How long have you been writing?
If you are referring to my taking writing more seriously, I started writing my first novel in February 2010, so a little more than three years. But, I have been writing since I was little! Ha! Ha!
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
I always loved making up stories and have always been creative. I wanted to be an author when I was at school, but once my aptitude for science was discovered I forgot about writing for fun.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
I have written and published the first two books of my Evolution Trilogy, Hybrid and Complications, and four short stories (three under a collective group aiming to raise money for charity). I have also written a romantic chick lit-type novel, which might get published one day. I have started LOTS of other ones.
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
University. Land of opportunity? For Steven Thorn, it’s the start of a new life. Just not the one he anticipated. As his resolve is put to the test, he ends up losing everything. For who could live a normal life as a Hybrid?
Steven Thorn has no trouble settling in at university, until Caitlin Chance catches him off guard. She’s the first girl he has ever felt an instant attraction towards and the more he gets to know, the more he likes. When Caitlin leaves university after a suspicious suicide the romance grinds to a halt. Now Steven is alone, Ingrid gets her chance, and it doesn’t take long for her to discover that Steven is a Hybrid.
However, when his estranged mother, Emily, convinces Ingrid to lie about Steven he obtains a short reprieve. Unfortunately, Ingrid does not intend to let Steven remain in the dark for long. She has other plans. The wheels are set in motion for his radical upheaval. Steven will become a stranger to everyone. He will be forced to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. He will come face to face with his past and future.
Now they know he exists, they will come to get him. Everything will change…
A community within the Amazon jungle: A safe haven? Not for Steven Thorn, he wants his old life back. He wants his girl back. He does not intend to let his hybrid nature dictate who he is. Everything is possible in the quest for love.
A new type of humanity lurks within the Amazon jungle. The community holds many mysteries. Steven Thorn is not in awe of the community or his recent change, he is eager to leave it all behind. As luck would have it an injury makes it possible. With his grandparents, Jeff and Judith, and his mother, Emily, he rejoins normal civilization.
Now they are back things take a turn.
Steven is NOT normal, but he is convinced he can control his animal instinct – he does not want to kill. Emily has no desire to control her hunger. And Jeff and Judith are willing to try, but do not know if they can succeed. Fate has a way of steering you in a direction sometimes. People find it hard to break the habits of a lifetime.
When Emily decides to break free, Jeff and Judith use their judgement and agree to take Steven back to England.
All Steven can think about is his girl, Caitlin, and when he finds her all is not as he expected. He might have to influence her, he might have to tell her who he is, and he might have to delve in the past. And when he does, will Caitlin like what she sees…it’s a risk Steven is happy to take.
How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?
I think many of my characters have been inspired by real people and real experiences. But, I did not write with a grand plan, I just wrote for fun. The plot, characters and ideas developed as I went, they still do.
Are the books based on personal experiences?
As I said above a lot of the ideas are based on real experiences, but not all. I am not saying which are which…
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
Never give up, and finish the book – procrastination never helped anyone.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
I have not had my work professionally edited. At the moment, the cost does not make sense to me. I have had some fantastic readers who read my book in advance and spotted a load of errors, grammatical issues and plot inconsistencies. I think the more people you can find to help you the better. I found that all of my readers spotted different things.
I do think a professional edit is a great idea, if you can justify the expense. I can not justify it at this point in my writing career.
Some readers have commented on the fact that they saw a few things, but on the whole it does not seem to detract from the story. They also thought that my characters speech was too formal, but actually that is how I want them to speak. I try not to use any profanity or slang in my language. If I do not speak like that, why should my characters?
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
Figuring it all out…How to edit, proofread, take constructive criticism, change plot inconsistencies, and prepare a document for e-book and paperback publication. While bearing in mind that Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords do things differently. There is a lot of help online. For feedback and help I would recommend The Writers Workshop free online writing community. I also think that Mark Cokers advice via his free style guide is fantastic.
I self-published because people wanted to read my story, I only share because people seem to like what I write (strange, but true).
I started to write to relieve boredom. I was at home with my one-year-old baby and my brain was desperate to think (I had at that point been a stay-at-home mum for seven years). I decided to go from being a reader to a writer. It was a challenge. I never dreamed of the possibilities available and I never took myself seriously, only recently have I decided to tell people I am a writer.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
The salvation of my sanity! Seriously, writing has changed my life, and yet sometimes I wonder if I am too lost in my creative world. I am so eager to write that at times I find it hard to focus on my “day job.” I also tutor math, teach and coach swimming, do accounts voluntarily (I used to be an accountant). My cup is full – too full at times. Writing helps me escape; to find a place I can call my own. The problem is sometimes I want to be there all the time. Ha! Ha!
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
Like I said, while I was looking after my daughter and she slept, it was great to escape into my own world. I am also an emotional person and have found some of the things I write have touched me immensely. Writing about things I care about or think are important helps me to overcome them. For example, I have always found it hard to come to terms with death. Through my books, I talk about it being a natural process; this has helped me deal with loss in many ways.
Recently, I find a lot of my time is taken up with marketing and being on social media sites. Even though I enjoy the social interaction it does take me away from my escape. I am on a mission to try to write more and chat less (easier said than done).
Can you also talk a little about how writing your book was therapeutic? What do you mean?
I think I have covered this…
Has writing made you a better person?
Not necessarily a better person, a different person. I have my own life back now, my own identity. I am not just a teacher, wife or mother – I can escape into my imagination and write about a range of things to suit my mood.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favourite genres and why?
I read a lot of different genres depending on my mood. I have read romance, historical fiction, young adult, thrillers, crime, murder mysteries and erotica.
I find that I am curious about all writing and am willing to give anything a go. Usually, I’ll know pretty quickly if it’s for me or not, and that might change from one week to another. I like a good story, the writing is not as important. I have read books with beautiful prose which were very boring.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
You know, I have no idea…If I see a book with bad reviews I’ll still check it out with the “look inside” feature is the story interests me. It’s all about the story, the new ideas. I find reviews exciting as an author, but I have no idea if they help or not.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
I have received “interesting” reviews, not bad per se. The readers did not connect with my story. You know what…I was relieved. I don’t enjoy every story, so I can’t seriously expect everyone else to like mine.
Vanessa Wester is bilingual in English and Spanish, since she was born and raised in Gibraltar. She first moved to England to further her education and obtained a degree in Accounting and Law from the University of Southampton, in England, United Kingdom. Initially, she embarked on a career in Chartered Accountancy. After a couple of years it became obvious she was not cut out to work in an office.
A change in vocation led her to become a secondary school mathematics teacher, which she loved. For many years, she has been a stay-at-home mum and gives up a lot of her time towards voluntary organizations. She still teaches math as a private tutor and has many hobbies which include swimming, walking, reading, singing and acting. She is also a qualified A.S.A. Swimming Teacher and volunteers on weekends at her local swimming club.
Writing is her passion. The day she decided to start writing was the day she found an outlet for her imagination. It is the best way she can think of to express herself and escape from everyday life.
Her debut novel, Hybrid (The Evolution Trilogy) was released in March 2012 via Smashwords and May 2012 on Amazon. Since then she has published Complications, the second book in the Trilogy, and has also released another short story called First Date, which is based on her true story. In addition, she co-founded the Seasonal Short Stories Group, and publishes the collections to aid charity.
She now lives on the Isle of Wight, UK.
Check out Vanessa’s blogs and social media channels
- Blogspot and WordPress blogs
- Evolution Trilogy Blog
- A Reader’s Perspective
- Short Stories Group
- Diary of the Festival of Writing, York, UK, 2012
- The Writer’s Workshop group profile and Vanessa’s profile