Vicki Grant is a Canadian author with over 20 published books. In Portugal she has translated her novel Young and Adult “36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You”, which has been a delight to readers. Today the conversation is with the author!
First, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you. How did your love for writing begin?
I actually began my career as an advertising copywriter. (I like to tell kids that the first thing I was paid to write was six words long. It was an ad for the side of a bus.) I then moved on to writing scripts for preschool TV, eventually having my own series on Canadian television. That experience is what inspired my first book, a comic middle-grade novel called The Puppet Wrangler.
A large part of the books you has written are mysteries. What else captivates you in this literary genre?
I feel more confident writing mysteries than other types of novels, I think, because I’m more sure the reader will stay with me for the whole book. I figure if something really bad happens in the first chapter, most people will want to stick around until they find out who’s responsible.
Also write for the younger ones. What’s the biggest challenge when writing for young readers?
I think the biggest challenge is making sure the voice of the characters is authentic. I’m not the same age as my protagonists – far from it! I don’t want my young characters to sound like middle-aged women.
Of your 20 books, only 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You are published in Portugal. When she saw the psychology study, did she think “I have to write about it”, or did it take longer?
I read about the study and called my agent immediately. It really felt like it was made for a YA romcom. I finished writing the book in months.
The book has good reviews in Portugal, but the ending didn’t make everyone happy (myself included). Did you ever think about doing a second book?
I have in fact. At one point, I thought about doing a series, each book focusing on a different couple doing the study together but resulting in entirely different outcomes.
Do you use story boarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling?
Somewhere in between. Generally speaking, I start with an initial and often vague idea which I mull over for a while, not really sure where it will go. In the process, I get a sense of who the characters are and, more or less, how the book will end. Then I begin the writing process. Somewhere along the line – usually about halfway through – I realize I’ve made a giant mess and no longer know where I’m going. At that point, I’ll stop and draw up a rough outline. It will get me going again, despite the fact that I’ll rarely even stick to that. (As you can see, I have a pretty loosey-goosey approach to writing.)
Did you ever think that your books would be translated into several languages?
I certainly hoped they would! 36 QUESTIONS isn’t the first of my books to be translated into different languages, but it is the one that has been translated into the most.
Do you give your opinion on the covers of international editions or do you leave that to the discretion of the respective publishers?
That depends. With 36 QUESTIONS, some countries asked for my opinion, but most did not. It was just a nice surprise when they arrived by mail.
A very difficult question to ask but what is your favourite novel from those you’ve written, and what was the most exciting to write?
My favourite novel is probably a YA mystery/romcom called NOT SUITABLE FOR FAMILY VIEWING. The most exciting to write was my first, THE PUPPET WRANGLER. It was in the course of writing it that I found my new calling!
What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on you?
I love a number of Canadian authors, especially Alice Munro, Carol Shields and Lisa Moore, although I don’t write anything like them. (I wish I did!)
What advice would you give to aspiring or debut authors?
Just do it! Stop agonizing over whether what you write will be ‘good enough’. Just start putting words on the page. That’s the only way you’ll know (or get better!)
Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
I’m working on a middle-grade novel called GREEN VELVET DRESS, WORN ONCE. It’s about a 12-year old girl’s attempt to reconnect with her dead grandmother.
Finally, what would you like to say to Portuguese readers?
Thank you so much for being so supportive! I’ve loved receiving your comments about 36 QUESTIONS and hope to have another book translated into Portuguese soon. Muito obrigada!