Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Victoria, but I prefer to be called Tori. I only published under “Victoria” instead of “Tori” because I promised my Mam I would, and I try to keep my promises.
I was born and raised in the Black Mountains in Wales, in the United Kingdom. Later, I married my Canadian husband, lived in Canada with him for a few months, returned to Wales with him for a few years, and eventually settled on the English coast. That’s where I now live, in a flat beside the sea, with my hubby and our furkids, which currently consist of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a degu named Joshua.
I’m completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma.
To date I’ve published 53 books, and a story in a sci-fi and fantasy anthology. Among those 53 books are nine poetry collections. The rest are stories, which are officially aimed at children of various ages, but which have been enjoyed by adults too.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing since I was a young child; I’ve been writing my own stories and poems since I learned how. I’m not just saying that because I’m a writer, and it goes with the whole writerly image. I really have.
I spent a lot of my childhood either reading or writing. Part of it was having older siblings and babysitters who were doing homework, and wanting to join in, so learning to read and write before I even started school, despite children hardly being out of babyhood before their thrown in to school here in the UK. Part of it was that reading and writing are things you can do just about anywhere, even in hospital, and I spent a lot of time in hospital growing up, with my mind able to be much more active than my body.
Although, I’ve only been publishing my stories and poems for about six and a half years. Well, you can double that if you count the stuff I posted on my blog. I don’t though.
What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?
I have to write. There are stories and poems in my head, and I have to write them down, otherwise they won’t leave me alone. Then I publish them, because I believe art in all its forms should be shared with the world.
As for how I began writing: I started writing poems and stories in school, and enjoyed it so much I wrote my own at home for fun. I haven’t stopped since, though sometimes there might be a break between writing sessions, or I might make slow progress on a story I’m working on. I always come back to it though. Excuse the double negative, but I can’t not write. Not for long anyhow.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
Routine? Nope. I don’t know anything about that. What is this routine you speak of? *wink*
Seriously though, I’m rubbish at sticking to routines. I keep trying, and manage to get a routine started, but it never seems to stick. Sometimes I end up writing in the afternoon, sometimes late at night, and other times early in the morning. It depends how I’m sleeping at the time, how my health is, what else is going on in my life, etc.
In an ideal world, I’d get up nice and early, have a chunk of time to work on writing, eMails, and all those other authorly tasks, before hubby and the dog got up, or other things needed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, things rarely work out that way, since my sleep schedule keeps changing itself, and the dog won’t always agree to the plan. It’s a shame, because I always get most done when things do work out that way, which is why that would be my ideal writing routine.
How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?
Despite wanting to be a published author since I was a child, I’d been dragging my feet about publishing, because I didn’t want to deal with jumping through hoops to get accepted by traditional publishers, and don’t like the idea of being told what to write and when. I never like being told what to do, and only do as I’m told if I want to do it anyhow, or if I can see there’s a valid reason for listening. Plus, my health issues mean I need flexibility in my schedule, and what if I couldn’t meet deadlines because of health issues?
Anyway, when I stumbled across Smashwords, after winning some books via a blog contest that were gifted to me via that site, it seemed like a great idea. I asked my hubby what he thought, and he said he didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do it, so I should do it if I wanted to. I decided immediately that I did want to.
I had several of my old pieces of writing, so started working on rewrites and edits for those, all the while writing new stuff. When each book was ready, and had a cover, I published it. I knew little about publishing at that point, so sort of just figured things out as I went. Six and a half years later, here we are.
What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?
With both my eBooks and paperbacks, the publishing process was simple, and took hardly any time at all. What takes a lot of time is the actual writing, research, rewriting, editing, formatting, and cover creation. Once you have a book written, edited, etc, it only takes a few minutes to get it uploaded. Then you just have to wait for your manuscript to go through the reviews the sites do.
Audio book production is simple and straight forward too. At least I think so. But it takes longer. You’ve got to get things uploaded, which doesn’t take long to do, and then you have to take auditions for a narrator, choose your narrator and hope they accept your offer for production (mostly they will if they auditioned for you in the first place, especially if you give them long deadlines to work with) and send them the manuscript to work from. After that there’s a lot of waiting for audio samples from the narrator, listening to and either approving or requesting changes on them, etc. The quality review from the site takes longer for audio books too.
Assuming you have everything you need to get things uploaded, you can publish an eBook within a few minutes (and have it distributed to multiple retailers within a few days) and publish a paperback within a couple of weeks (that includes time to get a physical proof, check it, and then approve the book for sale). But you’ll be looking at a minimum of a month for audio book production, and that’s assuming you have a short book, and a narrator who works quickly and efficiently; you’ll need longer for a full length novel, and some narrators might take longer even with shorter titles. Bearing in mind, those times are based on the assumption that there are no delays caused by problems that need to be fixed, which won’t be an issue often, as long as you pay proper attention to the requirements for the publishing platform you’re using.
Are you currently working on anything new?
I’m always working on something new.
I’m writing a middle grade pirate themed adventure story at the moment. Between health issues, some real life events, and the fact I keep getting distracted by shiny new knowledge during research, it’s a slow process. But it’s getting there. This is a new genre for me. I always write for children, but usually it’s animal stories, fairy tales, or something with a fantasy theme to it. The only exceptions before now have been my “Toby’s Tales” books, which are about adapting to sight loss, “Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” (which sort of speaks for itself in terms of genre and subject matter) and a sci-fi story called “Jeffrey The Orange Alien” (my first, and so far only, science-fiction story).
Also, I start a new poetry collection pretty soon after publishing the last one. So far I have a couple of dozen poems towards what will be my 10th poetry collection. How many poems I put in each collection varies, so when I publish it will depend on when I feel like it has enough poems. Right now, I don’t feel like it does.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
I can’t imagine not writing. But, if I absolutely had to do something else, I’d want to work with children or animals. That, or be a journalist. But you said no writing, so… *shrugs*
I’d either want to work in a nursery or reception class (pre-school or kindergarten, for those not in the UK) getting to be part of the little kids’ early experiences with reading, writing, and learning about the world. Or I’d want to do something with animals, like work in a pet store, be a zoo keeper, or be a vet (though I know I’d find that last one hard at times).
Nursery assistant and vet were the careers I wanted when asked to pick something not writing-related while I was still in school. I’d still pick those as potential career options. But I could be happy doing a non-writing job if it involved children or animals. Even if diaper duty or cage cleaning tasks were involved.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
I’m not sure how to answer this one. I’m always learning new things, through my writing, through my reading, or through seeking answers to whatever random question pops in to my head. Then there are the lessons life teaches. I’m not sure I could pick just one, and sometimes I’m not sure where the writing lessons end, and the lessons from other aspects of my life begin.
What is your favorite book, genre, or author?
I’m never very good at these favourite things questions. My favorites with most things vary depending on how I’m feeling, what I read last, etc. However, “A Little Princess” and “Matilda” have been on my favorites list since childhood, and I’m more likely to be reading fantasy stories or fairy tales than any other genre, despite the fact I read most genres.
I have preferences with the different genres though. For example: I enjoy the scientific side of science-fiction best, consider cosy mysteries to be the best kinds of mysteries, love a good zombie apocalypse story, and haven’t grown out of being won over by stories about cute little puppies getting in to mischief. That’s by no means an exhaustive list of what I like to read, but I’m sure you get the idea.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write a lot, and read a lot.
You have to write if you ever want to become more than just an “aspiring” writer, and the more you do, the better you’ll get at it. At least, as long as you’re also reading.
I’ve heard a lot of writers say they don’t read, because they don’t have time, want to focus on their own writing, or whatever. Well, if you want to write, you have to read, especially in the genre you’re writing. How can you learn to write if you don’t read books to see how others are doing it? No. Not to copy them, but to learn what works and what doesn’t in your genre of choice, see how the rules of grammar and punctuation work when actually applied to a story, figure out how to make a poem flow well, etc. You don’t have to read hundreds of books a year. Although, if you can, that’s awesome. But you should at least make some time for reading.
Also, please do your research properly, and check your facts. Readers notice. This applies when writing disabled characters too; talk to a person with a disability before writing about one, because not all myths surrounding a particular disability are true. For example: being blind doesn’t give me super amazing hearing, I don’t own a guide dog, and correcting yourself when you go to use phrases usually associated with seeing – such as talking about watching movies – is more likely to annoy me than you using the phrases.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I can’t think of anything. If you – or one of your readers – have anything else you want to know though, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll do my best to answer, and will only refuse to do so if I have a good reason for not answering that particular question.
About Victoria Zigler
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world. She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.
To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.
Connect with Tori
About Where’s Noodles
Narrator for audio version: Judith Bareham
“Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!
Now noodles is missing.
Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies. But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.
Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?”
Buy Where’s Noodles