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Interview with Vanessa Rasanen

How did you become a writer?

It might surprise folks to learn I wasn’t much of a reader until my thirties and actually have a degree in engineering. My first book was a story that wouldn’t leave me alone, and it nagged me for five years until I finally published it in 2018. My writing took a back seat during my husband’s deployment in 2019, but by 2020 I had a new story begging to be written. I was fairly content writing part time, until one day I realized–in the fall of 2021–that writing was all I wanted to do. With the support and encouragement of my husband, I quit my job as a data analyst and never looked back.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Character-driven stories are my happy place, so the plot usually develops around them. Most of the time I start with a setting or a premise, decide on the type of character–their attitude, demeanor, etc–and then get to know them as the story unfolds. Using the enneagram, I’m able to understand the characters’ hopes and fears to learn how they would act and what they would say. I usually know the beginning, a few scenes in the middle, and where I think the characters will end up, but otherwise I let the characters direct the story as needed. It can be frustrating at times, but it creates these relatable and rich characters readers seem to love.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

Finding the time and focus required for my writing is incredibly difficult with four kids and a military husband. Being a full-time author affords me the flexibility I need to manage our home, but it also means my writing time has to be postponed or interrupted if a child needs me or if my husband is out of town on duty. Beyond that, I am simply not a fast writer. I’m learning to accept this about myself and embrace the way my brain works–namely, that the story often needs time to percolate before I can get words on the page.

What are your current/future projects?

I am currently working on launching the first in a series of interconnected stand alone books. It is a fae fantasy romance inspired by the 1954 classic movie, Sabrina–one of my comfort movies growing up. That releases in February 2024. Then I will be working on the next two books in that series–a gender-bent Cinderella meets Hunger Games and a sleeping beauty retelling with a dragon shifter bodyguard romance theme. I aim to publish these each a year apart with two more stand alones planned later on. I also have promised readers a spin-off duology to my pirate fantasy series, and that should hopefully be ready by 2027.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

There will be days you don’t like writing, days where this will be a slog, days when you’ll wonder why you wanted to do this in the first place. From what I can tell, that is completely normal. I don’t know any author who hasn’t experienced it at some point. No, it doesn’t seem to get easier with each book, and there really is very little that comes easy in this industry. There are a million and one ways to do this job, so you’ll want to find the process that works for you and be willing to pivot if something isn’t working–or stops working. Luck is a big driver toward success, and acknowledging that does not negate the hard work you put in. Yes, it can seem unfair when some authors have success and others don’t, but we each have to decide if we’re willing to put in the energy and time to pursue our goals. They may not happen, but if they’re worth it, we’ll at least try. Hang in there! It’s a tough career that can often feel lonely, but you aren’t alone.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

I spend most of my time–too much time, perhaps–on instagram, and that is a fantastic way to connect with me. Otherwise, my email list receives updates and news monthly. I also have a discord server for my readers to connect with me and each other.


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