I’m interviewing Valerie C. Woods today, the author of magical realism novella “I Believe…A Ghost Story for the Holidays.” My questions are bolded, and Valerie’s replies are in regular font.
1) What is the hardest part about being an author?
The hardest part about being an author is mastering the discipline to keep writing even when you think it’s awful. Sometimes you find that, yes, it’s never going to work and you let it go. But you really do have to give it your best shot. In Stephen King’s book “On Writing” he speaks about how he had thrown the initial pages of “Carrie” in the trash. Fortunately for all of us, his wife, Tabitha, took it out of the trash, and convinced him to keep going. He thought it would be an all-time loser, but he didn’t have any better ideas. And, despite his misgivings, he kept at it, and horror history was made. So, even if one has their very own Tabitha, developing the discipline to keep writing, even when you get tired of your own story, is the hardest thing about being an author.
The story takes place in modern day Los Angeles and gives a peek into the not so happy afterlives of departed spirits, wanderers in the dark, still searching for the way to completely cross over. They’ve been unsuccessful because it is required that they effect a positive change in a living person’s heart before they can become a resident in light. The story takes place during the holiday season, when it’s the best time of the year for hearts to be open, but the living humans on their lists are very Scrooge-like.
3) Is this part of a series or a stand alone?
At the moment, it’s standing alone, but more stories are popping up in the wings, and I believe this will be a series of novellas.
That’s not easy for me to calculate, as I don’t write on a daily or weekly schedule. I’m also a publisher and editor, so when I’m focused on writing I allow myself a timeframe for the project. Right now I’m working on a new novel and devote two days a week for writing and the rest of the week for publishing and editing. Once the first draft is complete, which could take nine to twelve months, I’ll schedule a month or more dedicated to daily re-writing, while the business stuff takes a secondary position. When that happens, I like the nighttime for creative re-writing for 4-5 hours and afternoons for review and editing for about 3 hours.
5) What is your favourite Christmas-time book?
My favourite Christmas book is, without question, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
6) What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a contemporary novel that mixes mysticism with a murder mystery. That’s all I want to say about that for now. But I’ll definitely keep you posted!
About the Book
Author: Valerie C. Woods
Genre: Magical Realism, Novella
Was Marley & Scrooge the only ghost-to-human intervention ever? This is the question. Marley’s haunting, and the arrangement he made for Scrooge had a far-reaching and beneficial effect.
Surely, poor Jacob Marley’s ghost found some peace for being such a compassionate medium. Further, it would be nice to believe that attempts at interventions like this occur with some frequency among unfulfilled spirits. Even now.
“I Believe… A Ghost Story for the Holidays” is a contemporary holiday romp through a Los Angeles neighborhood that invites the reader to join three wandering spirits hoping to transition to the light by New Year’s Eve. But it will only happen if each of them can cure a human heart of their Scrooge-like tendencies to become more loving and charitable citizens of the planet.
An avid reader while growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Ms. Woods began writing when, as a struggling actress in New York, she couldn’t find suitable audition material for women of color. This led her to write a book of audition monologues, Something for Everyone (50 Original Monologues). The book was initially self-published and is now published by renowned theatrical play publisher, Samuel French, Inc. (www.VCWoods.com)
After adapting an average play into a better screenplay, Ms. Woods was awarded a Walt Disney Screenwriting Fellowship and followed that up with writing and producing on network and cable drama series such as Under One Roof, Touched By An Angel, Promised Land, Any Day Now and Soul Food.
But fiction, her first love, compelled her to enter the world of prose. She had always written bits of fiction, short stories and a little poetry here and there.
In November 2012, Ms. Woods founded a micro-press: BooksEndependent, LLC (www.BooksEndependent.com) to support her work and the work of other new, independent authors of fiction and non-fiction.
The first title was Ms. Woods’ novella, I Believe… A Ghost Story for the Holidays. (Amazon.com) Then, what began as a gift became her second publication.
Several years ago, needing a birthday present for her sister Ms. Woods wrote a short story about a girl detective — a highly fictionalized autobiography of the adventures she and her sister experienced in childhood. Another story was written for Christmas, then one for Mother’s Day. That’s when Ms. Woods realized she was writing the kind of novel she and her sister would have loved to read as children, but which didn’t exist – the adventures of African-American Girl Detectives!
The result, Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, Vol. 1 is now available in paperback and Kindle edition at Amazon.com.
Win a signed print copy of the book and a holiday ornament. Here is a picture of the holiday ornament: