This past weekend was special for me as I attended an online interview hosted by Bloody Scotland between Stephen King and Linwood Barclay. As you all know by now, I am a huge King fan – his ability to immerse his readers into a story immediately is such a skill. You become invested in his characters and their plight.
This interview is one of many I have watched with Mr. King, and in all of them it is his sense of humour that makes them such a delight. Obviously, his words of writing wisdom are also gratefully received too. In this interview, Stephen did mention a slight revision to his latest work, Billy Summers, as the book was originally set in 2020 and we all know what happened then! So he backtracked a year to avoid difficulties in the protagonist’s journey.
I read half the novel over the weekend! It is really good and not the ‘horror’ that many believe is all Stephen can write. It is a character study of an assassin and his last ‘job’ and the unexpected events he finds himself coping with.
In other news my publicist, Creative Edge Publicity, has been spreading the word about me and my novels. I have been highlighted in these places, if you care to take a look.
Have you always been fascinated with the dark side of reality?
Yes, I think I have been. I remember sneaking into the living room and watching part of the movie Poltergeist when I was too young to be watching it. Luckily it was edited for TV, but still I think that was the beginning of it for me. My friends and I from my neighborhood also used to do our fair share of frolicking in the local cemetery. It was the in between spot for most of our houses and it ended up being the social epicenter for our preteen and teen years.
Are any of your narratives based on a true-life experience?
There is a little bit of truth in all of my characters and some of their experiences. There is part of me inside all of them, but the circumstances they find themselves in are entirely fictional,
Why the Gothic Horror genre specifically? What draws you to it?
I love the idea that the past is never truly dead. That the past is always alive in the present. That is the true core of gothic fiction. For me I like to play with how the past can still be the driving force of a character. Often times I use memory, or grief, PTSD etc. to be the things that are “haunting” the present. Other times I use actual ghosts. Personally I find memory and grief to be even more frightening than a ghost at times.
Do you have a favorite character and why?
I think I would have to say Adam from Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent. He was my first main character, and he just found his way deep into my heart. He was hard to let go of.
Is there a place that inspired Dagger Island?
It is roughly based in some ways on a combination of Star Island (in the Isles of Shoales) and Peaks Island off the coast of Portland Maine. Neither of these real-life islands are a gruesome and haunted as Dagger Island is, but there are little bits that work perfect for me for Dagger Island.
You have many forms of artistic expression. How do you choose, when inspiration hits?
I think all od them satisfy certain aspects of my personality. To me visual art (painting and photography) are the ones with the least pressure on them, so I can still have the most fun with those without consequences. Writing speaks to my soul the most, so that one always feels like there is a lot riding on it. It also feels the most personal when someone doesn’t like it. Dance has been my primary job for so long with teaching and performing that it also seems easy to me.
Is dance an external expression for your internal art?
It can be, depending on the dance and the partner. My husband and I used to perform a lot. We would do hour long dance pieces that were entirely improvisational and would be performed to dark ambient and nontraditional music. I really felt that those were the closest to come to a physical interpretation of the books I now write. Part horror, part beauty, always mysterious.
Can you tell us a little about your Vox Vomitus Podcast? Why you created and what is its mission?
I fell in love with podcasting during the early part of the pandemic, not only being a guest but also, I was able to guest host a couple shows and I really loved being able to talk with authors. Vox Vomitus (which is fake Latin for word vomit) was born out of the idea that sometimes we can learn from our mistakes and learn from other’s mistakes. As authors we all have trials and tribulations. On Vox Vomitus myself and Allison Martine speak with the best authors working today and we can have a cocktail with them and talk about not just what went right, but also what went horribly wrong along the way. I have made some tremendous friendships through the podcast as well. So, our mission is to entertain, educate.
What prompted the idea for Pretty/Ugly?
Way before Covid I thought about writing a book about a pandemic. A virus that if it didn’t kill you would leave you horribly scarred. I wondered about our society and the people who seem to be “all surface” with nothing underneath. So, I wanted to play with that idea, of what you can be if everything you are is taken away. It became about much more than that. Though the idea came about before Covid, I think writing part of this during the pandemic really helped to shape the gravity and the enormous sense of loss that I needed in order for the stakes to be as high as they had to be.
Did the story stay true to its original form or change as you wrote?
Oh I think I answered that a little before. It changed A LOT as I wrote it. My original intention was to write a dark Rom Com that happened during the apocalypse. I ended up writing a very lyrical meditation on grief and trauma, and self reflection. I wrote about trying to forgive yourself and trying to allow yourself to love and be loved…all the while people are dying, and the world is ending.
When I unpublished these books, it was because I was embarrassed of the quality. But when I looked through them again, I realized my embarrassment had nothing to do with the quality of my work. It had to do with the fact that I wrote these books while I was still raw from my mothers passing. It had two years when she passed away when I started working on book 1. I had never written a novel before. I was a screenwriter at the time. I wanted to write stories without dealing with the competition. So, even though I thought writing a novel would be much harder, I switched to novels. Over time it became the format I loved.
As for why I decided to republish, it’s because I’m proud of every step I’ve taken to get where I am now and am excited for what the future holds for me.
Can you us tell about the stories and how the ideas came about for Unforgiven and All in the Family?
At the time the idea stemmed from my grieving process of my mother’s passing. Feeling as if my emotional state and process was quite different from my family. There is a scene in book one where the truth of why the family split up and kept Henry (main character) in the dark of the truth. My perspective of my family was rather negative and dark. Which is why I originally unpublished my work. It felt like I was using an outlet to deal with my frustration, anger, and morose state.
Somehow, as time went on, I saw these books as a much needed and healthy part of my past. That I dealt with my emotions in a creative and human way. Sure, the ideas came from a creative place, but at its core, it came from a tormented and lonesome place.
I believe our fears can create beauty.
On a more literal standpoint, Unforgiven is about Henry reuniting with his family. While questioning his life choices and how he will get himself and his family out of this chaotic mess. As for what the family business is, I will let that be a surprise.
Which genre do you enjoy writing the most?
Mystery. When I wrote book 1 of Boone and Jacque, I found joy in creating layers around the central characters.
Where did the idea come from to writer this fantasy series?
I wouldn’t consider this a fantasy series. It’s more of a thriller and suspense duology.
Do you have other books published?
Yes. My Urban Fantasy/Fiction series, Boone and Jacque. Book 1, Saddleton’s Secret, Book 2, The Brothers’ Odyssey are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle format. Book 3, Saddleton Haunting, will be out in Kindle format in early August. For paperback, sometime in September.
What is your writing background?
I did my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Besides books, I’ve written several poems, short stories, and research articles.
Do you belong to a writing group?
On Facebook: Author Nation, World Poetry Café; Author/Publisher/Editor/Book Readers, Start in Screen – Canada, BC Writers, Authors and Editors, and countless others.
Has the pandemic affected your writing/promotion? If so how?
Not at all. Overtime I’ve certainly evolved as a writer and adapted to change in life. But how often I write and put my work out there hasn’t changed.
However, the pandemic did make me let go of certain fears. One being fantasizing about things I want to do. For example, acting. Starting in August, I’ll be doing a three monthacting program. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m excited about it.
Which authors influence you?
Good question. It changes over time. Right now it’s Leigh Bardugo, whom wrote the Grishaverse. She is the first fantasy writer to envelope me in the universe she created since I read Harry Potter. I’m not sure why, but something about her style is quite inviting.
I still look up to Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Handler, but I’m expanding my horizons.
As you well know I write in multiple genres, so how do you choose which one to read? There are several options on where you can research a book and decide if it will engage you.
Local Bookstore Staff Picks
Friends and Family Recommendations
Purchase sites – compare reviews in the genre sections
As a last resort you can try:
Best Sellers, Prize Winners or Best Books Ever Lists – just remember these can merely succeed on an authors name, or through a massive advertising campaign. I know I was extremely disappointed in one ‘famous author’ book, which was badly edited because it was rushed into production.
Here are a few other things to think about. It maybe that there are certain writing styles that appeal to you or you find more enjoyable to read. These can be due to:
Pacing: How quickly does the narrative move? Is it a page-turner or is it a slow burn?
Characterization: Do you become engaged with the characters?
Story line: What is the orientation of the plot – character-driven, action-oriented, complex, fantastical or inspirational?
Frame and Tone: What is the mood of the book – heartwarming, thrilling, quirky, or dark?
Style: What is the author’s writing style – descriptive, expository, persuasive, narrative, technical or poetic.
How do you choose a book to read?
Do you have a ‘favorite’ genre?What draws you to it?
I think I am a romantic at heart, but also I love the idea of relationships because I truly believe that these are the essence of humanity. How people react to each other is like dancing, and the twirling of the steps can be hypnotic. I want to create worlds and lives that reflect these beautiful steps.
2. Which comes first – character or plot?
Sometimes its just the concept or idea, sometimes I can envisage a face or the feeling of a character. For me, the process doesn’t always start logically, but it pulls out and unravels like threads of silk. From there I weave it into a fine thread and make it into a story.
3. Are you a plotter or a panster?
Pantser – 100%! I have tried to plot, but I find it more difficult than just letting the words reveal themselves to me. Obviously with a trilogy I have a base concept of where the story is heading, but even them, the plot can change as the story develops.
4. How does the terrain, history and unique characters of Australia affect your writing?
There is a lush and yet arid beauty in Australia. As if when it was created, multiple worlds fought over the same space and so you have long stretches of sparsely filled desert like sands and plants, followed by fields of wheat, green fields and forests, and then long golden coasts. Its such a pleasure to discover new places and spaces that feel untouched by anyone else.
5. Can you tell us about the Eyre Writers Festival?
The festival was formed a few years ago as a way of engaging local writers and authors with the greater community. Not only do they offer some amazing guest authors and workshops, but they support local writers to engage in various forms of writing through their sessions. For me, its been an absolute joy to be surrounded by such talent and meet some best selling authors and learn their secrets.
6. Did you find anything surprising when writing the magical stories?
Always! The beauty of magic is that there are no limitations or hindrances. If you can imagine it, then magic can make it happen. How wonderful!
7. How was writing the paranormal romance different from your other narratives?
There is definitely a greater freedom in paranormal romance, because what you write can include elements of the ‘unreal’. You can have magic and other world abilities, that realistically are not possible in a general romance. So I have greatly enjoyed paranormal romance, and have many ideas and plans for more characters and worlds in this genre going forward.
8. How do you come up with your novel titles?
I would like to say there is a methodical process to it, but there isn’t. Sometimes I focus on the plot line to generate ideas, but largely I rely on general concepts. For more than one book, I already have the name of the book I just haven’t uncovered all the plot yet!
9. Where do you love to write?
Anywhere and everywhere. Coffee shops can create fabulous characters as you absorb the hum of the visitors around you, but a library brings forward fabulous ideas and worlds. So I try and move around and write in lots of different places, because I think they all bring their own benefits. If I had to pick just one, it would be a special writers retreat location that I go to with other author friends as often as time allows. I think the collective imagination takes hold and brings forward beautiful writing.
10. Can you tell us about your newest novel?
My next novel is The Heart of Nowhere, which is due out in October. Its the second book of a trilogy and brings the next part of the story forward. A Town Called Nowhere was the starting point, which introduced my two key were-panther characters – Dru, a famous race car driver escaping his notoriety and Nicci, a lone were-panther running from her past. They form a new pack in Nowhere, an abandoned town in remote Australia. But they soon find that they cant outrun their history or their destiny. For the second book, there are lots of action scenes which I hope will keep the readers on the edge of their seats!
I just want to thank my readership for their active and avid support. They are what keep me writing!
VK Tritschler is a native New Zealander/Canadian, who is now residing in Port Lincoln, South Australia. She had been a member of Eyre Writers (an established author and writers group) since 2010 and has been an active writer since youth. The Secret Life of Sarah Meads (Chic-Lit) was her first published book and utilized her background as a mother, woman, and degree in Psychology. Her novels include Magic and Mischief – Vital Impetus (Paranormal Anthology), The Risky Business of Romance (Romantic Suspense), and Trade Secrets (Rom-Com) and A Town Called Nowhere was released in April 2021.