Author Interview – Valerie Williams

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Story Art Sneak Peek

Amazing Artwork By Daniela Rivera

"Shiny Objects"

Anthology: More Than A Monster
Release Date: Sept 8th, 2023
Preorders: Coming Soon
About the Author: Valerie B. Williams came to writing late in life but is making up for lost time. She is a member of the HWA and has had several short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Most recently her short horror story, "The Tinker's Gift" was published in the Refracted Reflections (WordCrafter Press) anthology, released in September 2022. She continues to write and submit new stories, as well as completing and seeking publication for a supernatural thriller novel.
Valerie lives near Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband and two Golden Retrievers. When not writing, she can be found reading and drinking either wine or tea, depending on the time of day.
Q & A

How does it feel to have this story published for the first time?

Wonderful! I've been sending this story out since early 2019, 14 submissions! While it came close a couple of times, it didn't quite make the cut. I believe in the story and felt certain it would find the right home, and it has.

What inspired the idea for your story?

I love the kitschiness of garden gnomes and find them charming. I had four of them in the front yard until a recent move and downsizing. Sadly, there was no room for the gnomes in the new place.
Using my garden gnomes for inspiration, I researched a bit of gnome lore and came up with the gnome characters and their drive to collect jewels and gold. Adding in the graverobbing aspect gave me their antagonist, the rookie police officer. And off we went!

We know that writing can be a tumultuous journey with a lot of obstacles, what is your kryptonite as a writer?

Myself! I am not a self-motivated writer and will find many excuses not to sit down at the keyboard. Ironically, once I get started I'm fine. I find I work much better with outside deadlines than with self-imposed ones.

Clearly, you’ve succeeded at writing a captivating story for GrendelPress, but we all start somewhere. What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?

"Young writer" is a relative term! I toyed with writing in my mid-forties but didn't get serious about it until about ten years ago. So "young writer" to me means a rookie writer, regardless of age.
My advice would be to seek out peers sooner rather than later. I isolated myself at first, but a wise mentor told me I needed to put myself out there. Social media (within limits), writing groups, and writing courses have all helped me succeed.

We’d like to argue that every good story makes both the author and the readers feel something. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your story?

The books and stories I have enjoyed the most have given me nuanced characters. A bad guy who is all bad is two-dimensional and doesn't attract empathy.
The gnomes in my story are not really bad, just determined to protect their community from humans, who have in the past been very bad toward the gnomes. The POV gnome sympathizes with the POV human but does his duty anyway. He is acting in context with the history of gnome/human interactions. Bad actions don't necessarily mean the actor is a bad individual.

What do you love most about your story’s genre?

I think the reason it took so long for this story to find a home is that the genre is hard to define. It's either a horror story with a fantasy element, or a fantasy story with a horror element. Publishers may not have known quite what to do with it.
I like the blending of the two genres but feel that the fantasy element comes to the fore in this story. I mostly write more toward the horror end of the spectrum, and this is my first accepted fantasy story. I enjoyed not being bound to the rules of reality and will explore more mashups like this in the future.

Tell us about your favorite author. What about their book(s) call to you and how do they inspire your own writing?

It's so hard to name just one favorite author. But if forced, I would have to say Robert R. McCammon. His character development is outstanding, and his range is phenomenal. He can write horror, scifi, and historical thrillers with ease. Reading his books gives me an example of how I would like my own characters to come to life on the page.

What are some other genres you’d like to break into and why?

Besides fantasy, I'm intrigued by thrillers. Effectively building and maintaining suspense in a story is one of my goals. If I can learn that technique, it will help strengthen my writing in other genres. In fact, I have a completed (unpublished) and a drafted novel, both thrillers with supernatural elements.

If you had to pick another story of yours to share with your readers, what would it be?

The stories I've enjoyed writing most recently have been horror stories placed in a historical setting.
My most recently published story, "The Tinker's Gift," takes place at a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. The protagonist, Corporal Hutchinson, is a patient there when a mysterious traveling tinker, Bartley Penfold arrives. The tinker is welcomed by the matron of the hospital, but Hutchinson doesn't trust him. Soon, soldiers begin to die mysteriously after gazing into the tinker's small travel mirror. The story was published in the "Refracted Reflections" anthology in September 2022.
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