On Author (Self-)Interviews: e.g. Violet Sparks, “A Solitary Romance” (@violetsparks20 @booksandthebear)

 

ASolitaryRomance

Violet Sparks, author of A Solitary Romance, Book 1 of The Only Love Series, draws much attention in her recent book tour. What attracts me to her interview is her honesty about the books and authors that influenced her life and writing. These days it is common for authors to rattle off a list of prominent titles and names to impress their readers. But the key is to clarify exactly what crucial elements of a writer and/or a piece of writing have created the most important and everlasting impact.

The following three questions look similar, and some may say the author’s answers do, too. However, observing the slight differences between the answers, one detects an image of the “ideal author” and why his or her writing style is inspiring to Sparks as an artist.

Hence I urge all aspiring authors to sit down and pretend to be interviewed. A list of questions is provided below. Write down your answers and compare them carefully. Discover what is in you – you are most likely to be surprised.

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Q: What books have most influenced your life?

Violet Sparks (VS): The Bible has had the biggest impact on my life. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who lived in the 1600s, is an amazing book that I can read over and over. Coming Out of the Ice by Victor Herman also affected me – it’s a wonderful tribute to the human spirit. I can’t leave out the books by Dickens, Austen, and the Brontë sisters, which I read in my youth. Their works definitely lent an idealism to my mindset (which does not seem to belong to this century!), and shaped my ideas of what romance and love should be.

Q: What books/authors have influenced your writing?

VS: I’ve always loved how Charles Dickens could weave a story together with unforgettable characters and intersecting plots. I appreciate how he inserted humour in his books as well. I admire the way William Faulkner packed a punch and how the Brontës created amazing atmospheres, including unexpected twists in their stories. The contemporary author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is a master of characters, atmosphere, and storylines.

Q: Which writers inspire you?

VS: So many authors inspire me. At the top of the list are Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Irène Némirovsky for her spectacular, unfinished, Suite Française. I went through a stage where I only read history or biographies, and I greatly admire the work of David McCullough. His books read like novels and bring the people of the past alive. I always appreciate any writer who can surprise me with a plot twist or unexpected outcome.

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Questions to ask yourself as an author:

Regarding your “ideal author”:

  • What books have most influenced your life?
  • What books/authors have influenced your writing?
  • Which writers inspire you?

Regarding your craft as a writer:

  • What was the hardest part of writing your latest book?
  • What did you enjoy most about writing your latest book?
  • What was the specific writing style in your latest book?
  • What genre do you consider your book(s)?

Regarding you as an artist:

  • How did you come up with the title of your latest book?
  • Where did your love of writing come from?
  • Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Thanks to Book and the Bear for these questions, which I have slightly modified for the purpose of writing this article.

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