About Mary Vigliante Szydlowski:
Mary Vigliante Szydlowski is the author of six adult novels: The Ark (1978), The Colony (1979), The Land (1979), Source of Evil (1980), Silent Song (1980 & 2000), and Worship the Night (1982, 1985, & 2000) and a novella, The Hand of My Enemy (2014). She’s also published three children’s book: Kia’s Manatee (2011), The Duck in the Hole (2007), and I Can’t Talk I’ve Got Farbles In My Mouth, (1995). Her story Chi Chi and the Hungry Hawk appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul-The Dog Did What? (2014)
Her short stories, articles, children’s stories, essays, and poems have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, and on the web.
She is a member of the Authors’ Guild, the Authors’ League, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators), and SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).
What inspires you to write?
Everything! Mostly its the things I see. Watching animals frolic, interacting with one another, or being mischievous frequently inspires me to write about it. My children’s book, KIA’S MANATEE, was written after seeing a scarred Florida manatee and her baby swimming in a cove in a marina littered with plastic bottles and bags. Driving along a secluded logging road in the Adirondacks and seeing a dark foreboding forest made me imagine the kind of murder and mayhem that might take place there. Seeing that forest, on that desolate road, resulted in my writing WORSHIP THE NIGHT, a novel that has been published and reprinted twice and will be coming out in eBook form next year.
Work experiences, what I saw in the course of doing my job inspecting state run institutions for the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled, inspired me to write SILENT SONG another of my published books.
The first book I ever wrote, THE COLONY, was inspired by a recurrent nightmare I’d been having about the aftermath of a nuclear war. It was published and then I wrote a sequel which was also published.
Writers need to be like sponges and soak up the world around them for their inspiration, but money works well too. The first book that I ever had published, The Ark, was a work for hire. The packager contacted me after reading another manuscript I’d sent him. He told me the type of book the publisher wanted, traditional science fiction, told me it had to be 200 typed pages, and gave me only 30 days to complete the project. I wasn’t inspired, I just sat down and wrote it. I guess you could say the inspiration was getting the credit and being able to say I was a published author.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m an insomniac which is very helpful when you’re a writer. Once I get an idea in my head, I work out the plot and dialogue at night when it’s quiet. I don’t use an outline, but I do write down specific dialogue or scenes that I want to use in the book. I come up with a very definite idea of what I want each major character in the book to look like, then I go through magazines till I find a model, actor, actress, etc. that looks like them. I pin those pictures up on the wall labeled with my characters names in front of my laptop. I also do short character sketches of each character’s appearance, education, employment, habits, family, behavior traits, etc.
As I write a chapter, every day I work on it, I start my day by going back to the beginning of that chapter and reading and rewriting it where necessary, for clarity, to tighten dialogue, to add needed description, etc. When I finish the chapter, I go back and reread and rewrite it yet again. Then I give it to my husband to read and edit. After he’s done I rewrite it again incorporating his corrections and suggestions and put it aside until the entire book is done. Then we both reread the whole book again for continuity and to make sure that the story isn’t bogging down in places. You need another pair or eyes, another person to read your work and catch your mistakes: formatting mistakes, typos, misspellings, redundancies, inconsistencies in the plot, characters, descriptions, obvious factual mistakes in your stories, etc.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
There comes a time when you’re writing a book that your characters take over and write themselves. In the beginning of the story you speak for them and tell them what to say, but as you develop their personalities, as you flesh them out, they begin to speak with their own voice. You simply sit back and listen to what they have to say.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be persistent! I can’t emphasize this enough. One of my books was rejected by the same publisher twice, then I changed the title and submitted it a third time and they bought it. I’ve had that happen more than once. What separates published authors from unpublished ones is that we’re tenacious, we don’t ever give up. We continue to write, continue to hone our skills, no matter what!
Another piece of advice. You can’t write if you don’t know your market. To write you need to be a reader. If you want to write romance…read romances. Same thing for thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy, etc.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I first started out as an author over 36 years ago, there was only one way to publish…through a traditional print publisher. Writers were literally at their mercy. Editors decided what the reading public would read and what books would be published. They brought their likes, dislikes, and prejudices to the job and imposed them on authors. I’m prolific and eclectic. I write what piques my interest and don’t stick to one genre. I’ve published mainstream, science fiction/fantasy, horror/occult, mystery, and children’s thus far. Publishers don’t like that, neither do agents. In the old days you bought yourself a copy of Writer’s Market, got copies of your manuscript made up, paid the postage, and mailed them off to a publisher who would accept non-agented submissions. You also prayed and kept your fingers crossed. Over the transom submissions were relegated to the slush pile where they remained until someone deigned to read them, months or even a year or more later. That’s assuming of course that they didn’t lose or misplace your manuscript or the return postage envelopes you sent to have the book returned. It was a long and expensive process. Made worse as more and more companies decided they’d only accept agented submissions. Getting an agent was no easy task. In most cases it was harder than actually getting a book published. The whole system was rife with arrogance and cronyism. Now things are different, writers can self-publish and get their books out and in front of readers without the middleman. And many do very well at it! Writers are reaping the rewards of their labors. Many in the industry decry the change, saying now everyone who thinks they can write will self-publish. I for one think that’s great. Let’s let the readers decide what they want to read. My dad used to say “cream will rise to the top” and he was right. Authors who write a good story, spend time editing their books, invest in a decent cover, and put forth the effort to market their work will prosper! Those who don’t, won’t! Though I’ll still market my children’s books the old-fashioned way, I’ve decided to self-publish many of my adult novels and novellas in the future.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that traditional publishers will continue to drive the market for a while to come, but that will change as more and more writers decide to self-publish their work in both eBook and POD formats. There are a lot of self-published authors out there making good money, more money than they’d make if they’d gone the traditional route. The number of successful self-published authors will grow exponentially. As authors begin to realize they don’t need an agent or a traditional publisher to have their work published, more and more talented authors will take control of their careers. Publishers and agents already appear to be preparing for that day. Several publishing giants and literary agencies now provide services for self-published authors. If nothing else the self-publishing revolution will make the industry think twice about the contracts they offer writers. The truth of the matter is that the most important person in the publishing equation, the author, was given short shrift. Now publishing houses, editors, and agents are seeing the light. Authors can publish books without them. But they can’t publish books without us.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: mainstream, science fiction, fantasy, horror/occult, murder mystery,romance, and children’s books
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print