Crystal Vaagen Interview
Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.
Crystal Vaagen: My name is Crystal Vaagen. I currently live in North Dakota with my fiancé and our houseplants Sam and Demeter. Before I started writing children’s books, I received a BA in History and attended graduate school for an MA in Secondary Ed. When that wasn’t enough, I furthered my education with online law classes at Harvard. I was a Civics/History teacher before “becoming” a writer full time. I’m a children’s book author, mostly focusing on helping children overcome insecurities and social ills. I also write short stories and poetry. I absolutely love writing and appreciate the recognition I’ve received in numerous publications. If you want to know when my next book will come out, you can follow me on Twitter @RobbieZero.
IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?
CV: I would say “tempt” has a connotation of doing something bad. I would use the word, “entice.” There I go editing. My children’s books are colorful and fun with a message of inspiration. A reflection of their author maybe? And who’s Robbie Zero anyway?
IBB: Where do you like to write?
CV: I like to write wherever I can. Ideas come to me at some of the most inconvenient times, so I like to keep Post-It notes handy, or text myself with the book idea or character line.
IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?
CV: A quiet place.
IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
CV: There are so many books that have influenced my way of writing. I would say one of the strongest works is by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s called “The Philosophy of Composition.” Keep it short and know the ending ahead of time are two of the ideas that have truly been ingrained into my writing process.
IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
CV: I actually have two things for this answer- surround yourself with good, loving people who support you and connect with other authors from all different genres because you will learn sooooo much.
IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
CV: I want my work to either inspire or help others become better people.
IBB: Have you received a favorite review of your work?
CV: The best review I received was from a teacher in Alabama. She read my first book, “Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero” to her class and they were visibly moved as discussed the topic of bullying. It’s important to get kids talking about issues. I have many other reviews that I appreciate too, but this one sticks out specifically. It moved me.
IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?
CV: Everyone has their struggles. I think my challenges arise from trying to tie in and match my reader’s vocabulary with words I need or want to use. For example, you can’t write a book for a second grader and incorporate 8th grade-level vocabulary, so you have to simplify. It’s like, “Ok. How can I say this better?”
IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
CV: Observe and practice. I study how people communicate, on social media, in print or on television. I watch how things are written, what is being said, or not said for that matter, and practice different ways of writing. I’ve always observed people. You learn so much. I’m not as perfect of a writer as I could be. I don’t think anyone can say, “Now my writing is perfect,” because as human beings, we are not. Secondly, I practice and receive supportive advice. I did say “supportive” advice. There are authors who listen to abuse. Don’t be desperate. Get the right people around you and trust those who have more experience than yourself. They’ll be able to encourage you to write, the right way.
IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
CV: I have a bunch of editors, all in the education field with years of experience. I trust them all and I don’t take what they say personally. It’s the same when people ask me to edit their work. Don’t take it personally when I’m trying to help you.
IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?
CV: I don’t look to others to validate my value so if you like it, great. If you hate it, good for you too.
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
CV: Give yourself the gift of allotted time. So many people and things pull us in different directions. Take time for yourself and write!
IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?
CV: I don’t own a crystal ball so I would have to say, “I don’t know.”
IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
CV: I leave that to my illustrator who actually has a degree in art.
IBB: How often do you read? What genre?
CV: I read all the time. Only non-fiction.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.
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