As Haunty (a member of the HubGreeter team) was saying hello to new community members one day, he stumbled across Vitallani. Seeing her passion for writing (she wants to become a children’s book author, is working on novel, and writes very cool poems), Haunty invited her to participate in the Discovered by a Greeter series on our blog. Below you will learn more of the background behind this up-and-coming Hubber!
You are a creative writing student aspiring to become a children’s author. How long have you had this dream and can you trace its origin? Do you still have everything you have ever written?
I’ve always enjoyed writing; the first story I wrote was when I was five. It was called the Golden Tune Box, and about a secret agent trying to protect the Queen’s music box from something or other. When I was a kid, I went through the usual childhood dream jobs: vet, astronaut, etc, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I decided that I wanted to make writing a career. I have almost all of what I have ever written. I kept my creative writing exercise books from primary school, which I find amusing to read now and again, and I have everything I’ve written saved on my computer and backed up a couple of times. Many years ago, the household computer was being replaced, I failed to save my work properly, and lost it all. I still have a hard copy of the stuff, but I can’t edit or change it. Now I make sure all my stuff is backed up.
You began writing at a young age creating your first detective story at 5. In 2005, you self-published your first children’s book, Unwanted Gift: The Trilogy, which is available on Amazon.com. What inspired you? What was the reception like? Would you change anything about the book today?
There is so much I would change. I wrote that book when I was fourteen, so my writing skills weren’t all that great. They were good for a fourteen year old, but not for a published novel. As it was self-published, everything we did with it was an additional cost to my parents, so we didn’t pay for any promotion or advertising, so it meant no one really knew about it apart from family and friends. We sold a number to them, but only got two or free sales from strangers. To be honest, I was thrilled with that; it was really exciting. I think one other problem, apart from the promotional aspect, was the cost. Author House, the company I published with priced the book way too high. That’s why I also made the book available on kindle, so it is at a reasonable price.
Would you give us some insight into what you have learned about publishing?
I’ve learnt that the commitment of a self-publishing company is minimal. There is no cost to them, and the longer it takes to get published, the more money you will eventually be paying. There was this one section in my story that was in French, and as proof reading was an additional cost, we did it ourselves. The problem was, every time we sent the changes back that they had to make, on the next time round, they would have done something that made another part of the text wrong. It took ages to sort out, and a lot of postage.
Why is your new book taking so long to be finished? Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your own work?
I am definitely a perfectionist. Sometimes if I am writing something, I’ll just get so angry at myself because I feel it is a load of crap. I know the good stuff only comes on the re-write, but when I feel like I’m doing doing well it puts up a barrier and I just get depressed and can’t write. Another reason is that I started writing it when I was still at school, and my school work always took priority. So far my story, Paradox 101, has taken a back seat to GCSEs, A-Levels, and a BA. I’m now doing my MA in creative writing, and using the story for my dissertation. It meant a complete re-write. Twice. It has gone from an almost complete novel, back to fifteen thousand words, so I’m really at the beginning again. I am feeling a lot happier with it now though. The feedback I get from my tutor is so constructive.
You have shared that you enter writing competitions and have had your poems published in university and independent magazines. What is your poetry about? Would you give us a glimpse into it?
My poetry can be about anything really. I occasionally write poems about my own experiences, but more often, a certain word or feeling might come to mind and I’ll take it from there. I like using visual imagery and some of my poems can be quite abstract and experimental. I like experimenting with different forms of poetry. At the moment I’m doing a ‘poem a month challenge’ set by my university. May’s challenge was to write a ‘Found poem’, which involves writing a poem out of other materials – books, leaflets, instruction manuals, and so on. Here is what I came up with:
Lost: Found Poem
Possible Side Effects:
The insatiable urge to punch your fist through a window
I take my writing tablet and swallow with water.
The power turns on,
Word loads, but no words appear:
Blank Screen Syndrome.
Write it! – a disaster,
But better than nothing.
Characters eventually form.
Do you want to save?
I say yes.
Computer says no.
Fatal Error: Blue Screen of Death.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Tomorrow I’ll call Bright Windows Ltd.
 Elizabeth Bishop, ‘One Art’
According to your profile, you are an avid collector of anything from teddy bears to autographs. What’s the story behind this? Do you have a specific item that is dearest to your heart?
The story about the teddy bears is quite cute. Last year my Mum and I visited the Museum of Childhood, and Pollock’s Toy Museum. She became nostalgic over all the teddy bears there, remembering her own. The next thing I knew, there was a twenty-one bear on her bed. She then bought me one. We’ve got about forty now!
As for the autographs, I’m an avid Trekkie, and fan of a number of many other sci-fi shows. I love to go to conventions and meet the actors. I’ve been to two conventions in the last couple of months and got autographs from Nichelle Nichols, Jeri Ryan, Gillian Anderson, and many more. Probably my favourite momento is a the photo of me and Kate Mulgrew together (She played Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager).
On HubPages, you have already published several thoughtful analytical essays on film and social issues. Whence your interest and expertise in the subject?
My interest in film actually lies in screen writing. For my BA I took a course in creative writing combined with film studies, so I could learn about screen writing. Of course, there was a lot more to the film studies course than just screen writing. We had to do a lot of essays and research into different aspects of film. The film essays I have published on HubPages, are those essays. I learnt a lot of interesting facts when researching the topics, but I can’t say that I am actually interested in them.
How did you find HubPages and what are your goals and future plans for writing Hubs?
Don’t laugh, but I found HubPages on a google search about eggs. I’m interested in baking, and I was interested in the different types of eggs you can you. It led me to a Hub on the topic. For the future, I plan to post a few book and reviews and some more of my past essays. I also plan to write up a number of recipes that I have made.
As a relatively new Hubber what do you think about HubPages? What advice would you give new Hubbers who are just starting out?
I think HubPages is a great website; I’m so glad I found it. I particularly like the Questions/Answers feature, which I think I will find helpful for research on stories when I can’t find what I’m looking for on google. For new Hubbers, I would recommend that they go to the Learning Center before publishing anything. I found it such a huge help. Also, comment on other people’s Hubs, it will increase your followers.