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Vicki Grant - Interview by Kaela, Teen Blogger

Vicki Grant - photo

Vicki Grant has written many popular teen fiction books. In 2004, she published her first book called The Puppet Wrangler. Since then, her most favoured genre of writing has been mystery, including Dead-End Job, Not Suitable for Family Viewing, hew newest book Small Bones and many others. She has received many awards for her work as an author and a television scriptwriter. Vicki has been one of my favourite authors for many years now and I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct an interview with her.

My favourite book of yours is Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret. I was wondering if there were there any personal experiences that helped shape this story?Betsy Wickwires Dirty Secret - book cover

In fact, there was. Not Suitable for Family Viewing had just come out and someone I’d gone to high school with had seen an article in the paper about it. She emailed me and said something along the lines of, “I didn’t know you were a writer but I’m not surprised. You were always so out-going and confident.” I was really shocked – first because I couldn’t remember this person at all (high school was a long time ago!) but also because “confident” is the last word I’d have used to describe my teenaged self. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized where she’d have gotten that impression. I certainly was out-going. She just didn’t know it was to hide my outright terror.

By the time I got the email, I was already working on the book that would become Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret. I was thinking it would just be a sort of funny novel about a girl who starts a cleaning service but, after hearing from the woman, I took a different tack. Betsy became a popular girl whose insides don’t match her outer persona. When she loses her social status, she has to figure out who she really is. What better way to discover yourself than to have to clean other people’s toilets?

A second favourite book of mine was Not Suitable for Family Viewing. What character can you relate most to in that book?

Probably RNot Suitable For Family Viewing - book coverobin. My mother wasn’t famous but she had a big-sized personality too and I think it’s often hard for kids in that situation to carve out a niche for themselves.

A lot of your stories are definitely in the mystery genre; do you have any favourite authors who write mystery stories as well?  

I love Giles Blunt, Kate Atkinson and some of John Grisham’s books. I like Gillian Flynn’s observational writing style but I find her a tad too nasty for my taste. I also enjoy Benjamin Black.

What inspired you to write your first book? The Puppet Wrangler - book cover

A chance conversation with an old friend from my days in advertising. I hadn’t seen her in a while and asked what she was up to. She said she’d just written a YA novel. (I didn’t even know what YA stood for.) I was working in television at the time and really needed a break. I remember thinking, “If Kristi can write a book, I can write a book.” I started the next day. It became The Puppet Wrangler, a comic adventure about a 12-year old girl from Nova Scotia who ends up working in the TV industry in Toronto. I was hooked.

How do you get over writers block?

Easy. (Sort of.) I tell myself I’m not allowed to stop until I’ve written 1000 words. I know that sounds terrible but it’s not so bad because here’s the key: They don’t have to be good words. If the only thing I can think of is gibberish, I write gibberish until my word count tells me I’ve hit 1000 – but it never comes to that. Just a few hundred words of free-form writing has always been enough to loosen me up so that real sentences start flowing again.

If you didn’t become a writer, what is something else you would have liked to do?

I would have Dead End Job - book coverliked to be an illustrator – but that’s not based on any talent I have. I’m a terrible drawer, despite having graduated from NSCAD [Nova Scotia College of Art and Design – Ed]. Whatever else I’d do, it would have to be in the creative field. I’m not very good with numbers, facts or other practical things.

Why do you enjoy writing fiction for the younger audience as opposed to an adult audience?

So much happens to teenagers and they feel it so keenly. Adolescence is also, of course, a time of transition – and that means making decisions, taking risks, dealing with disappointments, feeding big dreams. There’s just so much to write about!

What is your writing process like? 

Messy. It’s 1:10 in the afternoon at the moment and I’m sitting at the dining room table still covered in crumbs from last night’s meal. I’ve showered but am still in my housecoat. That said, I’ve worked for five hours straight and just sent off a final manuscript to my editor. Other days, I’m dressed and working at my treadmill desk since nine. I do a lot of work, too, while driving, vacuuming or supposedly listening to my husband. Daydreaming, after all, is an important part of my job. (Facebook is not and it’s evil.)

What is your most favourite story that you’ve written and why? Small Bones - book cover

Probably The Puppet Wrangler. I think it’s the funniest book I’ve written – and also the one that was the most fun for me. I had no real expectation that it would be published so I just let myself play. I don’t often get that opportunity any more. Now I’m a ‘real’ writer. Some days I actually have to work at not making writing feel like, well, work. (If that makes any sense…)


That wraps up my interview with Vicki; she turned out to be just as nice and witty in her answers as she is in her books. Almost all her books are available at Halifax Public Libraries so I highly recommend you take a look at some of the titles previously mentioned!


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