Author Interview: Vanessa Wells from Grumpy Old Trickster Gods #AuthorInterview #humour #books

To help spread the word about the Grumpy Old Trickster Gods anthology, I’m interviewing the authors involved.

Today we have Vanessa Wells, author of The (Mostly) Retired God of Mischief.

What is your story in the Grumpy Old Trickster Gods about? 

My story is called The (Mostly) Retired God of Mischief, and it’s about Loki – on the surface he’s trying to get Thor’s Hammer back after it’s impounded by the IRS.  On a deeper level, he’s both trying to stall Ragnarök and bring his family closer together.  He’s a very busy retiree. 

Sounds a bit unlike the Loki we usually meet! What kind of research did you do for this story?

As always, I did a deep dive into the mythology.  It was fascinating to find out that the Norse, despite having a runic alphabet, didn’t use it to write down the stories of their religion.  I also found a ton of theories about what Loki was actually the God of – because it looks like he didn’t have any feast days.  I also did a quick dive into his various offspring.  I had a blast digging in.  Since the Norse myths spanned so long, and Loki was part of the pre-Scandinavian culture, his stories are varied and don’t have a cohesive single storyline. 

Do you enjoy books filled with mythology and folklore?

Oh absolutely.  I started reading mythology and folklore as a young child and never really stopped.  I’m a sucker for adding it to Urban Fantasy too. 

You and me both. Where did the inspiration for this story come from? 

I sat down and started writing it, so I did my research as I went, I’m not really sure where it came from exactly: I did have to cut out three scenes that ended up not working.  I had a couple of great scenes with the unfortunate IRS agent! 

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not? 

I have, but don’t use one often.  It makes marketing the books a headache.  I basically only use them when I need to ghost write something. 

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?  

That’s a phrase that every author dreads.  I don’t suffer from traditional writer’s block, but when my health gets bad I can’t manage to write and it makes me feel dreadful.  There’s nothing better than the feeling of creating something. 

I hear you! How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?  

Some of them really hurt, but I think, as you age and grow as a writer you find a way to ignore the bad ones.  I try to take genuine feedback with an open mind, but I’m pretty stubborn, so unless it’s a legitimate mistake I’m not likely to change much. 

Are there therapeutic benefits to modelling a character after someone you know? 

I’m going to be honest here: I kill off a character in every Area 52 story because the original version annoys the crap out of me.  I just use bits of him (so I can use him in multiple stories!!).  I’ve fed him to a man-eating mathematician, killed him in an explosion, fried him with lasers…  I never use people I know in stories except in pieces. 

Sounds like fun! What is the most difficult part of your writing process? 

Marketing.  There’s no question that’s the hardest part. 

How long have you been writing or when did you start?  

I started making up stories as soon as I could talk and writing them down when I turned three and learned to write.  I have to write or the stories crowd in and won’t let me do anything else.  I didn’t show anyone my work for years though, because I had a vicious college professor who told me I shouldn’t.  Something broke when I was in my late twenties, and I started working on my craft in a way that had me published within a few years. 

It’s awful when those we trust as an authority breaks us down. I’m glad you got past that. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing? 

Being kind to your reader.  Don’t do things to them that you wouldn’t want an author to do to you. 

Absolutely! What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why? 

It varies.  I often start with some plot points or a character and then dive into worldbuilding.  But story ideas come in all shapes and sizes and they are relentless.  

How do you use social media as an author?  

Honestly?  I use it grudgingly.  I’m comfortable with Facebook, so I generally work with it.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?  

Cover design is my absolute favorite part.  I love spending time making beautiful things.  Marketing is…difficult.  I wouldn’t say it’s my least favorite part, but it’s the hardest part. 

Marketing is an arcane art… How many books have you written and which is your favourite? 

That’s like asking me to pick my favorite kid!  I can’t do it.  I love all of my books equally and in different ways.  I will say that I’m extraordinarily fond of putting the anthologies together, because I get to work with other authors. 

Would you and your main character get along? 

Oh I think we would.  I like intelligent and clever characters.

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

A comfortable chair.  That’s absolutely necessary.  You can’t work when your back hurts. 

I hear you! If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick? 

Hel is pretty interesting in this story, actually all of Loki’s kids are pretty cool. 

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose? 

Can I bring someone back from the dead?  Because if I can, I want Tolkien. 

You’re not alone! Have you ever travelled as research for your book?  

I wish I had.  That sounds like so much fun. 

What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off? 

Going Indy was the biggest risk I ever took, starting Stormdance was the second.  Both choices have been life-altering. 

Hopefully in a good way. When was the last time you Googled yourself and what did you find? 

Oh gosh, it’s been years.  Did you know there are a ton of artists named Vanessa Wells?  Kind of cool on one hand – it makes it hard to get yourself out there though. 

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

ALL.  THE.  TIME.  My cat, Thantos, is a legendary grouch and she will pounce on me if I don’t pay attention when she wants attention.  I keep catnip treats to distract her. 

She sounds like she knows what she wants. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing? 

Weirdly enough, it was the oft repeated “Write what you know.”  There needs to be a corollary for fantasy and sci/fi writers that says use what you know to create pure alchemy when designing your world.  It’s the only way to make the fantastical feel real and drag your reader body and soul into the story. 

Too bad most writers use that advice to write mundane tales of doing laundry… What are the essential characteristics of a hero you can root for? 

I have a confession to make.  If a villain is clever enough, I can’t help but root for him to switch over to the good side.  I have much lower standards for heroes in my reading; they can be as dumb as an ox and I’ll cheer when they win by sheer dumb luck…but for characters that I really, really want to be around?  I love them when they are clever, witty, and come up with solutions that nobody else thought of because they just don’t think inside the box.  Being good is kind of essential in a hero, otherwise he’s just a protagonist; but give me a clever, feisty hero any day. 

I prefer clever, feisty heroes, too. What books do you enjoy reading? 

I read my way through most of the classics as a kid, I was a voracious reader who wanted to lose myself in other places and times so I read a lot of hard core history too.  I found sci/fi fantasy when I randomly picked up a slim copy of Anne McCaffery’s Dragonsinger in seventh grade and I’ve never stopped reading the genre since.  I’ll read the back of a cereal box if I  don’t have anything else, but I’ve enjoyed all kinds of genres: cozy mystery, western, historical fiction, poetry, and even some romance.  

I’ll have to check out Dragonsinger! Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer? 

Stories inspired me to want to write them.  They flutter around my head, begging to be written, and some of them are very insistent and I have to write them so they’ll let me rest. 

Name an underappreciated novel that you love. 

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.  I read this to my nephew a few years ago and found it every bit as delightful as an adult as it was when I read it as a kid. 

I love that book series! Which author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

Mercedes Lackey or Anne McCaffery.  Lackey is a powerhouse who dominates the field by sheer productivity.  McCaffery was my first taste of the genre and she turned a fantasy into a science fiction story with her Pern series, which only made the whole thing even better.  I also admire that the woman had a long and brilliant career that didn’t start until she was a little older, and that she wrote right nearly until she died.  #goals

She sounds like she was a determined writer! As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I might should say a butterfly, because that’s what Vanessa means, and there’s a lot to be said for butterflies, they are tough little buggers.  Or maybe a dragonfly, which has come to symbolize my first book in my head, because I added them as a texting alternative in the book.  But if I had to choose one animal that really encompasses what I really am, I’d have to pick a fox.  I’m fairly clever, insatiably curious, and I tend to hide in the shadows most of the time. 

About the Author

Vanessa Wells lives with her family deep in an enchanted forest (in Texas). Her hobbies include writing, drinking tea and coffee, reading, writing some more, and cooking. She battles daily infestations of plot bunnies…and dust bunnies, but that’s another matter entirely.

Vanessa is the author of the Seventeen Stones Trilogy and the Topeka, TX Chronicles, and the AREA 52 short series.
Amazon Author Page

You can connect with her on Goodreads | InstagramWebsite | Facebook | Storm Dance Publications

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4 thoughts on “Author Interview: Vanessa Wells from Grumpy Old Trickster Gods #AuthorInterview #humour #books”

  1. An enjoyable interview! I bought the book just now. I love trickster figures! I’m waiting for someone to write a story about the Jewish trickster Jacob.

    We don’t have many Norse myths left, alas! They were written down in the Christian era. There is one story in the Eddas where Loki walks into a feast of the gods and says rude things to each of them. In turn, they have a go at him, and we learn, among other things, that he had been a woman and had children. I am so intrigued by this! There is obviously a story we no longer have behind that. We know about the world serpent, the wolf Fenrir, the death goddess and his ordinary children by Sigyn, even his horse child, but where are the children born of the female Loki?

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