Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Interview with Vincent Vinas about his first book for children

Vincent ViƱas has been pretending to visit make believe worlds for years through his writing and often prefers them to his actual whereabouts. In 2013, his dark comedy debut novel, The Funeral Portrait, was published through Ink Smith Publishing. Despite them reading the book, he managed to keep all of his friends and family contacts. He currently lives in the enchanting realm of Florida with his wife, Megan, and their two zany cats, Leia and Willow.

He’s here today to talk about his children’s book, Incredible Edible Meg in The Medusa Eye Camera Obscura.

Welcome, Vincent. Please tell us about your current release.
My latest book is also my first children’s title—Incredible Edible Meg in The Medusa Eye Camera Obscura. It is a mix of steampunk, fantasy, adventure, science fiction and just plain ol’ silliness. It’s all about a special little girl named Nutmeg, who is made out of cake and possesses the power to grant the birthday wish of anyone who plants a candle in her hand and blows it out within the hour of which they were born. Her Father’s rival—the evil scientist, Basil Blizzard—wants nothing more than to be a “mad” scientist, thinking insanity will bring him greatness in the lab. The only problem is he’s far from crazy. He’s cruel, but not crazy. So after getting wind of Nutmeg’s abilities, he devises a diabolical plan with the help of a sinister serpent-like camera that will send Nutmeg and her friends on an adventure unlike she could ever imagine.

What inspired you to write this book?
This book was born from the desire to write something for my wife, Megan. Like me, she has a silly sense of humor and I love to make her laugh. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally attempt a fun children’s book which was especially refreshing after working on my previous title, an emotionally heavy dark comedy.


There is no man, woman, child, cat or dog in the town of Crabble Creek who doesn't know the name of Basil Blizzard. In fact, everyone from the most minuscule insects to the most mammoth of creatures knows the name. Basil Blizzard made sure of that. And to know the name was to fear the name. If for some outrageous reason you didn't know the name then you should fear it even more! Basil Blizzard especially despises anyone who doesn't know his name. Luckily if you hadn't known it before, now you do. So you can just be “regular scared” of it instead of “I’m sleeping with all of the lights on and it’s still not bright enough in here scared.”
Blizzard came from a long line of evil mad scientists--fifth generation to be exact. For all his evil intentions though, Basil lacked one key element that paved the way to all types of devious success for his ancestors--he wasn't mad. He was actually fiercely sane. It was this lack of maniacal genius that Basil felt kept him from realizing his true potential. Some would say his frustrating quest for inspirational insanity made him the most evil Blizzard yet. If you ever said or thought that about him, you'd be one of those people I just mentioned a sentence ago and you’d be correct in your thinking!
            The argument could also be made that Basil had already lost his mind. After all, who in their right mind would wish for lunacy? However, despite his best efforts, Basil was well aware that the sky was blue (not so much around his castle), the grass was green (again, not so much around his castle) and every Spring the birds would sing (definitely not so much around his castle.) All of this bothered Basil to no end but it refused to drive him to madness. The poor man was just put together much too well in comparison to his late family members.
Oh, what lengths Basil went to in order to ensure all his marbles would scatter about his malevolent head. He forced himself to read every book he could find about cute babies, kittens, rainbows and basically anything that a not so evil person would find adorable. The books only angered and depressed him. He listened to and even sung along to the most uplifting and pleasant music he could possibly find. Basil suffered a sore throat for weeks afterwards. Not from the singing but from storming through his castle cursing the happy tunes for hours on end at a considerably high volume. Basil even went so far as to stray from his castle grounds to the nearest park and--it is almost too horrific to say but he decided to...
            ...pick flowers! How does madness not find a home in the mind of such a mean spirited soul who would partake in these unheard of activities? If you ask anyone how he reacted to the flower picking they would say that it didn't affect his mind but it almost killed him. To Basil, it was the equivalent of opening a door for someone, wishing a stranger a good morning or worse--smiling. Not that Basil never smiled but the kind of smiling he did was always accompanied by a sinister laugh. He only partook in laughter when he had a deliciously evil thought or became aware of someone's misfortune.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently editing a children’s picture book that was “written” by one of the characters in the Incredible Edible Meg universe titled The Many Amazing Lives of Hildebear as well a sequel to The Medusa Eye Camera Obscura. As far as titles more suitable for adults, I’m hacking away at two horror stories—one for laughs and one for scares. I bounce back and forth depending on my mood. I know that’s not the most disciplined way to work but I think I’ve finally found a nice balance when I’m in writing mode.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t remember the exact moment but I definitely felt like a writer when I noticed more and more people were frequently suggesting ideas for me to write about. Signing the first copy of one of my books for someone was definitely a surreal moment. It was cool but felt silly at the same time if that makes sense.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could write full-time but unfortunately I do not. I have a day job as a shipping clerk to pay the bills. It doesn’t always leave me a lot of time to write so I squeeze it in every chance I get. Writers are always writing even if they’re not physically writing out their thoughts but the wheels are always turning so I always make sure to have something to take notes with just in case inspiration strikes.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My biggest writing quirk would be that I have to be fully dressed when I’m working on new material. Even if I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea, I have to hop out of my pajamas and put on regular attire, shoes and all, in order to be productive. I can revise in pajamas, but I have a hard time writing new stuff like that. I wish I could tell you how that quirk developed but I honestly don’t know.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Even though I started writing in the 5th grade, I actually wanted to be a baseball player up until High School. After that I dabbled in film and music for a while but I was called home eventually to the written word and I don’t plan on exploring any other paths if I can help it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I absolutely love Pez dispensers and I don’t think a person can have too many of them.

Thanks for being here today, Vincent!

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