In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Wondra Vanian and her story “The Darkest Regions of Our Hearts.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Mental illness and I have been duking it out for a long time now. When night comes around, I lose my footing and illness comes out on top for a while. “The Darkest Regions of Our Hearts” is a kind of very cheap therapy. It takes all those horrible, nasty thoughts that I’d be ashamed to admit and gets them out. Getting them down on paper (or a beat up old iPad) is a way of separating myself from them. I can look back at them in the safe light of day and think, ‘Okay, this isn’t me. This is illness.’ I would say it’s less inspiration, more a coping mechanism.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
About vampires? Ha! I’ve been researching those since I could breathe! Yeah, I’m a little obsessed.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Shannon is the type of person I never wanted to become, trapped in the life I never wanted to have. She’s my worst nightmare – and a reminder that people who seem like they have it all are usually just as unhappy as the rest of us.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
I grew up in the country, so cornfields and endless roads are home. The suburbs? Shudder. Growing up, my best friend lived in the suburbs and that was just the creepiest thing ever. All those people, on top of each other? Watching each other? Twitching curtains and over-the-garden-wall gossip… I can’t think of a place scarier than the suburbs.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
I think it would be ‘She wanted…something she knew she could never have, even if it actually existed. Even if it was more than just a secret desire that haunted her during the long, lonely nights.’ It isn’t as beautifully worded as some but it’s the feeling that it captures – one I think we all know – that makes it special.
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
Oooh. That’s difficult to do without saying how the story ended for me. I suppose I’d go vague: SUBURBAN QUEEN LOST TO THE DARKNESS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I got a royalty payment recently that wasn’t much (but, hey, when you’re an independent author, you take what you can get, right?) I used it to buy a children’s book from the 1970s my husband had mentioned the week before during a fit of nostalgia. The look of absolute, childlike glee on his face when I gave it to him made that little payment worth a million pounds.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
My first instinct is to say The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black because vampires, but Laini Taylor’s the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is the one I wish I could have written. I sat down to read the final book in the series during a break at work and someone had to come fetch me two hours later. I’d lost myself in the book so completely I didn’t even notice people coming in and out of the break room. At one point, I got dizzy because I’d been holding my breath so long. If I could do that, to just one reader…
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
From the age of about five, I had two options in front of me. Two passions. I knew I either wanted to be a teacher or an author. So, I started doing both. I joined clubs for writers, and I went to school to be a teacher. Then, as it usually does, life got in the way. Everything got put on hold for a long while and, when it came time to look at my options again, I still couldn’t decide. So, I went to a local school and asked if I could help out for a bit. It was incredibly fulfilling work but so exhausting I couldn’t even think of writing a word when I got home. That was the moment of choice. Would I be happy if I could teach but not write? No.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
This is going to sound like the lamest superpower ever but give me some Dr. Dolittle magic! Being able to talk to animals (and, you know, have them actually answer for a change) would be the most fun. It would be completely useless if it came to saving the world, of course, but at least I could finally find out what my dog is saying when he spends an hour barking at the pigeons in the garden.
Wondra is an American who lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and an army of fur babies. A writer first, Wondra Vanian is also an avid gamer, photographer, cinephile, and blogger. She was a multiple Top-Ten finisher in the 2017 Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, including in the Best Author category.