Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heidi C. Vlach interview

I recently ran into Heidi Vlach on twitter, she writes fantasy, and she agreed to an interview! The answers are a bit different and well thought out, so stick around and give it a look-see!

First, tell us a little bit about you
I'm a chef training graduate from Ontario, Canada, currently working as a waitress. I love cooking meals from scratch and trying new foods. Fantasy media has been a part of my life since I was a child— not just through books, but through video games, too. I'd say that video games and the Internet keep me awake all night, but I'm a night owl anyway!

Tell us about your books. My Stories of Aligare are set in a magical world where 3 non-human races live cooperatively. The korvi, aemets and ferrin (who are dragons, insects and weasels, respectively) help each other survive the "demon" forces of illness and bad luck. Other than that commonality, each book is a stand-alone story with a different flavour. Remedy is a medical drama, Ravel is a romantic friendship, and Render is a mystery — actually, one reader called it a "leisurely suspense" story and I like the ring of that.

What genre do you consider your books? High fantasy. The characters all have magic as an innate part of their bodies: they can breathe fire, make plants grow, generate electricity for self-defense, and more. This magic is a vital part of the Aligare world and all life within it. Some say that a world with no humans is automatically science fiction because it's not set on Earth — which is an interesting talking point, to be sure. But the Stories of Aligare are about the kind of ideas that embody fantasy: legends, magic and finding one's fate.

If the Aligare world is not Earth, why does it use familiar Earth life such as wolves, horses and oak trees?

Well, it's a way of picking my battles. The reader already needs to familiarize themselves with the korvi, aemet and ferrin races, their magic and their cultures. Every character has a worldview to learn — which is a lot to ask of the reader as it is. So I used a lot of Earth plants and animals, and some familiar mythological ideas like wyverns and basilisks, so that the reader can use their own knowledge base. I don't need to stop the story to exposit what an onion is, or how dangerous wolves are, because you already know.

When did you start writing? I've enjoyed creative writing for as long as I can remember, and I started writing fanfiction about video games and TV shows when I was a teenager. Then, bored in high school history class one day, I started writing down ideas for my own video game. That was an idle daydream — but then I realized that if I made this thing a novel instead, I wouldn't need programmers or companies. I could compose it all myself. That was when I started developing an early version of the Aligare world.

Why do you write? Mostly to explore concepts. If I want to see something done, I figure should do it myself. In particular, I want to see more human-free fantasy novels that aren't "talking animals on a quest" scenarios aimed at children. Science fiction accepts aliens as interesting people who can make us think, and I think fantasy can do it just as well. I hope my writing can prove that.

What would be your choice for a superpower? Telekinesis. Moving objects with my mind could have many different applications! I'd be fun at parties AND possibly useful in saving the world.

Who is your favorite author? Hmm, probably Naomi Novik. I'm not usually interested in historical fiction, but her alternate Earth does a great job of using sentient dragons to question human culture and rewrite our history. Novik's books are the only ones where I hear about a new release and think, "Ooh, definitely buying that."

What are you reading now? The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Reading it very slowly, mind you. But I'm loving the poetic prose and the unicorn's view of the world. I might need to name it my favourite book when I'm done.

Who is your favorite character to write? Syril of Reyardine, a travelling merchant of the dragon-like korvi race. "Ask for the name, whatever you need!" He's a minor character who shows up in every Aligare tale, because he's always flying to different villages to make deals. Syril is fun to write because he's so chatty and energetic. Readers usually either love him or hate him — but I, the author, love him even when I want him to shut up.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Accepting criticism is an important part of becoming a skilled writer, but don't blindly follow crit from everyone you meet. Some people bash your work to feed their own egos, or praise your work just because they don't want to hurt your feelings. Or they'll tell you to "write something more marketable" because your weird concept scares them. Always question your critiquers' motivations and personal tastes. Look for the people who criticize because they're trying to help your work be a better version of itself: those are the valuable folks.

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?I watch a lot of Futurama, American Dad and Mythbusters — I have my roommate to thank for that, we both enjoy those shows and watch them together. And I love food-and-travel shows, or cooking competitions like Chopped or Iron Chef.

What are your current projects? I'm working on short stories for a dragon-themed collection. The concept of a dragon can be spun so many ways, it's going to be great creative exercise for me.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers? Thanks for reading this Q and A! Writing is meaningless unless someone reads it, that's what I always say.

Quick Fire:Cats or dogs? Cats. They suit me better.
Coffee or tea? Coffee with lots of milk and a bit of sugar.
Favorite food? I love just about all food.
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Both, please! (See above response.)
What are 3 things you never leave home without? Lip balm, a hoodie (because I get cold easily), and my iPhone.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop, so I can go sit somewhere else on a whim.
Who are 3 famous people you would like to hang out with? Alton Brown, Mike Rowe and Lady Gaga.
TV or Movies? Depends on the story being told. I don't have strong feelings for the formats themselves.

Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All Artwork and covers of my works by William J. Kenney

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

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