An Interview with V. A. Jeffrey // Author of The Green Door (Secret Doorway Tales)
1) Where were you born, where do you live now, and are you close to perfect swimming water?
I was born in New York City, NY. Now, I live in Portland, OR. Grew up here since I was 2 years old. Perfect swimming water to me are the beaches in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay, Jamaica. Which is on the other side of the world.
2) What is your favorite smell?
Bacon, potatoes and onions. Frying in a pan with some butter.
3) Tell us about your education and what you do now (jobs and hobbies).
I finished high school, went to Portland Community College for two years and studied graphic design. Strangely enough, I’ve worked in the transportation business most of my working life. I used to be a childcare worker, then I became a school bus driver. Now I drive a city transit bus. Hobbies? I write, read, cook, eat and drink. I love cooking and dining out. When I can afford it, I like to travel but until recently, financially speaking, that was out of reach. I’m hoping to turn the writing into a full time career.
4) Tell us about your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife. How did you meet? What is your favorite thing about him/her? How about your children (if you have children)? How about a dog or cat?
I don’t have a boyfriend or husband. No kids. I used to have two cats, they died. I had a dog when I was little. He was stolen when he was a puppy. I had two finches and they caught a chill and died. I had a Siamese fighting fish once when I was a kid and my dad accidentally flushed him down the toilet. Or at least that’s what he claims to this day.
5) Is ignorance bliss?
Yes. Until you get kicked in the butt by Real Life.
6) How did you get interested in writing?
I’ve always written stories ever since I was a little kid. For some reason I came to it naturally. As I got older my parents encouraged me to take creative writing classes in school and after school writing classes. I even went to a writing camp at Lewis and Clark college when I was in high school and I worked for a youth newspaper as a journalist in my senior year. All of these experiences were very positive and supportive and it encouraged me to continue to write. Those experiences sparked the dream in me to be an author.
7) How has your practice evolved over the course of time?
I have far more discipline. When I was young I had this tired notion that you only write when your muse visits. When I went by that rule, I wrote maybe once or twice every 8 months. I look back at that kind of thinking and laugh. It’s a little bit lame, especially if you intend to make a living out of writing. When I have an idea that I want to develop, I write nearly every day until I can turn it into a good story and if I can’t do that, I’ll use bits of it in a poem or just keep it in my notes for future story ideas. I don’t necessarily write reams and reams of pages. Sometimes I do and sometimes I only write a couple of paragraphs. Even if I don’t feel especially inspired, I’ll write or work on a current story or do something related to writing, like post on my blog or someone else’s blog. I write nearly every day, as if it were my job.
8) What do you consider to be your greatest success?
Achieving peace and contentment with what I have and not wanting this or that or the other. Not desiring a lot of material things. Once I realized that my life was good and that I have a well lived life and family and friends who are as good as gold and began working on my spirituality, there was a peace and zen that came over me like nothing else. It was a blessing. I’ve gotten to the point where I can work part time and live very well. But that had to be achieved by an attitude adjustment which wasn’t easy.
9) Is there any thing that your family or friends would be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve written stuff that my friends and family might see as slightly creepy, vengeful themes. They might look at me sideways. My mom wouldn’t be surprised though. Nothing I do or write surprises her anymore.
10) What did you find out after finishing THE GREEN DOOR (SECRET DOORWAY TALES)? What weren’t you expecting?
I found out that I love writing children’s fiction. It started out as a short story with a different title. Today, the original short story idea is a series (Secret Doorway Tales) and it was a lot of fun. I plan to write 5 more books for the series. When I was young I wanted to be the next Zora Neal Hurston or even the next Dostoyevsky (yeah I was kind of pretentious when I was young). Now I just write whatever I want. Sometimes my work is innocent and light, fit for children, and sometimes I write work with darker themes. I even wrote some fables recently. My next novel after this certainly won’t be for children, though.
I wasn’t expecting to expand the story beyond one book.