Interview with Vanessa Finaughty

When did you first start writing?
As a young child, I recall handwriting short 'books', binding them with wool or string (and sometimes illustrating them), and then trying to sell them to family members. I used to make family members sit and listen to me read them aloud too. I must have been an annoying child in that sense!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Gosh, no. That was too long ago as a very young child. The first story I ever completed and had published, though, was Mantis, which was published in South Africa's Something Wicked horror magazine.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is a fantasy short story anthology titled Sorcery & Subterfuge. I had two short stories that were published separately on Smashwords for free, but felt my author page was clogging up with too many short stories, thereby obscuring my novels somewhat. Oxford University South Africa then commissioned me to write four short stories for the private school learner anthologies this year. Since I retained copyright and the right to publish these four stories elsewhere, I decided to put my existing shorts into an anthology with the four Oxford stories.
What are you working on next?
Legends of Origin 3. I've kept my readers waiting long enough for that book, and I'm itching to finish it, so that's next for me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to lose myself in another world while I'm writing. I write because I love to write, not to make money (although obviously I'd love to make money from my writing, because that would enable me to spend more time writing, rather than working to pay the bills). The other great joy for me is when readers let me know they loved my books - a lot of effort goes into them, so it's great to know others are gaining the same enjoyment from my books that I do.
What is your writing process?
I write the story from start to finish and, once it's concluded, go back and add in anything I feel needs foreshadowing or improving on. After that, I add in the chapters. I don't often plan my stories - most of the time, they start with a scene in my head that I write, and it flows from there, with me having seemingly no control over it. Then it's edit, edit, edit!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working and house cleaning, mostly, though I'm also addicted to a few TV series like Dexter and The Walking Dead, so I spend a reasonable amount of time in front of the TV some evenings. I enjoy a good coffee 'date' with some friends, where we sit and yack a bit, and I'll have a new baby soon to keep me even busier.
How do you approach cover design?
I usually complete the book first, then decide more or less what I'd like on my cover (it has to fit the story), and then I search for free royalty-free images to use in the design.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have to admit that I prefer to read paper books for pleasure reading. I'm an editor by profession, so reading on a PC or any sort of digital device would feel too much like work to me. While I enjoy my job as an editor, sometimes it's still nice to allow your brain to switch off to any errors and just read.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dean Koontz, John Connolly and fellow Smashwords author, TC Southwell.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first story, but the first author I remember enjoying is Enid Blyton. I loved the way her words whisked me into another world to the point where someone could stand right next to me saying my name and I wouldn't hear them.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Cape Town. I don't think this influenced my writing all that much, though.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I saw how a friend struggled to make sales with a traditional publisher. Her book was well written and entertaining, and a traditional publisher thought it was good enough to take a chance on, yet it still wasn't selling. The publisher seemed to put no effort into marketing her book either, and then I read a few horror stories online about traditional publishers who sabotage their own authors in favour of better-selling authors. Between those things and the fact that I'm too impatient to wait a year from acceptance to publication, I decided that the indie route was best for me. I'm a control freak, so it works well for me, though it's a lot of hard work. I've never regretted that choice.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
To be honest, I'll only consider myself a success when I'm able to write full time, with my book sales paying all the bills. However, Smashwords has helped me quite a bit. Between working for myself, my daily responsibilities at home, writing and the fact that I need to have some fun and sleep sometimes too, I don't have much time to upload my books to myriad distributors for greater exposure (and sales). Smashwords solved this problem for me with its distribution channel. Smashwords also makes it easy to publish, with all its DIY guides, including a nifty marketing guide in which I discovered some useful tips.
What do your fans mean to you?
The world! Without them, there would be no chance of me ever being able to write full time, which is my ultimate goal.
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Sorcery & Subterfuge
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,360. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: November 15, 2012. Category: Fiction
A magical sceptre that holds the power of the gods, an invisible prince, an elf with ogre genes and the ability to bend others’ minds to his will, a peasant girl turned queen, a tortured phoenix in human form, mystical fogs, dwarf pirates and majestic ryokin – sentient winged sabretooth cats with magic flowing through their veins…
The Better Writing Guide
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 22,410. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: September 20, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
The Better Writing Guide offers myriad tips to improve your writing, and delves deeply into things that will enhance your skills, such as character point of view, tenses and writing style. If you have purchased the EDITORS’ BIBLE, please do not purchase this book.
Editors' Bible
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 49,410. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: September 11, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
A few well-chosen words can fire the imagination and evoke images, but badly written manuscripts will damage your reputation as an author and chase away readers. This book gives authors the tools and knowledge, with ample examples, to write and self-edit effectively, and is a practical guide for professionals to refer to.
Legends of Origin 2 - Orion's Harvesters
By Vanessa Finaughty
Series: Legends of Origin, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 83,200. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2012. Category: Fiction
Two months after Liam MacAskill’s return to Earth from Tridor Monastery, a portal opens in Orion’s Nebula, and a continent-sized spaceship emerges. It heads for Earth, where it hovers over Africa. Shortly thereafter, a second alien species comes through the portal. Then impossibility becomes reality – the second species steals Earth’s sun.
Crimson Rain
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: Free! Words: 4,000. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2011. Category: Fiction
Short story. They say the time will come for the darkened sky to violate our Earth with her tears of blood. The legend foretells of a blood-thirsty race being born from these tears; Mother Nature’s punishment for our evil deeds. They say that day will come when mankind’s thirst for the blood of his own consumes him. They say that day is near.
December 21, 2012: Survival Guide
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 25,450. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
December 21, 2012: Survival Guide explores some of the theories, predictions and science about this date, but focuses more on survival in nature and a post-apocalyptic world. Much of the information included can be used in everyday life, even if there is no cataclysm, and knowing the planet you live on is never a bad idea.
Life
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,100. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2011. Category: Fiction
Life is a collection of 27 poems about life in general, some deep and emotional, a few morbid and angry, with a little light humour in between.
Dance with Evil
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 52,830. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2011. Category: Fiction
When a black magic cult unwittingly draws evil incarnate to Earth’s dimension, it sets off a chain of events that play out over a period of two years before most of those involved even realise they’re being toyed with.
Legends of Origin 1 - Sanctuary for the Devil
By Vanessa Finaughty
Series: Legends of Origin, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 88,370. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2011. Category: Fiction
In his search for the origin of the human race, Liam MacAskill travels to another planet and comes face to face with the Devil himself. He’s driven to claim sanctuary from the monks and nuns at Tridor Monastery, where another stranger to the land lies in a coma.
Ashes to Ashes
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 52,380. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2011. Category: Fiction
When Mathieu Cousteau dies, twenty-seven-year-old Michelle van Wyk is relieved that the man intimidating her can no longer make good on his threats. Her relief is short-lived, however – Mathieu’s soul lives on, and is hell bent on avenging his murder. Michelle’s situation grows direr when Mathieu’s handsome brother, Pierre Dumaine, becomes obsessed with her.
Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,700. Language: English. Published: August 14, 2011. Category: Fiction
The Dragon Kin anthology is a collection of fantasy stories with plenty of twists that will keep you turning the page for more. In this anthology, a young man's incredible past is uncovered when he saves a young woman from conjured, fire-breathing dragons. A novice wizard’s resolve is tested when he is chased by rabid dogs for accusing a king’s beloved queen of murder.
Futurescape
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,760. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2011. Category: Fiction
Science fiction meets the real world in this short story anthology, with stories guaranteed to spin your mind into an alternate reality. Are you ready?
Terrorscape
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 14,620. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2011. Category: Fiction
Can’t decide between horror and thriller? Chill your bones with thrills from this three-part anthology including flash fiction, Lovecraftian horror and short stories that bring you a full scope of terror.
Horrotica
By Vanessa Finaughty
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 17,560. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2011. Category: Fiction
A collection of short horror stories that will leave you with chills and urge you to think twice before taking anything at face value.