The RV Book Fair – Vivien Schapera
Welcome to The RV Book Fair! Vivien, how do you approach the process of writing? Do you have a specific routine or ritual?
I do many different kinds of writing and so I have a few different processes, depending on which kind I am doing. When I do technical writing for a “How to” book or article, I assemble my thoughts mentally, in advance, then I sit down and knock it out. When I am writing creatively, I actually avoid thinking in advance (as much as possible), but rather just sit down and let the words flow me. When it comes to routines and rituals, I need “space” to write. I have to first clear the clutter in my head, as well as the clutter on my desk. This is good, because it gives me a way to begin, which is always the greatest challenge for a writer. My most important ritual in writing is to know how I am going to begin again once I stop for the day. I don’t stop until I have ascertained “what’s coming next.”
What’s the most surprising or unexpected place or situation where you’ve found inspiration for your writing?
This is surprisingly hard to answer! If I’m honest – and I obviously need to be – I think it is my own writing. Sometimes I find something I wrote many years ago and a) I have no recollection of writing it and b) I’m surprised by the content. This in turn inspires me to write more because writing is always a wonderful process of discovery for me. I think perhaps I have an “inner writer” who is doing the writing through me.
Many authors have a favorite place or environment where they prefer to write. Where do you find you are most creative and why?
I like to write at my desk where my computer is, and this is a “chicken and egg” conversation. I don’t know whether I like my desk because it is where I write, or it is where I like to write because my desk is my favorite place. When I turn my head just a little, I can see out of the window and there’s a whole world out there. Meanwhile, when I look at my computer screen, there’s a whole other world in there. I am in love with both worlds. Isn’t that great?
How do you choose the titles for your books, and how important do you think book titles are in attracting readers?
Strangely enough, I think my books tell me their titles. Sometimes the title comes before the book and basically guides me to the content. This happened with How to Lose Weight and Gain Money (2004). Other times, the title appears as a sentence or phrase in the writing of the book, which is what happened with How to Establish and Maintain a Strong Client Base (1996). I think that book titles are extremely important as are all titles. In this age of click bait, we are all ultra-sensitized to titles and captions.
What themes or messages do you hope readers will take away from your work?
This answer I can give in one word: Empowerment!
Are there any specific authors or books that have influenced your writing style or story telling?
Yes, I am very influenced by other writers, namely Emily Bronte/Wuthering Heights, Charles Dickens/Great Expectations, Harper Lee/To Kill a Mockingbird, Sue Monk Kidd/The Secret Life of Bees, and most recently Bonnie Garmus/Lessons in Chemistry. I don’t think I can say that my writing style has been influenced, but the aspiration to tell a story well comes from these extraordinary authors and their extraordinarily good works. Up until now, I have focused on non-fiction, but from my list you can see that I’m actually influenced by excellence in fiction.
How do you develop your characters? Do you draw inspiration from real people or experience?
Well, now I’m letting the cat out of the bag – I do have a fictional character in an unfinished manuscript – and she is a composite of real people, experience and imagination. I find myself reading the news avidly, looking for fascinating real-life snippets, characters and events, that can be woven into a meaningful work of fiction.
Can you share some insights into your creative process? Do you outline your stories or let them unfold organically?
I find that composing an outline gives me a skeleton, and then I can put the flesh on organically. The story is allowed to unfold, and the skeleton outline is flexible.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or interests that influence your writing?
Writing is only one of my careers. I am also a teacher and all my published books, so far, are teaching books to support my careers. But, come to think of it, all my careers began as hobbies. So, the answer is “Yes.” (Of course, I could write a book about this, but instead, I am brief.)
How do you balance the need for commercial success with your artistic integrity as a writer?
I have to honestly say that I don’t. That is to say that I don’t enjoy commercial success for my writing, because I keep writing for smaller and smaller target audiences. The situation is ridiculous. My most recent book was written for an audience that didn’t even exist until I created it. You must be wondering what I mean. My very first book was written for Teachers of the Alexander Technique. Well, there’s a small group – there are more falconeers than there are Alexander Teachers. My most recent publication is about Crystal Surgery, which is a sub-modality of crystal healing, and of course no one has ever heard of it, because I’m the founder of the discipline. But my books do render me commercially successful in my careers, so there is that. On a more serious note, I maintain my artistic integrity by publishing my own work, because a publisher has to guide the author into writing a commercially successful book and I knew my books just didn’t have that kind of potential for all the reasons already explained.
Do you have any upcoming projects or future writing plans that you’d like to share with your readers?Yes! I’m excited to say that I think I’ve written enough non-fiction, career-supporting books and that I can now go back to my very first love, which is writing fiction. As I said before, I have an unfinished manuscript from 2002, entitled The Adventures of Chakra Woman and it is time for Chakra Woman to make her debut in the world. Chakra woman has a super power … and super powers are the theme of this decade, so her time has come. In case you’re wondering, this will definitely be written for a much, much larger target audience than my other works and of course I’m hoping it will be a fabulous commercial success.
Find out more about Vivien at:https://schapera.com/
For additional information about the RV Book Fair and our featured guests, please visit:www.relatable-media.com