Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Valerie Lioudis, and I am 37 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and have lived in New Jersey my whole life. I grew up at the Jersey shore, not the skeezy one people saw on MTV, but the beautiful one that is a mixture of beaches and pine barrens.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Valerie: I have a tiny bit of college under my belt, and I am a certified massage therapist. I actually have always enjoyed trying new and different jobs. In high school I worked in a pizza joint, but I also had a jo as a balloon decorator, which was really fun and paid better than the delivery job. I got to be a gorilla gram, which meant I got dressed up as a gorilla and delivered balloon bouquets to people at work. That was definitely most interesting job.
As an adult I moved on to office work, which bored me to tears. I wish I had thought to take up writing then. Once I left that job I became a studio photographer. I loved taking pictures, and hanging out with kids all day, but the parents were nightmares. Working became a bit much as my family grew. And now, it is nearly impossible to work outside the home. I have seven kids ranging from teens down to a one year old.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Valerie: I am about to release The Many Afterlives of John Robert Thompson, a novel that explores the idea of a mediocre man dying and ending up in different afterlife scenarios. My husband Kris and I are hard at work on Aftershock Book 2, a sequel to our zombie series debut novel.
I am also involved in several anthologies that will be releasing this year. Two of them are donating their sales to charity. The first, Mad Like Me, I am compiling and we will be donating our proceeds to Pets for Vets. The second, Treasured Chests, is being spearheaded by Marc Moore of Good Morning Zompoc. The proceeds will be sent to Breast Cancer Care in the UK.
The other anthologies are a Reanimated Writers anthology with 22 zombie fiction authors entitled Undead Worlds due to be released in October of 2017. The 30 Day Collective anthology was a contest that I won, and that story will be featured first in their anthology. It is due out in September 2017. I also took a chance and wrote a sci-fi story for Brian Parker’s Easytown series. That anthology will be out some time by the end of the year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Valerie: I started writing after I started watching The Walking Dead with my husband. I needed a way to process the nightmares that I was having. He wrote a chapter as a joke, and I loved it so much I asked him to co-write the series with me. I hated all things English related I school, so i never thought I would go in this direction. Turns out, I really enjoy it, and hopefully people are entertained by the stories I have to tell.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Valerie: Once I held my first book in my hands. That was a surreal moment.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Valerie: Fear. Superstorm Sandy made me finish it. We were flooded with 4 feet of water in our home and displaced with 5 kids. I needed an outlet for the anxiety. Writing really helped with that.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Valerie: Honestly, I don’t remember. I think my theory was that a title that started with the letter A would come up early in searches. Ahhhhhhh, naivety.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Valerie: I write more in short story format. My stories, even the long ones are a bunch of short stories stacked together. I have a hard time remembering what I have written. I had a concussion years ago that I am convinced killed my memory. Each time I sit down to write I have to reread what I have done so far with the story. As I get further into a story it can get exhausting.. Short stories allow me to only have to back up one chapter to see where I am.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Valerie: I will never tell, but those that know me can guess.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Valerie: Nope. I don’t really have the luxury of working far from home. But, I do live in a beautiful area. While I was working on my last book, I would set the two little ones up in their car seats, pop a DVD in and drive down to the end of Seven Bridges Road. It is a road to nowhere that jets out into the bay. It is a blessing to have such a scenic hometown.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Valerie: For The Many Afterlives of John Robert Thompson, I won a flash fiction contest run by leighgendarium.com that had a cover by Molly Phipps from wegotyoucoveredbookdesign.com as one of the prizes. I never worked so hard to win a contest. I knew she would make something amazing, and I was not wrong! It is gorgeous.
For the Reanimated Anthology we went with coversbychristian.com. He is fantastic. I can not wait to reveal that beauty to the world in September. The other cover I designed myself. Not too shabby for someone with no training, but one day I hope to be able to pay for all of my covers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Valerie: In The Many Afterlives of John Robert Thompson his biggest sin is that of inaction. I wanted people to know you get one go at this thing called life. You don’t regret the things you did, you regret what you didn’t do.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Valerie: I am obsessed with the Reanimated Writers as a whole. There are over 150 of us right now, and growing. We have a Facebook page where you can find us. There are so many great indies out there, and this is a great group of them. If you love zombie fiction, you should come join us!
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Valerie: My friend Jack. Jack and I went to high school together. Jack is amazing. He is the best editor in the whole world. He has spent hours reading and fixing my nonsense, and turning it into gold. If you want someone committed to making your work the best that it can be, find me and I will send you to Readline Editing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Valerie: Yes. I am putting the work in to make it a career that i can enjoy and be proud of.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Valerie: I would have found a way to carve out some alone writing time. It would have made the process a bit easier.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Valerie: I learned I can write at midnight with a baby nursing on my lap, another sleeping like an octopus next to me, and still be able to get up at six and get the kids to school. Writing takes commitment!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Valerie: Jack Black. I think he would be a fantastic John Thompson. The book is a mix of serious and humorous. I think he would be able to portray those perfectly.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Valerie: Finish it. Whatever it is that you are working on. Finish it, then deal with the rest. It is too easy to get pulled into a million other projects.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Valerie: I hope you enjoy what I wrote. I am an avid reader. I have never been a critical reader. I am the kind of reader who is looking to disappear into another world for a little while. I am not trying to change the world with my writing, but I am hoping to entertain you for a bit.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Valerie: None. Sadly. I am working on two anthologies, so I am reading the stories as they come in. I may be biased, but they are great! The zombie ones for the Reanimated Anthology are all set in different worlds. it is interesting to see everyone’s take on genre. Mad Like Me has the theme of madness. That was the only direction I gave the other authors. I am glad I didn’t give them more than that. It has been an honor to get to read all of their different approaches to such a broad theme.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Valerie: The first book I ever cared about was the Monster at the End of this Book with Grover from Sesame Street. If you have little ones, do yourself a favor and go buy it. You can thank me later.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Valerie: I am not much of a crier, but I am a laugher. God, almost anything can make me laugh. I try not to take life to seriously. I am the kind of person who can find a way to smile even when the world is crumbling. I have been through too much to let it keep me down.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Valerie: I would love to hang out with my grandfather. He died when I was seven, so I never really got to know him. If I ever get rich, I am going to track down and but the 1933 Graham that he rebuilt. That was a sweet ride.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Valerie: Right now, I don’t really have time for hobbies. But, I love camping, hiking, geocaching, painting, and
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Valerie: Futurama. I watched the series over and over every night. I have been through it hundreds of times now. I am so mad at Netflix for dropping the first six seasons.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food: Unsweetened Iced tea
Color: Teal and pink
Music: Right now, all things on Gorillaz Pandora station
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Valerie: I will travel. I am planning on becoming a nomad when my kids get older.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website is https://aftershockzombieseries.com
Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Lioudis/e/B00U7NLLH6/
Facebook Author Page : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorValerieLioudis/
Reanimated Writers Group : https://www.facebook.com/groups/1262527697156658/
John Robert Thompson Kindle Scout: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1G80AELB8PM4X