Vikki VanSickle is a long-time friend of Telling Tales! Vikki returns for a sixth season to share her new middle grade story P.S. Tell No One. You may recognize her works we’ve featured on our Reading List: Teddy Bear of the Year, The Winnowing, and If I Had a Gryphon. Or you may recognize her from CTV Your Morning as their resident bookworm!
Q & A with Author: Vikki Vansickle
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
Inspiration can come from everywhere! I write in many different genres and for a range of ages, but the one consistent thing in all my work is that each book is a love letter to something in my life that I love or care about, whether it’s street art (Anonymouse), the TV show The X-Files (The Winnowing), or diaries (P.S. Tell No One).
What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?
I read anything and everything. I loved fairytales, time travel, mystery novels—especially the Nancy Drew series—contemporary series like The Babysitters Club and more. Something I always searched for (and didn’t find enough of) in the books I read were frank conversations about puberty and menstruation, which is why I wrote the novel P.S. Tell No One. I wanted to address the questions and anxieties kids have around puberty in a fun, welcoming way.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?
The book in my head is never the same as the one that ends up on the page. Once you start writing the story will inevitably develop and change. It’s important to let the story take shape and evolve on its own. If you try to force it to be something else, you’ll end up frustrated.
What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?
I’ve had to figure out how to balance my writing time with various jobs in order to make ends meet. I don’t want a job so exhausting that I have no energy left for my writing, but it has to be something that pays the bills and is both nourishing and interesting to me. Discovering this balance has been a challenge.
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
First, get a journal and get into the habit of writing regularly. Second, read widely: try new genres and topics. The more you read, the better your writing will become. Third, look out for contests. Submitting to a contest can teach you how to work to a deadline and give you helpful boundaries to work within. If you win, it can also be a big ego boost!