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 Vicki Stiefel, and my age is… A secret.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in New York City, and I grew up in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Phoenix, Arizona.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up in professional theater—my family owned an Equity stock theater, and it’s been one of the defining elements in my life.
After college, I planned to become an actress, with a bent for song and dance. I didn’t. Instead, I worked as an assistant producer, a professional photographer, a high-school and college teacher, a hamburger slinger, a scuba-shop manager, and an editor. My two grown boys are the stars in my life, our solar system my beloved family. And my pup, Penny. I love critters like crazy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
When I moved to California from New England I was able to amp up my writing. So now the third book in my urban fantasy series, The Afterworld Chronicles — Chest of Time — will be out August 14. I’ve also begun a new series with the working title Altered, sci-fi-fantasy romance series out in early 2019. I miss New England, my friends there, and teaching, but I’m loving Cali.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Always a voracious reader, in 1990 a series of terrible events compelled me to put pen to paper as an escape. So I began to write… a truly terrible novel. But as I learned the craft, I discovered that writing filled that same place in my soul that acting once had. I was hooked.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first paid published piece about scuba diving in New England appeared in Dive Training magazine, I figured if people would pay me to do this, I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I discovered I loved writing as much as I loved singing and dancing on stage. And while I enjoy writing nonfiction, I found my passion really lay in writing fiction. Novels, in particular. My first published novel was actually the fourth novel I’d written. It was a mystery-thriller and dark. When it sold, I was over the moon.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title of my first book is Body Parts. Most titles I find to be tricky and frustrating. That one? You’d have to read the book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I most definitely have a particular writing style. My writing tends to be spare and tight. I also tend to write a lot of action, along with romance. While there is humor in my books, they’re fairly dark. My current fantasy series is not quite as dark as my mysteries are, and it’s great fun in that I get to invent dragons and mages and different landscapes and times. I love that aspect of the fantasy genre.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Much of my current series takes place in our world, and I strive for realism and do a great deal of research to make sure I get things right. I learn about guns from police officers, farming from farmers, FBI info from the FBI. Interviewing people in different professions is exhilarating. I never base any of my characters on people I know. But the settings and events I often steal from my own life, then I twist them. I tend to fall in love with some of my characters, which is surreal because I invented them.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I travel a bit to make my work feel real and true. I make a lot of phone calls, and even Skype. Much of my research I do before I begin the novel, but some I don’t leave till after the first draft is complete. The first draft is everything, and that’s where I put my passion. So I try not to stop writing until the words “the end” appear. Then the real work begins with the editing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
When I was with a traditional publisher, I had little to no say in the covers. Now that I’m Indie, I’ve worked with two terrific designers. Isis Sousa of Helheimen Design designed Chest of Bone and Chest of Stone’s cover. Chest of Time’s cover was designed by DagmaraMatuszak, and I’m crazy about it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The theme of each novel evolves subconsciously within the pages. Each one has a theme or message, but I suspect readers take from a book what they wish.
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?
I love Amanda Bouchet’s work, and she’s come on the scene in the past few years. I’m passionate about many writers and naming a favorite is near impossible. What strikes me about all of my favorite authors is that they get to my gut. Good writing is a given, but if they can wring me out emotionally—that’s what I’m looking for in a writer.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The Illuterati Group, a small collective of writer friends, has immeasurably aided me, as has my writing partner, Camille.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is my career, both from the writing end and from the teaching end.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I could edit forever, but at some point, an author has to let the book fly. So, no, I would not.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I always learn from each book I write and each book I read. In Chest of Time, I learned more about archery than I ever imagined. Writing is evolutionary, a learning process, and I’d like to think that each book I write, my writing gets better and better.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Me! (Kidding) Someone who’s both kickass and sees the world with her heart.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write every day. Even it it’s only 250 words, you’ve exercised your essential writing muscle. And those words add up!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
My readers are rock stars. Love you guys!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Kristen Callihan’s Forevermore and loved every minute of it. I’m currently reading Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, set in a dystopian world on the Navajo (Dine) reservation.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’d have to say The Little Engine That Could. A Golden Book
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laughing? Many things. Crying? Seldom on the outside, though I have been known to weep tears of joy in public.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Ghandi (a cliche, I know) because he changed the world with his goodness.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I scuba dive, knit, photography, collect Zuni fetish carvings, and… I could go on and on and…
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Game of Thrones. British mystery series, Civilization. Right now, I’m loving C.B. Strike.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Maine lobster, chocolate (who doesn’t?), avocados, and… I love food! I’ve always adored warm colors—reds and oranges and yellows—but I’m also a huge turquoise fan. Music? Just about everything.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Sorry, but I can’t imagine that.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d light up a Marlboro Lite (I gave up smoking decades ago)—eat bourbon, lobster, and chocolate—while I spend the time with my family and pup.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Kindness Is Everything
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I love chatting with readers and friends.
My Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/cxNRwT
Chest of Time