Interview with Vera Nazarian

Published 2019-03-14.
What inspires you to be a writer?
Inspiration has little to do with it. Basically a writer has strong opinions and has something to say, to communicate to the world (and sometimes amuse the world in the process). If you like interpreting what you see around you, analyzing and describing and explaining to yourself, reasoning out loud, and then making others better understand; if you want them to see things your unique way, you usually become a writer of some kind. If you like words, language (English or any other), if you find beauty in the sound of speech, then you might end up writing. But most of all—if you secretly think of life as a story imbued with patterns and meaning, and if you like to wonder and dream and imagine “what if” possible alternate endings and adventures; if you like to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, then you will end telling different variations of this story to yourself and others. Oh, and of course you will have to write your story down. Because you won’t be able to rest otherwise. Some think of it as logorrhea (fun word), but you know it’s just passion that needs to be expressed. Every new book is your passion compressed into words.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was abandoned by urban elves on the doorstep of an apartment in Moscow, Russia, a mad changeling child wrapped in a blanket of leaves and dandelion.

Seriously, I was born in 1966, in the former USSR, the child of penniless intelligentsia parents. My schoolteacher mother had taught me to read early and introduced me to fairy tales of all lands and cultures, and to ancient Greek mythology. I was a six-year-old girl obsessed with the Homeric epics, knew passages by heart, wanted to change my name to "Athena," carved functional bows and spears out of wooden sticks in the back yard of the apartment complex and pretended to be an Amazon.

I was also a very sickly child, and spent most of my time out of school bedridden, and reading tons of books that my mother would bring me from the library. I read the classics, children's fantasies and fairy stories, novels of magic and ancient history -- all in Russian, of course. When we left the USSR, I was just finishing up 3rd grade, and had just begun to study English, my second language, at the same time as I was assimilating by osmosis my other native language, Armenian (later in school in the US, I studied Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and German).

We immigrated to Beirut, Lebanon and lived as refugees during the very beginning of the Lebanese civil war, then lived in Greece, and finally were admitted to the United States in 1976, the Bicentennial year. During my time as a refugee, I did not attend school since I did not know enough Arabic and was illiterate in Armenian (those were the only schools available), and instead my mother made me read an old borrowed children's encyclopedia in English for over a year, in lieu of formal schooling. Thus, I never finished 3rd grade and did not attend 4th grade.

I feel like my head is a cauldron of different cultures, East and West, all made familiar and comfortable -- so much so that I cannot imagine not knowing a little bit about everything all around the world. Linguistically I seem to have an innate ability to understand roots of words from many languages I have never formally studied, and to correctly infer meanings. Culturally it all mixes together into an acceptance of many possibilities, an open-ended permanent state of wonder.

And all that "wonder thinking" had to have an outlet. I started to write some time in Lebanon, still in Russian, and then switched over into English in the USA.
How did you know that this was the path that you wanted to pursue?
For some time as a child I fooled myself and told myself I’m not a writer, I'm just "writing"—after all, who would want to do that kind of boring, solitary work? Think about it, you’re always by yourself, inside your own mind, making up stuff, pulling ideas and storylines and words out of nothing. I started out wanting to be an artist, then a psychologist, then worked for most of my day jobs as a tech support specialist in the computer industry. I just wrote in all my spare time (lunchtime, after I got home from work, weekends), as do most other professional writers. If you ask, most writers have day jobs. But the need to tell stories eventually always reasserts itself. And at this point I am fortunate to be able to write fulltime.
How did you know that this was the path that you wanted to pursue?
For some time as a child I fooled myself and told myself I’m not a writer, I'm just "writing"—after all, who would want to do that kind of boring, solitary work? Think about it, you’re always by yourself, inside your own mind, making up stuff, pulling ideas and storylines and words out of nothing. I started out wanting to be an artist, then a psychologist, then worked for most of my day jobs as a tech support specialist in the computer industry. I just wrote in all my spare time (lunchtime, after I got home from work, weekends), as do most other professional writers. If you ask, most writers have day jobs. But the need to tell stories eventually always reasserts itself. And at this point I am fortunate to be able to write fulltime.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am a hybrid author, having been published traditionally (short fiction and non-fiction), in small press (book length), and running my own small press. I love having control over my own output, and right now being an indie is exactly where I want to be.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was the first aggregator I signed up with, and still offers the widest range of distribution options. Going "wide" with Smashwords taught me to format ebooks, and exposed me to this newer aspect of the publishing industry. I feel we're old friends and will be partners for the long term.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is nothing romantic about being a writer, but there is something very powerful. You are a true creator, and you are an interpreter, a guide, a beacon of wonder for others. You create some of the stories that make life worth living. You give hope and you inspire. But be prepared to make personal sacrifices. Yes, writers can have families and manage to balance their work and family, but it is a difficult path. But the joy comes in the struggle to bring forth something out of nothing and fill it with meaning, and it beats everything else out there!
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are my friends, and I love them all dearly, love to hang out in all the gazillion social media outlets and interact with them! My favorite spots are the Atlantis Grail Fan Discussion Forum (http://atlantisgrail.proboards.com/) and the new Facebook group for TAG fans, "Astra Daimon and Shoelace Girls" (https://www.facebook.com/groups/adasg/) where we talk about everything under the sun and far beyond the stars on the other side of the universe!
What are you working on next?
My current project is completing SURVIVE (The Atlantis Grail, Book 4), the final, monumental book of the series, and then on to the various novellas in the TAG universe. At the same time as I work on the novellas I will begin a TAG prequel series, called DAWN OF THE ATLANTIS GRAIL that deals with the events 12,500 years ago on Earth, set in ancient Atlantis.
Who are your favorite authors?
Too many to mention. I am a fan of Tanith Lee, Homer, Tolstoy, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Andre Norton, and anyone who can sweep me away in a sweeping, profound, hilarious, loving, ancient truth-revelatory story.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that there is a story to tell and I am the only one who can do it. My story is mine, your story is yours to tell, and that's the common human purpose.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Feeding the cats and cleaning the litterbox! Also, when the furry overlords permit -- doing art, making music, gardening, and looking up at the night sky.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Latest books by This Author

Survive
Series: The Atlantis Grail. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 348,120. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2020 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
The End is Here, in a Fiery Cosmic Apocalypse! Gwen Lark knows how to Qualify, Compete, and Win… The time has come to Survive. The final battle is here, and Gwen, and everyone she knows and loves, are in for the greatest fight of their lives. SURVIVE is the fourth and final book in The Atlantis Grail series, now an international cross-genre phenomenon, optioned for film.
Win
Series: The Atlantis Grail. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 320,150. Language: English. Published: July 12, 2017 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
2018 Dragon Award Finalist — Best Science Fiction Novel The Games are Forever! It’s one thing to Qualify and Compete… Now she must Win. Gwen Lark is one of the few lucky teenage refugees to escape the extinction-level asteroid barreling towards Earth and reach the ancient colony planet Atlantis. Now she must compete in the brutal and deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail.
Compete
Series: The Atlantis Grail. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 173,140. Language: English. Published: August 14, 2015 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
It’s one thing to Qualify… But do you have what it takes to Compete? With Earth about to be destroyed by an asteroid, teenage nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl Gwen Lark, and her friends compete for privilege, position, love, and survival onboard great starship arks, as they journey to the ancient colony planet Atlantis. Meanwhile, the fate of Earth and their families hangs in the balance.
Qualify
Series: The Atlantis Grail. Price: Free! Words: 207,320. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl Gwen Lark must compete against other Earth teens, including high school crush Logan Sangre, in order to Qualify for interplanetary rescue from an asteroid apocalypse, in this high-octane dystopian thriller from a Nebula Award Finalist, in the vein of DIVERGENT and THE HUNGER GAMES. Now optioned for development as a feature film series and/or TV series.
Cobweb Forest
Series: Cobweb Bride, Book 3. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 115,350. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2013 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Historical » Renaissance
(5.00 from 1 review)
The world is broken… A dark Goddess rises. A mortal maiden must stop her. COBWEB FOREST (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book Three) is the third and final book of the intricate epic fantasy flavored by Renaissance history and the romantic myth of Persephone, about death’s ultimatum to the world.
Cobweb Empire
Series: Cobweb Bride, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 114,700. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2013 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Historical
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
In a world where no one can die, she alone can kill... COBWEB EMPIRE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book Two) is the second book of the intricate epic fantasy flavored by Renaissance history and the romantic myth of Persephone, about death’s ultimatum to the world. Now that she’s Death’s Champion, what will Percy do?
Lore of Rainbow
Price: Free! Words: 7,480. Language: English. Published: May 28, 2013 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fairy tales
(5.00 from 1 review)
Enter the one true realm of one thousand and fifty shades of grey... How did the world without color come to be? Discover the ancient mystery in this short story that started it all, the prequel to the monumental epic fantasy LORDS OF RAINBOW!
Cobweb Bride
Series: Cobweb Bride, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 103,710. Language: English. Published: March 8, 2013 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Historical
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Many are called... She alone can save the world and become Death's bride. COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death's ultimatum to the world.
Vampires are from Venus, Werewolves are from Mars: A Comprehensive Guide to Attracting Supernatural Love
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 10,700. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2013 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody
The critically acclaimed author of MANSFIELD PARK AND MUMMIES tackles a hilarious new parody topic -- supernatural relationship advice! Admit it, you've secretly dreamed of dating a sexy brooding vampire or an alpha werewolf... Now, you can! Learn how!
Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret
Series: Supernatural Jane Austen. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 145,020. Language: English. Published: September 22, 2012 by Norilana Books. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody, Fiction » Romance » Regency
When the moon is full over Regency England, all the gentlemen are subject to its curse. Mr. Darcy, however, harbors a Dreadful Secret... Shape-shifting demons mingle with Australian wildlife, polite society, and high satire, in this elegant, hilarious, witty, insane, and unexpectedly romantic supernatural parody of Jane Austen's classic novel.
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