|Photo courtesy of Dr. Erin Vollick (Book cover of anthology)|
Erin, first of all, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be interviewed for my blog.
CDB: As you can imagine, a lot of my fellow bloggers wear different hats like you. I’m curious, how do you manage your time between being a busy Director of Communications, a writer, and a new mommy? Is there any time left for Erin?
EV: Ha! Very little! Being a new mother is quite literally the most transfiguring experience of my life. But, like a day job (that constantly runs waaaaay overtime) it’s very difficult to find time to write, let alone put my laundry away, clean my house, etc. But things that are important always have a way of getting done…. And somehow, I still manage to read a ton of books!
CDB: You now work for Inbox Communications; did your writing skills help you land this job? What type of writing do you do for them?
EV: I met the President and CEO of Inbox Communications during my Masters degree in Creative Writing at Concordia University. We were in the same small cohort of writers, so you could definitely say my writing skills got me the job! I do all sorts of writing for Inbox: reports, blog entries, proposals, you name it, although my job is about a lot more than just writing. The writing project I’m most proud of for Inbox is the monthly astrology column I’ve started for the company, geared towards communications professionals—it’s so much fun!
CDB: In your first novel, The Originals, you talked about nuclear warfare, politics, survival of humankind and friendship. Do you think being a new mom has affected your writing style? Do you write about lighter subjects nowadays?
EV: Funny you should ask me that… A friend of mine just sent me a children’s book called “Night Cars” as a present for my son. The book was written by Teddy Jam—A.K.A Matt Cohen—winner of the Governor General’s award for fiction. Matt just happened to be my mentor in undergrad, and the reason I’m a published author today… And I had no idea he even wrote children’s books. I understand why Matt would want to be a children’s author as well as an adult fiction writer, though. When you have a child you begin to filter the world through two consciousnesses—your own and the children around you. My first novel skirted (okay, landed on) the YA genre. It was important to me that I write something that would speak to the generations coming into their own, taking their places in the world, and it’s a genre I think I’ll be revisiting shortly.
CDB: I learned through the Quebec Writers’ Federation that your latest project is an anthology of dating stories. How did you come up with this idea?
EV: My friend and former colleague at McGill University, where I completed my PhD, had an idea with another friend of hers for writing down a bunch of their funniest and most awful dating adventures. These two hilarious women brought me on board, as, at the time, we were all dating quite widely. The idea simmered between us for years until recently, when it just seemed like the right time.
CDB: Is this a joint project? What prompted you to co-author this book?
EV: My fabulous co-conspirator, co-editor and dear friend is Dr. Stephanie King. She has some of the funniest dating stories I’ve ever heard. She has dated a lot, and dated in interesting ways—unlike me, she’s part of a community that promotes and accepts matchmaking and blind dates as par for the course. With her dating history and my publishing know-how, we figured we could get this very ambitious project off the ground. We also went through our PhD program together, so we know how each other thinks and works.
CDB: You are also looking for submissions from female writers. Can anyone participate or is this geographically restricted to Canadian writers?
EV: We’ve actually already accepted submissions from contributors living in the United States, and we’ve received international attention from our call for submissions—we’re definitely not limiting the anthology geographically. For now, though, we are only accepting stories by women—because thematically, we’re interested in women’s experiences for this collection (although the gender of their partners is completely up to them!). We’ve been approached by men who are interested in sharing their dating stories, however, which is absolutely amazing! To those men I’ve said that once we get this one off the ground, we might try to cobble together a collection of men’s dating stories as a companion to Naked People Behaving Badly.
CDB: In your opinion, what would make a good story?
EV: What would make a good dating story? Something honest and genuine. Something bizarre. An anecdote—an experience that stands out in your mind.
CDB: What do you want to tell women through this anthology?
EV: I don’t actually want to tell women anything. What Stephanie and I are trying to do is hold a mirror up for women to see their experiences through new eyes. Dating—especially when you’re no longer in your twenties—is hard, and sometimes scary, and very often disappointing even when it’s hilarious. What I’d personally like to do is create a book where women can learn something about what their experiences mean to them—that’s what happens when a group of women sit down and share their stories over dinner or a drink. That’s the kind of experience we’re after with this anthology.
CDB: Would you please give us more details about submission guidelines?
EV: Basically we’re looking for ‘real life’ stories. Though we’re accepting fictional submissions, we’re really just looking for honest to goodness real-life dating adventures. Like the time that guy puked all over your shoes on the first date. Or the time you went on a date with a guy you’d met at a party only to realize you didn’t recognize him, because at the party he’d worn a wig, while the guy waiting for you at the coffee shop with that expectant look on his face is b.a.l.d. We’re trying to keep the concept, and our expectations, wide open, so that our submissions are as wide-ranging as possible.
The stories can be postcard fiction—think of telling us about a date you went on in a single paragraph. They can be longer, too—up to 12 pages double-spaced. Stephanie has also started taping stories in the Montreal region. She realized she had a ton of friends with stories, but none of them were writers or felt like they could get them down on paper, so she’s been taping the stories and transcribing them. The thing is, we’re not looking for polished gems—we’re after that unbelievable story that you can’t wait to tell your best girlfriends about. And we want to hear it the way you’d tell it to her.
FYI: You can find our revised deadline and Call For Submissions on our brand spanking new website: http://fromthedatingtrenches.com
CDB: Erin, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful opportunity with my readers. I wish you much success in your new career and your anthology.
EV: Thank you so much, Claudia!!!