HomeschoolLiterature.com is proud to give you this great interview with our first homeschooled author! This 18 year old can teach us all a little something about determination, and following your dreams. Victoria Kasten's Author Page
Hi Victoria, I am sure everyone is curious so please tell us a bit about your family life , and where you grew up.
VK♥ I've been living on the hobby farm with my parents since I was thirteen, and we've had alpacas and horses for a number of years now. I love the open spaces and the freshness of the country life, and it is a great inspiration for my writing. I am an only child. I am now a Sophomore at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, pursuing English and Theatre, and perhaps Media Arts. I've always loved trying new things. I'm a restless sort of person, and I want to do as many things in life as I can, and constantly attempt to live my days to the fullest.♥
Could you tell us just a little bit about your homeschool experience, such as how long you were homeschooled and via what method or curriculum?
VK♥ I was homeschooled all the way through, from age 4 to age 18, when I graduated with a group of homeschoolers in Rochester, MN. My mom and I used many different curriculums and didn't often stay in one set very long, simply because I was a kid who liked to explore outside the boundaries. We spent a lot of time "unlearning" and really experiencing every day life, which I think was the best way for me to learn. I never really had a writing curriculum. I just read a TON of books, and a lot of classic literature, and that's how I picked up a lot of the grammar and "what sounds right" of writing.
What was the best part of your homeschooling experience?
VK♥ The best part of my homeschooling experience was that I was able to be with my family all the time. We really bonded. It was also the opportunity that I had to really try a lot of different things. I took horse lessons for a number of years, I played violin in orchestra for 8 years and made it to the Concert Mistress chair. I sang in choir, did scrapbooks, read every spare minute that I could.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
VK♥ I wrote my first book in 2003 when I was 12 years old, and that was the first in the Mighty Stallion series. It was published two years later when I was fourteen.
I know our members would like to know…what projects/books do you currently have in the works?
VK♥ My current projects include a Christian fiction novel, several more fantasies, and perhaps a non-fiction book for Christian girls about marriage and preparing to be a godly wife. It really varies from time to time, and I try as hard as I can to work on multiple books at a time.
Was there a situation in the novel that reminded you of something in your own life?
VK♥ I constantly use real life experiences in my novels. That is the best inspiration of all. God gave us a beautiful, diverse earth that is full of characters and settings. You just have to be on the lookout for them. All of my main characters have pieces of me in them. Sometimes they carry a strength of mine, and sometimes a weakness. Sometimes both. Even in fantasy novels, real life and real people are the best inspiration of all.
How long does it take you to write a book? and what is your schedule like?
VK♥ It takes me anywhere from 3 weeks to a year to write a novel. Usually closer to around 5-6 months. My schedule is really crazy during the school year, and I have very little time to write. The summer is a bit more calm, but I'm still traveling around and doing conferences. I try really hard to write every day, but sometimes I just can't get everything done, especially now being a wife and homemaker. I do attend a student run Writer's Group every Thursday night at our school, which is a fabulous group of writers and very inspiring.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
VK♥ I think the biggest surprise came with suddenly becoming a public figure. Writing a book in your pajamas in your bedroom is much different than traveling and marketing and speaking! It took a long time for me to work out the balance of being a role model and motivational speaker, and keeping enough time for me to just be me! There are a lot of things that I love to do just as Tori. I am a very free spirit, but I also love to encourage people and keep them enthusiastic about life and living, so it balances out pretty well.
What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
VK♥ I still remember opening that first box of books when Mighty Stallion #1 came back from the printers. Wow… what a feeling! I was very proud of it. It's still a bit of a thrill when we open the first box of a newly published book. They really are almost like children, and you hope that they will be accepted by the people who read them. I love every one of my books, and I hope that each of them touches the heart of their readers in some way.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
VK♥ Honestly, the most important list is pretty short when it comes to a good novel, in my opinion. 1. Characters 2. Plot Characters are very important. Strong characters equal relatability for the reader. Strong characters often inspire strong plot just by being awesome! Detailed characters are very important, and one of my personal favorite parts of writing.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
VK♥ Tools for writers include a purring cat, soundtrack music, brainstorming, and lots and lots of patience. Soundtrack music is a great way to relax your mind and also to set a mood for the part of the book or the character that you are working with
Do you have any suggestions to help other homeschooled children to become a better writer? If so, what are they?
VK♥ My tips for aspiring writers. First of all, PATIENCE. Things don't just happen overnight. You have to really dedicate yourself to making your story the best that it can be. They really are like children, they need a lot of patience, a lot of love, and a lot of encouragement. The other side of this is, of course, don't think that you can make it perfect. There will be things that you will look back on and think, "Oh, I would've written that so much differently!" I certainly am no exception. But there comes a point when you have to let go and let it fly. Also, listen to soundtrack music! Give each of your main characters a theme song! It really helps you get into the mindset of that particular character when you're writing.
I would like to personally thank Victoria for taking the time to do this interview, and I think this interview may inspire other homeschoolers to pursue their dreams!
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