Interview with Author Angie Vancise

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author Angie Vancise about her writing and her recently released book, Cry of An Osprey, a poignant, character-driven examination of the intricacies of love and relationships. (Read the review here.)

Winner of the Beverly Hills Book award for best cover in fiction and finalist in LGBTQ fiction.

Angie Vancise, is a visual artist and a graduate of University of Toronto’s creative writing certificate program.

At a young age she saw herself writing a book. It was a dream she kept hidden from everyone until after her beloved older brother passed, then her dad, then her mom, all in the space of 3 years. All through these tragedies over the past 6 years the only thing that kept her sane was writing, and from there the semi-autobiographical novel Cry of an Osprey was born. She also painted the book’s cover.

Angie grew up in a small former shipbuilding town two hours north of Toronto, Canada, on Georgian Bay. In the early 1800s, six generations ago, the first Vancises emigrated from Holland and began farming in the shadow of the Niagara Escarpment.

Angie lives there still, with her husband and daughter, five cats and two dogs. Animal Speaks, by Ted Andrews, rests next to her bed. Some of her brother’s ashes were released to fly free from Flowerpot Island, off the coast of Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, a place he had come to love.

She is now at work on two more books – one a mystery (which she has always seen herself writing) and the other a memoir.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Oh, what a good question. I would tell her not to be afraid. Follow your dream despite what your family might think. Take the courses for writing, write what’s in your heart, mind, and soul. My younger self was far too worried about what others would think of me. Who am I to think I could write a book? I came from a family of business-minded entrepreneurs. I seemed to be the only artsy fartsy in the family, so I thought for sure they’d all think I’d lost my mind if I told them I wanted to write a book. I’d hug her and tell her it’s going to all be okay. Write!!

Do you read your book reviews? Do they please you or annoy you? Do you think you can learn a lot from reading criticism about your work?

Generally, I look at all reviews and, if say, three reviews point out the same issue then it might need a second look and/or tweaking, but if it’s someone’s personal opinion of something and it only appears once, well then, I take it in but don’t usually take it to heart. These people are experts in this field, they have valuable insight to offer. Sometimes they can get it wrong but not too often.

I do believe reviews are something all authors should seek out. They not only reveal a great deal about your craft, but readers often turn to them to decide what to buy next. I will also look up reviews of books I’ve read to see what the readers liked and disliked about the book to determine what was most important to the readers. Believability is a huge one.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

In my opinion, characters. If a reader doesn’t connect with characters, they won’t care what happens to them no matter how good the plot is.

Would you rather read a book or watch television?

No contest! Read a book! In fact, I often hear people say, I don’t like to read but I’d love to write a book. I believe that if you want to write then you need to read. And read. And read.

What inspired the premise of your book?

Dan, my brother. His death brought the burning to write a book back to the surface of my mind. He lived his life to the fullest. He’d push me to go outside of my comfort zone. I needed to honour he and myself and do what was so strongly in my heart. Why was I not writing and living my dream? His death catapulted me forward. I knew that I needed to write. Cry Of An Osprey had to be first. I needed to write about Dan and what happened to him.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

I often think about the character, how they act, how they speak, what their habits are and what they look like and then go to the computer and type in boy names or girl names. When one jumps out, I jot it down. Or sometimes, I’ll be out and hear a name and think, wow that would be a great character name. I always carry a notebook around with me for those moments.

What life experiences have shaped your writing most?

By far all the losses that I’ve had. In 2012 my brother passed. My dad was very sick at the time and in 2014 he took his own life. During that period, my mom had a massive heart attack and declined over the year passing in 2015. Then lightening hit my home causing a large fire in 2016. I called it my grand finale. I was writing, Cry of an Osprey at the time. It was very healing in a way. It made me aware that we should always follow our dreams no matter what fear we have inside.

How did you decide on this title?

I am a huge fan of the Aboriginal way of life. They believe that animals come into our path to give us messages and that man has forgotten this but the animals have not. So I knew I wanted to incorporate this in some way and when I saw the meaning of the Osprey, I knew it had to be in the title and an important part of the book. Each year that I’ve gone on holiday to Mexico, since I incorporated it into the story, an Osprey flies over me either while playing volleyball or just swimming on the beach. I like to think it’s Dan sending one to say, thanks and I’m always with you.

What’s next for you?

Great question. Atmosphere Press just released my first mystery called, Hidden In The Shadows. That is the genre that I always saw myself writing. I am currently working on the 2nd of four in that sequence. Behind The Shadows, Beyond The Shadows and Out Of The Shadows, however, Behind The Shadows, has taken a bit of a back seat because of a character named Roman consistently tapping me on my shoulder to first write, Memoirs From A Killer. He has me very busy shaping out quite a story!


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