Saturday, May 14, 2011

5 Questions for Victorine Lieske--New York Times Bestselling Indie Author

Victorine E. Lieske is a phenomenon: a self-published, indie author, who sold thousands of copies of her debut novel, Not What She Seems, and made the New York Times Bestseller List for eBook Fiction.

I met Vicki on Kindleboards, my fave forum. She is always kind and polite (unlike me--sometimes the ex-New Yorker kicks in) and helpful to other writers. I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for Vicki's new release, The Overtaking, the first book in a series that combines science fiction with romance. I loved the book.

I wanted to ask Vicki a few questions, and she's been kind enough to answer them. This is the first interview I'm posting in a series called: 5 Questions

Please welcome my guest, Victorine Lieske:

1) Your debut novel, Not What She Seems, is classified as sweet romance. The Overtaking includes sweet romance, but it crosses over into science fiction. What made you take this leap?

It's funny because The Overtaking was a story I had started working on quite a long time ago, when I was first married. Like many things, I started the book, got a few pages in, and then got busy with other things. It never went anywhere. After having some success with Not What She Seems I dusted off the old beginning and took a look at it. It was horrible. I tossed the whole thing. However, I liked the concept, which was basically to have a population of people who didn't remember who they really were. I couldn't really take this concept and change it to a contemporary romance, so I added in the romance into the science fiction background.
2) I read, recently, that Not What She Seems took you four years to write. How was the process of writing The Overtaking different, and how long did it take to write?

If you're talking from when the concept started, I suppose it took fifteen years to write. However, from when I threw out the old and really started working on it in earnest, I'd say it took eight months.  The process was very different, because when I wrote Not What She Seems I wrote the first draft in one week, not knowing what I was doing, and then took four years to learn about writing and how to tell a good story. The part that took the longest was submitting chapters to a critique group and critiquing others. I submitted one chapter a week, and probably critiqued twelve other people per chapter that I submitted. And I did do this with the entire novel, twice. After doing all that, I found myself with the proper tools to write a much cleaner first draft of The Overtaking.
3) How does your own life experience influence the stories you write?

I think my life experience really does influence what I write. I'm a picky reader, and I like to be on the edge of my seat as I read, so that's what I aim for as I write. I also like romance in the books I read, but the characters have to have tension in their relationship, and I only like reading clean romances. All of these things reflect how I am in real life, and what I like to take in, from the television shows that I watch to the movies I go see.  

4) I also read, recently, that you may be writing short stories. In the past, I believe I read that you aren’t a fan of the short story form. What has made you change you point of view?

You're right, I feel very inept when it comes to short story writing. I'm not a huge short story reader, and writing them seems intimidating. However, there's a story that won't leave me alone, but I'm not sure I can flesh it out to a full length novel. So it's sort of an experiment for me to see if I can write a shorter work and be satisfied with it. Although it might turn into a novella or a novelette instead of a short story.
5) What is the greatest disappointment you have had as a writer, and what did you learn from that experience?

My greatest disappointment came after finishing the first draft of Not What She Seems, and then seeking approval from other authors that what I had written was good. I was lucky to find some very kind and honest authors who guided me in the decision to join a critique group and try to work on my writing. Of course I was disappointed that they didn't love what I had written, and didn't give me the praise I was seeking. But that's also the best thing that could have happened to me. I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote the novel, and looking back at it I'm glad for the guidance I received.

 The Overtaking is currently available as an eBook for $2.99 


Victorine said...

Thank you for the interview! :)

Suzanne Tyrpak said...

My absolute pleasure, Vicki!

Cheryl Shireman said...

Victorine is an example for all of us Indies. And I am not talking about her sales (although we all wouldn't mind THOSE). I am talking about her kindness, her willingness to share what she has learned, and her enthusiasm in encouraging other Indie writers. May we all learn to be so kind and genuine!

Annette Lyon said...

I love how Vicki did things right--seeking to improve and do the WORK. Too many beginners want to throw their work out to the world before they (or their book) is ready.

The reason she didn't is a huge part of why she's been so successful.

Way to go, Vicki! Can't wait to read another one of your books!

Charmaine Kearl said...

I have known Vicki for years and she is exactly what she seems...very kind, intelligent and genuine. I also look forward to reading more of her books.

J. E. Medrick said...

Victorine, I've been interested in your work since I saw your guest post on Newbie's Guide.

How funny that you also have a phobia of short stories! I only recently felt good about any of my shorts.

I'm working on an episodic series now, with novella length episodes. Have you considered anything of that nature? (Besides the single novlette/novella you mentioned.)

Even after finding success, your attitude is so refreshing! Please keep up the good work and best of luck!

YA: Cheat, Liar
Adult: Shackled

Mark Williams said...

Fascinating stuff, Suzanne.

As Cheryl says, an example to us all.

What particularly intrigues me is that Victorine's second novel is a trans-genre novel that would not sit easily with the traditional publishing model of tick-box categories and what might trend in two years time.

This independence to write and publish what you feel readers might want to read, rather than what the gate-keepers think is a safe investment, is what really gives indie publishers the edge.

As indie writers like Victorine notch up the sales and become head-hunted by the agencies it raises difficult questions of how far indie writers will be willing to compromise to secure the undoubted benefits of a legacy publisher without losing their independence to innovate and take risks.

JC Phelps said...

Great interview!

I especially understand the biggest disappointment being the best thing that could happen. We all need that someone to point out what we've done wrong. What is commendable is that Victorine took the criticism and used it to her advantage instead of condemning those who were trying to help her.

LK Rigel said...

Great interview! Vicki is truly one of the nicest people in the internet indie writing community -- and also very funny. Congratulations on the new book and on trying the short story form.

Victorine said...

Wow, thank you guys! One thing I love about the indie community is the support everyone gives. I have the best friends!

J.E. - I haven't thought about an episodic series, in fact I never meant The Overtaking to be a series, but my agent thought it would make a good one. Once she planted that in my head I started coming up with new ideas, how I could extend the story out. Hopefully I can come up with enough! :) Good luck with your series!