so those of you who like reading about these other marvellous writers I've met, keep watching!).
Vanessa has been a wonderful support to me on both Twitter and Facebook, and I've also been to visit her on her blog, so it's great to have her here with me on Watery Ways. She used to live in Rotterdam, so she knows the harbour well. So, Vanessa, now we've fed the ducks and I've made the tea, let's just sit here on deck and have a chat. Then we can have a walk afterwards. To me, you are very young to have written three novels and a number of other short stories and children's stories. Have you always written?
I love it when people call me young! I guess being under 40 is young... Kind of! Anyway, as a child I loved writing and spent a lot of my time arranging murders (smirks). You guessed it, I loved mystery and suspense. It started with Nancy Drew, then led to an obsession with the queen of suspense - Agatha Christie.
I was really good at English (even though I am bilingual) and since I had a British education I learnt the basics. However, when I started GCSE's (aged 14) my grades slipped and I lost confidence. I tended to ramble, lost in my thoughts, and found it hard to focus. Since I was good at science and maths, I ditched English (even though my A in English literature was my proudest achievement) and forgot all about the idea of writing!
It took 15 years for me to try again. I read a lot and always thought of writing, but I was convinced it was foolish. When I watched an author interview something snapped inside of me... My creative mind wanted to be free to explore and talk about things that mattered to me. I know my trilogy is paranormal, but I touch on many life themes. First love, family loyalty, impulsive behaviour, children, responsibility... You get the idea!
Yes, I read Hybrid and really enjoyed how many real life family and loyalty issues it raised - one of the reasons I liked it so much. But Vanessa, you grew up in Gibraltar, I believe. Has this colourful part of the world influenced your writing at all?
Of course. Gibraltar is a unique place and it shaped the person I am today. The culture, food and family life influences me a lot. But, the idea of acceptance is paramount to a lot of my writing. As you may know, Gibraltar is constantly under discussion of sovereignty and I remember being scared of Spanish people who might lynch me for being from the rock - the frontier opened when I was 8, until then Spain was an unknown entity.
Also, being a redhead in a mainly Mediterranean environment made me feel like an alien from space! I got sunburnt a lot, had a lot of freckles, and looked English! I know Gibraltar is British, but the locals tend to speak Spanish and it got tiring to answer back to broken English in Spanish - they were always amazed I was a
So, yeah, it is weird to not feel accepted for your birthright and appearance.
That must have been pretty tough. I imagine you matured quickly with that kind of pressure. One thing I have wondered though is how you manage to combine being a mum of very young children with being a writer and self publicist?
Who knows? I have no idea how I do any of it - I am extremely good at multi tasking (thanks goodness for my iPad).
Do you find Social Media helps with getting the world out about your books and do you get a good response to your publicity?
I hope so, although a lot of times I wonder if any of it helps. I don't like the idea of annoying people with promos, etc, but I don't know any different. The best thing about being online is the ability to make new friends (such as yourself - muah!) and to realise than I am not alone. People are fun!
As for my books, of course social media helps! Without twitter my trilogy would probably remain unfinished. The best motivation to write is readers asking when the next book is out from all over the world - how amazing! I have gone from a stay-at-home mum to a writer, social media player, and publisher! WOW!
It's such a learning process, isn't it? I love that we can all help each other. But I see you've had lovely exposure in Gibraltar. Has this made you a regional best seller and celebrity?
Ha ha ha ha ha... (catches breath) ... Ha ha ha ha ha... Erm, next question! :)
Okay, I'll take that as a no…Next question then. How much time do you spend writing and do you need a special place to be able to concentrate. I'm thinking of your family here again.
At the moment, it is really restricted. My next project involves a lot of research and thinking time. I also seem to have lost some of my drive. I love writing, but I can't let it interfere with my family life. It started to take over and it was a choice - Writing or family. Obvious answer, I think. Like you say, I am "young" - I have time to write. There is no hurry.
I am also distracted a lot - by the dwindling success of my trilogy, and social media - to promote or not to promote? That is the question...I calculated the other day that I have given away over 10,000 copies of Hybrid and only have 60 reviews to show for this! Pathetic! I "love" the fact that I have some terrible reviews on amazon.com - seriously? I find it hard to understand why anyone would give such a bad rating to a book they got for free. It's cruel... That's just my view! Yet, I get sales on my other books - but no reviews! I like to imagine people buy them because they like Hybrid, but I can't know for sure... Fingers crossed, I guess.
Yes, this question of giveaways is a hard one isn't it? It's a subject that's occupied many a blog post. Have you got any new writing projects on the go at the moment? If so, can you tell us about them?
I am writing the story of my great, great grandparents ... Born in 1837 and 1841. Think industrial revolution, London, Jamaica, Gibraltar... I know, its SO hard! I am a sucker for punishment. It'll either be my best achievement or my downfall! HA!
That sounds fascinating. I'll look forward to it! Okay, so that's paranormal, romance and history in the bag. Is there any specific genre of writing you would like to try, but haven't done yet?
Murder mystery... I will try to write something in homage to the great Agatha - one day!
Oh how wonderful! I love that idea! I've also a fancy to write a murder mystery myself, but more of a detective novel…a sort of Maigret! Anyway, Vanessa, it's been just great having you here.
It has been lovely talking to you, I think I have been brutally honest... That has always been my problem! I give a lot away, never been good at keeping cards close to my chest!
Haha, it's lovely and very you! Shall we take a walk round the harbour now and you can have a bit of a memory lane trip before heading back to England…
For those of you who would like to take a look at Vanessa's work, you can find her on:
Her blog: http://vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.nl
Her Twitter: https://twitter.com/vanessa_wester
Her Amazon books: http://tinyurl.com/lzh69qh