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Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley
2011 Interviews : Victoria Hanley

Creative Careers in the Arts Interview

'Seize the Story' with Young Adult Novelist Victoria Hanley

By Molly Anderson-Childers

Victoria HanleyThis month, I'll be picking the brain of author Victoria Hanley, author of Violet Wings, The Seer and the Sword, The Healer's Keep, The Light of the Oracle, Seize the Story, and Wild Ink. Ms. Hanley spent years preparing for a writing career by holding as many contrasting jobs as possible, from baking bread to teaching anatomy and hosting radio shows. Born in California, she has lived in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado — and traveled throughout America by car, train, plane, bus, and bicycle. Victoria is now the author of four YA novels published in 13 languages. Her books have won honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story (for teens), and Wild Ink (a guide for adults writing YA). I'll be reviewing her texts on writing for Amazon later this spring — can't wait! Welcome to the Creativity Portal, Victoria!

Q: The creative path can be a lonely road at times. Do you have a mentor, coach, or support system to help you navigate the journey?

A: Yes! Many writers — myself included — have a lot of self doubt at times, especially in the middle of a novel. My writing buddies help me stay on track, and they lift my spirits. I wrote two books without that form of support, and it was much too lonely. Now, I rely on writer friends in a variety of ways:

1) Two close critique buddies and I meet every Saturday. Each week, we catch up on our lives, laugh at ourselves, and give each other constructive criticism.

2) Sometimes I meet with another writer, and we both sit across the table from each other and write. Even though we're working on separate projects, it helps to be in the same space with someone else who's writing.

3) Sometimes, via chat, another writer and I will encourage each other to keep going.

4) My children and other good friends who are savvy readers will give me their opinion on a manuscript once it's complete. I highly recommend connecting with other writers/readers you trust, people who know how to give valuable feedback. None of us can read our own work for the first time.

Q: What were the major influences on your early writing? How has that changed throughout your career?

A: I grew up without a TV, so I read a lot of books! Hundreds of other writers have become part of my mind, and I wouldn't know how to separate one from another. During the course of my career, I've realized I'll never be able to finish all the books I'd like to write. I'm just not fast enough. So it becomes a question of priorities.

Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

Q: Ever suffer from a major creative block? What caused it, and how did you power through your resistance?

A: Yes, I've suffered from blockage in creativity. It was a response to rejection. I can't claim to have powered through it — but I slowly got over it. The solution, for me, was to reclaim creativity and remember why I started writing in the first place.

Q: What's your most successful strategy for marketing your work, or managing the business side of your writing?

A: Speaking has been an excellent forum for me to reach out. It's something I enjoy, something I feel confident doing. Other than that, I've relied upon word of mouth.

Q: When you're feeling blah about a project, how do you restore your creative juiciness?

A: If I truly get to the point of feeling "blah" about a project, I abandon it. The thing that's more usual for me is confronting doubt and fear. To restore creative juiciness when doubt and fear are rising up with their scary faces glaring, I talk back to them.

Q: What scares you most about your work?

A: A writer's life is full of uncertainty. There isn't a point where I feel that I "have it down." Although I'm an award-winning writer with six books published, soon to be seven, each book is so different that there isn't a formula for making it simple. Like a roller coaster, this is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes really frightening.

Q: When you're not hard at work on a book, how do you spend your free time?

A: I enjoy working with other creative people, teens and adults, so I do a number of workshops every year. And I love to spend time with friends and family. We laugh a lot.

Q: How do you find the courage to reveal so much of yourself in your work?

A: Well, if you don't reveal what's beneath the surface, then what you write is going to be pretty flat and awful, or else completely derivative.

Q: Create a You Haiku! Describe yourself in exactly seventeen syllables.

A: Ride on even if
you don't know the road and you
don't know where it goes.

Q: What soothes your soul when you're stressed out?

A: Meditation. Walking. Talking with my husband and other friends. Reading. And writing! •

Victoria HanleyConnect with Victoria Hanley
Get in touch with Victoria online at where you can also see her catalogue of books for daring dreamers, award-winning fantasy, and books on writing.

© 2011 Molly Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Updated 1/10/14