Please put your hands together for Ty Findlay–author of Venessa’s Hope.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
- Where are you are from?
Born in North York, Toronto, but raised in Brampton, Ontario.
- Where do you currently reside?
Moved to Ottawa, Ontario in 2008 to pursue a law degree. I hated law but loved the little city and decided to stay.
- Do you have any hobbies?
I love to read. I like to find new authors and genres to enjoy. I’m always searching for the next best indie author to follow, but I do have my favorite commercial authors that I follow as well. I read as much as I can, but since starting a writing career, writing has taken up much more of my time.
I’m always looking for a new adventure and inspiration, so I do spend a good amount of my free time coaxing friends into getting out for a few hours to get into a bit of trouble.
- What do you do for a living?
I am a personal support worker, which means I take care of people. Currently I work with elderly people who have Alzheimer and dementia. When I’m not doing that, I’m juggling being a writer and an entrepreneur.
2. When did you start writing?
I started writing as a child. I love music and I used to always try my hand at writing songs. In middle school one of my teachers introduced me to poetry and I was a part of the WEIR program, where you write poetry and get feedback from a professional writer.
Then in high school I took drama and any time were able to write our own skits and performances, I did. If you were in my group you knew that all you had to do was memorize your script, I would take care of the story line.
Writing was always an escape for me and I have stacks of binders at my mother’s house, from my high school years, filled with stories I’ve written but never had the nerve to publish.
3. Why did you start writing?
I started writing because it was a way for me to escape to a place that was peaceful for me. There was a lot of chaos in my life growing up but, writing always helped me to express the things I always felt I couldn’t say. I wasn’t raised in a home where expressing your opinions or feelings was encouraged, so I would express myself through the characters that I created.
4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
I was going through a particularly rough time in life and I was just reflecting and thinking about how experiences can lead us to make some really messed up decisions, that take us to places we never thought we would be in life. Plus, I had watched a documentary about how lots of women weren’t happy working in the sex industry a few days before and thought it would be an interesting thing to write about, from the perspective of someone who felt trapped because of their life choices. After that inspiration just hit. Mixed with life experience and some research, Venessa’s Hope was born.
5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
I didn’t think of a title until after I finished writing the book. It just came to me and it tied perfectly into the ending of the book. Venessa found hope, she found redemption, she got to start over. I couldn’t think of anything that would express what I was trying to convey better, so I stuck with it.
6. Does your story have a moral?
I think the moral of the story is that it’s never too late to start over. You don’t have to be trapped by the things in your past and your past does not have to dictate your future. I think as people we get stuck in the loop of feeling that it’s too late to seek better for ourselves, but that isn’t true. If you have breath in your lungs then regardless of what you’ve been through, or what people think of you, you can build a brighter future for yourself, that could touch the lives of other people. You just never know where life can take you unless you try.
I think a major theme that you will come across is we have to be grateful for who we are and what we have. Seeing how Venessa and Eric interact with each other and how Venessa’s life story affects Eric, it will make you kind of pause and think, my life isn’t really all that bad. We like to complain about our mishaps and shortcomings, but we often forget that there are people out there suffering through worse things. Taking the time to familiarize ourselves with the struggles of others, will make us much more appreciative of our personal journeys and hopefully more compassionate to the hurt and confusion that is going on everyday around us.
7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I love Venessa to pieces. I can identify with her internal fight; given that I spent years of my life fighting myself as well. Like Venessa most people couldn’t see it on the outside because I was really good at hiding it, but like Venessa we all have breaking points. Creating Venessa and building a story of hope for her character, gave me hope as a person. I was at an all-time low when I started writing my book and by the end I was inspired. I felt like if I would build a story of redemption for an imaginary character, I could build a similar story for myself and so Venessa is very dear to me, because in some ways she is me.
8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Venessa’s Hope.
9. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I like outlines. I feel like they can give you a good basis to work around. I don’t believe in following them exactly because when you’re hit with inspiration, you really shouldn’t ignore it. Still an outline is a great way to organize your thoughts and frame the details you want to include in your book.
10. Any project in the works?
I’m currently writing my second novel, Storm Alexander and I’m hoping to have it finished and released by the end of the year. Other than that, I’m just working on collaborating with other writers and expanding the content on my blog and creating a few more ideas for my bracelet line.
11. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think a story is good when it grabs your attention and makes you think. I like controversial books, that don’t fit the regular mold but force conversation about topics that people don’t like to talk about or make people take a second look at themselves in the mirror and try to identify their own issues. I feel when you get to the end of a book, there is something about you that should change, a part of your perspective that is supposed to be altered in some way.
12. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Make sure it is your first love. I say that because if it’s your second or your third, the work that comes with trying to build your career, can be really disheartening if it’s not something that really moves you. Also, read as much as you can, knowledge is power and reading is a great way to trigger creativity and it helps you identify your own writing style.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books. I find movies leave out all the in-depth details you can find when reading a book. In a book you can get a much better sense and description of a character then you do in a movie. There really isn’t time for so much character development in movies.
2. Summer or winter?
Summer hands down. I hate being cold and winter lasts too long.
3. Ebook or physical book?
Although I’ve been reading a lot of ebooks lately, I really love actually going to the bookstore and buying books. I just always feel so accomplished after reading a book and adding it to my already extensive collection.
4. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in a small city like where I live now. Ottawa is the perfect mix of city madness and rural silence; you just have to go to different parts of the city to find what you are looking for.
5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the future. I wouldn’t worry so much about the past if I knew that all my mistakes and lessons helped build me a pretty fantastic life.
6. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Phone call without question. I hate trying to text a really juicy story, it takes away from the thrill. Having to wait for a reply completely kills the vibe and only creates anxiety. Texting is only good for yes and no answers or when you are at work or somewhere where you really shouldn’t be using the phone lol.
7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Travelling by car. I love the scenic route, you get to completely reroute your destination based on a sudden whim of inspiration, check out the scenery and stop and take pictures of cool things long the way. Plus, road trips make for some interesting jam sessions in the car.
8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Probably finding true love. I know better but I’m such a hopeless romantic. I truly believe in the beauty of being able to build a life with someone.
9. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
I’ve got a thing for Spiderman. It would be cool to swing from buildings and claim pretty much anything for a day.
10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Since my livelihood is on the internet, it would have to be going without television, which I do already. My son pretty much hogs the television these days and even when he’s away, it doesn’t get much uses.
11. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
I’m a foodie so I would much rather be a mute than not eat solid food again. I’ve worked in retirement, I see the mush they feed people who can’t eat solids, I’m not okay with that for the rest of my life!
12. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
I’m not a big fan of too much exercise, but I already pull crazy all nighters, that leave me sleep deprived for far too long. I’ll take the coffee binge over the feet blisters any day.
13. To have every day be Saturday or to have every day be your birthday?
Have everyday be my birthday because I like cake, presents and parties, plus it’s an excuse to dress up and look cute, which isn’t something I regularly find time to do.