Today, I’m very excited to have Virginia Wallace who is my cohort in our Saturday author talks. She’s fun and funny and a great writers. Welcome to my blog Virginia!
Thank you for having me! A pleasure, as always.
So I know a lot about you but please tell my readers about yourself.
lol … I never know where to begin on that one! I was born and raised in Norfolk, VA, USA. … and no, I wasn’t in a gang. I was home-schooled from grades 3-12, and spent most of my childhood without a TV … which is where I get my love of reading. It was either read or stare at the wall! I started writing in my early twenties, and spent a few years on the indie scene. After a long hiatus, I re-entered the publishing world in 2020, this time as a traditionally-published author. Although true to form, I would end up back on the indie scene about a year later!
No TV must have been rough. What sorts of books did you read?
Anything I could get my hands on! I’m a huge fan of nineteenth-century lit. Mark Twain blew my mind. I discovered his work when I was nine, and read his entire body of work fairly quickly. My mother introduced me to Daphne du Maurier when I was fourteen, and that was another game changer. I’m also a huge fan of pulp-era Science Fiction, like Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. But at the end of the day, I’ll read pretty much anything.
Mark Twain was very nuanced in his writing. Did you read him exclusively as a child or as you got older did you discover more of the nuances?
I re-read his work often. It’s funny, some of his work was obviously born of nostalgia, such as ‘Huckleberry Finn’ or ‘Tom Sawyer’. ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ was a classic-style folk tale, but ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ was biting social satire. ‘On the Damned Human Race’ was just plain cynical. ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’ was pure genius, and I suspect laid the groundwork for later mystery writers.
Who do you think has had the most influence on your writing?
Stylistically, probably Daphne du Maurier. Her work has a lush, brooding, deeply introspective feel. I also love that her word usage is so poetic.
Do you feel your writing is poetic?
I try. To me, using words is like painting a picture. Articulate, prettily-written prose creates an image in the mind of the reader. Am I poetic? Ultimately, I think that one would be best answered by my readers.
You write dark novels – leaning towards horror or horror aspects in your stories. What started your fascination with horror or the darker topics?
As I’m fond of pointing out, nearly all popular tales have an element of darkness to them. Even with children’s lit, stories like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ are quite popular. I didn’t have a very happy childhood, and I remember gravitating towards films like ‘Dracula’, or music such as Black Sabbath and Metallica. There’s something cathartic, I think, about turning pain, fear, and anger into art. Makes it less scary, you know?
I think it’s a great way to channel your inner demons. I read an interview with Neil Diamond where he confessed he tried therapy but talking didn’t work but the therapist learned all he needed from Diamond’s songs. Do you feel like you’ll get tired of the dark?
No. The human mind is full of nastiness, and I think it’s best never to forget that. I think my work would suffer terribly if I did. Darkness isn’t the point, it’s the backdrop. Love, selflessness, and heroism shine all the brighter in a dark setting. That’s a good thing, I believe. Freddy Krueger was terrifying, but what made ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ such a legendary story was that Freddy’s evil brought out Nancy’s courage, and made her the best possible version of herself that she could be.
That’s an interesting concept – like we don’t know it’s dark if we don’t have light. Do you incorporate that sort of balance into your book?
I do. Darkness for the sake of darkness is just nihilistic, and rather depressing. There has to be some kind of balance, even if it skews more towards one end of the spectrum than the other.
So I know you. I know you’re a funny person. Do you incorporate humor into your stories and how do you balance the humor with the dark and light?
There are always flashes of humor in my stories, but I realized last year that I’d never written anything that was intentionally humorous in its overall tone. So I wrote a short story called ‘The Ritual’. Ironically, it’s about two serial killers and it’s the bloodiest tale I’ve ever written. But I deliberately adopted a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek tone for it. You laugh, and you feel awful because you’re laughing … ‘cuz that stuff really isn’t funny, you know … but you laugh anyway. Or at least, I did when I wrote it. ‘The Ritual’ will appear in the anthology ‘Dark Desire’, by Black Velvet Seductions.
LOL I think dark humor is appreciated by many if done in the right way. We’ve talked about what you do write so now tell me what you don’t want to write. Are there any genres you avoid?
Erotica. My work does feature sexual content as needed – sex being a part of life, after all – but I’d rather it not be the point. I much prefer simply building a strong sense of sexual tension, because I find that interesting from a psychological point of view. I’ve written just about every genre, though. I finally checked Science Fiction off my list with my short story ‘Orion’ (featured in ‘Cowboy Desire’). In hindsight, it was odd that I waited so long to write sci-fi because I love reading it.
Since it’s a favorite will you write more scifi?
I’m sure I will! My favorite genres are the ones that give the imagination the most latitude. Horror, fantasy, sci-fi … I actually found my contemporary romance ‘When the White Knight Falls’ the hardest to write, because I couldn’t just bust out a wizard or a spaceship as a plot device!
I agree. Last question so make your answer good…. What has helped you be the writer you are?
I always thought of myself as an artist, as a child and young adolescent. I made a fair amount of money doing portraits and advertising art, and I started taking lessons very young. What made me a writer was this: When I was in my mid-teens, my friends taught me how to play ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. I was hooked right from the get-go! It wasn’t long before I went from being a character player to being the ‘Dungeon Master’: the story-teller and narrator. (I always say ‘Dungeon Master’. ‘Dungeon Mistress’ just … well, it doesn’t sound quite right. Gives the wrong impression, you know?) I learned to find my voice as a writer by actually telling stories, not writing them down. A lot of readers have pointed out that I have a ‘conversational’ writing style, and that’s almost certainly why. Role-playing games made me an author, and I highly recommend them to everyone. They stretch the imagination like nothing else does, in my opinion.
Virginia – thank you for joining me today. I’m sure my readers will enjoy learning more about you.
Thank you for having me! I’m quite flattered.
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Book links – Amazon