Today I am pleased to welcome a first time visitor to From the Pen of Mae Clair. Please say hello to Victoria (Tori) Zigler as she shares a glimpse of why she chooses to write children’s books, and also takes a look at her newest release, Voyage of the Crimson Sail.
Why do I write for children?
Well, it turns out the answer to that question isn’t very exciting. But here it is anyway.
First of all, I know it’s been said many times by many authors, but I’ve been writing ever since I knew how. I learned to read and write somewhat before I even started school – bearing in mind, children start school at around four years old in the UK –partially due to having older siblings, but mostly because my main regular babysitter was in her teens, and would often do her homework while watching me, and I wanted to, “Do homework,” too.
Yeah… I stayed that eager to do schoolwork. Don’t hate me for it. I’d say sorry, but I’m not.
So, anyway, once I started school, and was introduced to the idea of writing my own stories and poems, there was no stopping me. I fell in love with the idea, and loved doing it. Though I dare say my early attempts were terrible. Although, having said that, I won third place in a writing contest my teacher submitted one of my stories to when I was seven, so I was showing promise with writing by then at least. I still have the medal I was awarded that day, in case you’re interested.
Of course, it’s only natural that, as a child myself, the characters in my early stories would be children too. At least, those that weren’t animals. Oh, and there was that one story involving little green aliens and the cereal Ready Brek, but that was written for school, so I’m not sure that counts. Although, I do wish I had a copy of that so I could rewrite and improve on it, as I did the story that eventually became my book ”Isabelle’s Runaway Racehorse” (which was originally a story called “Running Away” I’d written at the age of 10, before going through a lot of revisions).
Hmmm… Maybe I’ll have to just write a new version of the Ready Brek story. I know the gist of what it was about, and it could be fun…
Erm… Sorry, got sidetracked there.
Anyway, most people know I’m completely blind. But what they don’t know is I have other health issues too. I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing you need to know is that, with one thing and another, I spent a lot of time in the hospital growing up, especially during the first six years or so of my life. Escaping in to make believe stories, whether by being read to, reading something myself, writing, or playing imaginary games with my toy animals, helped me deal with all those hospital trips.
Just for a while, I could pretend I was somewhere else, with no doctors sticking needles in me, or shining painful bright lights in my eyes to get a better look at them. Just for a while, I could be anywhere and anything. I loved that then, and still do now. What greater joy can there be than going anywhere and being anything, either through my own imagination or through the imaginations of other authors?
As I grew older, I spent less time in the hospital, and started to spend some time in the real world. But I still spend most of my time in stories, because I know no greater joy than escaping in to stories, either through reading or writing. Well, apart from spending time with my furkids, who are my world. Oh, and my hubby too, but he knows the “kids” come before him, and loves when I escape in to stories, because then I’m not nagging at him to do anything, so he can play computer games in peace.
Wanting my characters to grow with me, in my late teens and early adulthood, I attempted to write for older audiences. But something was always lacking. I could write poetry for older audiences – though even that I tend to lean more towards writing for children with more often than not – but struggled with writing from the point of view of older characters for some reason. Still, I persisted, never managing to complete anything, because I’d either lose interest in the project, or be unsure how to handle writing part of it, set it aside, and forget about it. An issue I don’t have with my children’s stories, which I’d continued to write from time to time, along with poetry, in between attempts at writing “grown up” stories.
Gradually, as time went on, and more and more people suggested I stick to writing children’s stories, rather than attempting to write stories for older readers, since I seem to have a knack for writing for children – and am apparently good at putting myself in the heads of animal characters too, according to comments I’ve gotten – I abandoned attempts to write anything but poetry and children’s stories. After all, they were what I enjoyed writing most, and people enjoyed reading them. It just made sense.
That also provided the answer to me writing something I wanted to write about adjusting to sight loss.
I’d been trying to write something to help both me and others with adjusting to sight loss for a while by this point. But I’d been trying to write it from an adult’s point of view, and just couldn’t, despite being an adult myself by the time I lost the last of my sight. When someone who knew about my writing of children’s stories suggested I take that approach instead, I instantly knew how to write it, and my five book “Toby’s Tales” series was born.
The moment I started looking at it as a children’s story idea, I had my character, a rough plan for the whole series, and some key details I would include in the books laid out in my head. Considering I’m a pantser, the fact that light bulb moment came with so much detail told me it was meant to be.
On top of that, I got it in to my head that stopping blogging would give me a better chance at making a go of it as an author. Huge mistake, since it cost me a lot of the followers I’d gathered during my early blogging days, even though it was the same blog I returned to when I went back to blogging after realizing my mistake, and I didn’t stay away from blogging all that long. Seriously though, take my advice: have a bit of a break if you must, but don’t announce you’re stepping away completely. It’s a bad move. Just saying.
But at least one good thing did come out of my mistake: Kero’s books.
You see, I had a feature on my blog where I’d post from the point of view of one of my pets, most often the West Highland White Terrier I had at the time, whose name was Keroberous – Kero for short. I did a couple of random posts from Kero’s point of view at first, and when they proved popular, made it in to a regular feature. When I stopped blogging, I missed writing those posts. That’s how I came to write and publish my seven book “Kero’s World” series, which was originally meant to be a six book series, until I wrote “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” after losing Kero in 2014.
True, it’s possible I’d have written those books anyhow, eventually, but missing writing Kero’s posts certainly helped push those to the top of my writing priorities list.
They’re children’s stories, and got great feedback. Plus, I loved writing them; even if I spent the whole time I was writing and publishing the final book in tears.
I’ve since reinstated “Furkid Friday” posts on my blog, and even introduced a “Friends Of Furkid Friday” feature, where one of my pets will interview the pets of fellow writers and bloggers (details can be found on the page for it on my blog, if you’d like to get in touch for an interview, by the way) and those pet posts remain the most popular on my blog, judging by the number of views the stats section on my blog says they get compared to my other blog posts.
In other words, it appears I have a knack for writing children’s stories, as well as anything from the point of view of animals. Since I also happen to love doing so, and apparently my muse is more helpful when I try to, it only makes sense for me to keep doing it. After all, the fact my pirate themed adventure story turned in to a middle grade pirate adventure story called “Voyage Of The Crimson Sail” told mostly from the view points of a pair of rats, makes it pretty clear my muse is determined to keep me writing children’s stories, especially ones featuring animals, regardless of genre. Luckily, that’s fine by me.
So, that’s why I’m a children’s author.
Sorry this wasn’t more exciting. But thanks to Mae for inviting me to write it anyhow, and thanks to anyone who stuck with me and read to the end. If you did, you’re awesome!
About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan 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.
Voyage Of The Crimson Sail
After weeks at sea with nothing to show for it, the crew of the Crimson Sail is growing restless, and ready to mutiny. Only the promise of a treasure worth more than gold keep the pirates from making their own captain walk the plank, along with his beloved rats, Star and Skye.
But when a violent storm comes out of nowhere, delaying their journey to the island where the promised treasure can be found, and the treasure isn’t what any of them expected, will Star and Skye’s plan be enough to stop the pirates from leaving Captain Charlie marooned on the island? Or will their attempts to save him send them – along with the rest of the crew – to Davey Jones’ locker?
Thanks for welcoming Tori today, and please make use of the sharing buttons below. I started writing at a very young age as well and have fond memories of the children’s books I got to read in those formative years. A lot of that whimsy I have yet to outgrow. It’s wonderful to think of Tori contributing to that magic for a generation of young readers, don’t you agree?