Today’s interview came about when I asked for volunteers for my holiday questions and Tori volunteered. Tori has the patience of a saint, and when dealing with me some days and weeks, you need to have patience. Tori has been wonderful to work with and get to know or the past few weeks and we have gotten this interview up and running and the back-and-forth forgetting her holiday questionnaire ready to go. I hope you all enjoy today’s interview with Tori Zigler. This is also the last interview for the year…. maybe 😉
Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
“The closest thing to a novel I have is more a novella than a novel. Well, officially it’s a chapter book; a short novel aimed at children. But, anyway… It’s called ‘Witchlet’ and is about a 9 year old witch named Paige who’s trying to find acceptance while also dealing with guilt from an accident she didn’t mean to cause when she was 3 and first started showing signs of her powers. It’s the first in a trilogy called ‘The Magical Chapters Trilogy’ which I know isn’t very inventive, but I needed a series name quickly to answer a question someone asked me, and since they’re magical themed chapter books that’s what I came up with. Anyway, until the sequel ‘The Pineapple Loving Dragon’ (which will be published on December 1st of this year) it was the longest thing I’d written that was worth publishing. Everything else I’ve written is either a short story or poetry collection, and apart from ‘A Magical Storm’ (the third book in the trilogy) everything else I have planned for the future is either a short story or poetry collection too.
As for the inspiration for ‘Witchlet’… Well, the short form of that is that someone was doing a blog party and I wrote a piece for it about a teenage witch. When I showed it to someone I was told she wasn’t believeable because a witch couldn’t be that young. I told another friend about it, and she was as annoyed as me about people refusing to see past stereotypes, and decided to host another blog party based on breaking free from stereotypes. I wrote three pieces for it ‘Frank The Friendly Ogre’ (which is available to download free from places such as Smashwords, Barnes And Noble, The Apple iBook Store, Sony, etc) and two stories which grew to become the first two books in ‘The Magical Chapters Trilogy’ after people asked for more. The first was actually called ‘The Pineapple Loving Dragon’ but is now just the first draft of the first chapter of the 5 chapter book by the same name, and the second was called ‘Cara’s Magical Cure’ and was the first draft of the first chapter of ‘Witchlet’ (in this case I took the story name for the chapter itself rather than the book). I wrote Paige so young because I wanted to prove that a witch could be as young as you want her to be, and the rest just came to me when people wanted more and I needed to turn a short piece in to a 5 chapter story.”
What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?
“I will read just about anything; I’ve always been that way. I have to admit though that I still have a fondness for children’s books. I also love a good Fantasy story, and can safely say that the Fantasy genre is a favourite of mine. I also have a certain fondness for books about animals, including talking ones.
I tried writing in several genres and discovered that not only do I prefer writing for children, but people enjoyed my children’s stories more than they enjoyed anything I aimed at older readers. I guess it’s true what they say about writing what you love. I also write poetry, which is the only thing I seem to be able to successfully aim at older readers. I have to admit I get more pleasure from the children’s stories though, and plan to focus more on those once I have the couple of poetry collections I’ve put together published. I especially enjoy allowing my love of the Fantasy genre to shine through and writing about fantasy creatures. So far I have a fairy book and an ogre book published, not to mention ‘Witchlet’ which contains both a witch and a dragon. I also have plans for various other fantasy creature stories including a couple more fairy books and one about a kobold, not to mention the final two books for ‘The Magical Chapters Trilogy’ and several others I haven’t done more than scribble ideas for yet so I’m not telling anyone about. I also love writing about animals.”
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
“The biggest criticism I’ve really had was when I was told my teenage witch wasn’t believeable as a witch because she was too young. This – as already mentioned – was the start of a chain of events that led to me writing ‘Witchlet’ earlier this year. And, as it happens, the book had a rather warm reception, and I actually have people asking for more of Paige’s story.
The biggest compliment was when I wrote ‘Bluebell The Fairy Guide’ and shared it with a friend, only for her to tell me I had a real nack for writing children’s books, which -as it turned out – was a feeling shared by several people, and what led me to find the genre that was right for me to write in. I published that one too, but ‘Bluebell The Fairy Guide’ was published some time after being written, unlike ‘Witchlet’ which was published only a week after completion.
Let’s face it, I haven’t had much praise or criticism as yet. Give it time, LOL!”
This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??
“When it comes to chocolate or vanilla it depends what we’re talking about. I love chocolate bars, but I don’t really like chocolate milkshake and don’t eat chocolate cake (don’t ask why, you’ll regret doing so). So if I have to choose then vanilla is a safer bet since I’m more likely to eat/drink vanilla items.
With tea or coffee, it’s got to be tea. Any kind is fine: herbal, fruity or regular. If it’s herbal or fruity then I’ll just have it how it comes, but if it’s regular tea then I like it relatively weak and quite sweet.
As for TV or movies… A bit harder, but most likely movies since I think most of the things on TV these days are rubbish. I can’t stand reality TV shows, and I swear that’s practically all that’s on these days.”
When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
“I used to write my rough drafts and notes with pen and paper then type them up when I was ready to do the first proper draft of something, but then my sight got worse and eventually went so now I have no choice but to do it all with the keyboard. I did try a couple of different braille writing frames that claim to be as good as being able to write with pen and paper, but writing braille that way takes so long the idea has slipped away before I’ve written the first few words. To be honest, I miss being able to just grab a pen and a bit of paper and scribble away, but at least screen readers mean I can write, so I have to just be happy with that. I mean, I’d rather only have the computer for writing than not be able to do it at all. OK, so I do have the brailler (a sort of braille typewriter) but that thing’s awkward and heavy so I’d much rather carry a laptop about than a brailler.”
What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
“If I’m not writing but am at home, chances are I’m either reading, watching a movie or working on craft projects, sometimes combining those things by doing crafts while watching a movie or listening to an audiobook. I also love to play Scrabble, and will sometimes play roleplaying games (like Dungeons And Dragons) and figure games (like Classic BattleTech and Monsterpocolypse) with my hubby, brothers or Dad.”
Thinking back to when you first started writing, have you noticed any big changes to your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?
“I sure hope there are changes since I’ve been writing since I learned how. When I was 3 years old I learned to write because my brother was doing homework and I wanted to do some too, by the time I was 5 I was writing poems and short stories (what would now be refered to as ‘Flash Fiction’) and I haven’t stopped writing since.
I think though that one of the biggest changes is that I’m not trying to sound more grown up than my writing voice is any more. I used to think I was meant to write a big novel because that’s what people did. I’m not a novel wrtter though. I can manage a novella, but that’s my limit. I find with full length novels I struggle to keep the plot moving at a decent pace throughout because I add too much rubbish in there to flesh it out; things I’d normally cut because they just don’t need to be there, but which I leave to keep the length. In other words, I think the biggest change is that I’ve found my writing voice now.
I wish I could have said the biggest change was my spelling has improved, but it hasn’t. My spelling is still awful. Thank goodness for spell checkers and dictionaries is all I can say, LOL!”
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
“What do I look for in a book? Words.
No, really; I’m being serious.
The thing is, I will honestly read just about anything. Although, if I have a stack to pick from then I’ll be looking for one with a title or synopsis that catches my eye and peaks my curiosity. Failing that I’ll be looking for a first sentence or paragraph that has the same effect on me.”
When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?
“I almost never go to Starbucks, and to my knowledge we don’t have a Jamba Juice anywhere nearby. One of the local pizza places know I like a can of Fanta with my cheese pizza, a local cafe knows I love their fried egg and cheese sandwiches, and another knows I’m vegetarian but generally order from their vegan menu… Does that count? To my knowledge none of them know my name though.”
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
“My favourite part of being an author has been being able to say my work is out there for people to buy. I love being able to go on sites like WH Smith and The Apple iBook Store and search for my name and see a list of my books.
My least favourite part has been trying to get publicity. It’s the most difficult part for any author, but especially for one who’s indipendantly published like I am.”
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first? Do you go to bookstores or have you gone viral for your reading pleasure?
“Sometimes I go to bookstores, sometimes I send my hubby for me, other times I buy books online.
When I go to a bookstore I head straight for the audiobooks section, looking mainly at the children’s audiobooks or Fantasy ones.”
Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
“I’m disabled and don’t work because of it, so I suppose writing is my day job. I wish it was a better paying one, but there you go. At least I get to be one of those people who loves their job, and I’m never late for work, LOL!”
What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?
“I haven’t had any strange reader questions yet. At least, none I can think of.”
What is your favorite junk food vice?
“That depends on my mood, but most often it will be either chocolate, salt and vinegar crisps/potato chips or Foxes Fruit And Nut biscuits (fruit and nut biscuits/cookies with chocolate drizzled over one side of them).”
If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?
“I’d like to be Paige for just one day, but only one day and only so I could meet Daisy the dragon and get to ride the wind, so I probably wouldn’t need the whole day to be honest. I wouldn’t want to be Paige for too long though; it’s tough being a powerful 9 year old witch!”
Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
“I had an English teacher named Mrs. Davies when I was about 12. I showed her the novel I’d been attempting and she told me I had too many characters and had tried too hard to make it in to a novel. She said I should cut out the boring parts and make it in to a shorter story and get rid of most of the characters. I never did actually take her advice with that story, but I stuck to shorter pieces after that, and try to keep the number of characters in my stories to as small a number as the story allows.
I also went to a writing group where the teacher (for lack of a better term) – a lovely woman named Penny who I still keep in touch with – gave me a lot of encouragement. She was one of the people who encouraged me to pursue my idea for my ‘Toby’s Tales’ books actually; I had planned to write those as a fully non-fictional piece which would tell my story of sight loss, but I couldn’t do it (I was too close to the story) and my friend Rita suggested I tried writing them from a child’s point of view, and Penny encouraged me to pursue Rita’s idea.”
What type of cool/cold weather treat could we find your indulging in on a typical day or weekend?
“It depends what I feel like having. Although, a piece of freshly baked bread with melted butter on it is both warming and tasty, and I wont say no to some fresh from the oven scones with jam and cream either.”
We all have our little ‘things’ when it comes to reading or writing; is their anything that bugs you when you read a novel?
“There are two things which really bug me when I read something.
The first is cursing. I don’t think it should be acceptable in books. If people want to say those words, fine. I mean, I say some of them myself sometimes. But there’s no reason why they have to appear in a finished novel. Especially not as freely used as they are these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed novels full of curse words in the past, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s right, and books have to be absolutely awesome to still get a high rating from me in a review if their full of curse words.
The other thing that I hate seeing is poor editing. There’s no excuse for the number of typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors you find in some books these days. Missing the odd one, fair enough, we all do it. But I’ve seen some where the author has paid someone to edit it, yet there are a handful of typos or obvious grammatical errors on every page. I can’t stress this enough people: even if you pay an editor, check it yourself too. I mean, your editor may have caught all the mistakes, but they may not have, and – quite frankly – some of these ‘proffessional’ editors do a worse job spotting spelling and grammatical errors than your average 5 year old. So when you think your work is edited, go through it again just to be sure. It will be a more pleasant reading experience for those of us who pick up your book, and possibly get you better reviews too (I for one will decrease the rating I planned to give a book if the editing is very poor).”
What do you listen to when you write?? Do you need quiet or do you find inspiration in music??
“Sometimes I find noises while I’m writing inspire me, other times I find them distracting and need quiet so I can be alone with my imagination. In short, it varies.”
On a typical Friday evening, what can we find you doing? Who are you with?
“A friday evening is much like every evening with me. Depending on what my sleep pattern currently is (which can change daily; I find it impossible to keep a proper sleep pattern) I’ll either be asleep or doing one of the things I enjoy doing, which basically means either fiddling on the computer, watching a movie or reading.
As for who I’ll be with… Thats easy! My hubby and my West Highland White Terrier. It’s almost always just me and my boys, except on the rare occasion we have family visiting.”
What genre(s) are you looking forward to most exploring during your writing career??
“I explored several different genres while trying to find my writing voice and found children’s books suit me best. I am, however, looking forward to exploring the different sub-genres within that catagory in the future, since although children’s books are a genre in their own right the genres available outside that catagory also exist within it. I’m looking forward to trying some of them out to see what I can do with them.”
Who was your current novel dedicated too?? Any particular reason?
“I haven’t dedicated any of my books to anyone, for the simple fact I don’t want to do a simple ‘this is dedicated to all my friends and family’ but I also don’t want to have to list everyone, and if I only mention certain people then others will be upset. So I decided to avoid dedicating my books to anyone.”
What are you currently reading??
“I’m currently reading ‘The Star Dwellers’ which is book 2 in David Estes’ ‘Dwellers’ series. I picked up ‘The Moon Dwellers’ (book 1) because it was the group read for November on the ‘Basically Books’ group I’m a member of on Goodreads and it looked good, and I enjoyed it so much that I grabbed the second book too.”
What 4 words would you use to describe yourself?
“Stubbourn, imaginative, creative and eclectic.”
Is their anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?
“To everyone who reads this, I’d just like to say thank you for taking the time to do so. I’d also like to say that I hope you take the time to check out some of my books, and that you enjoy them if you do.
Also, I’d like to let everyone who reads this know that you can find books by me on Smashwords, The Diesel eBook Store, Barnes And Noble, The UK Nook Store, Kobo, WH Smith, The Sony eBook Store, The Apple iBook Store, and Blio, as well as directly through any eReaders connected to any of those places. Visit my website at http://www.zigler.co.uk for direct book links, as well as links to my Facebook, Goodreads and Smashwords author pages.”
My website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
My Smashwords author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz
My Goodreads author profile: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
My Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler
My Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717