EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! Spotlight Author Victoria Sawyer
Posted by transcendingdreams
[Transcending Dreams] In your bio on goodreads, you’re very open about your anxiety and depression. How has that changed who you are as a writer, or hasn’t it?
[Victoria] Prior to writing Angst I was always a very secretive person about my anxiety. Only those closest to me knew the truth or the depth of my condition and in order to hide it I had used alcohol as a crutch for many many years in social settings. Writing Angst was a start, but the real exposure didn’t come until I decided I wanted to actually self-publish it.
One of the first people to really read it for me who didn’t know anything about my panic attacks and anxiety was my friend Kerri who edited the book for me. During the process she didn’t say much to me about what she thought of the subject matter, but after she told me that I had opened her eyes about panic attacks. Her thought had always been, have one get over it, no big deal. She didn’t know that people like me were out there suffering from this every day. So I was pleased with that outcome and of course with publishing I decided to be very open about it online.
In my personal life, I have opened up a bit more, but there are still people who don’t know, both in my family and in other relationships, like work. I find it’s very difficult to have a quick conversation about how it feels to suffer from anxiety and often there isn’t time for a longer conversation. It takes a lot of explaining for someone without panic attacks to understand what’s happening with someone like me. My goal is that my novel will do the talking for me and more and more people will hopefully learn what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness and the long talk won’t be necessary because people will come to the table with an open mind.
[TD] Here’s the dreaded question all writer’s get asked: what’s your writing process?
[Victoria] I like to call my process “organic,” in that I go with the flow. I write what I know, I allow the story to grow and change until I feel like I have the story line set. Angst was not always the way it is now, it took time to learn her voice, and for me to learn more about plotting, pace etc. I thought with writing a second book I’d plan more, but I find I still need to just jump in write what I know and the plotting will come together.
[TD] What did it feel like to finally see your published work?
[Victoria] It’s incredible. I never thought I’d really write an entire book, never mind publish it. It was always a dream but since I’m pretty pessimistic, I never really thought I’d get here. It took some pushing from the right friends but here I am. And I really hope that I can help someone, either to understand what it’s like to suffer from a persistent mental issue or to know that you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do.
[TD] Do you have any more books in the works?
[Victoria] I do, I have 3 books I’m working on at the moment. I’m still having a hard time narrowing it down to one, but I do know I need to because I’ll never get anywhere with 3 books in the works. One of them is the second installment to Angst and one that I knew I wanted to write prior to publishing but I didn’t know all the details of the story. I’m still working through that now. The other two stories are different and do not deal with mental health.
[TD] Who are your favorite authors?
[Victoria] I have a lot of favorite authors. I’m really quite interested in history, so I read a lot of historical fiction which is of course quite different from the kind of stories that I’m telling. History fascinates me, but I’m not sure I could actually write a historical novel myself. A few favorites that come to mind: Sara Donati, Robert McCammon, Wilbur Smith. My current favorite YA authors are Belinda Williams, Laurie Halse Anderson, Colleen Hoover. I also have a soft spot for Karina Halle.
[TD] Who inspired you to write? Who or what keeps you writing?
[Victoria] I think feeling alone in my mental state is what pushed me to writing in the first place, plus I’m a very expressive person by nature. I like to call myself an “emotional spewer” which means that I can’t keep it in, I have to share. Heaven help those around me like my husband/parents and friends. But this definitely lends itself to writing. Plus I’m emotional in general and I like writing about the emotional moments in life. I also think that writing can be addictive. I just plain enjoy using words to tell a story.
[TD] What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring writers?
[Victoria] Don’t stop! No matter what happens, don’t stop. Everyone has an opinion, everyone’s a critic but you can’t please everyone, you need to write for you, write as if no one will ever read it. That’s not to say that editing and criticism aren’t good, they are, but there is a time and place. I think if I had taken all the criticism to heart, I would have stopped or I would have tried to change my voice, my writing style so many times that I would never have felt confident about it. Don’t be afraid to do you.
[TD] Do you have any regrets about the story you shared in Angst?
[Victoria] Do I have doubts? I do, of course. Every now and then I think of all the scandal, swear words, hurt, depression and anxiety that I’ve poured into my novel and I think, oh my god, I did that, I released that into the world, I need to pull it all back. But most of the time, I don’t really care. Yes, I broke the rules with a flagrant disregard, I did something that some people will probably hate, I wrote a book that isn’t mainstream and I told my story in a way that might make people insane or anxious or depressed, but I did it my way and I told the truth. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me is that I was honest and I told the story in the best way I can. And I hope people can at least recognize that even if they don’t like it.