Hello to you all,
And with Hallowe'en over and done for yet another year, we now face Bonfire Night. This all brings us closer still to another Christmas. Have you all started your shopping yet? For once, I can honestly say, yes I have! Five presents bought so far and I'm going out shopping today so hopefully I can add at least a couple more to the tally!
Right, I'll now get on with posting Valeriya's interview answers.
Eva: Good Morning, Valeriya. Thank you for being a part of this interview series. Now, tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Valeriya: Thanks so much for having me, Eva. I’m a multi-genre author from Sheffield (UK). I studied history and earned my Master’s degree in Art Expertise at St. Petersburg University of Culture and Arts. Born in Belarus, I’d lived for many years in different corners of Eastern Europe–from the sunny coast of the Black Sea to the gloomy greyness of the Baltic–before settling down in the north of England.
My short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in anthologies and magazines, including The Copperfield Review, The Chamber Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Strange Fiction ‘Zine SF&F, The Pine Cone Review, etc., and won an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
So far, I’ve written and published one novella and one full-length novel. Both are published by indie presses. My novella AURORA ISLAND is a sci-fi/thriller, set on a remote Icelandic island. My novel DIVE BEYOND ETERNITY is a dark nautical sci-fi/mystery.
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to do it justice?
I wouldn’t be able to write gory horror. I don’t read/watch it as I’m too sensitive for guts-spilling and blood-splashing. I believe there are enough upsetting moments in real life. I’m not a big fan of steamy romances (sorry, Eva, I know it’s your genre ;),erotica, and/or BDSM. There's not enough hook in them for me. Although I have romance as a subplot in many of my stories.
I’m a huge history fan. So I wish I could write historical fiction, but I wouldn’t be able to properly research the topic. It requires lots of time, patience, and, ideally, travelling to historical sites. I don’t have either the money or time and patience to do that. I hope maybe one day…
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books? What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they should?
Nothing I can think of. Every author has their style which is reflected in their vocabulary/language. I either like their language or I don’t. If I don’t, I find it difficult to read further.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics been used at all?
I don’t have either a voice or a musical ear for singing. I sing karaoke only in a bar when I get drunk enough :) Although, I haven’t done it since my early twenties. So no song lyrics in my works.
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
I’d hire a professional illustrator. I’m as good at drawing as I am at singing :) As for other creative pursuits, I played guitar in my late teens. However, it never progressed any further.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
I love them all (I’m sure almost every author says that:). From my last work DIVE BEYOND ETERNITY, it’s probably Zara Rose, the main character. I put lots of personal experience in her arc. She’s also got one of my dream jobs. She’s a World War II naval historian who specialises in submarines and underwater warfare.
I also like my villains. For example, Professor Karl Milne, Zara’s mentor and good old friend, who uses her and frames her in the end. He’s got his redemption ARC. I do like villains who are not “just bad guys”, but who become bad due to circumstances or wrong understanding of good and evil.
Another favourite character from the same novel is Patricia Cartwright, a National Crime Agency officer who investigates Professor Milne’s shady business. She’s intelligent, funny, tough, and uncompromising. A strong woman in charge in a male-dominated environment.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest option to have that person die?
As I write primarily thrillers and mysteries, there are a few deaths in my books. I always go for whatever suits my plot better. I never dislike my characters, even the most evil ones, as they all drive the storyline. Without them, the story wouldn’t exist.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they possessed in real life?
I’m sure there are some. I just don’t do it on purpose. It happens subconsciously as I draw my inspiration from the events (historical or current) and people.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
The first one: I wish I’d taken more risks career-wise, hadn’t listened to my parents, and pursued a career in historical research or art history. Instead of following a more secure path, putting my University diploma aside, and working in an office environment and HR, I should’ve insisted on following my true passion—history and arts.
The second regret is wasting my time on a “cowboy” publisher. Before signing with my current publisher, I’d wasted about 2,5 years on a vanity press. Luckily, they didn’t charge me for publishing. However, they were going for quantity not quality of books. Needless to say, I haven’t earned any money with them and wasted time.
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
In my childhood, I wanted to be an astronaut :) As you can imagine, the passion didn’t stay very long. In my teens, I wanted to become a fashion model and then, eventually, a writer. The last one stuck with me for years.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
The best, obviously, history. I was (and I believe I still am) also very good at foreign languages. Apart from English, I studied French at school and university. In my twenties, I tried to learn German (unsuccessfully, though) and Hebrew. Now, I’m learning Croatian. So my passion for languages stays with me.
The worst subjects were maths, chemistry, and physics. I’ve never been good at science.
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had? Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind, fun, generous…?
My favourite teachers were the high school teachers of history, literature, and French. I guess that is where my passion for these subjects came from.
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
No. My parents have never been into writing or anything creative. They’re not overly supportive as they see it as a waste of time. So I try to keep them away from it.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
I would love to make writing my full-time job to be able to choose the lifestyle I want. Travel-wise, I would like to be able to travel to do research for my books.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and if so, how did you do it?
The biggest one is arachnophobia (fear of spiders). I’m slightly afraid of heights and large crowds, although these fears are nowhere near as bad as my fear of eight-legged creeps. I’m also not a fan of dogs. Their barking and fussiness make me annoyed and anxious. The last one is not going to be popular amongst dog lovers, I guess…
As for conquering any of these phobias, I haven’t conquered any of them yet.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to change?
Perhaps to be able to say “no” more often and keep away from toxic people. I manage it now much better than I used to in my early-mid twenties and yet… I feel like I need to be more stern sometimes.
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
My “go-to” snack is probably fruits or biscuits. As for drinks, coffee or herbal/green tea. Strictly no sugar!
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
Cats all the way! I’m a crazy cat lady. We always have cats in my family. As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not a great fan of dogs and, luckily, neither is my husband.
I have a cat. His name is Rocky, and he’s an eight-year old adopted tabby cross with bengal. A typical feline, he thinks he’s the owner of the house, and humans are just his servants.
I do sometimes introduce pets in my books as soon as it serves a plot or a character’s arc.
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and social media profiles?
DIVE BEYOND ETERNITY:
Directly from Northodox Press:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dive-Beyond-Eternity-Sci-fi-Thriller/dp/1915179211
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BYR5F9KC
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BYR5F9KC
Twitter (X): @LSalt1
Coming up next week:
Tuesday: Author, Alex Marchant
Friday: Author, Ian Grant turns it around and interviews yours truly, Eva Bielby!!