December is definitely a busy month. Between the holidays and the end of the year celebrations, there is always too much to do and too little time. Author Vicki Sansum is no stranger to a hectic lifestyle. In addition to her full time advertising job, Vicki Sansum finds time to read, write and organize writing events in the greater Houston area. Recently we caught-up with Vicki and visited with her about finding inspiration in the midst of a busy life.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Schenectady, NY, moved to Houston when I was three years old and have been here ever since. My father still lives in the same house in Oak Forest where we grew up. My sister lives in Garden Oaks. I love living in Houston, it’s a great mix of people and cultures.
What made you want to become a writer?
I have loved to read all my life. As a child, I’d go to the library every week and check out as many books as they allowed. We always had tons of books in our house so I think it was a natural step for me to want to write. I loved making up stories and writing them down.
What is a normal “writing” workday like for you?
In today’s world, it’s hard to have a ‘normal’ day. I work full-time so I grab whatever free time I can find to write. Sometimes it’s not until the weekends when I can sit and write. I’m always thinking about my books, you never completely turn off your brain when you’re working on a manuscript.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. It can be a phrase I hear on the TV, or the radio or something I overhear in the mall. I’ve gotten ideas from stories I’ve read in the newspaper or even noticing an unusual name. Occasionally my husband will say something funny and I’ll file it away for the future. I keep a notebook in the car so I can jot down ideas when they come to me. I have scraps of paper and sticky notes all over my desk, in my purse and on my computer with names, words and phrases so I won’t forget anything.
Who are your favorite writers and why?
I love an author who tells a great story. Whether it’s a children’s book or an adult book, I want the writer to compel me to turn the page to find out what’s next. J.K. Rowling is one of the most remarkable authors I’ve ever read. She has the talent of great storytelling and brilliant writing skills. Recently I’ve enjoyed reading the Luxe series by Anna Godberson and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I loved the Lemony Snicket series. I have read all of Joan Lowery Nixon’s books. Years ago, I read an article in the paper about Joan and saw that she lived in my neighborhood. Having such a well-known author living just blocks away from my house made the dream of becoming an author seem more real. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and have been a member ever since.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Never give up. Keep writing and honing your skills. Join a good critique group. Attend conferences and workshops and get the support of fellow writers. Read, read and read. Writing is a skill, just like playing the piano. The more you practice, the better you get. Follow your dreams, they will come true.
Vicki Sansum is not only an author; she is also the head of the Houston chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Check out information about Vicki and the chapter at http://www.scbwi-houston.org.