Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Mid-week Author Chat With Novelist Victoria Grossack
Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?
My degree from Dartmouth College is in English Literature and Creative Writing, but I also have expertise in the areas of mathematics and insurance. Despite my desire since childhood to create stories, my ability to write did not seriously improve until the first incarnation of the coffeehouseforwriters, more than fifteen years ago. I first participated in a critique group in which I learned a lot and was drafted to become the moderator. Later I became an instructor.
I was the “Crafting Fabulous Fiction” columnist at Writing-World.com until they stopped publishing an e-zine, with more than 70 articles at that website as well as pieces published at other writing websites.
I don’t just teach; I do. Here are the titles of my Jane Austen-based novels: The Highbury Murders: A Mystery Set in the Village of Jane Austen’s Emma and The Meryton Murders: A Mystery Set in the Town of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I have written, with a friend, a series of novels based on Greek mythology, including Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus. Several high schools use Jocasta as a complement to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Some of my short stories have also been published, in venues as varied as Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, Contingencies and I Love Cats.
Not all of my writing is fiction or about fiction. I have sold many articles and have done editing, copy-editing and even some translation. I have a contract for producing study material for the insurance industry.
You can learn more about me and my writing at www.tapestryofbronze.com.
I have a great sense of direction in my writing but none in real life and have been badly lost on six different continents. I have not visited Antarctica, and am reluctant to go there because getting lost in Antarctica is extremely dangerous.
Why do you think writers should take writing classes? What's the W.I.I.F.M. factor?
Too often people assume that because they know how to read that they know how to write. Yet there are so many artistic decisions to make, from which genre and which words, when to show and when to tell, the sequence of events and emotions, which point of view to use and how to get the most out of the point of view, that it is easy to get lost. Too many writers don’t understand the nuances of choosing verbs and tenses and the different ways of constructing sentences, paragraphs and scenes. They don’t know how to create character-driven stories. Master the tools and the rules, and use them to your advantage or break them when you choose, as you strive to give your audience a great reading experience.
If you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t expect to do well without training, would you? Most people train better when they have a coach and some structure. That’s what a writing class offers.
What’s your favorite creative, but non-writing activity?
Gardening. I’m rather bad at it, though, and suffer from serious garden envy when I look at the lovely flowers and abundant vegetables in my neighbors’ window-boxes and yards. Oh, well. They say that humility is good for the soul.
How is the writing industry different than when you first embarked upon your career?
When I was young, aspirational but incompetent, it was still the time of typewriters and snail mail. It was so slow and so frustrating and so frequently disappointing. Nowadays the turnaround time is much faster with editors and agents and publishers and word-processing. We also have E readers and self-publishing possibilities.
The internet makes it much easier to do research and to network. Writing groups used to be limited by the constraints of time and space; those boundary conditions are less problematic now. You can go to class in your leisure hours and work with an instructor on a different continent.
I also think that with the changes in the world, most people have shorter attention spans. This has implications for your writing. Being pithy pays.
To learn more about Victoria and her popular classes for writers visit Coffeehouseforwriters.com.