Please join Britbear’s Book Reviews in welcoming author Vivian Wolkoff as she talks about her writing process and her books, Blood Red: The Complete First Season.
From the Amazon book description:
Evie Williams lives a boring life – and she likes it that way. Her world is very black and white. Routine is good. Excitement is bad. She’s happy to play by her self-imposed rules. After all, they help her keep her abusive ex-boyfriend, Dan, at bay. Or so she believes.
But there’s more to the world than Evie could possibly imagine. Elves, vampires, witches and pro-Humanity terrorists are very real – and she can sense the danger they pose to her and others. Worst of all, they’re about to realize how precious Evie’s gift is.
Thank you for doing this interview with me, Vivian. The idea of patterning books after television episodes is one I haven’t seen before. From where did this idea come?
I stumbled into the serial format while looking for something to read, to be honest. I used to get my Urban Fantasy fix from TV but I wanted to find something similar in book format. I’ve seen writers use serials as newspapers used to at the turn of the 20th century: one single story broken up into smaller parts. Other writers are using the format to tell multiple stories happening in the same universe. I hadn’t seen anyone try a TV-in-book-format for novel-length Urban Fantasy stories before. I knew I wanted to do that right away! I wanted the challenge. Besides, it seemed like a natural fit for me.
You describe Blood Red‘s world as a shared universe. Tell us a bit about it.
Oh, how long do you have? I can talk about it for days! Sorry, I tend to geek out a little when it comes to world building. Anyway, Blood Red is a small corner of a much bigger universe. This is actually my second project set in this universe – even though it was released first. The first one, Changeling, will come out sometime this year. It’s a little like Marvel has done for years, first with the comic books and now with the movies. You have these stories that stand alone on their own – like Captain America, Hulk and Spider Man – but you also have these characters teaming up, working together as Avengers. Blood Red is Chris and Evie’s story, but there will be characters from Blood Red that will go on to live their own adventures. Also, Chris and Evie can do cameo appearances in other stories. You can read Blood Red and be done with that world – or you can read the other stories and connect the dots. My idea is to have each series or serial focusing mainly on one preternatural group. Blood Red is a vampire’s tale. Changeling will be the witches’ domain and so on…
Very interesting concept. Writing in a shared universe is a new innovation (new to me, anyway). You’re only the second author I’ve come across so far that does this. How does the process of writing in a shared universe work?
Short answer: tons of “bible” files for each preternatural race (that I call myths) and a vast timeline that covers the wall in front of my computer. The slightly longer answer: I’ve done the hard work – setting the different myths and their inner workings, as well as their relationship to the other myths – before I even wrote Changeling. At the time, I had this vague idea of writing about vampires and witches. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted this world to have a lived-in feel to it. I didn’t want it to be a “prop” world that felt brand new. And the world building paid off – big time! This world really is the gift that keeps on giving. The more I delve into it, the more interesting stories and characters I find.
I’m a fan of the genre, but why vampires?
Changeling is a YA, fast-paced, action-oriented story. It was a lot of fun to write and I love those characters. But I wanted something a little different for my next project in this universe. I wanted something a little more mature. Something sexy, with lots of intrigue and action. I wanted to add some shadows into the universe. What better myth for that type of story than vampires? Besides, I had always planned to write the story of a vampire and a girl falling in love. That type of story has been around for ages and I wanted to play with it. Besides, I like the idea of two people who should be opposites – one living in the dark and the other living in the light – coming together, finding common ground.
Your bio says you’ve been writing since you were a child and that you self-published your first collection of poems at the age of 13. What is it that made you want to become a writer in the first place?
I was always seeing stories wherever I went. I’ve always been in love with the written word. I remember when I was three or four and I used to wake up in the middle of the night and sit by the television with my favorite book – Rapunzel – and just stare at the letters for the longest time. I used to tell stories to my dolls and pretend I was writing stories. All this was long before I even learned how to read or write. I think I was hardwired to tell stories. That’s the only explanation I have.
What was the world of self-publishing like when you were that young. What was the process like? How did you handle the brand building at that age?
Frankly, I didn’t handle it. I sold several copies in my native hometown (I’m from Rio de Janeiro – Brazil) and some people talked about it. A small publishing company approached me about publishing a book, but I was way too young. It all felt so daunting to me – and to my parents. Neither of them are artists and I was just beginning. If it had been today, with digital self-publishing, maybe it would’ve been easier. Back then, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and I decided to put that on hold for a while. Looking back now, it was the right thing for me. I had time to mature as a writer , to find my voice and have something to say.
Would you recommend other young writers follow in your footsteps? What advice might you have for them?
I tell writers of any age the same thing: read and write like crazy. That is the best thing you can do for your career. And keep your ears and your eyes wide open. You never know where those ideas will come from – or what will help you in your writing career. Above all else, do what feels right for you. Trust your gut. It felt right for me to put things on hold and go be a kid, but maybe someone else will feel differently. People will try to tell you what to do and what to say and what to write – listen to them politely, but always do what you feel is right. In the end, this is your life.
Tell us a bit about the other projects you have on the go. What’s next for you?
Like I said, Changeling is coming up soon. I also just finished writing Season 02 for Blood Red (finished it today, in fact). Season 02 will come out in August 2015 – but I’ve heard from people who want to read the book now. I am about to start another project set in the same universe as Blood Red and Changeling. This will be my “superhero team” story. I’m really excited about it – but it is still in the early stages and I rather not jinx it by talking too much about it.
You said you recommend that young authors read a lot to become better writers. Which authors and/or books have inspired you to do the same?
I genre hop like crazy as a reader – and a little as a writer, too. I love George RR Martin and Patricia Briggs. I love Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen. I love Gillian Flynn and Neil Gaiman. I’m about to start reading The Winner’s Crime, by Marie Rutkoski. Her world building is gorgeous, by the way. I was all giddy this morning, getting my copy from Amazon. (See? I’m a helpless geek!)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you, your books, and your writring?
I love books and writing. I promise to always take the reader on a thrilling story filled with interesting characters. These are the types of stories I grew up with and that I like to tell now. I promise it will be a fun, wild ride.
Here’s where you can learn more about Vivian Wolkoff and her books:
About Vivian Wolkoff:
Vivian Wolkoff has always been in love with words – even before she could read them. So, it should be no surprise she turned to writing and reading very early in life. She first self-published a poetry book at the age of 13, followed by two honorary mentions in contests promoted by a small publishing house in her native Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Then, she decided to do some living and find out what else she loved. After college and moving cross-continent twice, Vivian decided to turn to self-publishing again. She is the author of Showmance, the first book in a trilogy about a fake celebrity couple and their crazy fans, and the psychological thriller Love You To Death. Blood Red is the first novel in her Preternatural Chronicles – a shared universe filled with unlikely heroes, damsels who refuse to be in distress, intrigue and epic adventures.