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Interview with Victoria Watson

What genre do you write and why? I find it difficult to define my writing in a genre. Most of my stories tend to have a sting in the tale and the writer I know of that does this best is Roald Dahl, he’s been a huge influence on me from a very young age. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near as good as Mr Dahl but I suppose I would liken my short stories to ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ meets ‘Talking Heads’ by Alan Bennett. One or two of my stories, though, are crime – pure and simple. I guess I’d say I write crime and/or stories with surprise endings are because they’re the books I most enjoy reading.

Tell us about your latest book. My latest release is a short story called Dangerous DrivingIt’s about a woman who receives a phone call telling her that her son has been rushed into hospital following an accident. The story then follows the woman as she does everything in her power to get to her son. As usual with my stories, all is not what it seems.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? I tend to use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I’m very lucky that I have a lot of friends who will share my posts, retweet my links and so on. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing method. If a friend recommends a book, I’m more likely to buy it than just seeing an ad for it on someone’s website.

What formats is the book available in? At the moment, ‘Dangerous Driving’ is available for download only from Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Who are your favourite authors? I’ve already given a mention to Roald Dahl, I love what he does with language, particularly in his books for children. I love the books of Khaled Hosseini, author of ‘The Kite Runner’ et al. Linwood Barclay is another favourite and I think Roddy Doyle is a cracking writer. I have to admit, once I’ve read a couple of books I enjoy from one author, it’s likely I’ll devour their whole back catalogue – that takes up a lot of time!

What advice do you have for other writers? Keep writing, keep editing, keep submitting. Have a thick skin but also take constructive criticism in the spirit that it’s meant – use it to improve your writing. Take every opportunity that comes your way and if none are forthcoming, try to manufacture some yourself. Have a strong network of writers – either virtually or in you local area, better yet, both - to support you when the writing demons attack. Go to book festivals, book launches and other events so that you can meet up with likeminded people.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers? “My ideas usually come not at my desk but in the midst of living” – Anais Nin. I find that so true.

What's the best thing about being a writer? Creating something that is entirely my own (particularly when readers like it!).

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? Well, I run a blog at elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com. You can check out my Amazon Author Page. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Watson/e/B006CUGW7W/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1388250739&sr=8-1 And you can find me on Twitter @vpeanuts.

Who is you favorite character in your book and why? It’s difficult to say because all of the stories I have are short stories but, generally speaking, I always prefer the ‘baddies’. They’re always so much more interesting.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book? From the feedback I’ve had about ‘Dangerous Driving’ so far, readers have said it’s tense, full of suspense and also portrays a place in the world not many people in the West have had a lot to do with.

How long did it take you to write your book? My writing times vary. A couple of years ago, I could write a short story within a fortnight but at the moment I just don’t have the time to write a new story every other week. I just set up my own business in 2013 www.elementaryvwatson.com and am two thirds of the way through a teaching degree so they’re taking up most of my time. That said, I am hoping to complete my full-length novel by the end of 2014.

Who designed the cover? Varia Maer, a friend from Twitter, was kind enough to design the cover using a photograph I took in 2012.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected? The crime novel that I am currently writing has meant that I’ve learnt a lot about police procedures, prisons and drugs. Not happy topics but totally integral to my book.

Where can a reader purchase your book? ‘Dangerous Driving’ can be found at:  http://amzn.to/1cuT199
You can also download my award-winning short story ‘The Piano’ at http://amzn.to/12oWuj4
I also have a collection of short stories – ‘Letting Go’ – available for download http://amzn.to/RcJZE8.
                                                      
Who inspires you? My parents inspire me a great deal. They are a great representation of how much you can achieve with hard work. I’ve been inspired through the years by many people. Roald Dahl will always be an inspiration to me, as will Harper Lee.

How do you research your books? In this wonderful age of digital media, I feel I am very lucky as I have a broad network of people in all sorts of jobs that can usually help me, all I need to do is put a shout out on Facebook or Twitter and I will usually find someone willing to share their knowledge. If not, they know who to ask. I find this absolutely mind boggling.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it. At the moment, my work in progress is on hold until I complete teacher training. I work on it every so often, entering it for competitions if it fits the criteria but I haven’t added anything new to it for quite some time. I will, however, be starting work on it again in June. It might sound like a long way off but I am sure it’ll be here sooner than expected! The work in progress is called ‘Fix Me Up’, it’s a crime novel set in North-East England. The main character is a drug-addict called Colin and a lot of the narrative is in Geordie dialect.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing? Self-publishing has been very good to me as a short story writer. It has been known for quite some time that short stories are not popular with publishers unless they’re from a well-known author / celebrity but self-publishing has given me the opportunity to get my stories out there for people to read. However, I personally still hold traditional publishing in high esteem – I think it’s the Holy Grail for most writers.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer? On completing my undergraduate degree, I had a lot of time to read books and what I found was that I was reading repetitive, fluffy nonsense. I remember standing in a bookshop with my best friend telling her about a book I’d recently read (published by a well-known house) that was the same as the author’s previous three books. “I could do better than that,” I said and have been writing ever since. Turns out, it’s not that easy.

Victoria Watson
Does your family support you in your writing career? How? My parents and younger brother have always been very supportive of what I do and they are the same with the writing. Last year, I found out I was shortlisted for a local writing competition and on the night of the awards, my parents, brother and my boyfriend came to sit in a freezing cold library to watch the results. I won first prize which was wonderful but having them there made it all the more special. My boyfriend is a tireless proofreader and gives me lots of honest, constructive feedback. I am a proofreader by trade but, when it’s your own work, it’s easy to read it how you envisaged it rather than notice the words you’ve missed out.

What are you currently reading? I am currently reading ‘The Cruel Mother’ by Sian Busby. It’s non-fiction about Sian’s great-grandmother drowning two newborn babies in 1919. It’s an interesting way of presenting what is essentially one woman’s research into her family tree.

What books or authors have most influenced your life? I bet you can guess who I’m going to say…! Roald Dahl (of course), Alan Bennett and Harper Lee. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is such a triumph. I’m also going to mention ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ which I read when I was eleven and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. Those books had a profound effect on me.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Working mainly! Last year, I did begin a routine of going to the gym which I’m back into the swing of. I started going because I’d been poorly for two years due to an autoimmune disease (I also spend a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms) and had put on a lot of weight. I was also asked to be my best friend’s bridesmaid in June 2013 and I knew I wanted to lose weight for that. All went well until after the wedding but my resolve wavered somewhat, I had a couple of bouts of pleurisy and an operation on my arm which left me unable to exercise for a while. But I’m off to Vegas next week so have been trying to lose some of the excess I put on at the end of 2013! I also love reading and travelling.

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