Interview with Victoria Zigler

Published 2018-12-29.
When did you first start writing?
Having older brothers meant I learned to read and write really young in order to do "homework" like they were doing, which means I've been able to read and write - at least at a basic level - since I was three years old. I fell in love with the written word from the start and started trying to write stories of my own soon after learning to read those by others. By the time I was seven years old I was already writing well enough that my stories were being entered in to contests; I still have the medal I won in one such contest.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I mostly grew up in the shadow of the Black Mountains in South Wales in the United Kingdom. I don't know how it's influenced my writing though. I mean, every experience you have in life influences your writing to a certain extent, but I think it's impossible to tell which one has influenced it in which way without somehow managing to enter an alternate universe in which that specific event didn't happen and doing a comparison.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember a couple of my early stories, like one that was a rhyming story about a cat going for a walk and climbing a stalk before being chased by a stork, as well as another about sharing ReadyBrek with some little green men, but I'm not sure what the first story I ever wrote was; it was so long ago!
Where do you get your story ideas?
My ideas come from several places: my dreams, ponderings about what would happen if this or that happened, my own conversations with people, snatches of conversation I've over-heard, random questions that pop in to my head wanting answers, or just out of the blue.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is, in my opinion, seeing the stories in my head come together then being able to share them with my readers.
What is your writing process?
I just decide which idea I'm working with, sit down and start writing. When the first draft is written, I start with re-writes, which is when I worry about making sure the plot points I put in work together, add more details and descriptions, etc. My work goes through several re-writes and edits before I'll let anyone else look at it.
What made you decide to write for children?
I write for children because I enjoy doing so. I love being a part of the effort to encourage the next generation to love reading by feeding their imaginations, and I love being able to allow my own imagination to run wild in the process.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is a more complicated process for me due to my lack of eyesight. First I have to come up with an idea and describe it to whichever of my cover artists I'm using at the time, then they do a rough draft of the cover and - depending on which cover artist I'm using - either send it to my husband directly or send it to me to send to him. Once my husband has it he describes it to me. What happens next depends on if I want any changes made or not: if I'm happy with it based on my husband's description and he thinks it looks good then we tell the cover artist to do the final draft, but if something isn't how I wanted it based on my husband's description or he doesn't think something looks right then we tell the cover artist what we want changed and go through the process again. Once I'm happy that the description matches what I imagined, my husband is happy that the cover looks good, and the cover artist feels the cover is done, it gets sent to me for me to save and have on hand ready for publishing the book.
Describe your desk
My desk is pretty cluttered. I use it for both my PC and my brailler (a sort of typewriter with only nine keys, used to write braille; I have a red one) so they're on there, along with a talking clock in the shape of an apple, a CD player, a selection of small toys I fiddle with when I'm thinking, and a couple of coasters (at least one of which usually has a cup on it containing whatever I'm drinking at the time; usually herbal tea, regular tea, fruit juice, or some kind of soft drink).
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The answer to this question is a combination of my wish to become a published author and my husband's encouragement. For as long as I can remember, so most likely from the time I learned to write, I've wanted to be a published author. The problem is though that publishing the traditional way is a long and difficult process often filled with rejection. I managed to get a couple of poems published as part of collections but had no luck with anything more. I wanted to get my stories published and share them with the world, so when I found out about the option to publish them myself I was very excited. I mentioned it to my husband and he suggested I went for it, so that's just what I did.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Since it was learning about the ability to self-publish via Smashwords that made it possible for me to be a published author, I'm going to have to say that Smashwords is the main reason for my success. My success as an author is due to Smashwords and my loyal readers
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth is the best marketing technique: the more people tell their family and friends about my books, the more chance I have of getting new readers. I've also done several giveaways and author interviews to get my name out there.
In what formats are your books available? And where can I buy them?
My books are available as eBooks, paperbacks, and audio books. I publish via Smashwords, Amazon's KDP, and ACX, and then allow those places to make them available in as many formats as they allow, and via as many retailers as they distribute to. This means my books are available in one format or another - sometimes more than one format - via Smashwords, Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and a variety of other retailers.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean the world to me. I'd write no matter what because I love to write, but knowing there are people out there eager to read my next book is a wonderful feeling; it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside to know that there are people in the world who enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
Are you really blind?
Yes, I am. I have Congenital Glaucoma (which simply means I was born with Glaucoma) and lost my sight in late 2007. My sight had never been too great, and I'd always known I'd most likely lose it some day, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. Not that you're ever completely ready for something like that to happen; no matter how much you try to prepare for it. But I think knowing it might happen one day probably made it easier to deal with than if it happened out of the blue.
If you're blind, how are you able to write and publish your books?
I have text to speach software, which enables me to do most things on the computer. The software I use is called JAWS (which stands for Java Access With Speach). It's expensive, but that can't be helped. As for the things JAWS can't help me with... Well, I just ask a sighted person for help.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I'm usually either reading, spending time with my husband and our little animal family, watching movies or TV shows, listening to music, working on craft projects, or chatting with family and friends on the phone, via Facebook, or via e-mail. I also sometimes do other things like cooking and baking, playing roleplaying games (such as Dungeons And Dragons) and figure games (such as Classic BattleTech and Monsterpocalypse). I also have an interest in astronomy, science, history, and solving brainteaser puzzles.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'll read most genres, but my favourite books are fantasy stories and children's books, especially ones with talking animals in them; I have a soft spot for talking animals!
Who's your favourite author?
I don't think I could pick just one favourite author... I have several. My favourites include Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, Hans Christian Anderson, Enid Blyton, Monica Dickens, Bonnie Bryant, J K Rowling, Dick King-Smith, and Terry Pratchett; just to name a few.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first books I ever read were fairy tales from authors like Hans Christian Anderson, and Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit series. Since most of the stories I write are animal stories or fairy tales I'm guessing the main way those books influenced me is to influence my writing. I'm a firm believer in the fact many authors write best in certain genres, and it appears my early introduction to fairy tales and animal stories helped to lay down the foundation for those to be the kinds of stories I write best.
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