Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk/ Oct.1: Author, Victoria Janssen

Visiting this morning at TCT is a woman I had the good fortune to meet this past year at RWA. A prolific writer with a brilliant imagination, our chat this moring may well reveal the partial secret to her success!  Until I became a writer, it did not occur to me how many authors are avid--talking seriously avid--fans of the DR WHO series. Huge.  I am in reverant awe of those who embrace the sci-fi/fantasy world. The results of their labor is fascinating! Could I write it myself? Well, its my mantra to 'never, say never', but this one would be a real challenge I think, for me.

Inspiration-no matter what you do-can come from a variety of places, experiences, dreams. And thats a big part of what TCT is all about! So, pass those danish and sip your coffee while we find out more about Victoria!  Then we can pick her brain a bit more! Buuuwahahaha~

My name is Victoria and I am a Dr. Who fan.

If you've never seen the show, it began on the BBC in 1963 and continued until 1989, with a series of different actors in the lead role. The show was revived on BBC One in 2005.

No, I'm not British. I never watched the show as a child, so I don't have the excuse of having grown up with it. I saw my first episode as a young teenager, at a science fiction convention, and promptly fell in love, even though I barely had any idea of what was going on in the story. It didn't matter, because that story was about an outsider. Outsider stories always get to me.

I'm an outsider. Really, we all are, in one way or another. But I was especially an outsider as a kid, because I liked to be alone and to make up stories. I could entertain myself for hours by telling myself stories. To other kids, that made me a little weird. So watching a show about the ultimate outsider, a character who's exiled from his entire planet, resonated powerfully with me. Even more so because the Doctor – you might refer to him as "Dr. Who," but he's never called that, it's not his name – the Doctor is an outsider who wins. Better still, he shares his winning with other outsiders, usually human companions who stand in for the audience and refract a sense of wonder.

I was obsessed with Dr. Who all throughout high school and college, and for some time after. I memorized swathes of data about all the episodes I'd seen and many I hadn't because they weren't available. I read about the show and went to absurd lengths to see new episodes, in the days when my family did not own a vcr. Basic elements of the series live in my bones and blood, part of my intellectual makeup, and can't help but influence what I write.

It wasn't just the Doctor I loved, it was his companions, the whole long string of them: how they found the Doctor, why they went with them, what they left behind, how they departed and why. A lot of what I know about characterization I learned from Dr. Who, especially how to create tension from a disparate cast of characters. And thematically, the show influenced me even more, or perhaps it only revealed to me one the major themes of my writing: outsiders making families with each other. Outsiders winning.

Victoria Janssen
MOONLIGHT MISTRESS, December 2009 from Harlequin Spice.
THE DUCHESS, HER MAID, THE GROOM AND THEIR LOVER, December 2008 from Harlequin Spice.

This is a great topic, because its two-fold, one we're talking sci-fi/fantasy--which is working its way again into mainstream with the resurgence of SteamPunk. And secondly, talking about  being an outsider...something that everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. I think especially as a writer, this is a common thread we share.
What about you? Do you love sci-fi/fantasy? What are your  fav books, movies, authors?  What have you learned about yourself from these influences, or perhaps other "outsider" moments in your life?