Interview with V. L. Bending

What do you read for pleasure?
Science fiction and fantasy! I have an insanely fast reading speed compared to most people, so I go through a lot of books. Next down the preference list is probably entertaining-factual: popular science books and the like. Then actual science books - I love finding out how the universe ticks! And finally, a slightly guilty pleasure here, I enjoy a good laugh at books written by whackos - you know, 'the pyramids were built by aliens who now live under the north pole' sort of nonsense.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My bitty little Sony. It's a *looks at back* PRS-350, and it's big enough to display a decent number of words at my preferred (admittedly small) font size, but just small enough that I can put it in my coat pocket! Occasionally I forget it's not a book, and close the cover to try and see the picture on the front...
Describe your desk
On a good day or a bad day?
Good Day: I've recently tidied up. Either way, at that point, it's neat, orderly, and uncluttered, and everything has its place. There's usually a pen and pencil or two lying around, with the printer in easy reach as a paper source, and the e-pen for my A3 graphics tablet, which lives down the side of the desk when I'm not using it.
Bad Day: I'm snowed under. My desk is covered in receipts, bills, scientific papers, at least one used mug, and probably an empty chocolate wrapper or two. I keep thinking I should clean it, but don't get around to it. There's just enough space left that I can use the keyboard and mouse, and my headphones are hanging from the top of the screen because there's nowhere left to put them - even the top of the PC (except the fan) can be a piling surface.
Laptop Shelf: I have a small Ikea shelf almost the same size as my laptop, which I carry around the house so I'm never in danger of cutting off its air supply. There's only room on here for a laptop and a mug of tea!
When did you first start writing?
I don't remember! I do know I was in the very last WHSmith's Young Writers Competition when I was around 6 - I got a commendation - and I'd been writing for a long time before that. I think I started the moment I was able to string words together in a line, and that was pretty early! I can't actually picture a life without writing in it. It's not possible, I just can't imagine it: that would require me not to think, at all, ever, about anything. Whether or not they get written down, I'm always making up stories.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I write because I can't not, fundamentally. I'd be writing if all my books were published and I'd be writing if I was the last human being left on the planet and there was no-one left to read it but me. If someone else can get something out of my writing, I want to share it as widely as possible! Even if only one person on the planet wants to read it, I still want to reach them. Just posting online in a corner of my blog doesn't get word out very far, and publishing traditionally, while absolutely awesome, has so many barriers that I don't know if I have that kind of luck - or the kind of patience I'd need to have to wait for that kind of luck to come along, given that all I really want to do is share books with the world. So this seemed like the way to go!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Ooh. Tricky one. I'd say... building a world, and learning about some characters, and then Dropping Them In It and watching them do <i>completely unexpected things!</i> Then I find out why they did that, and uncover a new facet of personality, or a new nugget of information from the past, or maybe a deeply-held but fundamentally flawed conviction... all things I didn't even know about when I started! For me, at least, writing is a pretty flowing process. I love the whole act of it, and how everything comes together, and seeing what builds itself from the fairly simple patch of "explored land" I started on.
I can say what I don't like so much, though... editing! ;)
What do your fans mean to you?
I have fans?!
Haha, no, really, fans are amazing. Every one of them is someone a little like me and a whole lot different, someone my work <i>meant something</i> to. I'm sure we have a million points of disagreement, and that's okay! Even if what they see in there is something totally opposite to what I envisaged. Once a story is out of my hands, well, it's entirely out of my hands. Everyone who takes it up sees something new, and that's wonderful!
What are you working on next?
EVERYTHING AT ONCE. Which, ahem, I shouldn't be. The Erithenia series is my current <i>big</i> project, but it probably isn't going to be the next thing to come out. What's out next is more likely to be one of either Alt-Shift or Convergence, both sci-fi stories relating in some way or another to the future, the past, and cause and effect, and alongside that will be my irregularly-running web serial, The Fused.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Depends how I feel! And on the weather. I might adventure vicariously through reading, gaming, and tabletop roleplay... or I might go out and go caving or climbing, or explore without either map or destination!
I also have an actual job, but that's a lot less interesting!
What is your writing process?
Generally I'll start with an idea based either around a world ("this would be cool!") or one or more characters ("this person is awesome!"). After that, it's world-building time: figure out all the major points (e.g.: Magic? If yes, how do spells work? Who can cast? How is a spell cast? What happens if one goes wrong? What are the limits of magic? Etc.) and the immediate setting for the start of the story. If I started from a world concept rather than a character concept, I also need to go through the locals (and the passing travellers) until I find someone who looks like a good candidate for getting involved in whatever's going on! Antagonists also need just as much work - they're people too, not cardboard cut-outs, and they have their reasons for doing what they do.
Once that's all done, and some notes made, it's time to actually start. Timed writing challenges are really helpful for me because it forces me to stop dwelling on sentence structure and actually write, even if what I write is full of typos and only a little shy of incoherent. I also typically pick some prompt music for the book - either a CD or a compilation of tracks - which I put on endless loop to keep the edges of my mind from getting distracted. Being able to sustain multiple trains of thought at once is an amazing advantage for keeping characters in mind all the time, but it does make it easy for any spare processing power I'm not currently using to wander off and do something else if it isn't repeatedly refocused back onto the task at hand!
Published 2015-05-12.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Erithenia: Reclamation
Pre-release—available December 1, 2018. Price: $4.50 USD. Language: British English. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
When a cruise liner runs aground on a lifeless shore, it seems a tragic disaster — yet it’s only the preface to something far more momentous. Gods and monsters are returning to a world that has forgotten them, and caught in the middle is Aidan Delaney, immortal adventurer. Never able to walk away from a mystery, now the fate of the world falls on his shoulders with all too little time to solve it.
Before the Sun Fades
Price: $3.25 USD. Words: 107,820. Language: British English. Published: May 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
When a lone traveller with a shadowed past enters a magically concealed valley and finds herself trapped there, she must gain the aid of the inhabitants and battle for its salvation before the magical light she carries is exhausted — but the true origin of the curse upon the valley is not as black and white as anyone expects.