An Interview with Venita Louise
We’d like to know the person behind the books. Who is Venita Louise, friend and neighbor?
I regret to report that on a scale from one to ten, I probably rate a two at being a good neighbor. It isn’t that I don’t like my neighbors; I do offer a nod of acknowledgment to the men and perhaps a smile or wave to the ladies as I drive by, but it is hard to be sociable when attending to a career, a relationship, friends, performing music and writing. That is compounded by the fact that I am 98% introvert, which means I could probably be happy living in a cave with a dirt floor as long as I have my computer and television. Wait a minute! I do live in a cave with a dirt floor.
You’re obviously a person who loves to laugh and to make others laugh. Why is comedy so important to you?
I believe it started when I was a very young. I enjoyed making my family laugh with jokes or acting silly. No matter what hardships were going on, laughing seemed to help us through it and I appointed myself the designated comedian. I am an anorexic cryer. When I feel the need for release, I usually watch a movie that I know will bring me to tears. Steel Magnolias and Pay It Forward have been dependable for priming the pump.
Years ago, I heard a radio psychologist announce that it is normal for a woman to cry at least once a week. I guess that puts me in the negative percentile when it comes to being normal. That is where laughter comes in. Have you ever laughed till you cried? I have, more times than I can count, which I believe makes up for the struggle I have crying. As the old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.
How long have you been writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I think I have been writing in my head all my life. About ten years ago, I woke up one morning with the idea of a story in my head. It was as if it said, “Oh good, you’re awake. Listen to this.” I listened and then tried to put it out of my head. After several days of this story playing continuously like a song, I decided to sit down at my computer and just summarize the idea into a word document, anything to make it leave me alone. I began to write in the morning before work, came home at lunch to write and wrote after work, often until two in the morning. I was driven. Nine months later, I finished my first novel. I called it, In The Rough. It wasn’t my first to be published but it was eventually published by Loose-Id as an e-book. When I found how cathartic writing was, I was hooked. I keep notebooks in every room of my house. You never know when an idea for a plot or dialog will present itself.
Can you share what you’re working on now?
The death of my son four years ago sent me and my writing into a tailspin. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, breathe in and out and get myself to work each day. I slept on my love seat for months and clung to a support group that I belonged to. This tragedy helped me to understand a couple of things. I can’t always choose who is going to see me through a tough time and once a door opens, it is up to me to walk through it (it’s always nice if someone holds it for you). A man I had known for several years heard the song, The Nearness of You, I recorded to promote my book, Dead on the Money. He asked me to come to his band rehearsal and sing a couple of songs. I did. That set me in a whole new direction. It was through this band that I met my fiancé and we now have a band of our own. We spend a lot of time writing music, writing lyrics and performing. This has been a lifelong desire and it’s never too late to work on your bucket list.
What do you wish you’d known before seeking publication?
I didn’t really seek publication. I was a contest junkie. I still am and I enter short story contests every chance I get, often to Writer’s Digest, The Erma Bombeck humor contest, Glimmer Train and most recently submitted a story based on my feelings while making arrangements for my son’s funeral to Reed Magazine. I submitted my novella, Initials For Murder, to Vintage Romance Publishing as a contest entry and it was accepted for publication. I suppose entering contests is a form of seeking publication but rejection is so much easier to accept if you can tell yourself that you were competing against thousands of phenomenal writers.
What do you find most rewarding about being a writer? Most challenging?
It is sometimes impossible to control the events of our lives. Disappointments, obstacles and tragedy can steal our confidence, wear us down and break our hearts, but when I write, I can make the story go any way I want. I can decide who will stay, who will leave, who will change and what they will go through to secure what they desire. That’s powerful. The challenging part is picking the right words to convey the plot, create the characters and an exciting conflict that will keep the readers interest.
7. Do you have a regular writing routine, or do you leave it to inspiration and inclination?
I keep my writing routine by posting a humor blog bi-monthly. I also like to come up with one-liner wit that I post on Facebook. When inspiration strikes, it is more painful to avoid writing than it is to sit down and do it. I always feel better after I write.
What’s your favorite book ever? What makes that title stand out to you?
I was about twelve years old when I read, Call of the Wild by Jack London. I was impressed by the protagonist, Buck, a domesticated St. Bernard/Scotch dog who is stolen, shipped to Alaska, made to pull a sled, taught to survive the weather and terrain, and beaten within an inch of his life. His journey from his comfortable life in Santa Clara Valley to ultimately find a new life among wolves made an indelible impression on me.
You were an artist before you were a writer. What prompted the change of career?
I was a portrait artist for about ten years. This is a long time to listen to what people don’t like about their faces. I tried to accommodate, making noses smaller, straightening teeth, adding hair and subtracting years but it was difficult. I ended up painting and drawing portraits of pets. They don’t seem to care what their faces look like. It wasn’t as if I made a conscious decision to change. I just began evolving and attracting new interests.
You have a favorite quote, one that’s been hanging on your fridge for a long while. Tell us about it.
Yes, it’s still there after almost 25 years. Its author is unknown but I have found it encouraging in every aspect of my life. It says, ‘Use the talents that you possess; for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.’