Today's post has been a while in the making. If you have read any of my book reviews, you will know this author, Victoria Chatham. I received my first book from her in early 2022. Since then I have read most of her books and loved each one. So for today's post, I am going to be sharing an interview I had with her. Now, this interview is not your typical sit-and-ask questions as we live in different cities, but rather I emailed a list of questions to her and she simply sent me her responses back. Enjoy!!
1. Introduce Yourself :)
Hello, I’m Victoria Chatham, and thank you for inviting me to your page as a guest author. I’m very much a senior and will celebrate my 80th birthday this coming September. I’m a mother and grandmother and like to visit my family in England as often as I can. I house and pet sit, as long as my clients have an internet connection. Have laptop, will travel. Once I know the pets’ routine, I write while they sleep. I mostly write Regency romance, but have written other historical romances and contemporary western romances.
2. What made you decide to be a writer?
I don’t think that was a conscious decision. It was something I always wanted even though, like many authors, especially of my generation, I did not have much confidence in my writing ability. My friends and family considered my writing a little hobby rather than a career and I wish my parents had survived to see my publications. I read a lot of Regency romances and because I was so comfortable with that genre, that is what I started writing.
3. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Being able to write anywhere, at any time, often in my pjs!
4. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’m long retired from 9-5 employment but would continue my house and pet sitting, read more and watch movies on TV.
5. What is your favorite childhood book?
Black Beauty. I love horses, always have done, always will. Along with that book, anything about horses could be found on my shelves from the Flicka and Black Stallion series to Misty of Chincoteague, and Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby stories.
6. How do you select the names for your characters?
Simple answer – I don’t! My characters usually present themselves as already named. I then check that they are accurate for their era or status in life, particularly in my historical romances.
7. What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the book. Once I have the character lineup, I decide what year I’m going to set my story and go from there. There is so much to choose from in the true Regency era, which lasted from George, the Prince of Wales’ appointment as Regent in 1811 to rule in place of his mentally fragile father, King George III, until the King’s death in 1820. Once I decide in which year I’m going to set my story, I look at events occurring in that year to see if they can enhance the plot line. I also read a lot of history books and have a whole shelf full of reference books from The History of Underclothes to The Complete Servant and more. I was not keen on history when I was at school, and I think my history teacher would be amazed to see my reading list now. I do spend quite a lot of time doing research, probably more than I need, and have accessed university libraries as well as visited museums and historical homes. The most poignant research I have done was for my book Shell Shocked, set during WWI. I visited the Imperial War Museum in London and read actual letters from servicemen at the front and found them incredibly moving.
8. How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I think it made me more determined to write more and I became more organized in my approach to the next book.
9. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Is there such a thing? If I get bored with one genre, I simply switch to another. Just because I write romance doesn’t mean I read nothing else. I like crime thrillers, especially Lee Child’s Jack Reacher stories and Craig Johnson’s Longmire. I also like autobiographies, so I’m never stumped for something to read.
10. Do you believe in writer’s block?
To a point. I think if a writer is having a problem with a book, then they’re probably writing the wrong book. In my case, I don’t so much suffer with writer’s block as writer’s procrastination.
11. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
No unpublished books, but three half-finished and notes on several more. I tend to write down new ideas for books in separate notebooks. Whether I get around to writing them or not is another matter.
12. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?
Usually. If someone has given me a good review, I like to thank them. If it’s a bad review I might re-read the book and see if there is justification for it, but more likely just let it go. I don’t like everything I read, so I wouldn’t expect a reader to like everything I write.
13. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book and how much work I have done on it prior to starting. Some of my books I’ve gone into ‘cold’ and researched what I’ve needed as I’ve progressed. Others I’ve done as much research as I think I need and then start. I would say mostly, in my genre, I can write a book in three months, and then spend another one or two polishing and editing.
14. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have fourteen titles published and another one in the works. My favorite book is Phoebe Fisher Book 3 in the series Those Regency Belles. Phoebe’s a bit of a saucy, fun character.
15. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
Hmm. I think that would be Bailey Johnson, a horse wrangler in my contemporary western romance, Legacy of Love. I liked Bailey a lot and thought he could do with a good woman in his life. If I ever did write it, it would be a mature, thoughtful kind of romance.
16. What is your kryptonite as a writer?
Oh, anyone who phones or texts me and suggests lunch or meeting for a glass of wine!
17. Do you play music while you write -and if so, what’s your favorite?
Not usually, though of late I have taken to listening to baroque classical music while I’m writing, particularly Boccherini and Mozart.
18. What book (or books) are you currently reading?
I have a couple of Dick Francis racing thrillers on the go. You don’t need to know anything about horses or racing to enjoy them.
19. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
My spirit animals are horse, bear, and eagle. It would definitely be a horse.
20. What made you choose BWL to publish your books?
I had submitted my first Regency romance to a New York publishing house. The initial reaction was favorable, but then everything slowed down and I was impatient. I met publisher Jude Pittman at a writer’s event, told her about my situation and she asked to see the manuscript. I sent it to her and within a week she accepted it, within two weeks it was e-published and went into print after that. I withdrew the title from the New York publisher and since then, BWL Publishing Inc has published all my books.
21. What advice would you give someone wanting to be a writer?
Just write. Don’t worry about where to start, just start and keep going, get the words on the page. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, all that can be corrected and edited later. As Nora Roberts famously said, you can’t edit an empty page. Join a writers’ group for support, your friends and family probably don’t get your tendency to have a head full of characters waiting to emerge.
22. Do you have any new books coming out?
Yes, my next book is a contemporary western romance due in September 2023.
Huge thank you to Victoria for doing this interview.