Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Get to Know Author Victoria Foyt
I have a treat for you all, author Victoria Foyt stopped in to answers a few questions and tell us about her book, Revealing Eden. Check it out!
Please tell readers about your current book...
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Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls art One) is a unique pastiche of genres, fantasy, adventure, and romance, which really interweaves my own fears and dreams.
I started with my deep concern about the loss of our natural environment and how that might change existing social paradigms. In Eden’s future world, the earth is so overheated that her white race, the Pearls, have nearly died off. Those with darker skin, Coals, are better able to resist The Heat, and therefore, dominate society. Today, Eden might be considered gorgeous, but in the future, she’s considered ugly and is doomed unless she can find a mate before she turns 18, which is nearly middle aged.
Here, I tapped into my feelings about race and beauty, which began with an incident in elementary school. One day, as I stood at the front of the school waiting for my mother, a boy leaned out of the window of a departing bus and hurled a racial slur at me. It wasn’t even about my race! But it stung all the same. With my wildly curly hair and prominent features, I didn’t look like the majority of blond, blue-eyed girls, and I guess that frightened him. Perhaps because of that moment, or maybe because I looked different, I never felt beautiful. I focused on developing my mind and told myself I didn’t care about looks. Years later, when I starred in several indie films, I was flabbergasted to read reviews that praised my beauty. To this day, I never have understood why appearance often matters more than character or intelligence.
Lastly, I had come to a point in my life where I wasn’t sure I believed in true love anymore. I’d been burned and decided love was a hoax. When Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, perhaps mankind’s only hope, she’s cast out—into the last patch of rainforest and into the arms of a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction to him. To survive, Eden must change—but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty—and of love. Fortunately, in writing her story, I also found a way to open my heart, and find love.
Who or what inspires your writing?
A burning question usually inspires me, what if…? In Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One), the question that haunted me was this: what if global warming turned today’s prevailing beauty standards upside down? In the story, because Caucasians have less melanin in their skin to protect them from the sun’s burning rays, they are branded as inferior Pearls. Dark-skinned people, or Coals, have more resistance to the Heat, and therefore, now rule society. Eden Newman, a lithe blue-eyed blonde, would be considered gorgeous in our day, while in the future she has to beg for a mate or suffer an early death. The direction in which this “what if” question took me greatly surprised me, as it often does. Finally, forced to discover her inner beauty, Eden opens her heart to true love.
When did you know you would be a writer?
As a young girl, I was always writing, whether it was long letters to pen pals and relatives, or diaries and journals. I couldn’t not write. In college, I studied foreign languages, which deepened my love of words and prose. Later, I had the opportunity to write screenplays, which helped hone my use of dialogue, location and story structure. As an actress, my understanding of character grew by leaps and bounds. I always knew I should write a novel, but it wasn’t until I suffered some health issues and began to evaluate my life that I had a stunning realization of my heart’s desire. I began at once to write my first novel and haven’t stopped since.
How long did it take you to write your first novel?
The first draft of my first novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, flew onto the page in a matter of three months. Then, of course, it took me several years to edit and shape it. Even after HarperCollins bought it, it needed more work. By the time I began Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One), my skills had improved considerably, and it took about two years to finish, which included considerable research. Along the way, I’ve learned to savor the process, rather than keep my eye on the finish line. And in doing so, I write better, and have more fun!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Editing, editing, and even more editing. I grow anxious to move on to another story once I’ve finished the first draft because I have so many to tell. And yet, over the years, I have come to value the necessity of editing. Often, in the last stages, I will suddenly realize that some key element needs elaboration or more detail. Once I have reached the last draft and have seen the manuscript bloom, I’m grateful for the patience I found to edit. I might even have a little fun in the process.
Do you have any writing rituals?
The timeworn cliché of a slovenly, drunken writer is 180 degrees opposite from my approach. For me, being a writer requires an almost athletic discipline: clean body, sharp mind, and an open heart. At breakfast, I usually read a few newspapers because invariably, I’ll find something to use in my writing, either at present or in the future. Around 8:30 a.m., I climb the stairs to our guesthouse with a big mug of coffee in hand. I’ll meditate for about fifteen minutes to clear my mind of outside distractions; my writing computer is offline to keep them at bay. I usually set a goal of how many pages I hope to write or edit, depending on where I am in the story. I’ll usually quit by 1:30 p.m. to attend to business and family. Later in the day, I try to exercise because sitting for so long is hard on the body. And yet, those hours of writing go by in a happy blink!
Have you written any thing else?
My debut novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, was a coming of age, supernatural mystery, published by HarperCollins. Lexie, the protagonist, is a real computer geek whose only friend is her computer, which she dubs, Ajna-Mac. When a tragic accident rocks her world, she must learn to navigate the so-called “real world.” In the process, she discovers more magic online than she thought possible, and begins to trust her instincts with the help of an unlikely friend. Lexie is very dear to me, and I simply loved writing her story, which TeensReadToo gave a 5 star, must read review. Before I turned to writing fiction full time, I was involved in filmmaking. I co-wrote several critically-acclaimed indie films, including Babyfever, Last Summer In the Hamptons, Going Shopping, and Déjà vu, (in all of which I played the female lead), as well as Festival in Cannes.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
First, read a lot, particularly, good books. Each book I read is like a mini-course in writing. I may be terribly involved in the story, but on another deeper level I pay attention to the writer’s use of voice, language, character and plot. I always find some delightful gem to add to my treasure chest of writing tools. When I finish a book, whether I liked it or not, I analyze which aspects worked, why the writer made certain choices, and what approach I might have taken. I have great admiration for all authors and deeply appreciate their gifts.
Secondly, I’ll pass on the best advice I ever received when I began to write my first novel. J.D. Salinger’s ex-wife, Claire Douglas, told me: “Kill the inner critic by answering it.” She showed me how to overcome the negative onslaught, you know, that insidious, destructive voice that repeats in your head: “Who are you to write a novel? This material stinks! You’re wasting your time.” She suggested I write down such jabs and then add my response, as if literally interviewing this horrible critic. At first my answers were tentative, my voice shaky. As I persevered, my confidence grew until eventually, the creative-sucking voice lost its power and slunk away into the darkness. Now if it ever rears its ugly head, I simply laugh. I’ve discovered that the joy of writing is found in the process and not in the end result. If you stay focused in the moment you won’t have the time or interest to worry about what someone might think of your material. And voila, you just might finish your novel!
Who are your favorite Authors?
The list of writers whom I admire and who have influenced me is long and varied. I have always been an enthusiastic reader of all kinds of books from romances by Jane Austen, and mysteries by Raymond Chandler, to biting social commentary such as Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger or Lois Lowry’s The Giver. As a teenager, I devoured Ernest Hemingway’s books, and have recently reread many of them. His direct prose and elegant storytelling definitely set the bar. On the other end of the spectrum, I adore Isabel Allende’s Lush, more feminine prose and quixotic stories.
What are your favorite books, or which book has impacted you the most?
I can still remember the thrill at age fourteen or fifteen, of reading Dostoyevsky’s classic thriller, Crime and Punishment. Like an iron filing quivering against a magnet, I could not put it down. The intricate portrait of Raskolnikov, and the logical, step-by-step progression of his crime and punishment, riveted me to the page. Around the same period, Margaret Mitchell’s sweeping, historical romance, Gone With The Wind, equally stunned me. I cared so deeply for those star-crossed lovers, Scarlett and Rhett, that by the end, I felt bereft of their company, as if two dear friends had left me. I could go on and on about the deep impact various books have made upon my life, but those were two vivid experiences that I’ll never forget.
What are you currently reading?
I’m delighted to read the fiftieth-anniversary edition of the classic book, Gift from the Sea, a non-fiction work by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It’s a gem of a book about the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, told in parable to various shells. I’m a sucker for shells, and a huge admirer of Lindbergh, who lived a full, adventurous life as a pioneering aviator, mother of five, and successful writer. I’m sure I can learn a few things from such a daring, accomplished woman.
How do readers find out more about you?
I love hearing from readers! You can connect with me at VictoriaFoyt.com.
And please, visit http://www.facebook.com/SaveThePearls or Eden Newman’s interactive site: www.SaveThePearls.com. Thanks to all of you who have uploaded your amazing mating videos!
Apocalypse World blog
Purchase the book
Save the Pearls YouTube channel
By the way, I’m furiously working on the Save The Pearls trilogy. Expect to see, Save The Pearls Part Two Adapting Eden next year.
Thanks for the interview! I wish you a very good New Year full of good books, flights of imagination, peace and happiness!
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