The RV Book Fair – Author Vivien Schapera
Vivien is a teacher of the ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE , book author, talkshow host and healer . Her book The Complete Guide to Crystal Surgery, is the Winner of a 2020 IAN Book of the Year Award. When not teaching, healing or writing, Vivien can be found gardening, cooking and spending time with her two granddaughters. Her other interests include travel, photography and making YouTube videos. Vivien lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband, Neil, and two cats, Birdy and Wolfie.
Hello author Vivien Schapera , welcome to the RV Book Fair! What’s your favorite word and why?
My favorite word is “Yes” because it has such a profoundly positive effect on the nervous system. I’m not talking about a grudging “yes” that has come about via seduction or coercion, I’m talking about the kind of “yes” we say when we really mean it. In this application, the word “yes” is uniquely powerful, aligning Body, Mind and Spirit.
What’s the book that changed your life?
The Art of Happiness, by Howard Cutler, in conversation with the Dalai Lama. I found this book very helpful and very comforting when I read it because to put it simply, it spoke to my soul. But it didn’t change my life in the usual sense, it changed my future, because it changed how I would one day respond to a future catastrophic event. As a consequence, instead of being broken and crushed, I was strengthened. I found unknown inner resources and a profound capacity to walk my talk. I thank the Dalai Lama every day for sharing his wisdom with me.
What’s the book that made you want to become an author?
There are two: One is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and the other is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The skill of the authors in writing all-absorbing fiction that revealed so much insight into life and people was amazing to me. Their fictional characters taught me so much. I wanted to be able to write like that.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
I love words. For me, words are the crystals of language. The act of turning a feeling, sensation or experience into words that can be shared, understood and remembered is so satisfying and so rewarding.
What makes you laugh the most?
My favorite style of humor is banter. Bantering requires skill with both words and emotions, plus a strong sense of how things work in the real world. Banter has this great satirical edge, which requires an attainment between the players. I’m very keen on stand-up comedy but I don’t find aggression and misfortune to be even slightly humorous.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
I think I would choose the power to go both backwards and forwards in time, but this would generate profound responsibility, so I’m glad that I’m not a superhero! Even thinking about such a capacity and how to selectively apply it, makes my head spin.
How do you come up with the title of your books?
The titles present themselves to me. Sometimes, I get the title before I begin writing the book, as in: “You’re going to write a book called such-and-such, now start writing.” Other times, I have a concept and I begin writing, and once I’m writing the title emerges. My books seem to title themselves. And once they’ve chosen, I can’t change them. I’m not entirely thrilled with this, because it feels inflexible.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for me is when I still like my book 10 and 20 years after I wrote it. After my third draft of Everyday Magic, I didn’t like my manuscript at all. I complained to my teacher: “It’s not literature.” After that, I wrote another 4 drafts before I was satisfied. When I pick up Everyday Magic and choose a page to read, I still feel myself drawn in, wondering what will happen next. I think I’m ridiculous – after all, I know what happens next, I lived it and I wrote it. But I think that’s literary success, when the writing is so compelling you can’t put the book down.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was a child, I dearly wanted to become a teacher. Then, when I realized that teachers have to go to school for the rest of their lives, I changed my mind. I didn’t like school – the rules and regulations and the bells ringing all day long. What I did like, was learning. I didn’t feel like I was learning enough for the amount of time I was spending at school. When I was 11, I decided to become a clinical psychologist. I didn’t really know what the term meant, but I can honestly say I could intuitively feel what was entailed. In the end, I switched career track from psychology to the Alexander Technique, and guess what – the practitioner in the Alexander Technique is called a “teacher.” So, I did become a teacher after all.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I like watching TV! A lot! I also like to cook and eat. We are keen gardeners; we enjoy travel and we enjoy photography. These activities tend to combine well with each other. I also spend a lot of time with crystals. I’m not sure whether this is fortunate or unfortunate but every career track that I have, began as a hobby or interest. Consequently, I can’t tell what’s work and what’s pleasure and we can easily combine the two in excellent ways!
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story requires a point – there needs to be a really good reason why someone wanted to write the story and there needs to be at least one equally good reason why another would want to read the story. Once there is a point to the story, a good story needs to follow the rules of storytelling in order to be successful. The rules of storytelling have developed as lore over time, based on what works, not on theoretical guidelines. A story must amuse the human mind, using the word “amuse” in the very broadest sense of the word. “Amusing” means “evocative” and “provocative,” “entertaining” and “illuminating.” I personally enjoy a good plot, interesting characters and memorable interactions.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest piece of writing I have ever done, was the opening paragraph of my book Everyday Magic. I needed to set the scene, orient the reader to the content, highlight the theme, and avoid being didactic or dry. A mentor told me to “throw a warm blanket over the reader,” and I had no idea how I was supposed to do that. I decided to give myself 2 weeks to write just that one paragraph. I planned to work on it for 15 -20 minutes every morning and see what came out the other end. Giving myself the time helped me to relax and even more importantly, took away the pressure to miraculously produce a perfect first paragraph. I could just play with it, not taking myself too seriously. This strategy worked, and within 3 days I had my opening paragraph. And, you know what? It does throw a warm blanket over the reader!
Find out more at: Crystal Surgery and Crystal Healing Techniques: https://crystalhealingtechniques.com