I interview our very own Victoria Grace Howell about her writing. She has something to say about fantasy/sci-fi, how to tell a Christian story without being cheesy, and tea.
Q: As a writer, what kind of stories do you like to tell?
I write in the speculative fiction genre—which is the weird stuff—and in that genre I pen (or type) fantasy, science-fiction, and steampunk with multidimensional characters and deep themes that will resonate with the readers.
I want to impact my readers’ lives as they go on the journey with my super-powered characters. I just love characters with abilities.
Q: What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on two YA novels: a steampunk fantasy and a science fiction. I’ll show you the loglines for each:
Red Hood (YA Steampunk fantasy): A spirited, young werewolf huntress-in-training must transport vital documents through treacherous territory to the capitol of her realm to end a fifty year war, but to succeed she needs the help of a werewolf.
Subsapien Biomech (YA Science-Fiction): In order to be free and see his little brother again, a teen lab experiment must learn to be the thing he hates most: human.
Q: Stephen King thinks every author has an ideal reader. Who is the ideal reader for your current story?
A young geeky reader who loves quality fiction with realistic characters, unique settings, and magic and/or tech.
Q: What is the inspiration behind your characters and the unique world you are building?
I draw inspiration from many places, whether it be people I know, a song, a movie, a picture, or even a unique pattern the rain made on pavement. In the end, my stories become a combination of everything I love about what I like to watch or read.
Q: If you had to cast actors to play the characters in your story, who would you choose?
If I was going to go through my entire cast list it would take a while, but I’m going to just go with my main characters. For Red Hood I’d cast Isabelle Furhman or Madison McLaughlin for Mor; Chris Zylka as Claes; and I’m not sure about Dina yet. For Subsapien I would cast Colton Haynes as Bryce, Callan McAuliffe as Caleb, and Ted Whittall as Judah.
Q: Do you listen to music while you write?
I primarily listen to movie scores that match music I’d picture for each story. While writing Red Hood, I like to listen to soundtracks from Beasts of the Southern Wild, Game of Thrones, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Skyrim. On the other hand, for Subsapien Biomech I listen to The Host, I Am Number Four, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and National Treasure.
Occasionally I’ll listen to some pieces with lyrics, but only if they relate to the books. I prefer music without lyrics while writing.
Q: Have you published other stories?
I haven’t had anything published (as in there’s money involved), but you can check out some of my writing on my blog. I blog about writing advice, my writing journey, my books, geeky things, and tea to drink while writing. I’m a huge tea-drinker.
Q: Who are the writers/storytellers that most inspire you?
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Common ones I know, but they were such amazing men both in life and in prose. Also Bryan Davis, Steven James, Jill Williamson, and Suzanne Collins have inspired me as well.
Bryan Davis has been my writing teacher and friend for six years now and he’s taught me the art of writing. Steven James has such amazing technique and his books draw me in, plus he’s a great guy, very funny. Jill Williamson is a sweet lady and her books showed me a whole new style of writing, and Suzanne Collins’ books opened my eyes to the grittier aspects of character development.
Q: What is your Desert Island book?
That’s hard. Probably The Magician’s Nephew or The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Those books have really touched my soul.
Q: What has been your experience so far with publishing and getting your stories out there?
I’m going for traditional publishing. It’s been a long journey, but I’m confident it’s going to be worth it in the end. Currently, I’m pitching to many agents and editors at conferences. I may start querying as well, but face to face is the best—and the most nerve-racking, but such is the life of a writer.
I’ve gotten many bites and some promising feedback, but nothing solid yet. It’s taken me years to cultivate my writing skill to what it has become and I’m hoping, God-willing, that’s it’s finally ready, but I’m certain that God wants me to be a writer. And I don’t think it will be long now before an editor or agent picks some of my work up.
Q: What do you think makes a “Christian” story? Do you classify your own stories that way?
A Christian story is a tale that has Christian themes, not one that tries to shove the religion down your throat. That irritates me the most about Christian media today. It’s so cheesy it hurts. It bugs me so much I wrote a blog post about it.
Truly good Christian stories promote the Word of God without stating it every five minutes and without painful over-the-top Christian language. A great writer can weave in Christianity naturally and without making me wince. Take some of the writers I stated above for instance.
Q: What advice can you give aspiring writers?
Find good writing blogs and learn from them. Find a good writing community and be active in it. Go to writers conferences. Write a lot—then rewrite. Edit other people so you can learn how to better edit yourself. Humility is paramount to being a writer.
Writing is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. It takes skill, perseverance, and endurance, but gives you joy beyond anything else.
Q: What’s next for you in your writing?
Depending on when this review is posted, I’m going to the writers conference Realm Makers in the beginning of August to pitch my work. Meanwhile, I’m also preparing my writing for submission—then working on yet another book. I’m always working on something.
Q: What is your favorite…
Gosh. It’s so hard for me to pick just one book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Jevin Banks Experience series by Steven James, and the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those movies (and along with their books) have impacted me so much throughout my life. I cry every time I watch them.
The King’s Quest series. They’re old PC games I grew up with. They inspired me to write.
-comic book character?
Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler from X-men. I love his powers and tail and he’s so sweet and he’s my favorite color. 😉
1 Corinthians 1:26-29:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
These verses are inspirational for me because, even though I’m shy and weak, God can use me to do great things like my weak, foolish, and so flawed characters can do great things.
“Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men. It’s a ballad and that’s so rare to find in modern music. It’s amazing.
Q: And finally, off topic and just for fun… What did you think about Sword Art Online II? Was it as good as the first season?
I haven’t watched the entire second season yet, because I’m waiting for the dubbed. I met the main voice actors at a convention once, so I’m loyal to them and waiting to see their acting in the show. But I’m enjoying the second season so far. It isn’t as compelling as the first, but I love seeing more of Kirito, Asuna, and the gang, and the first half of the second season was very intense.
Thank you for your time, Victoria. We’ll be looking forward to all of your writing projects.
Or Twitter, if that’s your thing.
You can also find her on Pinterest.