For my second blog challenge, I was asked to interview someone who’s inspired me, and I immediately thought of this amazing woman.
Violet Moore is an author living in Steinbach, Manitoba. She’s written five books—Whimsical Edna, Charlotte’s Rescue, Charlotte’s Nemesis and the fourth book in the Charlotte series, which is yet to be released. Every year she participated in National Novel Writing Month and writes a full length novel in 30 days. She took me under her wing when I was only 14 and has encouraged me in my writing in more ways than one. Here’s just a little bit of the amazing conversation I had with her.
What led you to start writing?
Well, from young I’ve loved to read. I come from a big family. A family that went rogue as far as religion went because they were very religious and my parents just said that it wasn’t for them. So they went kind of rogue but then, when I was six, um, I would say Jesus came to live in our home. It really changed dramtically. It used to be money for the beer, and all that stuff, and kids were running around with sour milk in bottles, and it just changed, right? And there was love and joy and laughter- well, no. There always was laughter. Because my parents were happy. But anyways, I grew up in this big family and since I was in the middle, I didn’t have to work as hard as the older ones. I had more time to read. And so then I did a lot of reading and, well in those days it was hard to get ahold of books. You couldn’t afford to buy them. But I had an invalid cousin who loved to read and all her friends and family used to buy her books. She had walls full of books, and she would let me borrow them. And want to hear something funny?
I would go and get another book and another book and one day she said to me, “You know it’s kind of rude just to take the books, right?” And I thought, what do you mean? And she said, “Well you could sit and visit with me.” Because she doesn’t get out, right? And at 8, 9 or 10 years old you don’t think of that. But it was enlightening. So then I would always take and visit with her and ask her what she did with her days. But yes, I had a love for reading. My mom did too. She read anything she could get her hands on.
Did she read to you and your siblings a lot too?
No, we had to read for ourselves. Just like my dad- he was a great musician, and he was self-taught. But he wouldn’t teach us, he said we had to teach ourselves. So I am a self-taught musician. I play anything, anything except blowing, you know, wind instruments. I never learned those. But piano, violin, guitar, accordion, I can play those.
Wow, those can be hard to teach yourself.
They can be, but I mean I don’t play for money. I play for me. But when I was 14 years old I had to play for the church, because you had to be a member to hold any position, and even though they had classy conservatory students, they weren’t members so they couldn’t play. So I had to play and one day the tenors said to me, “We can’t hear our notes!” I didn’t even know what tenor notes were. I didn’t know notes, I just played by ear. I knew the song, so I played it. So no wonder they couldn’t hear their notes- I wasn’t playing them!
But I’ve always read, I’ve always journalled. I’ve always written letters, like letters to family and friends. And the funny thing, I guess proof of me being a storyteller, one day I sealed a letter to send to my mom and dad back home and my husband said, “What did you seal it for, I didn’t read it yet!” And I said, “Well you know everything that happened in it!” And he said “Yeah well you make it sound so much more interesting.”
And my brother has a neat story, well we used to drive 3 miles to school. And of course, because we were poor we didn’t have proper footwear. We wore those puddle boots, and the stockings- one pair would have holes in the toe and the other would have holes in the heel, but two pairs you’d have a whole pair. But he said his feet would get so cold they’d be numb, but I would always tell stories and he would be so distracted that we’d get home and he wouldn’t even realize his feet were cold. Isn’t that cute?
I loved telling stories. Telling stories in Sunday School, the kids would love it. In fact, the pastor overheard, and when he had to be camp pastor he asked me to come along and be the storyteller.
And did you go?
Yes, yes and I loved it! This was teenagers, preteen and teenagers. A hard crowd to please, right? And I really had reservations about it, but because my pastor had faith in me I decided I would do it. Well, before the camp was half over they were waiting for story time. I mean, I was definitely using the gift God gave me. And you don’t even know where or how it will be used, you just be you. Just be you. And then let whatever happens, happen. And anyways, writing. I do journaling, especially my quiet time. I love to write out my prayers, because I have to hear. I’ll think them in my mind and I’ll say them and go, “Oh God you know I didn’t mean that!” right? The brain does interesting things and I have to hear it to be totally with it.
And anyways, I never dreamt I would be a writer. I didn’t like my name. My maiden name was Violet Brandt, and it was so harsh. Didn’t like my name at all. Then I got married to Mr. Moore and my name became Violet Moore. And I looked at it, and just seeing it written down, it looks like the name of an author. But still, never dreamt it would happen. And then there’s a gal who came to our church… and she invited me to a writer’s guild in Winnipeg. And it was a big group so only a few got to read and critique. We just sat and listened. But anyways I said to her on the way back, “Isn’t there something like that in Steinbach?” And she said she didn’t know. And I said, what are the legal aspects, can we start our own?
And so with her knowledge and my enthusiasm, we started up Steinbach Inksters. So that was really cool. And then when we went to our first meeting, and for my critique I had a full page, hand written story about my mom. And when I finished reading they said, there’s a whole story in that page! It’s like point form, there’s a lot of information that needs to be developed. It became the first ten chapters of Whimsical Edna.
So what inspired you to write Whimsical Edna?
Okay, that’s another cool story! My dad years ago always said to me that I would have to help him write his memoirs. And I thought he was just being nice, being a dad. So anyways about ten years after he died my older sister gave me a manila envelope. And it was stuffed full of serviettes from a restaurant, papers, little booklets, scribblers. It was just packed full. It was his story that he had written. Guess what? I moved away from Manitoba in 1977 with my husband. Work took us away. My dad quit writing in 1977. So he wasn’t just teasing me. He meant for me to help him write. But at that stage I hadn’t developed any knowledge of writing so I couldn’t have done it. And I needed to learn how to critique. I mean, when I started critiquing it was, “I like this, I want to know more.” I mean, what critique is that? It’s encouraging but it’s not constructive criticism. But by listening to what others said and what they said to me, I developed an ability to see what’s written there and what could be written there, what might be missing. But anyways, what really prompted me to write Whimsical Edna was, I compiled my dad’s stuff. I put it all in the computer, I arranged it chronologically, and then we made it into a booklet. But when I was done, I gave this sigh of relief, because there was so much in there I didn’t know about my dad. And it was unfinished. Anyways when I was done I gave this delicious sigh of relief and now, my mom’s story needs to be told.
So I started. I wrote this page, and I read it to her. She was already in the nursing home, and when I was done she said, “Violet, this sounds like a story.” I said, “It is, mom! It’s your story.” So I’m so thankful she got to read that part, even though it wasn’t developed. And so that’s what prompted me to do that. And then I heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I’m an ADHD person so I wanted to do it. And so I went and I met you and a number of people. And they motivated me to keep at it. Because my ADHD doesn’t want to keep at it. It wants to pick things up and drop it and get it on and go on to something else. But NaNoWriMo kept me focused. And so of course then I wrote book two in that series, then book three and book four. Book four is still very rough though.
How did you get the idea for Charlotte? (The main character in her series of novels)
Okay! They always say, ideas for writing, sometimes they come in dreams. And I had a very real dream. Where I was living at the time, my house was very new. And with the humidity, the doors and windows, everything freezes shut in winter and I can’t get out. I have to kick my door very hard to break the ice. I can’t open my windows, or my patio door. I’m lucky if I can open my front door. So I had this vivid dream that the house was on fire and I couldn’t get out, and I had to break my bedroom window to get out. And somehow I managed to get into the garage and I managed to get into the car and back it away from the fire, and the house burned. Well, that’s how Charlotte was born. And in book two, when the house is on fire and she grabs her purse and gets out? I started writing that first. And then I thought, well who’s Charlotte? Where did she come from? So rather than doing a backstory in the same book, I wrote book one. So I just set book two aside and wrote book one.
And Marcus, that’s her brother. He’s the antagonist, but he’s a very strong character.
A very strong character. I write character driven, and it’s supposed to be about Charlotte. But he kept taking over, and I promised him his own book. And then I was scared that he would go all willy-nilly and lose his drive. But then I wrote book three, Charlotte’s Nemesis, and I can’t believe how the story just flowed. Some of the things are written in the other books but they’re from his perspective. But the funny thing is, now I’m writing book four and he’s settled and happy to be in the background because he’s had his book. People laugh at you when you say that about your characters that they’re alive, but that’s why I’m struggling with book four. I have a timeline I wrote out and Charlotte is refusing it. She’s not cooperating, which means major rewriting. All of the stuff I’ve written, I’ve deleted half of it. I tried forcing her and there’s no life. And she definitely lets me know what she wants. And my mind is brewing on how the end will turn out, but I’m not shutting the door in case she changes her mind.
So how are you going to let go of Charlotte? Are you going to keep going?
No, I told her I’m going to shut her down at book four. That may be why she’s rebelling too. I don’t want my readers to get tired of her, and she isn’t that strong of a character all the way though. Otherwise Marcus wouldn’t have been able to take over so easily.
So after Charlotte, do you have any ideas brewing?
You know, my passion is to get people to write their own stories. Not to write a book, but to write a story. You know, I’m getting older. My siblings and peers are older. Some of them are dying, some of them have already died. And because of what happened with my dad’s book, because there’s unfinished subtitles, there’s no one left to ask. So there’s an urgency to writing a story, because it goes to the grave with you. So write down stuff, get bits and pieces out. So with all the preaching I’m doing, I’m going to write mine. I’m writing my memoirs as Vela’s stories, so I can write it in the third person. So when I have a memory, I write it as Vela’s memory. So my NaNoWriMo this year is Vela’s stories. I’m calling it Renegade Vela at the moment because Larry, my husband, always calls me renegade.
So you’re leaving your mark. It must be amazing to know that you’re helping people get their stories out.
I’m a God fearing person, and I just see it as God using my gift to bless other people. Helping people write their stories is a blessing. I helped my cousin’s wife write her memoirs, and they were struggling with finances. But she sold enough that she could buy a fridge, a little washing machine. And she said, I wish I could write another book! And then my sister in law launched her memoir that she had been writing for twelve years. I just want people to write their stories.
Thank you so much for meeting with me.
It was my pleasure.