Vanessa Wester is bilingual in English and Spanish, since she was born and raised in Gibraltar. She first moved to England to further her education and obtained a degree in Accounting and Law from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Initially, she embarked on a career in Chartered Accountancy. After a couple of years it became obvious she was not cut out to work in an office. A change in vocation led her to become a Secondary School Teacher of Mathematics, which she loved. For many years, she has been a stay at home mum and gives up a lot of her time towards voluntary organisations. She still teaches math as a private tutor and has many hobbies which include swimming, walking, reading, singing and acting. She is also a qualified A.S.A. Swimming Teacher and volunteers on weekends at her local swimming club. Writing is her passion. The day she decided to start writing was the day she found an outlet for her imagination. It is the best way she can think of to express herself and escape from everyday life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
An avid Tweeter & blogger, Teacher of Math & Swimming, Mother of three, Friend to many…
What is your genre, and why did you choose it?
My favourite genre is romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. I think I am one of these new age authors going into the realm of a new category known as ‘NEW ADULTS.’ Yes, I was a Harry Potter fan. Yes, I was a Twilight fan. Yes, I now read anything under the sun…but my heart belongs to novels with some romantic aspect. I have a feeling I will write the genre that suits me… I am still dabbling; I only started writing under three years ago! I would love to be the next Agatha Christie, but I have a feeling I like romance too much…
When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer (& song writer) when I was a child. At school I lost confidence, I was convinced I didn’t have what it took.
Life took over and the writing was abandoned. Well, I did start ideas on the computer, but I felt foolish… who was I to think I could write a book? I have admitted this in the past and I will again, I watched an interview with Stephenie Meyer where she explained that she was a stay at home mum with 3 kids and found her release in writing. I decided to give it a go and I have never looked back.
Thank you Stephenie…
It’s hard to come to terms with what I’ve achieved now. I may not be famous, but I have written 2 full length novels (3 if you take into account my first attempt) – I think I have a lot to be proud of. A writer is not just defined by their success, but by what they get out of their “art.” It’s the same for every other profession where people judge your work.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I used to be a competitive swimmer and have recently taken it up again, it’s a great release. I also love to walk and lose myself in a great book. When I’m brain dead any good movie will do, especially comedies. I love to laugh to de-stress.
Do you have a day job as well?
I am a stay at home mum…now what does that mean? Basically, I never stop working – EVER.
You mentioned song writing. What kind of music do you write/wish to write?
I used to write love songs mainly, or songs about deep and meaningful stuff. I wrote them in my teenage years so very much about teenage angst…lol! I should try to write some again, when I find time!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I wrote a romance novel first. The idea for The Evolution Trilogy came from years of addiction to Vampires, SciFi, and TV series. I was influenced by Twilight but only to the extent of the girl meets vampire type thing, which really is more about Buffy than Twilight! I do think that Steven is very different to Edward, more akin to Angel. And Caitlin is nothing like Bella, but not as crazy as Buffy… Maybe? Lol
Where do you get your ideas?
That is an amazing question. I really don’t have an answer. When I start to write I go into a zone… The story tells itself, I’m just the writer… My head is a mysterious place!
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No. If I have something to write it flows…but then I have never had to write something for someone else. If I was given a story to write I might struggle…who knows?
Do you work with an outline, or did you just write? I.E. Seat-of-the-pants, planner, or a hybrid? (pun)
Hybrid…lol! To start with I did not plan, but as the story developed and became a trilogy I had to have an idea of where I was heading and what I wanted to achieve. I did have to scribble a fair bit and think about all my characters, their development etc… I also had to research the Internet to check the viability of my ideas…lol
How long does it take you to write a book?
To write the story… Not very long! Hybrid was written in a few months… BUT it has changed a lot since I first wrote it! The same for Complications, the sequel. I put the bare bones down first, then develop to add muscle, skin and extra details!
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Funnily enough… I wanted to be a writer! The next Agatha Christie to be precise…lol
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I tried to get an agent at first, but I found out about Self Publishing via David Gaughan, who blogged on The Word Cloud and I thought I’d give it a go. I only did this when the agents sent me a very nice rejection letter saying it was not their genre. I decided that finding an agent was too hard!
After this I published on smashwords…Excellent advice via Mark Coker. Then had issues with formatting, correcting grammar, etc… And I got frustrated with smashwords – limited sales. So I moved to Amazon and Hybrid started to sell!
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
I would have joined twitter 2 years ago, I would have created a blog sooner… But then I would not have written as much for sure! Lol… Social media is very distracting!
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get
I am currently editing my first book with the help of another author. We plan to publish it together someday… His perspective is helping my male character come to life.
Have you considered branching into another genre? Which one?
I think I am a romantic suspense writer… I have tried horror and children’s books but my heart does not seem to be in it! Whether it has a paranormal element is not a given. It’s too early in my writing career for me to know what direction I will go.
Do you find writing from the male perspective difficult?
I don’t find the male POV hard at all. Whether I get it right is another matter…lol. I try to put myself in the shoes of a lot of men I have known. Although I have to be honest, I have used some real experiences for inspiration. For example, in Hybrid, when Steven thrashed Caitlin at pool, that was me, beaten to humiliation by my husband on one of our first dates. I resented him for weeks. I thought I was a good player until then.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I have received a lot of critique, mainly from my family (believe it or not). I will not mention names, but I was told that they could understand why a publisher would not want it – OUCH! I have to admit that I bawled my eyes out and had a real low moment – they did say other stuff! But in the end – no pain, no gain, I listened to the advice.
Make my characters come to life – describe them. Watch out for inconsistencies – I have had to do several flow charts to help with this! Don’t repeat the same phrase or comment – these are hard to spot. Watch out for typo’s and grammar – my biggest problem since at the moment I mainly self edit (although I have had many, many eyes helping me to spot problems, especially in Complications – the second book of the Evolution Trilogy). Describe places, research if possible, make it real…
What has been the best compliment?
I have had many that have made me smile from ear to ear…the main one that always amuses me if when I get the… ‘I didn’t think I would enjoy this, it’s not my usual read…but I couldn’t put it down.’ My ultimate ambition is to entertain, to make the reader lose themselves in the story. Without a good story, you have nothing – that’s my opinion. You can be the best writer in the world, but without a good story…well, need I say more.
If you had to summarize, what one main thing has your life experience taught you?
Don’t let your circumstances define who you are. It’s easy to complain, to say you can’t. It’s harder to fight for what you believe in, to put in the extra effort.
For example, I am now inundated with work. Updating my blogs, editing my new book, sorting out a compilation book with other authors for Christmas, finishing the Trilogy, keeping up with Twitter, etc… On top of organising a Christmas Fair for Pre-school and doing the accounts for several voluntary organisations… as well as tutoring 3 times a week and looking after my young family! And what financial reward do I get? Well, not much – I can tell you that. I am now in the red, since I gave away loads of paperback for free. But, I only published this year and I’m in this for the long run, so I know it’s not about the money.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t write for financial reward! Join groups like The Word Cloud, talk to other writers online, read lots of books, read the advice out there… most of it is free! Research if you intend to self publish. I found Make Coker’s The Style Guide invaluable.
Did you use anyone in particular, as a base for your main characters?
This makes me laugh. Anyone who knows me at all knows there is a lot of me in Caitlin. I am a swimmer, attended the University of Southampton, come from Gibraltar, LOVE sharks…etc. BUT…Caitlin is more…she can do all the other stuff I did not do! Steven embodies the man I would fall love with, but not necessarily end up with. He has so much of lots of men I have known or know. He probably does have traits of the first man I ever fell in love with (not my husband…ha ha). The other characters are inspired by different people or traits I know well, but I’m not saying who…
Be honest, have you ever cried or wanted to cry while writing a specific scene?
YES. I have bawled my eyes out several times over scenes I have written. Actually, the Christmas Short I will be releasing soon, made me cry like a baby.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading! You have no idea what it means to have people read and like my work. As for fans…what fans? Ha ha ha…