Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and quit stalling. You don’t need to be the “greatest” author, but with that story in your head, you already are an author. If you are thinking about writing, you are already probably better than you think. The story is in there, so let it out! Incorporating elements in the story you already have learned or know something about also bolsters your confident voice.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing
Behind Avatar Crystal Raven is renowned Healer Adora Winquist, whose passion is being a guiding force in the awakening journey of the Divine Feminine by encouraging women globally to source new levels of personal empowerment. Infusing a realism lacking in most tales of this genre, Winquist’s contributions provide authenticity to the heroine’s path which ultimately becomes a personal transformation to bring passion, true freedom, and humanity to a society lost to AI and technology.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
That’s easy! A lifetime of reading and enjoying the work of other authors. Asimov, Crichton, Heinlein, and too many others to name brought me here. With many of my favorite literary voices silenced forever, at least on our earthly plane of existence, I figured it was my turn at bat. None of us live forever, so it is now or never. Leaving stories for future generations to enjoy is the closest to immortality we might get.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
The current iteration of my writing career is young — barely a toddler in chronological age. It might have been a young adult by now, as I should have started twenty years ago. My first short story was never published, but was historical fiction inspired by a World War Two pilot that I had met at an air show. It was about the Tuskegee Airmen and their struggles as an all black fighter unit in a segregated military. I thought the story needed to be told and would make a great movie. Lo and behold, it wasn’t long after that a couple of movies were in fact released, both of varying quality. Feeling the market thus saturated with that particular subject, I shelved my own story and my writing aspirations went dormant along with it. I realize now that instead of being fearful that my story might be taken for cashing in on what was suddenly a popular subject, it could have served to further enhance important topics on racial equality that are in the headlines almost every day now. The lesson here is to have faith in your writing if you, and your readers, know it is a quality product.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
The biggest challenge was getting out of my own way. Thinking that I wasn’t good enough, or that my work wouldn’t measure up to the articulate masters that inspired me. I am a perfectionist, but with that comes the risk of productive paralysis. We are often our own harshest critics, and that can be a good thing as long as there is a balance. The balance can come from the feedback of others. If someone reads your story and is genuinely moved emotionally then it is wise to place that feedback on the scale of your own lack of confidence. The more positive reviews I get helps fend off the monster of self-doubt that constantly lurks, whispering in our ear. The first time one of my stories moved someone to tears, I also became tearful with joy. I was experiencing the words I had written in a new way, through the eyes of another. It’s one of the best feelings in the world and a new author will never experience it unless they have faith, stop procrastinating, and give their story life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake is the belief that one can edit their own material! Maybe some can do this, but I think an author’s brain takes mercy on us and smooths over mistakes that the less biased brain of a good independent editor will catch. It’s uncanny, but a scientific fact. I can still find an occasional mistake in books printed by the largest publishing houses, so what chance did I think I had? The lesson is, do your best proofreading, and then still hire a professional editor. Then sit back and be shocked, amazed, and even dismayed at how much you missed.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Overseeing and participating in converting the Virtual Mirrors series into a screenplay. As I write, I always see the scenes unfold as if it was a movie in my mind. The structure of Virtual Mirrors is intentionally a very cinematic novel, so converting to screen was always a goal. As you can deduce from the above answers, at this point in my career there is no more time for procrastination. It’s go big, or go home, with no excuses.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
The most interesting story that unfolds is the delicate equilibrium between technology and humanity. In my own life, I’ve evolved from being an excellent map reader and trip planner to simply typing an address and letting a GPS satellite guide my journey step-by-step. As nice as that benefit is, the risk of allowing artificial intelligence to guide us through the journey of life itself is a very real prospect. I love technology, but there is a danger when we can’t unplug long enough to experience a reality that our hearts and souls need to thrive. I have created a protagonist, Gemma Sullivan, that understands these truths, almost forgotten in her future world. I hope there are still enough remaining in our present world that this theme will resonate and grow.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
The fact that living in an often uncomfortable freedom is better than living in comfortable servitude. There will always be people who are compelled to control us, and liberty should never be taken for granted. When one truly thinks as a free person, every threat to personal liberty becomes more clearly obvious, whether that be the local rules of your HOA, or the far reaching statutes of the Federal Government. When one finishes Virtual Mirrors, my hope is the reader will happily reflect on the adventure they just participated in, but also be more aware that freedom is a rare and precious thing, requiring constant vigilance to maintain.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and quit stalling. You don’t need to be the “greatest” author, but with that story in your head, you already are an author. If you are thinking about writing, you are already probably better than you think. The story is in there, so let it out! Incorporating elements in the story you already have learned or know something about also bolsters your confident voice.
- Read. You’ve been reading all your life. What is it that you liked about your favorite authors? Look at what you’ve written and ask yourself, “Would I want to read this if it was written by someone else?” If the answer is yes, then you are at least as good as some of the authors you have been enjoying all these years. You’ll only get better, and your own personal style will develop.
- Research. Unless you know everything about the subject at hand, or are creating a fantasy out of whole cloth, research is key. Details of equipment, procedures, history, etc., are key to a realistic and convincing story. Taking a shortcut in this area blows credibility and might detract from an otherwise brilliant story. For example, I’m sure Grisham knew plenty from his own experiences as an attorney when he wrote his first novel, “A Time to Kill.” By comparison, I would have to do hours of research before I could incorporate a convincing courtroom scene.
- Mentors. Find a mentor and ask for feedback. Most of us don’t correspond regularly with best-selling authors, but we should be able to find intelligent and well-read colleagues that can encourage and guide us. It may be a college professor, best friend, or reading group that fuels us. For me, author Adora Winquist was the key to launching the Virtual Mirrors project. Her insight and motivation as a mentor can not be overstated.
- Start small. Related to confidence, completing a short story will help build confidence if that is lacking. Stephen King is known for lengthy novels, upwards of 1000 pages, but some of my favorite works of his are the novellas. I especially liked the one that later became the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” Getting a shorter story under your belt leads to the realization that a longer novel is just a series of linked shorter stories. You don’t have to lead off with a “War and Peace” epic.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
My best writing is done in the morning when my mind is fresh from a good night’s sleep. That may not be true for every writer, as not everyone is a “morning person.” Find a time when your brain is firing on all of its creative cylinders. The second best time was on long airplane trips. The potentially wasted hours were put to good use by adding to my story. After a long road trip was also a good time, as I found I was mentally writing the story while traveling down the highway. At least jot down some notes for later development before going to bed.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
It’s tough to isolate a particular inspiration above all others, as I feel most of us draw on an amalgamation of literary sources over our lifetimes. I have enjoyed everything from the 19th century work of Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” and the writings of Mark Twain, through contemporary authors such as Lee Child. Diversity of influences has been a great way to gain insight into the minds of others, through time. Books are windows into both the past and future, and perhaps the closest thing to a time machine we can experience. The universe of literary time travel inspired me to create my own world, and invite others to share the journey with me. Not everyone will like the ride, but we usually regret the trips in life that we never take. All we as authors can do is offer the invitation on this ship, fueled by the giants of literature that navigated the way before for us. Mark Twain would understand, as not even he could explore every tributary of the Mississippi. There is always a new stream to explore.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Never think like a victim in perpetuity. Every variety of human ethnicity has been enslaved, hated, persecuted, and discriminated against. History has shown inhumanity to every race, creed, religion, national origin and even sexuality. Realizing that we are all in this together is a goal that is blocked when we see ourselves only as a victim. Those alive and waking the earth today are here because they are from a long line of survivors. From that, we should all see ourselves as victors, not victims. We could call that the Victory Movement!
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!