So you're writing your FIRST BOOK! Or maybe you're having trouble planning out your sequel...join this Author Blog Series interview with Victoria Marswell as we walk you through best practices for starting your novel the right way.
Thank you for joining the series! My name is Evangeline, author of King Beatrice and Love Letters from an Insomniac. I'm incredibly excited to share this series and help authors around the globe give them the push they need to get out of their Writer's Block, start writing, and get published! It's not as scary as it seems, so fellow authors and book enthusiasts are going to help you along the way.
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Let's Meet Our Author:
Victoria Marswell is a romance suspense author. Victoria started writing poetry and short stories in her early teens. She is a world traveler and sets her stories in the locations she visits. Victoria continues to travel the world, creating and writing romantic and thrilling adventures. She lived in Orange County, CA. for 38 years and currently resides in Portsmouth, NH.
Author Interview Questions:
1. What inspired you to start writing your latest novel?
The original concept for The Counterfeiter’s Daughter began when I first visited Bavaria in south Germany and Salzburg, Austria, at 17.
The fairytale setting sparked the idea for a story to take place in those locations. Many years passed before I devoted time to write an entire novel. During the beginning stages of outlining the story, I encountered personal challenges in my life and it led me to incorporate themes of faith and breaking free from the past into the story.
Drawing from life experience inspired me and allowed an authenticity to shine through my character arcs.
2. Do you outline your stories? If so, what kind of method works best for you?
I’m more character than plot driven, so I spend a good amount of time on character sketches and develop the plot based on the character’s motives. I guess that makes me a planster.
I get the three acts of story structure in order and weave themes into the plot, so the storyline flows seamlessly. The process allows me to dive into my character’s world and let them have the freedom to create a little chaos.
Regarding software, I’ve been a pen and paper gal most of my life and it’s hard to break the habit. Although I used Scrivener on my current WIP, it’s not the easiest transition, but it’s nice not having to dig through stacks of notebooks, sticky notes and index cards.
3. How much world building do you do before starting your book? How do you best like to build your book's world?
I love writing my stories in the many countries I’ve visited around the world. I’m a traveler and worked in the travel industry for 10 years. I’ve had experiences and obstacles while traveling that seemed like scenes from a novel. Placing my characters in actual settings brings fiction to life.
After I settle on the setting and plot, my fleshed-out character’s help create their world. It allows the reader to have a sense of experiencing the same adventures as my characters. I returned to the locations in my latest book, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, in March 2019. I felt like a fangirl of my novel. It’s a fun experience and inspires ideas for new stories to write!
4. What do you do to keep growing as a writer?
I enjoy learning and believe it’s essential for our growth as human beings.
I glean information from multiple resources, investing my time in participating in webinars that teach on the many facets of writing and publishing. Using the tools available in printed publications or online helps me develop the craft of creating, editing and publishing.
I encourage all authors to read a lot of books in their genre to be familiar with the reader’s expectations of your niche. Reading is a fundamental part of growing as an author. We need to schedule time for it, if we want to grow and thrive as writers.
5. Do you have any advice for writers when it comes to creating the best hook for the beginning of their book?
The hook is important for every story, but it is critical for writing a suspense novel.
The best advice I can offer is to revise the first paragraph after you’ve put your book away for at least a month. Read it with fresh eyes and rewrite it a few times until you can feel the tension even though you know what will happen. I usually rewrite the first paragraph several times.
How can you grab your audience’s attention on the first page?
The first sentence is everything. It sets the tone for your entire story. Make it shine and come alive with a sense of something, anything impending. Use strong verbs and avoid too many adjectives on the first page. The reader needs to feel that they must know what happens next, so ensure the hook leaves them with questions.
“The ten o’clock train departed, transporting Gretchen and the boys from Berlin to Munich. Sam sighed. Now they’d be safe from the deadly consequences of his poor choices.” -The Counterfeiter’s Daughter
6. What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of starting a book? How might writers combat that obstacle(s)?
The most challenging aspect of starting a book for me is knowing what comes after the first draft.
I’ll have an idea for a plot and start creating character profiles. I set it aside and think about all the work that lies ahead, doubting I can do it all over again. The daunting task of drafting, revising, editing, publishing and marketing settles in while wondering if I can repeat the process.
I combat the struggle of completing a novel by creating a daily schedule. Whether I set goals for word count, pages written or a timeframe to finish a first draft, I work on the goal one day at a time. It keeps me from getting ahead of myself. Once I’ve achieved my daily goals, working through the entire process becomes more attainable and every time I repeat the cycle, it’s easier to complete.
7. Do you have a favorite quote you've written?
I posted a quote on Instagram to encourage fellow writers and it had a positive response:
“True artistry is revealed in the magic and wonderment of creating something out of nothing.”
An important theme in my debut novel, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter is forgiveness. My main character, Madelyn, struggles with forgiving her estranged father and moving on from the past. Jake, the man she recently met, encourages her with his thoughts on forgiveness:
“Your best chance for moving on is to accept forgiveness doesn’t change the person forgiven, it changes you.”
-The Counterfeiter’s Daughter
Writing is a beautiful, yet intense craft. If you're nervous to take the leap and start, don't doubt yourself! Ask for support and guidance from your writing community, practice, and read books and articles like this.
When I started my first novel, I used to wait until I felt inspired or was in the mood to write. I learned that mindset would get you nowhere. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll feel defeated by outside circumstances.
My advice is to set daily goals and write no matter how you feel that day. The good news is, if you’re dissatisfied with your work that day, you can revise it later. The best thing to do is produce work. You’ll finish a draft and then you’ll have something to work with and achieve your goals. The routine will create a positive habit, rather than be a slave to your moods and resent the writing process.
We have all that we need inside to inspire us.
About the Book:
I’m so excited for the release of my debut novel, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, available July 5,2020.
The Counterfeiter’s Daughter
An empathetic psychologist, Madelyn Brighton trusts no one. She maintains a solitary and organized life with a serene view of the beach.
Everything changes when bad news forces her to leave sunny California and travel to Bavaria in south Germany. Amid 19th-century castles and dark family secrets, she must deal with the repercussions of her estranged father’s shocking counterfeiting crimes when she secretly inherits a priceless artifact.
Complications ensue when Madelyn reluctantly partners with the adventurous, blue-eyed archaeologist Jake Nolan. He promises to help her evade Leon Von Fussen, a prominent and wealthy art conservator who keeps them on the run as he tries to get his hands on the valuable museum piece Madelyn hides.
Madelyn finds herself caught in the middle of a rivalry between Jake and Leon. Will she succeed at protecting the innocent victims affected by her father's mistakes, trust Jake with her safety and open herself to love again? Or will the counterfeiter’s daughter suffer the fallout of her father’s choices?
Join Madelyn on her thrilling journey of romantic suspense—from disillusionment to faith, bitterness to forgiveness, and loneliness to the prospect of love.
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