Author Spotlight #17

The Author: Victoria Wren

Victoria is making her debut this year with her YA paranormal series ‘Wild Spirit: The Curse of Win Adler’. She has written books since she was a teenager and loves escaping into other worlds during her writing. Victoria lives in the UK, with her husband, two girls and three cats, she loves being outdoors, traveling, she is a Disney fanatic and enjoys watching movies and  reading to her children.

The Book: Wild Spirit: The Curse of Win Adler

Win Adler is sixteen and has been struck down with a mystery illness, shattering the life she knew in Boston. When doctors can’t find a cure, her father’s last hope of recovery is to take her home to Hickory House, her mother’s ancestral home in the woods in the old colonial town of Cedar Wood.

Living with her Grandpa and older sister in a quaint town should be ideal, but Win soon discovers she lives at the heart of an old town ghost story, a tale of witchcraft and tragedy. And Win learns that her family is unusual, someone is watching the house, someone who knows her family’s dark secrets. Win is starting to change, in more ways than one, she is getting stronger and faster as she learns more about her family’s strange curse. A falcon follows Win around, watching her every move, protecting her, and warding off danger.

She must unearth the secrets of her past to survive the fight of her life before she runs out of time.

The Review: 4 stars!

Wren created a fascinating world here, one that I would love to revisit again and again. This book reads like a cross between a mystery and a preternatural shapeshifter novel – both of which I enjoy and find myself searching for a lot.
I liked the mystery of it all, how from one page to the next, you didn’t know what would happen. I enjoyed the trials and tribulations the characters had to go through to reach the end, and the slow release of backstory and truth at the core of the plot. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so this review is kind of short, but the book is definitely worth a read if you enjoy mystery, drama, and supernatural elements with your daily dose of fantasy.

The Interview:

 What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book? 

During the first draft, a strangely surprising thing I discovered was an actual writing community, as crazy as that sounds! I had no writer friends at all and completely fell down an author tube rabbit hole and ended up meeting the loveliest group of people, I’m now so fortunate to have in my life!

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb? 

I think this book is about family and the love and strength we take from those ties, and its about what happens when family bonds can be broken.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Though they are all special, I do love writing for Luke. He’s cute and has a bit of an attitude, but at heart is a real softie.

 What was the inspiration for the story?

I had wanted to write a paranormal YA for so long and I had the character in my head for years. I started so many times but couldn’t seem to find the right setting, but finally, after having my working life put on hold due to covid, I envisioned this mysterious house in the woods and a cursed family, and it all fell into place.

 What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

The key theme is overcoming fear, being different, and mending broken family ties. The main character in the story Win comes from a place wherein her old life she has been cast out, betrayed, and hurt and is having to start over her life, find new friendships despite living at the heart of an old town legend.

 What is the significance of the title? What is the future for the characters?

I’ve lots planned for these characters, they are going to have fun and drama along the way. the title just brings together the whole concept of the story, so in this one its about Win’s family curse, discovering she is special and how that curse has impacted her entire family for generations.

 Will there be a sequel?

Yes absolutely, this is a book series of four! 

 What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?

Homeschooling two children at the same time! We would get up every day, log on, and do as much school work as we could before they would start to phase out and become irritated. At the time it was summer here in the UK so we went for long walks, took our learning outdoors, and then in the afternoon I was able to crack on and write.

 What was the highlight of writing this book?

The highlight, I think for me was finding a nice group of people and getting the book beta read. it was the first time I’d ever shared my work, and although it was daunting, it was a fascinating process, something I really enjoyed and discovering that I could actually finish a book!

 Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from lots of different places, television and film, documentaries and also reading other fantastic author’s work. I love reading indie authors, discovering them. I also love beta reading for people, I find that really inspirational, and motivating, discovering new writing styles and storytelling. its wonderful to be inspired by another author’s journey!

 Who is your favorite author, and why? 

I’ve not got a favorite author particularly, I love reading a wide variety of genres. But over the years I have read a lot of Stephen King. I do love the way he writes kids and teenagers and ‘The Body’ always springs to mind and ‘The Girl who loved Tom Gordon’.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a vampire series by another indie author Eva Alton. but I also just read My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and was blown away.

 Favorite book/story you have read as an adult, and what was your favorite book when you were a kid?

My favourite book as a teenager and still is, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

 What do you like to do when you are not writing?

As a family we walk, watch movies and play board games. But when I’m on my own and the kids are at school I love getting out and seeing my friends and also I work as well!

 What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Keep lots of notes of your ideas and write the book whatever way you feel is best to get the story out. Look on authortube for fellow writers and find a nice group of people that you can use as your betas!

 How do you handle writer’s block?

I’ve not really suffered with writers block. I usually find that its fatigue or burn out. In this case, its better to have a rest, listen to music and clear your head. It all comes together in the end.

 What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I love to beta read and I don’t think I can give an absolute answer on what makes good writing, as we all have our own unique styles. I would say that if I’ve forgotten I was suposed to be doing something, I got caught up or swept away with the story, then you’ve likely nailed it. I love a good bit of romance, in any genre I read, I look for the romantic subplot! I think you need to have a good hero at the heart of the story and outline their arc for the book!

 What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters? 

For me they usually come around the same time. Then I outline and also do a fair amount of discovery writing, sometimes the best laid plans go awry so I prefer to see what happens naturally. I don’t make hard charcarer decisions ahead of writing, I like to see how they fit together, their chemistry as I’m writing it.

Describe a typical writing day.

I usually have my children in school from 8.30 and if its a writing day I come home, soet out the house and then try and get some words in before lunch and then an hour after lunch. If I have time in the evening I might get some more in. With children at home its not easy to lock yourself away. sometimes If I’m close to finishing something , at the weekend I can do that with my husband home to help out!

 What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Usually lack of concentration, being pulled out of the creative zone. This can happen for lots of reasons and often cant be helped, but I just plow on when I can.

 How do you do research for your books? 

If I can physically visit the setting ( or the inspiration for the setting) I would go there, but with this book being set in the USA, I did a lot of online research, looked at lots of photos, visited google, reads books and also watched online videos. I’ve also grown up reading tons of US based YA books in that genre, so reading in your genre is important too!

When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood?

Music is super helpful to me when I know that I’m going to be writing something very emotional. Having songs on a playlist helps. But I find this helps with any scene that you write, be it romantic, sad, or dramatic action-packed scene!

 How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

I found this particularly while working on book three, no spoilers, but something happening to a character I love really got to me. Have a good cry, get it out of your system, and take some well-earned breaks. It’s super emotional finishing a draft, seeing a cover for the first time, and releasing the book itself. It’s hugely stressful and your emotions are all over the place. I would advise you to get some distance, go for a walk and clear your head!

 How do you handle literary criticism?

I think, as with anything you have to keep your chin up. It’s very easy to get bogged down with negativity and thankfully I haven’t had too much, yet! You have to remember why you are writing, and who you are writing for. and also if the criticism is constructive, then use it to your advantage, learn from it, and try to develop a thick skin!

 How much ‘world-building’ takes place before you start writing?

For this particular story, I did a fair amount of family background, research, and development because the story links back to the times of the American revolutionary war and I wanted the family’s roots to be embedded within that time, this also relates to further books that I’ve written in the series as more characters are introduced, each has a link to the family and the history. This was fun though, I enjoyed diving into that time period.

 Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?  

Yes I have some lovely readers but I’d love to hear from more! Its very early days for me and so far, everyone has been positive and kind. I’m always up for interacting with my readers though and really looking forward to more of that happening as I publish more of the series.

  Where can readers find out more about you and your book, and are you on social media? Can your readers interact with you?  

I have a website and a newsletter readers can sign up for. In 2021 I’m planning on writing some flash fiction to send to readers who sign up on the site, and this will be related to the Wild Spirit series. I’m also very active on Instagram!

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