Prolific author Victoria Zigler joins us in the virtual studio. Among the various works to her name are the Magical Chapters trilogy, the Toby’s Tales series, the Kero’s World series, the Degu Days duology, and the Zeena Dragon Fae series.
Let’s sit down with this incredible architect of worlds afar and learn more about her!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Victoria Zigler, but most people just call me Tori – you can do the same, if you like. I was born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains in South-West Wales, UK, other than a couple of years in my early teens when I lived on the English coast, and six months in my late teens when I lived in Canada with the man who became my husband during that time. These days I’m back to living on the South-East coast of England, in the same general area I lived for those couple of years during my early teens, along with my hubby and our rodent gang.
I’m both a poet and an author of children’s stories. When I’m not writing, chances are I’m either reading, spending time with my hubby and pets, sorting eMails, putting in an appearance on social media, or dabbling in one of the other hobbies and interests that capture my attention from time to time, such as watching movies, listening to music, doing crafts, and playing roleplaying games (games like Dungeons And Dragons, and that kind of thing). Either that, or it’s because I have yet to figure out where I can get a house elf or brownie, so I’m forced to worry about things like household chores and errands. Although, hubby’s pretty good at helping with those, so I sometimes get to skip them and get some extra reading or writing time in.
Also, having battled with Glaucoma since birth, I’m now completely blind, since I lost the last of my sight in my early 20s.
2. When did you start writing?
I learned to read and write young, partially due to having older brothers and wanting to copy them. I’ve been writing since I knew how, and was writing poetry and short stories “just because” even in my early school days. I even won a medal in a writing contest when I was seven years old. But I only started publishing my books in 2012. To date I’ve published seven poetry collections, 42 children’s stories, and a story in a sci-fi and fantasy anthology, with plenty more poems and stories planned for the future.
Among the children’s stories are a series about a little boy’s struggles with adapting after sight loss, a series based on the life of my beloved West Highland White Terrier, another shorter series based on events in the lives of my degus, a series about a faerie dragon and a pixie saving the world from a jealous fairy’s evil magic, and a trilogy about a young witch and a pineapple loving dragon. The rest are stand-alone stories mostly in the fairy tale or talking animal categories, although I do also have a science fiction story, as well as a historical fiction story based on the battle of Hastings.
All of my books are available as eBooks via Smashwords and the retailers they distribute to (such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBooks) and as paperbacks via CreateSpace and the places they distribute to (such as most of the Amazon sites, and Barnes & Noble).
3. Why did you start writing?
I don’t know why I started writing to begin with. I know I learned to read and write quickly because I wanted to do “homework” like my big brothers. But I couldn’t tell you what made me start writing poems and stories of my own. I guess I just thought it was fun. Regardless of the reason though, these days I write because I have to. There are stories in my head, and I have to write them down. It’s as simple as that.
4. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I’m not sure I have a “typical” writing session. I write every day, but exactly how long for, and at what time, depends on what else is going on that day. I always write at my desk these days though. We have the second bedroom set up as a sort of home office, and both hubby and I have our computers in there. I didn’t used to always write at my desk. Before I lost my sight, I wrote in cafes, at bus stops, or wherever I happened to be. Then, after I lost my sight, I had a laptop that I used to write in different locations. We scrapped the laptop idea when I kept putting it down and forgetting where though… I stepped on it one too many times, and it broke. After that happened twice, we decided it would be better for me to stick to a desktop computer. Anyway, other than my computer – and the software required to make it do what I need it to – the only thing I need to be able to write is to not be too hungry or thirsty. I always have a drink beside me, and tend to write better if it’s not close to dinner time, or I have snacks to hand.
5. How do you feel about outlines?
Outlines may work well for some people, but they don’t work for me. I never know exactly where my story is going until I get there. I did try outlines once, but my characters wouldn’t listen to me, so I just ended up scrapping the outline anyhow. I figure there’s no point wasting time on outlines if they’ll only end up scrapped. So I just get on with writing the story.
6. What is your favorite book genre?
My absolute favourite genre is fantasy, both for reading and writing. I do read almost all genres though, and have dabbled in writing for a couple of other genres too, with plans to do this a little more in the future.
7. Any project in the works?
Always! At the moment I’m working on writing the poems for my eighth poetry collection, while also writing a pirate themed adventure story. While working on those things, I’m also playing about a little with some other potential ideas, but none of those have gone far enough to be discussed yet.
8. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It varies, depending on how much time I end up spending on writing each day, how quickly I’m able to figure out where the story is going next, how long it is, and whether I find myself needing to look something up before I can move on with the story, or can wait to double-check facts until the first draft is done and it’s time to do the next draft. The quickest was written, edited, and published, all within a month. The slowest took almost two months just to write the first draft. Of course, those times are based on estimates… Well, except for the quickest one, since I know the final book in my “Kero’s World” series was published within a month. But I’m usually dabbling a bit with my next project while working on my current one, which makes it difficult to give a totally accurate estimate on how long it takes me to write something.
9. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I don’t think there’s one single thing that universally makes a “good” story. Several factors come in to play, and which is most important depends on the story in question, whether the story is more plot or character driven, what genre it’s in, etc.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just write. For one thing, practice makes perfect. For another thing, if you don’t sit down and write, you’ll always just be an aspiring writer. If you want to become an author, rather than remaining an aspiring writer, you need to write. It sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people insist they want to write something, spend who knows how long reading books and articles on writing, attend workshops, etc, and yet fail to actually sit down and write.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books. I do love movies, but if I had to pick, books would win hands down.
2. Summer or winter?
Winter. I can deal with the cold better than heat.
3. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in. My favourite place to spend my evenings is at home with a good book or movie, more often than not, it’s the book.
4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis. I’m not sure I want to explore the minds of most people. However, having the ability to move objects with my mind would be super cool!
5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past. It would be great for research for historical elements in stories.
6. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Batman. He’s cooler.
7. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to animals. I’ve often wished I could understand my pets better. Plus, recent events lead me to believe animals would have more interesting and sensible things to say.
8. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without movies/TV shows. Apart from anything else, my inbox would be scary if I couldn’t sort eMails for an entire week. The thought of that alone makes me reluctant to give up the internet.
9. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for 48 hours. I’ve done it, and know I can. OK, so most times I haven’t meant to do it, but that’s not the point. Either way, there’s no way I could walk for 24 hours, where as I know I can stay awake for 48 hours, so it’s an easy choice.
10. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Finding myself in the middle of a snowstorm. For one thing, I love snow. OK, I might not love it so much after being stuck in a snowstorm, but whatever. Anyway, for another thing, I can build a snow cave and wait out a snowstorm, where as there’s no telling what will happen to me in a hurricane.
11. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Since I can’t stand coffee, I’ll gladly agree to never have it again, especially if the alternative would be never having chocolate again. Chocolate is an essential food group, you know!
12. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
If I was two inches tall, would I have wings like a fairy or pixie? Well, it doesn’t matter. I mean, it would be cool if I did, but it’s OK if I wouldn’t. I’d still rather be two inches tall than two stories tall, even if I don’t get wings.
13. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be [insert your favorite holiday here]?
Have every day be Saturday. I love the holidays, but I think they’d lose their appeal if they happened every day. Plus, most things aren’t open over here on the holidays, so if it’s the holidays every day, how am I supposed to get hold of chocolate? Better stick with it being Saturday every day, I think.