This summer is a big one for author H.W. Vivian. She just recently released her novel The Goddess, the second book in her War of Rain series. On top of promotions for this book, she has two upcoming writing convention appearances at the Queens Book Festival in New York City on August 7th and at the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, Kentucky over the weekend of October 7th.
I caught up with her to learn a little bit about her new book, hear about her upcoming workshops, and of course gather some writing tips for any aspiring authors out there.
I saw you recently released a new novel in the War of Rain series entitled The Goddess. Can you tell us what it’s about?
The Goddess is about a girl who lived her whole life in a commune. When a catastrophe in her family happens, her doubts about the goddess, who supposedly protects her commune, surfaces, and that’s the main conflict in the story.
I understand that the book has new protagonists. Does it connect to the events of the first book at all?
Yes. Although the characters are new, the story is set parallel to the events in War of Rain.
How did you come up with the War of Rain idea and setting?
Like most of my novels, I came up with the idea from a dream. Between 18 and 20 years old, I had a lot of chaos in my life, and my dreams were very chaotic. I read somewhere that writing down your dreams would help you cope with stress, so I wrote down the dream that inspired War of Rain, as well as the dream that inspired my first novel, Chasers.
Through the years, I think stories of war, especially in the Middle East, helped me develop the setting to War of Rain. I heard that the climate in the Middle East can be quite unpredictable – during some months, it’s completely dry, and during others, it’s flooded in rainstorms and monsoons. I felt like those elemental juxtapositions would highlight the appeal of Rain in my story.
If I remember correctly, the first book in War of Rain comes to a pretty complete conclusion. What made you want to write another book in the series?
While I was writing War of Rain, there were a lot of questions I had about religion and spirituality that I felt like could be explored in other books. And so, instead of just writing an entirely new novel with a different setting, I just thought I’d include it in the world of War of Rain.
Let’s move on to your upcoming workshops. You’re going to be giving a panel at The Queens Book Festival on August 7th and another at Imaginarium in October, can you give us some insights into what that panel is going to be about and what attendees can expect?
The panel will actually be a workshop. The attendees will be those who are interested in writing their first novels, but who’d like some guidance on the actual process of it. Ideally they’d have an idea of the story they want to write. The workshop will be extremely introductory. I figured that, if this workshop gets good feedback, I could lead more in-depth workshops in the future, or request to get onto an actual panel.
What sort of introductory tips will you be going over?
Mostly tips on how to organize your thoughts, outlining, editing, etc. I’ll list these on a handout, then verbally talk about anything that comes to mind.
What should someone attending the panel come prepared to do?
They should come prepared with their novel idea.
What do you hope an attendee will get out of it, and what do you hope to get out of it?
I always hope to make new friends at panels, and connect with people. That’s what these festivals and conferences are all about – meeting people who share the same interests as I do.
How did you get the opportunity to do these panels? (read: how would you suggest other authors go about looking for these sorts of opportunities).
Literary festivals and conventions usually give out a contact on their websites for writers who’d like to be invited as a guest speaker. You just need to send them your bio, publication history, and an idea of what you’d like to talk about. You won’t always get invited, but then you can always be an exhibitor/vendor!
For all those other aspiring authors out there, I wanted to ask about your writing process. What is it like?
I write in a few stages. The first stage involves me just dumping all my thoughts down without regard to spelling or grammar, and the next is simply me editing the manuscript. Afterward, I’d ask my editor to go through the manuscript, and then I’d edit it again before sending it out for publishing. Although my explanation is pretty simple, the actual process is quite grueling, and I emphasize that to everyone who aspires to write their first novel.
What does your day-to-day (and/or weekly) writing schedule look like?
I work a 9-5 job, so afterward, I’d rush home to write until whenever I fall asleep at my desk. During the weekend, I spend the entire day and night writing, also until whenever I fall asleep.
I know you self-publish and work with small presses, and I was curious what have you found that you enjoy about doing this? What do you find difficult about it?
What I enjoy about being self-published is the control I have over my work, and that I get to dictate what goes into my story and what gets deleted. What’s difficult is definitely the money bit – you’ll need a full-time job, or some sort of stable income, to support the costs of paying the self-publishing service, editor, illustrator, bloggers who ask for payment, and, of course, your own personal bills. If I were published by a big publishing house (Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Random House), I think all those expenses would be covered for me. The irony to this, though, is that I do get a lot of inspiration from the various jobs I’ve held over the years. I think that, without those employers (and the salaries they paid me) I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have, creatively speaking.
You touched on this a little in a previous answer, but what advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there?
Never give up.
What’s next for you?
I recently finished my ninth manuscript. It was very emotionally draining, but I love that. I’ve started my tenth manuscript, and will be beginning the promoting stage for The Goddess. Generally speaking, I’ll just be spending the rest of this year promoting my published works alongside completing more projects.
I’m thinking of making these kinds of author interviews a more regular feature on this blog. If you enjoy this, let me know in the comments or on one of my social media platforms.