This week's interview is with Moscow-born and Sweden-residing Victoria, also known as Ray. You can find her online over at https://raynotbradbury.com/, and get to know her and her story better through this week's interview.
Over to Victoria and this week's interview :)
Victoria, aka 'Ray'
Hi, Victoria! Where did you grow up, and what were your childhood years like?
I was born in Moscow, but grew up in one of the oldest towns of Belarus (mentioned in XXI century), called Orsha. Back then, it was very easy to move around, because Belarus was part of the USSR. I believe I had a very happy childhood: good neighbours (even if they were alcoholics…but you get used to it after a while and know how to deal with them), good kids (even if they were complete liars and stole my favourite dolls), good air (don’t forget Chernobyl) and good food (this is true!).
Thanks for painting such a vivid picture! :) What was the first piece of creative writing you can recall, that you were proud of?
I was 22-23 years old. I won a national poetry contest. The poem was written in Byelorussian language…and I never learned it properly. My dad asked the school to free me from lessons in Byelorussian language and they did. Why? It is still a mystery. But yay! When all the kids had Byelorussian language (or literature) lessons – 5 times a week – I had free time.
Oh wow. How great that you used this free time to just follow your curiosity… I guess that’s what we do as children, I feel like we should do this more as adults!
Tell us how your RayNotBradbury blog started and how it has evolved.
It started as a poetry blog on December 6, almost 3 years ago. Winter is a very boring time of the year in Sweden, so I decided to create a blog. I had a dog called Ray, and I thought it would be fun to call the blog – “Ray…+ some-thing.” One day, I was at the library, and I saw the collections of Ray Bradbury’s stories. I got an idea: “Ray, but NOT Bradbury. Hmm, cool name!”
With time, the blog evolved, but I dropped it in 2017 for 8 months. I hadn’t posted anything. When I got back, I started to write a lot about health, Ayurveda and short stories. After a while, I decided to collect all my stories and publish a book.
Your book, Dulcinea and the Death Code, charts the story of a 14-year old girl who was born under mysterious circumstances and possesses certain gifts. How did the idea for Dulcinea first come about?
I stood outside. I closed my eyes, and I got the feeling that I was enormous, huge…hanging somewhere in the darkness. Look, the world is so small, like a golf ball under my feet. Amazing feeling! I went inside and wrote the first draft in a week, and, to tell you honestly, I didn’t change much in my second or third drafts.
How fascinating. Does Dulcinea’s life and personality relate to yours in any way? How?
Dulcinea’s life is absolutely different from my childhood. But her personality is a mix of my childhood friend, Oksana, and me.
Thank you for sharing that. Do you have anyone in particular who you are hoping reads Dulcinea?
Hopefully, girls/women from 13 - 24 (although they do not read much nowadays). This summer I left the book in the hotel I stayed (during vacation/travel) and I got a couple of emails from people who found the book and enjoyed Dulcinea’s story. Very positive and warm!
Oh, how lovely. I feel that having someone make a comment or compliment after consuming your art is the highest form of praise. You also have a book called So Absurd. Tell us a little bit about that.
So Absurd It Must Be True is my debut book – a collection of short stories from my blog. They are absolutely unique (18+): satire, sci-fi and fun erotica, squeezed in one text. I prefer to write short stories – it allows me to pack a lot of action in 2-3 pages.
How have you balanced your professional work with your writing?
I’m working from home: mostly helping my husband with digital marketing. And I am a full-time writer now. My life is damn balanced. I guess that’s why I am so lazy – ha ha!
Under what conditions do you do your best writing (e.g. what time of day, how often, from where do you write)?
I’m usually writing before lunch or after 8 pm. Also, if I’m very excited about the story or idea, I can write for almost the whole week – non-stop. Afterwards, I can take a break for a month or longer.
How long did it take to finish your first book, from start to finish? Please describe the process for us.
My debut book – 3 or 4 months, because I simply picked the best stories from my blog and edited them. Dulcinea and The Death Code – 9 months, because after first draft, I took a break for almost 3 months.
The process is simple:
desire to write
writing ‘hat’ – usually 15-20k. ‘Hat’ is non-stop writing, kvetching style, everything that comes to my mind about the theme or an idea of the book. ‘Kvetching’ is a freestyle writing, similar to stream of consciousness.
I’m typing my first draft on laptop
lazy for a couple of months
writing draft 2
Do you make any money from your writing? Would you like to make (more) money from your writing in the future?
To make ‘big’ money – you have to write commercial fiction. Plus, you need an agent. An agent means you have deadlines. I can’t work like that, unfortunately. I’m living in the NOW. NOW doesn’t have deadlines…people make them. So, whatever will be, will be.
I’m happy to have an opportunity to publish my writing, books on Amazon.
It sounds like you’re going with the flow and focusing on expressing yourself with your writing, whilst worrying about anything else :) Were there any books or blogs you read in order to help you on your self-publishing journey?
I read a lot of books and blogs (I follow over 1500 blogs). I think time, experience and a lot of mistakes are the answer… I learn as I publish, ha ha.
I have favourite blogs (maybe 30-40), and I’m trying to follow what is happening with the authors of those blogs as often as I can (mostly in the autumn-winter tho). Summer is more relaxing time for me, hopefully, for them too :)
You are currently publishing The Pearl Territory, chapter-by-chapter, on your blog. Tell us about this and why you decided to publish it this way.
I don’t know. I had a dream. I woke up and scribbled a page (I always keep a pen and a notebook in my bedroom). The dream became a chapter, and I decided to develop it and post it on my blog: written without any plot. I don’t even know my heroes. I just simply reread all chapters before writing the next.
I can also forget the name… If I forget – I’m simply writing ‘C’, because I have no time to stop and think - who it is lol I know, sounds crazy! Sometimes I send text to proofreading first, and then fix all names afterwards – before posting on the blog.
Here’s the link to the pitch –> https://raynotbradbury.com/the-pearl-territory/
My plan is to finish on chapter 22 (this September). Then in the beginning of the next year (2020), I’ll write 15 more chapters. After that, I’ll edit it and, hopefully, publish a book.
This is awesome. Do you send each chapter to your mailing list? Is any of this at all a marketing experiment/exercise for the final, finished book?
I’m planning to send some chapters to my mailing list, and, of course, the book ...if it will be published. I think the strategy to post on the blog ‘chapter by chapter’ (or once a week) works well for me, because by the end of the year I’ll get a great first draft to work with. Plus, in the same time, I can find time for other projects. I am blogging and ‘writing’ - 2 in 1.
Ah, I see. So, speaking of marketing, do you have a particular marketing strategy / process that you follow? Are there any authors / bloggers that you take inspiration from, marketing-wise?
After publishing: Usually 3-4 weeks ‘hard’ promotion on different social media and blogs (interviews), then I’m taking a break (month or so), then I’m repeating the process again.
I am also IBPA member and there’re a lot of advices on website and in the newsletters.
I love how spontaneous it feels like your creative writing emerges. It sounds like keeping a pen/notepad close is a great idea - I know that’s something many writers/creatives do. In which languages are your books currently available? At this point, do you have more English or Swedish speaking readers?
My books are published only on Amazon and only in English. I have more English speaking readers and my main shop for sales – amazon.com. My buyers are mostly from the USA, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany, Japan and the UK.
What advice do you have for your younger (writer) self?
“I don’t know, girl; seems like you did everything right!” ☺
Oh I love that. Is there anything else that you’re working on currently, or have planned for the future?
I’m currently working with a plot for a humorous crime/mystery book. No title so far. Only idea and heroes. Main hero – Posighdun Papadakis, Greek, widower, age 58, scientist, who is studying mollusks, such as snails (Malacology), living and running a book club in a small town called Trosa (Sweden).
Also, I’m writing the thriller - about Italian girl Sabina, her transformation from the soft potato to Miss Tough Killer.
Aside that, I’m working with the book 2 in Dulcinea’s trilogy – The Secrets of A-Ria and So Absurd It Must Be True, book 2.
My poetry book Legs: A Global Perspective on Society will be published October 2019.
Wow, it looks like you have lots happening! You seem to write diversely - genres, characters, topics. Do you hold a real-life interest in the topics/places that appear in your books? e.g. Malacology, Trosa?
Crime books are very difficult to write - research is necessary, and yes, I’m interested in malacology, at least this summer, because I’ve got a lot of slugs in my yard…ha ha. Trosa is the perfect place for a murder - similar to Whitley Bay area (UK), but very tiny. And I’m writing humorous fiction, so it’s fun to come up with ridiculous or funny professions, hobbies or ideas. I want my hero to ‘stand out’ from the crowd.
Where can we find you online, and where can we purchase your books?
Ask ‘Alexa’ lol!
RayNotBradbury’s blog –> https://raynotbradbury.com
Instagram –> https://www.instagram.com/raynotbradbury/
I recently deleted my personal FB, but I still have page for RayNB –> https://www.facebook.com/raynotbradbury/
Amazon –> https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Ray/e/B07MYKGTXS/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1
Thanks so much, Victoria, this interview was really fun, insightful and entertaining :)