Welcome to Victorria Zigler, or Tori, if you prefer.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I live in the UK. I was born and raised in a valley near the Black Mountains in South Wales, but now live in a town by the sea in the South-East of England.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write some poetry, but mostly I write children’s stories, which are either fictional or semi-fictional.
My “Toby’s Tales” series, for example, is a semi-fictionalized series based on my own struggles to adapt after sight loss. And my “Kero’s World” series is a semi-fictionalized series about the life of my dog, who we lost in August of this year. But my “Magical Chapters” trilogy is entirely fictional.
As for actual genres… Mostly I write animal stories or fantasy/fairy tales. But I do have a few stories planned in other genres (still aimed at children though). For example, I have a story called “Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” due out in October, which is about a little girl’s encounter with a vegetarian turned zombie while waiting in hiding for her parents’ return during a zombie apocalypse.
I won’t list all the titles here, because I’ve published more than 30 books; five of them are short poetry collections, the rest are children’s stories. If you want a full list of titles, you can find them all listed on my website, Goodreads profile, etc.
Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration pretty much everywhere: in conversations I hear while out and about, in my own random musings about whatever pops in to my head, in things people say to me, in things I hear on the radio or see on TV, in questioning how something I read would have gone if some crucial plot point had been different, and in dreams.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I have two favourite characters: Kero from my “Kero’s World” series, and Daisy from my “Magical Chapters” trilogy. Kero because he was my beloved dog; my most loyal friend for a little over 10 years. Daisy because she’s the sweetest and kindest dragon you could ever meet, and I’d love to have a dragon friend like her.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Hmmm… This one is more difficult, since I like most of my characters. If I had to pick one though, I think I’d probably have to go with Rith from “Snowball The Oddball Kobold”. Rith is a kobold brawler who delights in making Snowball’s life miserable just because Snowball happens to be a different colour to the rest of the tribe, and I hate bullies like him.
Are your characters based on real people? I think there’s always something of the people or animals we know in our characters, as well as ourselves; whether we want there to be or not. But some of the characters I have are actually based on real people intentionally: Toby from my “Toby’s Tales” series is based on a combination of myself and my brother, Carl (who is also blind). And Toby’s little sister is based on a little girl who’s almost like family. Jacob, Jasper, Jenks and Joshua from my “Degu Days” series are based on my own degus, and Kero from the “Kero’s World” series is based on my own dog. Also, Cubby the polar bear from “Cubby And The Beanstalk” is based on the same dog, who I often called “my little polar bear cub” or “Cubby” when he was alive. Plus, there’s a Westie in the book I’m writing at the moment – he’s the main character, actually – who is also based on the same dog. But where the “Kero’s World” books are semi-fictionalized accounts of Kero’s real life experiences as I think they might have been seen through his eyes, this new book – which is called “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” if you’re interested – is complete fiction, but just happens to have a dog based on my own Westie as a main character.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Not yet. It does sound like a tempting idea though… *Grins evily*
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I don’t need to do that much research, but I do some anyway.
So far most of my research has been on the known facts of animals and fantasy creatures, as well as the medicinal properties of plants and herbs. Since I love animals – real or fantasy – and have an interest in the medicinal properties of plants and herbs, this means that the research has been just as much fun for me as the writing. Some of the facts I already knew and just needed to verify, others were new facts I discovered while verifying things, which I enjoyed learning. Mostly I’m just checking up on things I want to be sure I’m getting right, or checking on things I plan to do differently to make sure I’m aware of what I’m changing. After all, if you’re going to break a rule, you need to know what the rule is, right?
As for my sources… Various websites, online encyclopedias, and the rulebooks of the Pathfinder roleplaying system have been my main sources so far. If it was from Pathfinder I’ll check the rulebook, or the information I’ve gathered on the different races and classes for the system, otherwise I generally just type in a web search for what I want to know, find what I need, and make notes in documents (which are on my computer and backed up on a memory stick) so I can find them easier next time I need the information.
I actually have a folder called “research” which is full of such information (about creatures I’ve already written about, about creatures I plan to write about, and about creatures I found while looking for others and thought looked cool so grabbed the information in case I want to write about them later).
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Many of my stories have a message in them, but I don’t feel it’s essential to have one. I’ve been working a lot with the theme of accepting differences and disabilities, though not exclusively, so acceptance is a common theme in many of my books: from Frank the ogre finding a place where he can belong without having to pretend to be something he’s not, to Snowball the kobold proving everyone has a role to play in society; regardless of the colour of their skin (or scales).
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My books are currently only available as ebooks. They’re available from many ebook retailers, but not Amazon (before anyone asks).
I have considered making them available in print, but lack of skill, and lack of funds to pay someone to sort it for me, means I’ve abandoned the idea of doing the books in print for the time being. I did also consider audio, but lack of funds prevents me from being able to pay someone to read them for me, and there’s no way I’d do the reading myself as I hate my voice on recordings. I know there are options available where you can do a royalty share, but I’m not too happy with the contracts, so I’m reluctant to do that too. I did also consider having them in Braille – the “Toby’s Tales” series especially – but the only way I know to do that is via the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and when I contacted them they wouldn’t even give my books a glance, since they’ve never heard of me, and I don’t have the backing of a known publisher. So, for the time being at least, my books will stay as just ebooks.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Yes, I self-edit. I do this because I don’t see the point in paying an editor when I can do it myself for free. Even the best editor can miss typos; the mistakes you find in even traditionally published books these days proves that. So, since I can do it myself with a bit of time, I don’t see any reason to pay someone else.
As for whether I think books suffer for not being professionally edited… I can honestly say that I’ve read professionally edited books with more typos than some of my first drafts (which are awful, let me tell you) and I’ve read self-edited books where I’ve failed to find a single typo. So, no, I don’t think a book suffers for not being professionally edited. I do, however, think a book suffers for being published before it’s been edited at all, just because the author is too eager to wait for it to be ready.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, quite often. Some of it is excellent, some not so good. But that’s the same regardless of the method of publication.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? I only read the reviews if I’m on the fence about buying a book and want some opinions on it to help me make up my mind. But this doesn’t happen often, to be honest, and I’ll sometimes buy a book with bad reviews if the reasons given for the negative comments and low rating are ones I think are probably just people being petty. I just use the reviews to get some opinions, then make up my own mind based on the synopsis and reviews.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Simple: read, write, and edit! All three of these apply whether you plan to use a traditional publisher or self-publish.
Firstly, if you don’t read, you’ll never make a good writer, because you won’t know what kinds of things make for a good book. So, both before you begin writing and afterwards, read as much as you can; especially in the genre you hope to write in.
Secondly, if you want to write, just sit down and do it; don’t make excuses. Too many people claim not to have the time to write. Sure, OK, you may have a job and a family that both need your attention, and that’s fine; those are valid claims. But if you really want to write then you’ll find the time. Even five minutes here and there are enough; those five minute writing sessions all add up!
Thirdly, even if you plan to have a professional editor look at your work, make sure you do some editing yourself; a poorly edited manuscript doesn’t look very good for you. A traditional publisher is more likely to take a proper look at your work if typos aren’t jumping out at him or her every couple of words, and people won’t come back for more from a self-published author who can’t take the time to do a bit of editing. Like I said, even the best editor can miss things, so the more typos you catch yourself, the less your editor will need to find, and the more chance you’ll end up with a mistake-free project at the end of it. And, if you’re your own editor, then it’s even more important to edit, edit, and edit again!
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’m currently working my way through the books in Barbara G.Tarn’s “Books Of The Immortals” series, which I’m really enjoying; despite it being in a genre I don’t read much.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? What? Just one of each? Hmmm… I think this is the most difficult question of the entire interview! I love so many authors – traditionally published and self-published alike!
If I had to pick just one of each though… Well… It would have to be David Estes for the self-published author, and Hans Christian Anderson for the traditionally published author. David Estes has an amazing young adult series made up of two sister series, and Hans Christian Anderson wrote the best fairy tales. If you haven’t read David Estes’ “Dwellers” and “Country” sagas, then you’re missing out on a great set of books! And I don’t think I need to tell you how good Hans Christian Anderson is!
What are your views on authors offering free books? I think it’s strange when an author has all their books free, but free books can often be good promotional tools, and having one free as an option for people to use as a risk free way to try your work can be a good idea. It can be kind of frustrating when people grab the free book, say they loved it, but don’t come back to buy your other books though.
On the subject of free books… I have a book called “Frank The Friendly Ogre” which is free all the time as a sample of my work. Plus, to celebrate being author of the month on the “Smashwords Authors” group on Goodreads, I’ve got some books on sale on Smashwords throughout September – 6 free ones, 2 half price ones. Details can be found on my blog.
Do you have any pets? I have four degus and 2 gerbils; all male. The degus are called Jacob, Jasper, Jenks and Joshua, and are the stars of my “Degu Days Duo” books, and the gerbils are called Bilbo and Baggins. Bilbo and Baggins don’t have their own book… Not yet, anyway!
Book links, website/blog and author links: