Episode 2 – Campfire Tales with Australian Romance Author, Victoria Black
If you’re into feisty heroines and handsome heroes then this is a podcast for you. Victoria is not only living the travelling dream with her own handsome hero, she is generous in her advice to aspiring writers following along behind. And what a setting she has to weave her tales. Join Victoria as she travels across the top end of Australia, through the remote Kimberley region and beyond, and shares her experiences with the rest of us. Every writer needs great settings and there’s nothing more inspiring than the Australian outback. Welcome to one writer’s travels as she pens stories for her anthology, Campfire Tales. But if you like to know what goes on behind closed doors then Victoria is not the kiss-and-tell type. For that, you have to buy her books.
Episode 2: Victoria Black
Melinda: This is a podcast about telling stories and the journeys we take on the way to making out stories. It's about beginnings, middles, and endings and where each of us is on in our writing journey. My guest today is Victoria Black, she has the wonderful job about writing about lusty heroes and their feisty heroines. I've been having a fussic [00:00:24] [?] around on your Facebook page Victoria and having a lovely time. I can't wait to read some of your stuff. But to start,
like any good story we always start with our orientation. We start with where we're at the moment, and I was wondering if you'd like to share with us your current journey.
Victoria Black: Well hi Melinda. My current journey is really very much tied up with what I'm doing at the moment which is being a writer on the road. So whenever we're driving along, for a long, long trip, I'll get
my notepad and pen out, because I'm a notepad and pen gal, I don't type the first draft on a keyboard. I write my story and it's all based on everything I'm experiencing on the road. So I'm writing a series of little short stories called Campfire Tales and they're all based on this my lovely, lovely couple Ellie and Michael who are a newly-wed couple and just their
experiences on their way to Darwin. I went to Nitbit [00:01:33] [?], that's where they're going.
Melinda: Yeah, just for a bit of background for our listeners, Victoria started her journey in Brisbane with her husband and I don't even know your husband's name Victoria.
Victoria Black: Darrel.
Melinda: Darrel, so Victoria and Darrel are traveling in their caravan. I was supposed to catch up with them in Long Reach and because I'm new at this, so I had
technical troubles so we decided we'd catch up as Victoria and Darrel headed to Darwin. But they've moved so very, very quickly that they're now in Western Australia over at Rainbow Beach which I'm guessing is in the Northwest somewhere, south of Broom maybe?
Victoria Black: Yeah, 80 mile beach it is and yes it is, it's just south of Broom.
Melinda: Which is a magic part of the world. But, right from Long Reach through to Mount Isa and the Queensland
northern territory boarder, then through up to Darwin, through Catherine Gorge, and back down down across Kununurra all the way through the, oh what are the called, the Gibb River Road.
Victoria Black: I haven't done that. We went to the Bungle Bungle [00:02:51] [?] so on a helicopter ride and then up to, was it Wyndham and
Derby and Broome. So we're now in Pilbara officially now.
Melinda: For those of us who don't know Australia really that well, Broome is famous and infamous for it's camel rides along the beach. It's famous for it's pearl divers and it's famous for it's magic, magic sunsets. Victoria being a romance writer obviously has a wealth of stories to draw on for her Campfire Tales
and I'm just wondering Victoria, and this is something that will come up time and time again as I chat to writers as they make their way around our beautiful country. The time to write, as you said you write while you're in the car, you write with a pen and paper, but what about the distractions of what's out there to see and do?
Victoria Black: Well once we get to a place my god I find it so difficult because there's so much to do and see.
It almost has to be a long, long trip with lots of boring bush in-between. If it's a fairly short trip, I just can't do it. I'm not producing huge amounts of writing at the moment. Then, like today we're at a place where it would have been perfect to sit down and actually do my second draft on the computer and it was a case of oh let's
let's go for a drive along the beach, oh okay. So there are a lot of distractions.
Melinda: I think that's one of the biggest problems that we face as travelers and writers at the same time is prioritizing what's important and when you're on a road trip like Victoria and Darrel are, you only have so much time that you want to dedicate to the work part of your trip because I'm guessing
you're taking lots of notes and photos and that you'll have all that when you go back home.
Victoria Black: Yes, exactly, yes. I do a daily diary so there's everything in there that I'll be able to draw on and as you said photographs, yes, yup.
Melinda: That's, I think that's one of the biggest benefits that we have of being mobile is the inspiration is around us everywhere we go and we can find inspiration every time
we step outside our rigs. One of the downsides that both you and I have noticed is technology and being able to access the internet. How have you found that as you've traveled?
Victoria Black: It's not too bad in Western Australia. Northern territory wasn't good. Parts of Queensland weren't good. Yeah, it's up and down.
Melinda: That's not so much of problem when we are writing with our pen and paper
and even when we're working on our computers. But so much of our social interaction now is done via Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and keeping up with our readers who love to stay in touch and love to see our photographs, I've thoroughly enjoyed your photos Victoria as you've traveled across and some of the places have made me quite homesick. What's your solution to that social media, keeping in touch with your fans dilemma?
Victoria Black: There are, so for me what all I'm interesting in really is Facebook. I tried Twitter, don't like it, I'm not a huge blogger. What I really like is Facebook, I can talk to people, they're real conversations, it's not just promote, promote. So yes, the internet isn't that bad in this country, just whenever I can
I get on and chat away. So it's all I can do.
Melinda: For those of us who are going to travel on the road and stay on the road, there is a solution coming along. It's going to cost us about $800 and it's called mobile go and it's something that we fit to our rigs and we will have internet access wherever we are. Apparently that's not too far away, so I'll keep you informed on that one because as I said
I'm doing a trip across the Nellarbor at WA at Christmas and I certainly want to be able to tell everybody about what I'm doing all the way across. What I'd like to do Victoria is take you back, because like we all have orientation, we all have a beginning to our stories. Now your Facebook started in 2010, is that when you started writing?
Victoria Black: Yeah, that'd be about then, yes, yes.
Melinda: Okay and you've been quite productive since then.
Victoria Black: Yes. Started writing mainly fairly sexy things and just of late I've started doing short stories, that's probably mainly where I want to go, short, sweet, kind of sexy stories. Not overly erotic stories. Yes, I've self-published quite a few.
Victoria Black: I should say too that at the moment I'm published as V.K. Black. I am thinking of
changing back to Victoria Black because I talk so much on Facebook as Victoria Black. But at the moment I'm published as V.K. Black.
Melinda: Okay. I found you on Facebook as Victoria Black's Sexy Stories. I found some books, one's called Heavenly Revenge, which is your newest novella. The one before that was Lies and Seductions about a World War II Captain Adrian Carruthers and his
maybe spy, maybe not heroine.
Victoria Black: That's right.
Melinda: But my question, it has to be because I started my writing career as writing romance novels and I got with Mills and Burns I got as far as almost before I went onto more academic serious writing and never made a cent since. But I'm curious because when it came to the bedroom scenes, we're talking twenty years ago here
and we used to shut the door. But I notice on your page it says you leave the door wide open. Where those scenes and from memory, most love scenes have to go for five to ten pages, where they fun to write?
Victoria Black: They were, yes, they were kind of fun to write, yeah.
Melinda: I hope Darrel's not listening in the background here. But, talk us through,
not a scene, but talk us through how you set the scene for the actual, I'm assuming it's explicit, how you would set that up in a romantic kind of way. Because there's a huge difference between erotica, romance and just plain sex. I know when I was writing romances there were people like Valeria Palve out there giving us wonderful insights
into the less you say quite often is better. But nowadays it seems to be out there.
Victoria Black: Yeah. I'm not writing as much erotic romance as I was. I'm fairly interested now in sweet, kind of sexy romance. The Heavenly Revenge was published by Secret Cravings and they've gone out of business as so many are doing so I've got to
publish that under my own steam again. But going back to your question how I set up the scenes. Well, Heavenly Revenge was the man and it was a separate, it was another world, it was science fiction/fantasy story. He was convinced that the woman he'd stumbled across was a spy. So you have to have a whole sexy set up
if you're going to write an erotic romance and so there was, he insisted that she come with him to be his partner in every way and then he gradually fell in love. So you, every scene, you're developing really, I was developing the romance more than the sex. Started out super sexy and then as they got to know each other, he got to know her, it became more and more romantic.
Melinda: I have a friend who writes
gay erotica. She makes a very good living out of doing that and she's paid off her mortgage and has retired to full time writing through writing gay erotica. My question to her was how do you do gay erotica? She says it's easy. Two couples are two couples however you go about it, or two people. Yeah. Okay.
Something interested me when you were talking there, you said your, one of your publishers had gone out of business as a lot of them are and that you're having to go back to doing your, doing things yourself. This podcast and I guess me, I'm firmly in the camp of indie publishing and my guru is Joanna Penn, who has the creative Penn website.
She is firm believer in keeping your rights and exploiting them to your own benefit. Are you looking forward to being an indie publisher and being in control of your career from here on in?
Victoria Black: Oh god, I love it. Love it! I've already self-published a couple of anthologies of short stories and it is really so freeing. You can say right I want to put this up on Amazon for free for a few days
just and promote that. You can, you really can do whatever you want and it is wonderful. It's so freeing and yes that's really the way I want to go.
Melinda: Yeah, Hugh Howey and the Data Guy released their latest figures recently, which you can find on my podcast website that say that nearly fifty percent of the e-book market now is indie published and it's growing more and more. Do you see that as a way
forward for a lot of us? Because I know what you're, or what I think you're heavily involved in the romance writers in Australia.
Victoria Black: Yes. It's amazing this publishing industry how fast things have changed. I think that's the way it's going to go but who knows. Maybe people will get sick of indie publishing and want to go back to official publishers. I
really don't know. It's in a very exciting time to a writer I think.
Melinda: Look, it is and do you think you'll be looking at publishing in the U.K. and America and exploiting some of those foreign rights that are so topical at the moment?
Victoria Black: Well I guess when I publish with Amazon, people in America and so on and England can buy my books. So
that's about all I can do. With Facebook, a lot of the people I know on Facebook are from overseas so they could buy my books if they wanted to. That's about all.
Melinda: Do you advertise on Facebook?
Victoria Black: I have done and when I get my next book up I'll do so again.
Melinda: Yeah, I've just signed up for Mark Dawson’s Facebook ads course and it's very, very popular and
there are a lot of people talking about it in the indie world. Apparently Facebook advertising is the way to go. But there are ways of going about it like everything I'm discovering in this indie publishing world, that is a huge learning curve, right from learning how to turn on microphones for podcasting to learning how to create my own audiobooks now to learning how to advertise them. How much time do you put into the marketing and business side of your work?
Victoria Black: Initially, I put a lot of time into it and it drove me up the wall. So at the moment my feelings are I'm just going to go purely with Facebook because that's what I like. I'm not really going to do too much else because there's so much you can do, there really is. You can do the whole blogging thing until you're blue in the face, and Twitter, there's so many avenues in Twitter you can do, and I did them all and
it just drove me nuts so I'm just going to go with Facebook for now on. That's what I like, not everyone does, that's what I like.
Melinda: Yeah, and I think too Victoria we can very easily get lost as indies in the noise of publishing and forget that we're writers first and that is what I like so very much about living in a van and traveling because we can block ourselves off from the noise and actually get some good writing done,
should we choose to do so.
Victoria Black: That's very true, yes I agree very much with that, yeah.
Melinda: Okay. Here's a toughie for you and it's going Victoria's drinking a glass of wine as we speak. I'm sitting there looking quite envious, I've got my last day at school tomorrow Victoria, but I'd love a glass of wine, but maybe tomorrow night I'll join you. But that's what you do in the caravanning world, I'll tell you now that happy hour is tradition and it's always five o'clock
somewhere. So whether it be 11 o'clock in the morning or five o'clock at night and you're sitting on Cable Beach over at Broome, there's always an excuse for a glass of wine. Again, I think we earn it as writers. I think we work very, very hard. We concentrate very, very hard and we give up a lot of site seeing to get those words on paper. So we deserve our rewards. How many campfire stories do you think you'll have in your,
I'm assuming you're putting them together for an anthology.
Victoria Black: It's for an anthology and because I'm going to be gearing it towards the 99 cent market I'd say it's going to be about to twelve thousand word anthology and some stories are really, really short and some are, there's one that's three thousand words, there'll be another one about that, two more rather, that and another little short linking stories as well.
Melinda: You know there's a lot of murder and mayhem out there in the outback. You know that stretch from Darwin down to Alice Springs is notorious for dastardly deeds, not romance.
Victoria Black: You reckon that's a possible plot there, okay, okay.
Melinda: Well, I'm not convinced that the thriller writers make more money than we do because they say that romance writing is where all the money is
but I quite often see these mystery writers and thriller writers are right up there on the top of the best selling list. So one or the other, I hope the romance continues to dominate and win out because that's where I'm firmly placed, but it must be tempting at times to throw in some baddies.
Victoria Black: Well I guess one of the stories in my Campfire Tales there is a baddie, but as I say, every single thing in that Campfire Tales has actually either happened to me
or I've been speaking to people at caravan parks and they've told me about something and then it's made it into a Campfire Tale.
Melinda: Yeah, we have a secret weapon when we travel Victoria where it's called the laundry mafia. How many stories have you had delivered to you from the laundry?
Victoria Black: Yes, or just generally around the campfire or around the
yeah, there's usually a group and you get talking and they'll say so-and-so, this happened and they met something and yes, oh good, good, I'll use that.
Melinda: Eventually people get suspicious of you because they hear that you're a writer and they think what's she taking away from this and what's she going to write down, which is actually good fun because it makes them a little bit more suspicious of you and they see you going and they go oh what she's going to do to me
this time. I say oh nothing. Do you find that people are curious about what you do?
Victoria Black: I've been fairly reticent so far. I haven't told too many people that I'm a writer. I suppose I should, it sort of just hasn't come up in conversation. No, I know I've mentioned to a couple of friends, some of things you've told me and some of the things you've done they've made it into stories. They're oh my god.
Melinda: Well I've plastered my books all over my caravan so that when I do travel, people actually come up to me and start the conversation. Is that something that you may consider in the future?
Victoria Black: I could I suppose, yeah, it's a good idea. Yeah, yeah.
Melinda: I'm interviewing a fellow called the Word Slinger in America and he
is a thriller writer and he about to move into his RV full time. He interviewed a woman and she's traveling around America in their bus, or in their motor home and she's turned her whole bus into a walking billboard. I thought it doesn't matter what we do here in Australia, the Americans do it bigger and better all the time, don't they.
Victoria Black: Yeah, yeah.
Melinda: Alright, last question.
Balancing your writing with your marketing and your traveling. Do you think having traveled the breadth of Australia that you're finally getting into a routine? Or is every day a new day?
Victoria Black: I've afraid every day is a new day. I've not having a routine at all. When I was back home I did, but no. No, my routine is through out the window.
Melinda: Which again, is good for stimulating
the ideas keep coming and there'll be plenty of time to write them down. One last question, where are you off to next and what are your plans for the rest of your trip?
Victoria Black: We're off to, we're heading south from Broome, so on the WA Coast. So eventually down to Perth and Margret River and then over the Nullarbor and then, we might see, you never know. Then up to over to South Australia then up to
up through the center to Uluru and Alice Springs and then home.
Melinda: Yeah, now I hate to ask this question because Victoria travels far more quickly than I do. I can take six months to travel 1000k. For your huge trip Australia, consider that you've traveled half of it already, how much longer do you think you'll be on the road before you return home?
Victoria Black: You know what, I said, I've told people about November, but I've got a feeling it's going
to be a little bit earlier than that, October maybe.
Melinda: Yeah, you've got to slow down women! Once you get back you'll be back into the routine of washing and ironing and cooking and cleaning.
Victoria Black: So true, so true.
Melinda: Actually there's a story. I've just moved into a house for six months to set up my podcast and my business. In the caravan when I did the house work it was a dustpan and broom, a lick and a promise and outside to promise. Here in the house
it takes me an hour to vacuum. Are you enjoying being away from that need and desire to keep your house clean?
Victoria Black: You have no idea. I just love it and it's exactly what you're saying, I've swept, I sweep a few times and making the bed is like throwing the blankets up. That's kind of it really. It's wonderful.
Melinda: Now you think that would give you lots more time to write but
it doesn't. For some reason it doesn't. I had many a day where I'd get up at 5 am, because I'm a morning person and I'd sit there with my cup of Milo and you'd be listening to the birds and the kids would be asleep and the dogs would be snoring and I'd go, I could get a couple of hours writing in here or I could just sit and enjoy the morning.
Victoria Black: This is what happens, yup, you're right.
Melinda: Alright, look it's been fantastic speaking with you Victoria. I was going to talk to you further about your writing but I think we've covered everything. Do you have one
last tip to share with anyone who is starting out on the writing journey? Your one piece of advice to get people started on their own books?
Victoria Black: Maybe not that so much, but something that I really firmly believe is you write something, you edit it, you think it's perfect, put it aside, start something else and go back to that writing in
a couple of months and you'll be amazed at how much you can improve your story. You think it's perfect but it's actually not. So just give it a little bit of a break before going back to it. [00:25:43] unclear.
Melinda: I think that's an excellent piece of advice. Look, if you're around later on when you're down south and you've got some more stories to tell I'd love to have you back on the podcast before you finish your journey and then when you're back in Brisbane full time, maybe we could sit down together and have that glass of wine.
Victoria Black: I'd love that, love that.
Melinda: Okay, thank you Victoria. Thank you for your patience in getting this finally happening. Thank you to Darrel for being so patient and helping us with the tech bits and enjoy your trip down the coast.
Victoria Black: Okay, thank you very much Melinda.
Melinda: Thanks, Victoria. Talk again, bye.
Victoria Black: Bye-bye.