Victoria Marshal is the author of Bookended by Beauty Queens, her debut novel through Before the Fall Books. I have Victoria in the interview chair today, ready to answer a host of questions. Please feel free to ask any questions of your own. Victoria is eager to tell you about her book.
1. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. I visited your web site and got a glimpse of the writer you, but what about the everyday Victoria.
The everyday Victoria is so boring. I’m a homebody, who likes to read, spend time with my kids and my hubby, and most days I look forward to going to sleep. Most Mom’s can probably relate.
2. In Bookended by Beauty Queens, the heroine is caring for her grandmother when she meets Val. Why Val? Was there anything in particular that inspired this story?
Initially, Val was going to have a much smaller role. His job was going to be bringing Angie and her Grandmother closer together, by allowing Angie to see her Grandma’s silly, adventurous side, which would allow Angie to open that place in herself. He still serves that purpose but he became much more as the story morphed. At one point the book he’s more of a symbol than a person any longer.
3. Can you share your writing process through Bookended by Beauty Queens? Did the plot come first or characters?
The story definitely came first though not in the incarnation that it’s in now. Initially, I wanted to write a sweet generational piece about a woman and her Grandmother coming together and learning about each other. Writing is funny though, no matter what you’re intentions are the characters always have their say. As I progressed in the story I knew it was going to be much more.
4. What elements do you think women’s fiction should contain? Did these elements influence Bookended by Beauty Queens?
I don’t know if there’s any set rules on what every women’s fiction should have. The genre, to me, is broad that it can contain many different elements from drama, to comedy, to romance, to mystery. In the end, I think the one thing that ties them all together is heart. Women’s fiction is all about heart, so are women. That’s why we bond so quickly with people, including fictional characters.
5. What about the heroine–what do you love most about her and what makes you want to shake Angie?
I love Angie’s commitment to her family. She never hesitates to jump in to help her family. The one thing that makes me want to shake her is how closed off she is in the beginning of the story. Though I think she that at the end of the book she is working to open herself up and be more vulnerable.
6. What’s your writing schedule like? With a family to care for and everyday life in the way, how do you manage it all?
You have to make the time to write. I write for at least a half an hour every day, because my family can live without me for that long. Then I wedge in extra time where I can. I’ve been in writing groups where I’ve heard others say they don’t have the time to write, but if you sit next to them at lunches you hear them talk about everything else they have made time for – from scrapbooking to TV watching they make time for what’s important to them. If writing’s important you make time.
7. When did you know Bookended by Beauty Queens was ready to be queried to publishers and agents?
I didn’t. I’m such a coward about stuff like that. I was happy to keep editing it until the day I died. A friend of mine finally dared me, and I’m sucker for a dare. After the first 50 rejection the sting goes away, but that was really difficult for me to finally let people read the manuscript.
8. What do you enjoy most about writing?
The actual creation process. It’s so freeing because you have so many possibilities when you writing.
9. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Editing. That’s the real work of writing.
10. What’s the best advice someone ever gave you when you first started writing?
I heard someone once talk about the first draft being the “don’t look down draft”. It was like someone gave me permission to write crap the first time around. That was liberating to me. I write slowly anyway, so when I was trying to write perfect first draft it was painfully slow. When I heard “don’t look down” that freed my writing a lot.
11. Do you have any advice for new writers?
Write as much as you can. If you can write something every day, even if it’s just a paragraph, do it. Writing is like a muscle it can atrophy if you don’t use it. After my daughter was born I stepped away from writing and it took me a long time to get back to where I was before she was born. Write. Write. Write.
12. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me LOL – Love it! Go.
- What’s your favourite movie? It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ve been known to watch it throughout the year, not just at Christmas.
- What book is currently in your e-reader? Depression Cookies by Tia Silverthorne Bach and Angela Beach Silverthorne
- Who’s your favourite musical group? Bon Jovi – since In and Out of Love.
- What song puts a smile on your face? Josh Groban’s Don’t Give Up – the line “It’s just the weight of the world” makes me smile every time.
13. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for having me on you blog today! I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Romance She Wrote.
14. Lastly, where can we find Bookended by Beauty Queens?
It’s available in paperback, ebook and soon audiobook. You can find it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Powells, iTunes – wherever books are sold.
Since grandma had more apartment hunting to do, dinner with Val turned into an all out bitch-fest. Angie started on men and ended with her sisters.
“When was the last time you blew off steam, honey?” Val took a scoop of the chocolate frosting that Angie was working her way through.
Angie let out a deep breath. “I can’t even remember how long it’s been. Too long obviously.”
Val licked all the chocolate from the spoon. “This stuff is going right to my hips.”
Angie nodded and scooped out another spoonful. “You want to know the part that makes me the angriest?”
“My sisters haven’t even called to see how grandma’s doing. They haven’t offered to help her look for an apartment or take her shopping for new clothes. Nothing.”
“Did they spend a lot of time with her before the fire?” Val asked.
Angie felt Val’s point as sharp as the point of a fine tipped pen. “No.”
“So they’re going about their lives like they always have?”
Angie didn’t respond.
“If Anne’s apartment hadn’t burned you wouldn’t have been calling her to see how she was doing, would you?”
“No, but this is different.”
“Yes, if grandma were staying with Jess or Shay I would call to see how she was doing.”
Val folded his fingers together. “Then you should feel good about that.”
Angie felt sick to her stomach. She dropped her spoon on the table and wiped her fingers on a paper napkin.
“Well, I did until you put it that way.”
Angie sank down in her seat and shredded the edge of the napkin.
“You’re the middle child right?” Val asked.
“Then you should be used to this by now. Let me guess, you’ve always been the responsible one. Everyone always came to you with their problems because you’re close in age to your older sister and your younger sister.”
Val had hit the nail on the head. Angie had been the confidant for both Jess and Shay growing up. Not that she enjoyed the role; they forced it on her.
“So why are your panties in such a bunch?” Val gave her an exaggerated pout. “Feeling sorry for yourself?”
“Yes, damn it!” Angie slapped her palms onto the tabletop. “I have the right to feel sorry for myself every once in awhile.”
“Agreed,” Val said. “You go ahead and have your pity-party.”
Angie felt suddenly deflated. She’d expected an argument, or a pep-talk of some kind.
“Everyone gets twenty-four-hours to feel sorry for themselves.” Val glanced at the clock. “I’d say you have eighteen left, so wallow all you want. After that honey, go buy yourself a new dress, or a new pair of shoes, or whatever you need to do to pick yourself back up. Then get on with your life.”
He dragged a limp-wristed hand through the air as if underlining his statement.
Angie decided she liked the twenty-four-hour theory, and she was going to use every minute of those hours before she had to grab her bootstraps.
“Do you have siblings, Val?”
Val smoothed the front of his dress, another nineteen-fifties house dress which seemed to be his wont when he wasn’t performing, and sighed.
“I do. One older sister. Pam.”
“Do you have the same kind of problems I have with my sisters?”
Val laughed. “Everyone has problems with their siblings. It’s not like you get to choose your brother or sister. If we could, I don’t think my sister would have picked a brother that was prettier than she.”
Author bio: Victoria Marshal lives and writers in Northern Minnesota where she lives with her husband and her children. Bookended By Beauty Queens if her first book.
You can buy Bookended by Beauty Queens at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bookended-by-beauty-queens-victoria-marshal/1108660928?ean=9780983713722&itm=1&usri=bookended+by+beauty+queens