I’m very excited to have Vonnie Winslow Crist on the blog today. Check out the interview I did with her, and the information on her newly published, short story collection, Beyond Raven’s Wing.
Interview With Vonnie Winslow Crist
Congratulations on your release of your short story collection, Beneath Raven’s Wing! Do you have a favorite story in the collection?
Thank you for the congratulations. As far as a favorite story, just like parents shouldn’t have a favorite child, authors aren’t suppose to have a favorite story. Each of the stories has something about them which I really like, or I wouldn’t have written them. That said, I think the world built for “Blood-Soaked Biscuits” would be one I’d like to revisit. I enjoyed creating its monk, young raven-keeper, and sentient ravens.
What inspired you to write the stories in your new collection?
I love myth, folklore, and legend. They are the beginning place for Beneath Raven’s Wing’s stories. Norse mythology inspired “Nails.” Edgar Allan Poe and a bit of family history involving grave-robbing in Baltimore was the inspiration for “An Unkindness.” The pirate Blackbeard inspired “Adventure.” “Deathwatch” was inspired by the deathwatch beetle. The Finnish goddess of death and decay inspired “Kalma.” St. Oswald, who lived in the seventh century, had a pet raven. Their friendship inspired “Storm.” The idea for “Blood-Soaked Biscuits” came to me after a visit to the Tower of London and her ravens. “The Walrus” was inspired by a bit of Beatles’ myth.
Were there any hurdles during the writing or publication process of Beneath Raven’s Wing?
I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, rather a challenge. All of the stories in Beneath Raven’s Wing have at least one raven. The challenge was to make each story and raven or unkindness of ravens unique while still making the book feel connected. I wanted readers to experience 16 stories, but come away with the feeling they’ve read one cohesive book.
What do you find is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
I view storytelling as communication. I begin a conversation when I write a tale. When someone reads my story, my words have been heard. The most rewarding part is when someone communicates back, either in person or through a review, how they feel about my fiction. Then, my fiction becomes part of a real conversation.
If you could choose one of your characters from Beneath Raven’s Wing to have dinner with, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Another difficult choice! As much as I’d like to talk to a god, goddess, pirate, or one of the Beatles, I think I’d have dinner and chat with the old troll woman from “Mangata.” She’s lived for hundreds of years, knows countless secrets of the natural world, and employs a bit of magic. We’d talk about the past, present, and since she has some foreseeing ability, the future as well.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of the writing process is the creation of a story. My least favorite part about being a writer is promotion of a book or myself. I must toss in a second favorite thing: research! I love to read about myths, legends, and folklore. Often my research inspires additional stories.
Do you outline your stories or do you just sit down and write them?
An idea for a story comes to me. I think about that idea and where a story might begin and end. Then, I sit down and write. I love George R.R. Martin’s term for my process: gardener. He says, “ I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time… The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it…. as the plant comes up…they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.”
How long did it take you to complete Beneath Raven’s Wing?
Several years, but it’s not a fair question! When you write a novel, you’re working on one narrative. When you work on a story collection, you have written and continue to write lots of short stories. Suddenly, you notice a theme or repeating image (for me it was ravens) in some of the tales. Then, you begin to incorporate that theme into your new stories (whenever it’s feasible). Soon, you have enough words to pull together a collection.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I read. I revise stories—which is writing. I organize my writing, update my website, post on my blog, etc. I write letters. I move on to other writing projects. Often writer’s block is caused by focusing on one project. Forgetting about the story or book which seems impossible to write, and jotting notes for an entirely different idea often helps.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Write, revise, submit your work to publishers. Keep learning you craft. And most importantly, persist! Everyone receives rejection letters. The writers who are successful keep writing and submitting work no matter how many times they’re rejected.
Thank you, Jessica, for interviewing me. I wish you and your readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2021.
To order a copy of Beneath Raven’s Wing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TQJ8Y45
For more information about me or my books, you can check my:
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist/e/B001KCR6PE
Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to interact with you. If this sounds like something you would read, let me know!