Today, VS Holmes interviews author Virginia Carraway Stark on her new novel, ‘Carnival Fun’, and her own writing process for pumping out fantastic fantasy and speculative fiction.
1)What book (or series) influenced you the most as a child / adolescent?
I was into JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis since before I started kindergarten. I love them both and I read them to pieces. It was rare that you would ever find me without at least one of them in my backpack or in my hand and as I entered junior high school I got involved with a group of people who did role playing in Middle Earth. After that I researched every land and people. My English teacher gave me a copy of a book of poetry by Tolkien that had been signed by him and was filled with beautiful illustrations. These series taught me the beauty of symbolism and the firm belief that goodness and love can triumph over hatred and despair.
2)What is an integral piece to your writing routine?
I pick up a pen, a pencil, or put my fingers on my keyboard. That is the only part that is absolutely integral (although I have also used a crayon and even written in the dirt or on wood if I was struck by an inspiration that could not wait for more civilized methods.)
It’s nice to have something pleasant to drink that suits the season (but I’ll forget about it as likely as not) and my favorite place to write in in my big lazy-boy chair with my special stain glass lamp that colors everything into soothing shades. I like to look out the window and watch my bird feeder and all the birds that come to it. I like to curl up in against the lamb’s wool coverlet that covers the back of my chair and plan my next attack, but these are all luxuries that I enjoy when I have them and the rest of the time I just write.
3)What surprised you most about publishing and writing?
What continues to surprise me is what sticks with people. I’ve had people come up to me with tears in their eyes about something that I had nearly forgotten writing about and been told that it seemed like I wrote it just for them.
4)Can you pinpoint the moment the spark for your book first ignited?
Hmm, this is a hard one, first short story or first novel? Dalton’s Daughter was my first published novel and it was sparked by a slow-cooker process that involved taking a small character from my husband and his friend’s world and having her take up residency inside my own head. After that she spoke her story, and as it was slowly revealed, the novel took shape.
5)Are you a “Plotter” or a “Pantser” and has this changed over the course of your writing career? Why do you feel this works for you?
I’m mostly a pantser but I will also jot notes. I guess I would largely call myself a hybrid. When it comes to short pieces I’m a pantser but I find that a lot of novellas and novels require at least some vague notations for myself about things that need to be addressed or brought up. I feel this works for me because I put so much passion and heart into my writing that plotting it out would be likely to stifle my energy. It would seem mechanical to me and lack the waves of emotion and the sense of being lost in the creative reveal.