Jennifer: Save The Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden was one of the most creative and unique books I have ever read. I literally read it in one night. I have to know, how did you come up with such an inspiring concept for your novel?
Victoria: The genesis of most of my stories typically lies in a question I pose: what if such and such happened? This lifelong habit drove my parents crazy when I was a child though it serves me well as a writer. In Revealing Eden I wondered what would happen if global warming eventually turned today’s prevailing beauty standards and racial prejudices upside down. The direction in which this question took me greatly surprised and excited me, as it often does. In the novel, 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. Writers often draw upon their own life experience in creating a protagonist, and 17-year-old Eden certainly was born from bits and pieces of myself. Like her, I always hoped that someone would see the real me, and yet I doubted whether true love still existed. The harsh environment of her future world accentuates these personal issues, but I find they are universally common today. Naturally, Eden’s self-doubt and longing, along with the unique solution her father develops to save mankind, leads the story into a fantasy romance. I suppose I wanted to reassure myself that like Eden’s adopted aunt, Emily Dickinson, says, “That love is all there is, / Is all we know of Love.”
Jennifer: I am still blown away just reading your answer. I have always admired writers who think outside the box and produce fiction that is one of a kind. Revealing Eden was obviously a well developed idea that grew into an amazing fantasy romance novel. But I have to know, did you run into any obstacles while writing your book? What were the best and worst parts of writing Revealing Eden?
Victoria: Sometimes, if a writer is lucky, a story flows organically, surpassing the narrow confines of your outline and your limited imagination. Revealing Eden was one of those stories that took on a life of its own. Fortunately, I was experienced enough simply to let my characters take the lead. I watched what they did, listened to their dialogue, simply transcribing events, and I had a lot of fun in the process. Even though the first draft came quickly, once I reread it, I realized that writing it in first person was the wrong choice, an intellectual one that I had imposed rather than following my intuition. No doubt, the first draft was good, even very good, but I felt in my bones that it could be better. I had no choice but to try again. And so, I started over in third person intimate, which often feels to the reader as if it’s written in first person since the story is still seen through the protagonist’s eyes. I knew at once that I had found the right note; the tension increased between Eden Newman and her mysterious love interest, Ronson Bramford. He was way hotter! Changing from first person to third person intimate is not as simple as changing the key on a piece of music, either; I had to rewrite every line. It was worth the effort because now the story really sang. At times, you want to shake Eden and tell her what to do, even while you sympathize with her. You know that Eden and Bramford, not unlike Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler, really love each other, if only they could see what you the reader plainly see! Honestly, it was a thrill to write Revealing Eden.
Jennifer: Rewriting your novel from first person to third person intimate does not sound fun, but I'm happy you did. I think it worked out beautifully. Can you tell us a little about your other novels, both those that have been previously published and what you are working on now?
Victoria: I’m currently working on Save The Pearls Part Two Adapting Eden. If Eden Newman thought life and love challenged her in Revealing Eden, the stakes ratchet even higher in the next. Her journey takes her from oppressed, fearful girl to an alpha babe, or Jaguar Babe. She must fight to save those she loves against impossible odds, testing herself beyond her limits—in love and physical strength—while the countdown to humanity’s extinction continues. Being in her newly adapted head is quite a thrill and taking me to unexpected places. I feel as if I’m tapping into and discovering my own animal nature!
My first novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, is a coming of age, supernatural mystery. The title character, Lexie Diamond, has been called a Holden Claufield for the Digital Age, perhaps because of her angst and social ineptitude. She considers her computer to be her best friend, her only friend, actually, and dubs it Ajna-Mac. Ajna is Sanskrit for third eye; mac is for her Apple computer. When a tragic accident rocks Lexie’s cyber-driven world and forces her to navigate the real world, she is drawn into a mystery and discovers more magic in the Web than she ever dreamed possible.
While Lexie was written for a younger audience than Eden, and only touched on romance, which is so central to the later, both novels have in common protagonists who must learn to follow their intuition and value themselves. Like most writers, I draw from my life experience, and these are hard-won lessons. Perhaps, the core themes Lexie and Eden face are central to all of our lives, at one point or another.
Jennifer: I can't wait until Save The Pearls Part Two Adapting Eden comes out. I have to know what comes next for our lovely heroine. I know my readers would love to know about becoming a published author. Can you tell us some of your experiences in trying to find a publisher and what you went through? Any advice for those of us who are trying to get published?
Victoria: So often, it comes down to who you know. Having worked in film for many years as an actress and screenwriter, I developed many contacts in “the business.” Debra Raffin, an actress and co-head of Dove Books, recommended my first novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, to a literary agent who was happy to represent it. Unfortunately, the agent insisted on selling it to the adult market. And while the protagonist, a 13-year-old girl, is a sort of Holden Claufield for the Digital Age, and the story a coming-of-age mystery thriller, which adults might enjoy, I felt it was truly a YA book.
After we parted ways, I continued to hone the book. About a year later, once more, a friend who had connections to the publishing business recommended it to an agent. This time, the agent sold it very quickly to HarperCollins’s YA division.
With my new release, Save The Pearls Part One Revealing Eden, a fantasy, adventure romance, I was lucky enough to fall in with a great group of savvy people at Sand Dollar Press who know how to market via the Internet, and have developed an amazing interactive website at SaveThePearls.com. I doubt a big publisher would have created such an edgy, exciting campaign.
Most importantly, you must keep working on your material, even when you fear it will never be published. Believe me, you want to be ready when opportunity knocks on your door. Develop contacts with other writers through classes and writer’s groups. Be willing to offer them advice on their work-in-progress, and to share your own. You never know who will fall in love with your novel and be in a position to pass it on to the right person. I wish you much success!
Jennifer: Great advice. Thank you for sharing. And now that we know you a little more as a writer, I thought we could expand on you as a reader. What kind of books do you like to read and who are your favorite authors?
Victoria: 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 engaging romances by Jane Austen, and snappy 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. Her novel, The House of Spirits, is a favorite of mine, and inspired an adult novel I’ve almost finished, A Valentine To Faith.
Other treasured books include, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, Dickens’ Great Expectations, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
Oh, I could go on and on. From each writer I have found the courage to find my own voice and to let my imagination run free.
Jennifer: Those are some amazing authors. And, woohoo, a fellow Austen fan. I thought we could have a little fun with my next question. Out of all the characters you have created, which one would you most like to sit down and have dinner with? What would the two of you talk about and eat?
Victoria: Essentially, Lexie Diamond and Eden Newman (the titular characters of my first and second novels, respectively) are very similar to myself, though in different ways.
So while I love them both dearly, I would rather sit down with a different character, namely, Ronson Bramford, Eden’s love interest. He’s not only wise, as we later learn, but in his beastly incarnation, he’s also incredibly hot!
It would be thrilling to spend some time with this Jaguar Man. I’d like to hear his innermost thoughts: Does he regret what happened to him? How does it really feel to adapt into a hybrid half-man, half-animal creature? And why is he so attracted to Eden?
And mostly, how does he envision his future. This would help me write the rest of the trilogy, obviously, and be a bit of a cheat, I suppose.
I’m sure we’d share quite a few laughs over the misunderstandings between him and Eden. Maybe we’d have a glass of wine, something expensive that he’d choose. And as he devoured a juicy steak, I’d say to myself, “If only there were more men like this amazing character.”
Jennifer: I have to agree, having a nice glass of wine with Ronson Bramford is pretty much a dream scenario for me, too. But my interests are less writerly and more, um, steamy. *grins* I have to say, I learned a lot from this interview but I have one more question I have been burning to ask. I know writing fiction wasn't your first career, so can you tell us a little more about your life and career before becoming an author?
Victoria: I had a rather circuitous route to writing novels, it seems, though it was always a cherished, if hidden, dream. Somehow, I never felt that writing a novel was within my reach. And yet, looking back, I can see how I wended my way ever closer to that goal.
At university, I studied many foreign languages, which deepened my love of words and prose. In particular, studying South American novels, I became fascinated with magical realism, which is similar to fantasy.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I became involved in filmmaking, co-writing films with indie direction Henry Jaglom. I studied screenplay writing and acting, all of which honed my use of dialogue, location and story structure. I also starred in several films that I co-wrote: Déjà vu, Last Summer In the Hamptons, Going Shopping, and Babyfever. For any writer who wants to boost his or her grasp of character, I highly recommend a course in acting!
Then, after my two children were born, I had some health issues, which forced me to take a deeper look at my life and what I really wanted to do with it. One day, during my recovery, as if I’d been struck over the head, I had an epiphany: I should be writing novels!
I began almost at once, and that effort quickly produced my debut novel, The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond, a coming of age, supernatural mystery, which HarperCollins published. I haven’t stopped writing since the day I embraced my heart’s desire.
My experience making films gave me valuable tools as a novelist, expanded my reach to many great people, and all the while, I have been accumulating life experience, and developing my take on the world. In other words, my “voice” as a writer needed time to form.
Now, I live in the pretty coastal town of Santa Monica where I write every morning, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Thank you for the interesting chat, and for your interest In Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One)!
I love to hear from readers! You can connect with me at VictoriaFoyt.com or at
http://www.facebook.com/SaveThePearls, or the amazing interactive site for Revealing Eden: www.SaveThePearls.com.
Jennifer: I want to thank Victoria for a wonderful and informative interview and for signing my copy of Revealing Eden. It was a fabulous read.
And don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a hardcopy of Revealing Eden: Save The Pearls Part One. Believe me, you won't want to pass up a chance to read this book.