VANESSA BUSH INTERVIEW
1.) When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
I wouldn’t say there was any defining moment, when the realization came to me. I recall writing weekly stories, in elementary school. The teacher would assign us a topic, and the class would write a short story. Almost every week, the teacher would read my story aloud to the class. I had no idea why she chose my stories, but I began to get a sense she saw something in me.
It was a few years later, in grade seven, that we were required to write a poem about spring. The teacher read it aloud to the class, and I found out later he’d read it to all the teachers in the staff room. He came to me and said I should try to get it published. This surprised me. That anyone would consider what I write to be worth publishing.
I had no desire to write, back then. I did it because I was told I had to. It was when my teachers praised me that I started to feel a sense of accomplishment and pleasure from it. I’m not sure if that was what sparked this love of writing, but I found myself in a moment when inspiration would strike, and I just had to get it down. I would write poems and, at first, had a couple published in local poetry books. I then submitted them to contests and had several published in anthologies in the U.S., Holland, and the U.K., under Lauren Hunter.
I started writing short stories, as the ideas came to me, and then I had an idea for a novel. I worked on it on and off and finally finished it, but it wasn’t until I wrote a few more novels, and tried to find a publisher, that I truly considered being a writer. It was when my stories were accepted and published that I really began to see myself as a writer.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to be published, to consider yourself a writer. I’m saying I didn’t think of myself as a writer, until that happened. I don’t need to be published, to be a writer, but knowing others are reading my stories, and getting some sort of pleasure from the experience, gives it meaning for me. It adds a depth to the process, knowing it will be read. That it will reach into the hearts and minds of people who will laugh, or cry, or feel moved by my words.
Over the years, from time to time, we may doubt ourselves, and question ourselves, but the desire remains, and the ideas continue to flow, whether they’re published or not.
2.) How long does it usually takes you to write a book?
I’ve written a 120,000 word novel in four weeks, an 85,000 word novel in nineteen days, 50,000 words in twelve days…If I’m doing nothing else but writing all day, every day, I can get a lot done. It’s when I get into a zone that I can’t wait to write, the moment I awake—and when I’m too exhausted to focus, at the end of the day, that I regrettably realize I must stop. I usually write around 5,000 words in a day, but I have written 8 to 9,000 words in a day. So, depending on how long any given short story is, I can write them in one day.
3.) What would you say your writing style and techniques are?
I know dialogue pushes my stories forward and immediately pulls the reader into the action, so I tend to focus on that. I’ll use narrative to help set mood, create tension, and to build the world around my characters—but not so much that it takes away from the momentum.
4.) What is the most important thing for you to communicate with your readers?
I want them to relate to my characters, no matter if they are good or bad. I want them to become part of the story, as if there, in the midst of the joy or despair…for them to feel what the characters are feeling. I want them to know the characters, as if they are alive, and to cry at their loss, or rage at the injustice. I want them to come away from the story having experienced something that touched them on some level. Perhaps, left them with a thought, a feeling…a memory.
5.) How do you find your inspirations?
Now that is a really hard question for me. So many times ideas will literally come to me out of thin air. They just pop into my head, and I find myself excited about the story unfolding before me, and I need to get it down. There have been times, when watching a particular movie based on a book, that I find myself moved to write. Their creation inspires me to create, as if through the images I sense their desire, their process, their drive and excitement. It reminds me of that passion, that need to express, that thrill of living within the world of my characters, as if one of them, as if I know them…as if they’re real.
6.) What do you enjoy the most when you create a story?
When I start a story, I may have the plot worked out in my head, as to where I want the story to go and what it’s about. It tends to be a fairly general idea. I then start to write it, and as I am writing it, the characters and the story take on a life of their own. I don’t know what my characters are going to do or say, until the moment they say it. Yes, I have an idea what I want them to do and where I want them to go, but as to exactly what they will say or do to accomplish that…is a mystery to me. It’s a lot like reading someone else’s story, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. The things that will pop out of my characters’ mouths will make me gasp or laugh out loud. The words come into my head, in that moment, as they’re speaking, as though overhearing a conversation.
There have been times when I started to write one story and it became something else entirely. It goes off in a direction I never planned, and I go along for the ride, wondering where it’s taking me. For me, it’s an exciting and mysterious process.
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