Valerie, welcome to Hardcover Feedback!
Thanks! It's great to be here.
Would you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I started writing when I was 5, and my mother gave me my own typewriter when I was 10. At that point, I wrote my first play. I didn't start writing fiction in earnest until I was in my early 30's, although most of my jobs included writing, mostly of a promotional nature. I wrote plays for 7 years. Many of them have been produced and had readings around the U.S. Back in the '90's, I abridged approximately 100 novels for audio over a 6 year period. Today I have the luxury of being able to write whenever I want. I've written 2 novels that have been published: A mystery called "A Touch of Murder," and my new one, "The Promised Land."
What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
My mother wrote when I was a kid. As I said above, she gave me my first typewriter, and encouraged me. She told me the only limitation I had re storytelling was my own imagination. And she taught me to respect creativity, and to nurture it whenever possible.
No, it was never published, thank God! I have even forgotten the title. I wrote it when I was 15. It was about a teenager who loved music and wanted to be a pianist, while her mother kept trying to force her to paint. If I had to write it again, I would have made the mother a scientist or a cook or something. Not someone involved in the arts. Despite its not being very good, I had a great feeling of accomplishment when I finished it.
Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
Well, I write during the "Today" show, while I can hear it. It becomes a kind of white noise. And I constantly mutter to myself when I write.
Of the ones I've created, I love the detective, Samantha Kern, in "A Touch of Murder." As for "The Promised Land," I love all the main characters: Joy, Jessica, Thaddeus, Bill, and Clytus. Of the ones others have created, I love Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Nora in A Doll's House, and Harriet in "Harriet the Spy."
Going to Greece and Italy. I'm fascinated by ancient history, and want to see the ruins.
What is your all-time favorite book?
"Harriet the Spy" by Louise Fitzhugh. It's a kids' book. I read it when I was 10, and loved it. It has stayed with me all these years.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
I have several. I like L.C. Hayden very much, and Lisa Gardner. I also have a fondness for 19th century Russian writers. I like Gogol and Dostoevsky in particular. Lee Child always provides a fun, fast read.
What an interesting question!! The theme song would be "The Greatest Love of All." That's because I diverged from my peers at a young age, and always felt like an outcast. It's taken me many years to learn self-acceptance and self-love. Funnily enough, I have found that the more I can accept and love myself, the more others can love and accept me, too.
Read, of course! I also like taking long walks with my dog, going over classic chess games, playing chess, and watching wrestling, football, and old movies. I love film history, particularly of the silent period and the 1930's.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Years ago, when I was in my teens and 20's, I was a night owl. Now, I've become more of an early bird. I don't overdo it, though. I try to get up between 6-7 every morning, the closer to 6 the better.
If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at anytime in history, where would you go and why?
Only one historical period? That's too limiting! There are so many places and periods I'd like to visit: ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt, Italy in the 16th century, England during the time of Shakespeare and the Tudors, France in the late 19th century and of course during the 1920's, and the U.S. west during the late 1800's-early 1900's. Also the U.S. during the "roaring 20's."
If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
Shakespeare, Henry David Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am busy promoting "The Promised Land," and keeping up with my blogs. Within the next few weeks, however, I am going back to the second Samantha Kern novel, "Seen of the Crime," which is in draft form, and doing some rewrites. Once that's at the editor's, I'm going to begin work on a paranormal thriller.
Where can people connect with you online?
http://www.valeriestocking.com. Check out my blogs! Mondays is a potpourri of paranormal adventures, writing/marketing "The Promised Land," and 1960's Memories. Thursdays is a serialized mystery featuring Samantha Kern called "Color Me Dead." It's all archived, so someone new to the story can read what's been written so far and catch up quickly.
Thank you so much Valerie for being on Hardcover Feedback!
Thanks for having me!
About The Promised Land:
It’s 1966, just two years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, and twelve-year-old Joy Bradford’s life is changing dramatically. Born and raised in the white suburbs of Connecticut, Joy is moving to Willets Point, Florida, to live with her mother Jessica because her parents are divorcing. Hoping it really is the Promised Land that her mother describes, she joins in Jessica’s enthusiasm only to find out how horribly wrong that vision is.
Unfortunately for Joy, the move does nothing to change her mother’s emotional and mental instability, resulting in a continuation of the physical and verbal abuse she is all too used to receiving. Her new school is years behind her old one, the kids dress and act differently, and on just the second day, Joy has a run-in with her geography teacher. Things are going from bad to worse until Clay Dooley, a mixed-race boy from that same
geography class, offers his friendship. The two become close, sending shockwaves that dovetail with a growing sense of tension and unease in the community as a whole. Clay’s father Clytus, a well-educated black man, attempts to open his own clothing store in the white section of downtown Willets Point. This causes Jessica’s new lawyer cum boyfriend and leader of the local Klan chapter, Bill McKendrick, to join with other white citizens in using great force to block Clytus’ dreams. Tempers flare and emotions run high when Clytus refuses the Klan’s subsequent demand that he and his family move out of the white neighborhood they live in, setting off an explosive confrontation that will change them all forever.
An absorbing and suspenseful coming of age story set against the tumultuous backdrop of racial tensions in mid-1960’s America, Stocking’s blend of historical fact and fiction is as relevant today as it was during the explosive Civil Rights era. Probing the human psyche for the deep-seated fears that fuel the fires of racism and bigotry, she expertly builds characters who feel their very lives are at stake by the changing times. Full of insight and intensity, The Promised Land is a spellbinding journey you won’t want to miss.
Valerie Stocking was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and wrote her first short story when she was five. When she was eight, she won a short story contest in Jack and Jill Magazine. She wrote her first play at the age of ten. In 1966, when she was twelve, she and her mother moved to a small town in Florida where they lived for a year. During this time, Valerie experienced difficulties with the public school system, tried a Seventh Day Adventist school briefly, and then dropped out altogether. It was her experiences during this year that inspired The Promised Land. Later, she would finish high school, graduate from college and earn a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU.For nearly 30 years, she wrote and edited in various capacities, including copywriting, newspaper articles, and short stories. She wrote nearly 20 full-length and one act plays over a ten year period, which have been performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. She edited books for audio, abridging over 100 novels in a 6-year period. In 2010, she published her first novel, A Touch of Murder, which is the first of what will become the Samantha Kern mystery series. It was nominated for a Global eBook Award in 2011 for Best Mystery.
Valerie lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her dog and cat, and is working on her next novel.
You can visit her website at www.valeriestocking.com.
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