Interview with Vlatka Herzberg

What are you working on next?
I am working on Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book Two. It has a couple of new Grandmother Moon stories, as well as two longer stories. One story, a favorite of mine, is called Mother Dragon Eyes' Secret and the other is called Mother's Magic Story Shawl. It too will be available as an eBook, print book and audiobook. Becky Parker Geist and I are partnering once again and Becky is recording the audiobook complete with character voices, sound effects and music. A real joy, and lots of fun to listen too!
Who are your favorite authors?
Patricia McKillip. Her fantasy fiction is very imaginative and her words are poetic. Lyn Marsh is the author of The Grand Tree and the blog She is a mystic writer who evokes new ways of thinking and new ways of being. Another favorite author and storyteller is Jay O'Callahan, I have had an opportunity to do a workshop with Jay and have seen him perform. There is magic in his telling! Neil Gaiman's children's stories and his graphic novels inspire me. I also really enjoyed reading Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series with young children.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I think of the many things in my life I am grateful for. I start by thinking about what I am thankful for and I detail it by writing about it in my gratitude journal. I think about the people and the things in my life that make me happy and joyous. I think about my creative projects and about what and who inspires me and I think about all the love in my life. I think about my vulnerabilities, both weak and strong and how I can strengthen both this day. And I remember that we are all connected, then I drink my tea while crooning to my corgi, Magik until he talks like Yoda.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I meditate, dance, imagine and create with my husband, Theodore and take my corgi, Magik for long walks in nature.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I do a Google search, I hear about an author on the radio, or through a friend.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was in grade 8 and wrote a story about a high school student that got pregnant. Everyone thought it was a true story. It wasn't. I made it up. My teacher took me aside and told me to keep writing.
What is your writing process?
It varies. Sometimes I mediate and then go to my creativity room and start writing. Sometimes I go to my creativity room and start writing out my dreams and then a story flows. Sometimes I sit in my creativity room and look at the beautiful crystals on my desk or out at all the nature in my back yard. I'll watch the bluejays and the hummingbirds and the lizards. I'll be very quiet in the moment then start writing. Sometimes I go on long walks and get inspired by nature. I take pictures. The pictures inspire creative ideas, and then I write. Having a creativity room and a time and space to nurture your creativity and writing is important. I am grateful for mine.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the very first story I ever read, but one of my favorites was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I especially loved the character Jo March. She was strong and a writer and determined to get published. It was a book I couldn't put down, and a world I was eager to enter. Another favorite was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I wanted a secret garden to disappear into where magic could happen.
How do you approach cover design?
I am very visual, so it is easy to imagine images for the story as I write it, and soon the cover takes shape. It's a good idea to look at many other covers and see what I like about them. I have training as a script writer for television and film. I have written comic books and graphic novels all of which are very visual. This helps me in imagining a cover design, and then I turn to my illustrator and designer with my ideas and allow them to add their expertise in a cost-effective way.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, now Croatia. I often went to the village market where I would see wise old babushka like women. People would sell their wares and meet and greet. Many years later I looked at a book about Zagreb and saw the village market and the wise babushkas selling their wares and I realized that they were an influence in some of the villages of my earlier stories in "Ancient Stories by the Keeper of the Tales".
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had just written a series of Aesop's Fables Adaptations for iStoryBooks. I was attending a Bay Area Independent Publishers Association meeting and when it was my turn to introduce myself I mentioned my writing experience as a freelance writer for children's stories. Becky Parker Geist approached me and asked me if I would be interested in collaborating on a series of short stories. She told me how she had written an adaptation of Epaminondas, a folktale her mother used to tell her when she was a child and that she wanted to make an eBook and an audiobook. I told her I was interested and that we needed to pick a theme. After listening to Becky's re-telling of Epaminondas, I suggested we do a theme of stories around mothers and children. She loved the idea and I started writing. I was really excited when I found out my daughter, Natasha was interested in doing the illustrations for the book, contributing to the mother-daughter theme.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was inspired by listening to indie author's talk about their projects, their challenges and successes at the Bay Area Independent Publisher's Association (BAIPA) meetings. The more I went to BAIPA meetings the more I realized all of the things that you need to learn and develop as a successful indie author are actually important qualities and skills to have even if you are published by a well known publisher.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords allowed us to do a preorder and thanks to Mark Coker who spoke at a Bay Area Independent Publisher's Association (BAIPA) meeting we were able to find out the advantages of doing preorders. I really appreciated all the solid information that Mark provided and that is available to indie publishers through Smashwords. It makes the learning curve of indie publishing a lot more easier.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The journey. It is often full of surprises and lots of adventure!
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans fill my heart to overflowing with gratitude, to touch and be touched through the magic of story is such a joy! It's fun to consider that when I am writing a story, people at a different time are reading or listening to that story and through that process are contributing their thoughts and feelings and imagination to the story.
Published 2014-12-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One
Series: Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,500. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy Tales & Folklore / Anthologies
Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One offers traditional and new original folktales that explore the love, joy and challenges between mothers and children. Perfect to read aloud, or listen to the audiobook by Becky Parker. Grandmother Moon and other unforgettable characters come to life in this charming illustrated collection. "This is marvelous work! Bravo!" (Jay O'Callahan)