I am delighted to welcome to Jaffareadstoo the author
Hello Valerie-Anne and thank you for being my author in the spotlight today....
Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?
I was born in Gibraltar, but my family moved to England when I was three. My grandfather and great-grandfather were writers, and I don’t remember a time when I haven’t written myself, although those early ‘books’, stapled together by the nearest available adult, weren’t exactly complex. But I did illustrate them! The one I recall most vividly was a story about a little boy whose mother's nose was long and spiral-shaped. Over twenty years later, my first published novel – the rom-com THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL – won the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writer's Award. But my writing career coincided with the beginning of married life, and once babies and post-natal depression came along, my writing took a back seat for a few years. Recently, I’ve been working on contemporary fiction with fairy tale elements, and my latest, FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY, was shortlisted in the 2105 Love Stories Awards. I’m also the bossiest member of the Novelistas: a group of friends and writers based in North Wales, including the popular authors Trisha Ashley and Anne Bennett. We get together regularly for mutual support, while overdosing on cake and coffee, and we also have our own blog, Novelistas Ink.
Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Four Sides to Every Story?
The inspiration for a novel with that title came to me on a train to Cardiff early in 2012, although I had no idea who exactly the four narrators were going to be. I always intended it to be a modern romance with a magical thread running through it, though, and I liked the idea that not all the narrators would be reliable, which would keep readers on their toes.
What came first – the idea or theme, the plot, place or characters?
The idea and the theme came first, and sprang from the title. I wanted to show how one plot can be viewed from a number of distinct perspectives. Like a bowl of fruit being drawn by four artists with varied styles. At the end of the day it’s the same bowl with the same fruit in it, but when the artists are finished you can guarantee you’ll have four very different paintings.
Your book is a mixture of romance, magic and fairy tale – explain to us a little more about the plot without giving too much away.
It’s essentially a love story, but not related solely from the hero and heroine’s viewpoints. Being a fairy tale, I brought in a fairy godmother, although much younger and less theatrical than the sort we’re used to. And although I had a ‘wicked’ stepmother in the plot, I used the outlook of an innocent stepchild as my fourth narrator. In spite of how it may sound, it’s very much a modern story, based in a picturesque, fictional village in Cheshire. It’s not set in a distant fairy tale land in some undefined era, it’s much more relatable to our own contemporary existence – even if the fairy godmother has no idea how to work an iPhone. There are no puffs of pink smoke, or wand-waving, or sprinkling of fairy dust to bring the hero and heroine together. It’s more the sort of match-making you’d find in Jane Austen’s EMMA, but the magic is there, woven subtly through the story. Oh, and there’s a twist. A massive one.
How do you plan your writing, and are you a plotter, or a see where it goes kind of writer?
Something in between, I’ve found. When I start work on a new project, I have a beginning, and I usually know where I want to end up, with a few important scenes along the way. I feel restricted if I plot too much. I really need a book to flow organically as I write. Saying that, I usually have a timeline (an old calendar that hasn’t been scribbled in works well for this) because it’s very easy to mess that up – I speak from experience!
What is your definition of writing Heaven and writing Hell?
I’m not sure if my answer is quite what you were after, but I did give it some thought and I wanted to be honest.
I think it’s wonderful that more writers than ever have the opportunity to get their work in front of a reader nowadays. With the boom of digital publishing, small presses and print on demand, there are so many avenues open to us, and we have the chance to experiment and push our writing in directions that might not have been available to us previously (writing Heaven). Larger publishers react to trends, but not all readers want to consume the latest crop of whatever’s ‘hot’. Authors can interact with readers directly now, and there’s the opportunity for more diversity because of that, if we choose to take it. But at the same time, this has led to the market rapidly becoming saturated, and for some authors, writing is just a hobby. This inevitably means there are fewer fulltime writers able to make a reasonable living.
For me, storytelling has been my profession for twenty years. I’ve studied the craft, and I continue to study it, and I work hard and persistently. But at times, it can be the most frustrating and demoralising of occupations (writing Hell), because so many people feel they can do it without any training or apprenticeship, and without much effort. For instance, I wouldn’t start plumbing in a sink; I have no idea what I’m doing. Or wiring an electrical socket. I could learn – maybe! – but that would take time. Yet there are people out there who pick up a pen and think that’s all it takes to call themselves an author, and there’s something disrespectful about an attitude like that.
(Rant over – sorry, Jo!)
Its not a rant at all, Valerie -Anne - glad to have your opinion...
And finally - how can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Well, it would be lovely if anyone did want to find out more, and hopefully I haven’t put anyone off! I enjoy interacting with other writers and readers on social media. You can find me here: Facebook and here: Twitter @VABaglietto, and I’m on Instagram as well: @valerieannewrites. I also have a website: www.valerie-annebaglietto.com, where you can contact me directly via email.
Before I go, I’d just like to say thank you, Jo, for having me here on your blog. I appreciate the opportunity, and I hope my answers haven’t bored anyone. My kids would be yawning by now, but I can’t use them as a gauge. I could probably tap dance in wellies wearing a sequined tutu, and I’d still be dull old Mum!
Huge thanks to Valerie-Anne for taking the time out of her busy schedule and for her insightful answers to my questions. It's been a real pleasure to have your company on the blog today.