Today’s Author Spotlight is: Victor Rook
– A PBS award-winning documentarian, a local writer with a strong sense of gallows humor, and a wildlife activist.
Readers, let’s welcome to my blog Victor, a PBS award-winning documentarian, a local writer with a strong sense of gallows humor, and a wildlife activist. He’s agreed to visit and share with us today some dreams, some advice, and some reading recommendations.
Victor, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I would like to have a giant anaconda as a pet. I could feed nasty people to it and make money off the live-cam streams of their crushing demise.
But, in truth (or in addition), I’d love to have a dog. Dogs are love covered in fur.
I’m not sure whether to dub you vicious or sweet after that. Let’s move on, shall we?
What do you write and how did you get started?
I have written memoir, fiction, horror, poetry, and more…a little bit of everything. Even a craft book! Which could be my problem, since successful authors often stick to one genre and profit off a series of books.
My start was fairly unusual. One night I decided to write a funny story about how every time I visited my mother and sister, they would talk to me for five minutes then ignore me for their dogs the rest of the time. It was only about three pages, and it was the first time I had attempted to write anything since college. My degree was in Mechanical Engineering, so you can imagine there wasn’t much creative writing going on at school.
After my mother passed away in 2008, I began writing short, true stories about things that happened in my life. I compiled those memories and moments from childhood to adulthood into a book and titled it Musings of a Dysfunctional Life. I don’t think I’m personally dysfunctional, but my family surely was.
It’s a book that I feel many people can relate to. I was fully honest about everything, including family abuse. And boy was it cathartic. All those negative memories dissipated after they were put into words on a computer screen. Interspersed with those poignant moments are funny, everyday happenings I remember. Like the satanic twin babies in the checkout line (*shivers*), or how easily I become entranced in the “As seen on TV” aisles of pharmacy stores.
Next, I wrote a full-length novel titled In Search of Good Times. It’s about a man who believes the sitcom families from Good Times and All in the Family are real and goes on a road trip to find them. It took me three years to write, and it’s one of my favorites. If you like road-trip books where the main character meets interesting people along the way, this book is for you.
My next book, People Who Need to Die, which is my best seller, is a series of satirical short horror stories where people are allowed to kill bad people in the year 2021. Bad drivers, spammers, horrible bosses, litterbugs, and mean neighbors are just a few of the many targets.
I was inspired after seeing how awful people behave in stores on Black Friday. In one short, “Black Friday Revenge,” a father, whose son was trampled to death at a mall on Black Friday, transforms an abandoned warehouse into what looks like a big-box store. He lures unsuspecting shoppers to it the following Black Friday and makes them play shopping games to survive.
Wow! You’ve definitely written a wide variety of stuff! Not penning yourself in as a this-genre or that-genre writer definitely has allowed you to follow your muse.
What do you like to read?
This may come as a shock, but I am not an avid reader. But when I do, I enjoy short stories. Since I am also a filmmaker, I feel guilty when I am not creating something myself. I am currently working on a documentary about bald eagles, which also includes writing the script narration.
In this day and age, quick reads are pretty popular. Good luck with your bald eagle documentary.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
I would say focus groups that read your material for feedback. Every time I do that I seem to get mixed opinions. Some will love something, when others won’t. Because people like certain genres, and what I write may not appeal to them for that reason, I never get a clear grasp if something is working or not. So I have to go with my gut. Truthfully, though, it’s when honesty shows in your writing that I believe it also becomes more accepted and enjoyed.
Knowing what advice to listen to is hard when everyone speaks with the same authority. I keep thinking of starting up a group — but only of people who write my genre. And then I remember that I don’t have enough time for everything I’m already doing.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can’t pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Oxford comma, baby. I don’t like seeing the second to the last item in a list get less respect than the items that precede it. George, Tim, Tom and Doug. Poor Tom. I just can’t let Tom down without a comma to go around.
I hear ya! (Confession: I had to fight not to correct that sentence…)
All of the above. Plus:
Victor Rook’s nature film, Beyond the Garden Gate, won two Telly awards and aired on PBS. He also helps other authors with book cover design, interior formatting, editing, and publishing.
You can find him at http://victorrook.com