Silver Fox's Den - INTERVIEW - Valerie C J McGee
edited: Wednesday, April 05, 2006
By Valerie C J McGee
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, November 09, 2005
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I was told it won't be featured for many months but was granted permission to post it.
SF - Why and when did you start writing creatively?
VM - I started writing waaaay back in 1968. I was in Junior High School.
The head of the English Department, Mr. James C Morris, gave me separate assignments. I had known him since I was about 4 yrs old, when my two eldest siblings attended JHS 59Q. I had a very difficult time dealing with several events outside of my control both at home and in school. Mr. Morris first taught and nutured a love for writing poetry, then plays and finally prose. I would be assigned to read and adapt classic plays. Then, using real life situations, I had to write plays which were later performed by the Drama Club. Mr. Morris was never my teacher officially yet had the most profound impact on my life of any teacher I ever had. He continued to guide me well into my adult years.
I learned to take my challenges in life and work them out on paper. The pen is truly mightier than the sword. Its also a great form of anger management.
SF - Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
VM - Well, with INSIGHT and some of the other stories that I originally penned back in my teens, I can't really say. They would sort of just pop into my head. It happened in my sleep, while washing the dishes, over hearing a conversation, or pretty much anything without there being any apparent connection to the story. However, the eight books that consist of The Talisman Sagas, started as a result of a six hour debate / discussion I had with my, then 17 year old, son. The short explanation is that we debated about the differences between his generation and all of those before. When I went to bed, the book was very vivid in my mind. So, at 4 am I got up and started writing. Originally it was one epic book. As I started doing extensive research to make the story historically correct, it grew into a series. The titles all come from sayings I often heard from my paternal grandmother. Many of the events are gleaned from family stories.
SF - Are there parts of you contained in your works?
VM - Prior to 1997, I would have said No. Ironically, it was my father who said that there were tiny bits of me in each of my characters. With INSIGHT, I'd say there are parts of me in about 75% of the characters. WIth The Talisman Sagas, I'm not sure yet. I used many of my family members. I come from two very colorful families. Their histories and the subsequent stories are very captivating. Many of the things I heard about them when I was a child, I learned as an adult, that they were in fact even more spectacular than I had been told. Since I was a child, many had been cleaned up a bit. It makes me very proud that I come from the Winfreys and McGees . Even some of the less savory folk were still awesome in their own way.
SF - Do you identify with any one particular character? If so how?
VM - To some degree I'd have to say Samantha and Alexandra. And in a bizarre way, Brian too. In some of my other stories, not yet released, there are varying numbers of characters that are like me in one way of another.
SF - What genre(s)/art form(s) are you most comfortable with?
VM - I honestly don't write in any particular genre. Typical of me, my stories each straddle the fence of several genre. INSIGHT is purely fiction with paranormal, romance, mystery and suspence combined. The Grass Is Always Greener (Book One of The Talisman Sagas - released Spring 2006) is historical fiction, sci-fi, and plenty of my family history. The pre-quel to INSIGHT (hopefully released in 2007) is historical fiction and romance. I used to sell my artwork back in the mid 1970's but I don't really draw anymore. When I did , it was charcoals usually of animals or foliage of some sort.
SF - Where do you hope to see your creative career go?
VM - I am absolutely certain that at some point, I will be recognized as an excellent writer. I only hope its in my lifetime. I already wrote the fourth book in the Talisman Sagas and have more than half written books three, six and seven. The pre-quel to INSIGHT would be a re-write. But , I have to go to both North Carolina andOklahoma to do some research. So, eventually, I want to re-write at least seven of the original 36 books I wrote in my teens and early twenties. In between those, I want to write the series and six new books that I only have outlines to. I definitely do not want to remain self published Once I can totally concentrate on my writing, I can perhaps get my play and two screenplays sold. Its important to me that they are all available in braille and audio .
SF - Have your life experiences influenced your work?
If so, how?
VM - Probably not as much as folk would tend to think. At least not with that much with INSIGHT. I have spent my entire life related to, or friends with persons with a vast variety of disabilities. So, in that way perhaps, When I finally publish the books directly connected to my past careers then I would
have to say a resounding yes.
SF - What, if anything, would you like to share about you, the person?
VM - Hmm, I'm as nice as I am allowed to be - LOL- I like people but, tend to stay to myself. Almost everyone I held dear has passed away in the last couple of years. So, I may seem aloof, but when you really get to know me, folk usually find me to be a lively and compassionate person. I have a soft side and a hard as nails side, It depends on what is happening. Most of my life I have tried to see things from opposing points of view. I respect a person's right to disagree with me. And I will fight hard for someone else's rights even
if I do not necessarily agree with their position.
SF - How has your transition to publication gone?
VM - It has been exhausting and far more difficult thatn I would have thought. I better understand exactly how this industry works though, I do not like the way it is set up. I'm not into cliques and I have never been the type to kiss up to anyone to get what I want or rightfully deserve. Creative art should be judged soley on merit, not who you know. The system is probably keeping some of the world's greatest literary talents from having their works read because they do not have the funds nor the time to run around begging invisible people for a chance. It is shameful. I read so many stories and poems written by unknown talents who write as well, if not better than the "famous" writers. Many of them will never be published. Then there is the whole process of getting your books reviews and known by the masses is another problem. And , heaven help you if you are self published and not rich. Many promotions, reviews, interviews are basically for hire. I never trust a review that was paid for. Far too many people who could help with a single phone call don't. I realize that when I finally "get there" I too will not be able to help everyone. Nor would I want to. But, I know that when I read and enjoy a great story by someone who I know has the talent. I don't see why its such a problem making a simple referral. Or given some constructive criticism. Maybe when I am in that position I'll see things different. I hope not. There are also a lot of frauds out there.
SF - What would you like to do differently the next time?
VM - I wasted five years trusting someone who was in a position to help and instead almost permanently stopped me from conttinuing. I am now more cautious and far less trusting in anyone even if they are able to help.
SF - To whom do you seek advice and /or support from?
VM - I get a lot of support from my sister Jerri (who also is my illustrator) the unconditional love from my brother Robert , my two children and the few close friends still breathing. Advice, at this stage of the game, is on a case by case basis. As I said I lost my support network. Those I would most likely have gone to are no longer avalable.
SF - When can your fans expect to enjoy your work again?
VM - The Grass Is Always Greener is the first book in The Talisman Sagas. It is due out Spring 2006. Hopefully the pre-quel to INSIGHT and book two in my series will both be out in 2007.
SF - How can your fans reach you?
VM - They can e-mail me at AuthorOfINSIGHT.yahoo.com, visit one of my web sites at authorsden.com/valeriecjmcgee or valeriecjmcgee.bravehost.com or write P.O. Box 5324 Williamsburg, Va. 23188
SF - Do you have any presently scheduled events for the next few months?
VM - Not right now.
SF - What books/poetry/artwork have you read/seen lately that you would like to recommend?
VM - Whew! I usually read at least five books per week. But I am in the final stages of my next book and still marketing INSIGHT. So, if you mean in the last couple of months not really. I did visit this site (Silver Fox's Den) and was happy to see that Jerri's interview links to her web site. I wish she would put more of her not-for-hire work. Jerri also does superb oils, watercolors, acrylics. The artwork in her gallery is only the work that she has been commissioned. Like my covers, the gallery presently shows only what she is requested to do. I was blown away with her depiction of the talisman. She submitted 12 different pictures as if it were a 360 rotation of an actually existing item rather than something I saw in my mind and described to her.
SF - What is your idea of fun?
VM - I love the outdoors but am not a fan of extreme weather. I love kites, board games, Taboo is my all time favorite along with Scruples. Both , happen to be games I discovered while in Saudi during Desert Storm. The company of those dear to me. Music, art, reading, writing, I have a bunch of television shows I'm addicted to and on rare occasions movies. When I was in NY year round, I was a huge fan of museums, the zoos and botanical gardens, the planetarium, Alvin Ailey was a yearly event. I'd go to several shows each year. And of course plays and sports. The few clubs I went to, I'm not sure if they are still there.
SF - What experiences do you hope to one day have?
VM - To have a relationship where I get back what I give in equal measure. There isn't much left that I would like to do, that I haven't already done, that I can still physically do. I want to experience a successful career as a writer and make sure my two offspring turn out happy, healthy, stable, self sufficient adults who don't marry jerks - LOL!
SF - What places do you still wish to travel to?
VM - Between tsunamis and terrorists. My list has temporarily shrunk . When and or if normal ever returns and I can board a plane without being treated like public enemy number 1 or be killed just because I am American. I'd love to go on Safari, the Greek Isles, I also would love to go back to Puerto Rico I loved it there. The food, the air, the water, the people and the foods. I almost didn't come back home and may some day move there permanently.
SF - Do you have an agent and if not are you looking for one?
VM- If its a legitamit, dedicated and trustworthy agent, then, yes.
SF - Are there any other professionals you are seeking to enhance your career?
VM - For now, other than a real publisher, not really. These prfessionals want money. That is something not in abundance at this time. Whatever I make goes right back into my next project.
SF - Who did your cover illustrations ?
VM- Jerri Council. Her work is phenominal. You can view more of her work at _http://www.infinite spectrum .bravehost.com_ She happens to also be my eldest sister and my friend.
SF - Which of your books is your favorite? Is there a favorite scene and why?
VM - INSIGHT was published first only because it ws the first full length story I had ever written, back when i was 15 years old. Though I do love it. In my opinion, it is not my best story. Further, one of my favorite scenes had to be deleted at the last minute after a so-called editor nearly destroyed the entire manuscript. If I get a real publishing contract I intend to re-insert the five scenes I had to take out. I am having a ball writing The Grass Is Always Greener. So, In INSIGHT I'd have to say my favorite scene(s) are the one where Brian talks about the difference between making love nad sex for the sake of physical gratification. And of course the scene when Harry meets Miss Ruby. In The pre-quel to INSIGHT , the scene when Joe meets Sequoyah is a favorite along with the scene when he goes back to NYC and tries t o use the sign language she she taught him. WithThe Grass Is Always Greener, I have spent so much time laughing, crying and getting down right angry...its hard to say which are most liked.
SF - When and where / what type of environment are you most creative in?
VM - My mom used to teasingly call me a vampire because I can stay up all night writing. If soft music is flowing and scented candles burning. I'm in heaven.
SF - What other talents should everyone know you have?
VM- Much to my surprise I have learned quite a few new talents just in trying to promote INSIGHT and The Grass Is Always Greener. I have taught a vaste array of classes. And odd as this sounds, in a devastating disaster I'm one of those folk your'd want with you. I am very resourceful. Though, I honestly do everything in my power to stay clear of Mother Nature's wrath,
SF - Where would you like to see your life five years from now?
VM- I'm praying I can get a real contract with a real publisher. You know, the ones with an advance. LOL. I love writing and if I could concentrate on writing and showing up at events. I can enjoy this considerably more than I ma so far. I'd like my books to be well known in all literary cricles. Hopefully, then I can try to get INSIGHT on screen and my play on stage. I also want to go back to college. That is where the advacne comes in. LOL
SF - Is there anyone out there you like to acknowledge?
VM - Well, as in the dedication page of INSIGHT, I have to thank God for putting Mr. James C Morris in my life in such a significant way. I'd like to thank my ( little Big) Sister Jerri for keeping a promise, she made to me when I was in my teens , thus ilustrating my books. My daughter Sequoyah and son Howard for giving my a reason to keep going, no matter what. And to my self -adopted family members without whom, I never could have done this. Tee C Royal (founder of RawSistaz) who agreed to have INSIGHT reviewed when I was seriously about to give up. Eletha Davis (Book Mobile Supervisor - WiJCC) for encouraging me to self publish when my previously contracted publisher left me hanging. And to my pals just for making me laugh. And to my fans and reviewers who have been so incredibly generous.
SF - Thank you so much, Valerie C J McGee, for agreeing to be interviewed. I know your schedule is crazy at this time. I hope my readers enjoy getting to know you a bit better. I happen to know that your own life has probably been far more exciting than anything you have written and look forward to your memoirs. You have received some remarkable reviews. Though I know you do not consider INSIGHT, to be your best work, if it is any example of what your other books will be like I look forward to many years of great books by you.
I encourage my readers to visit her web sites and sign her guest books. She also has a few homepages. You can check them out at Valerie_C_J_McGee Home Page and The_Talisman_Sagas Home_Page
Silver Fox's Den
Web Site: authorsden.com/valeriecjmcgee
Web site: valeriecjmcgee.bravehost.com
Paperback - $15,95
Hardcover - $25,95
Also in E-book
228 pages April 2004 iUniverse
Coming Spring 2006
Book One of
The Talisman Sagas