I love getting to know authors from all walks of life. When I first met Vanda, I liked her immediately. She’s honest, outgoing, and a wonderful sense of humor. Her writing can be described as riveting. I asked her it down with me for an interview and she agreed. Take it away, Vanda:
I’d like to begin this interview by introducing myself. My name is Vanda. That’s it. One name: Vanda.
Identifying myself with only one name has caused me many problems over the years. Some get upset and insist I must produce a last name. Many of those upset people are behind computer forms expecting me to fill out the out form so they will know who I am. Because of the computer’s inflexibility I have had to make up last names. One of my computer names is Neveruseit. (If you don’t immediately get it say ir out loud.) The computer readily accepts this as my bonafide last name. This is my way of rebelling against the sameness we are all expected to follow. It’s taken quite a while for me to be able to only use one name on the cover of my books. Book distributors don’t like one name writers. I have found a few that accept it, but someday I will have to deal with the ones who don’t. Now all the covers of my published books say, “Vanda,” and that is all. Inside the book, though, you might find a last name listed. This is left over from the distributors who insisted I have a last name. One that I use inside my books is Writer. No one has ever questioned that this is my true last name. But really?
Once when I was writing play, I wrote to a director to consider my work. He wrote back and said he would never work with a playwright that had no last name. I wanted to write back and tell him that I would not work with someone so rigid, however, I didn’t. He is his own worst punishment.
Wikipedia tells me I am a mononymous person. That is a person who is known and addressed by a single name.
Vanda is my name. I don’t need another. Neither do Cher, Madonna, Saki, Galileo, Rembrandt, Moliere, Voltaire, Madonna, Mo’Nigue, Beyoncé, Adele and hundreds more.
Once Edward Albee addressed me with a very positive smile on his face, “the writer with one name.” That’s endorsement enough for me.
Have you always liked to write?
Always. I began officially working on a novel when I was fourteen. It was 78 typewritten pages. I worked on it all the time. When I couldn’t actually put words down on paper because I was in a place where I couldn’t do that, like gym class, I would write it in my head and put it on paper after school. I had an especially inspiring English teacher at the time. When I finished typing the novel, I showed it to him. He actually read it. Then we had weekly meetings in which he would come into school early to discuss my novel. I don’t remember how long this lasted, but I do remember when our sessions stopped. His wife had a baby and he needed to stay home and help her take care of it. I’d never been so mad at a baby in my life.
I consider the above to be the beginning of my writing, but when I look back, I become aware that it really began when I was six. I started putting together puppet shows and performing them for my first-grade class.
Are you a plotter or pantzer?
I’m definitely a pantzer. I love it when my characters move the story in a direction I never expected. I like following my character’s lead, rather than pushing them around. Lately, though, I’ve begun to learn some of the skills of the plotter. The books in my series require a lot of research and therefore a long time to write. I’ve decided that I need to put out a few books in between the series books. These other books have to have a simpler arc with little or no research. Doing some modified outlining helps when doing this type of book.
How many books have you written?
I’ve completed five books in my Juliana Series. This series is a historical romance that follows a group LGBT friends through the decades of LGBT history. The first book is Juliana and it begins in 1941 when Alice, who prefers to be called Al, arrives in New York City with her childhood friends to go on the Broadway stage. She meets Juliana, a gorgeous, always-on-the-brink of stardom nightclub singer and her life is changed forever.
Book 2 (Olympus Night on the Square) takes place in the forties and mostly on Times Square. In this book Al becomes one of the first female nightclub managers. Book 3 (Paris, Adrift) takes place in Paris where Al and Juliana experience a little more freedom for their relationship than they had in the U.S. There are five completed books in the series so far, but there will be more. Book 5 (Do You Know Dorothy?) ends in 1957 so there are quite a few more years to go to give a complete view of LGBT history
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a contemporary romance with the tentative title of Who Stole My Hula Hoop? It is an age gap cross-cultural story. I’m hoping to launch it in July.
Thank you, Vanda, for sharing a bit of yourself and your book series.
Readers, scroll down to read more from Vanda’s recent release…
Title Do You Know Dorothy?: Book 5
Genre LGBT Historical Fiction
Publisher Sans Merci
Can a group of aging drag queens save a nightclub from going under?
It's 1956 and television is stealing Alice's nightclub audience. Known as Al to everyone in the club scene, she has to try to prevent the mob from taking over her crippled club and turning it into a strip joint.
Her one solace: Juliana, the woman who haunts her memories and fuels her dreams of a brighter future. But the last time Al saw her was the day Juliana's husband caught them in bed together.
On the brink of losing her love and her livelihood, Al makes a bold decision. She arranges an extravagant production starring aging female impersonators, even though funding the show means going into debt.
Will the show succeed in saving her club and helping her find her way back to Juliana? Or will Al's big risk result in losing everything? DO YOU KNOW DOROTHY? is the fifth book in the Juliana series of historical LGBT fiction, but you can also enjoy it as a standalone novel.
Max sat up straight on the couch as I entered the living room. “My god, what happened to you?”
“Don’t you like it?” I adjusted my blue and white striped skinny tie, shook my shoulders so my blue suit jacket and held out one foot to show off the black cowboy boots. I pulled the jacket open and grabbed the belt on my black jeans. “And look!” I stuck my hips out. “A fly!”
“Cover yourself!” He shielded his eyes with his hand. “You didn’t wear that in public!”
“Yeah! Well, I took a cab home.”
“You could’ve been killed walking around with that on your head. What is it? Halloween?”
“I’m a butch!” I turned my back to him. “See? This is a DA. That means duck’s ass for you old fogies.”
“Does it come off? We can’t have you at the club looking like that.”
“I can set it with those darn curlers and get it back to my boring page boy.”
“I better not see you at the club wearing anything remotely similar.”
“Of course not, but on my off hours…”
“You can’t take chances like you did tonight.”
“Getting arrested is the best that could happen to you.”
“Where’d you get them?”
“I went shopping.”
“What store would sell you clothes like that? They’re for men.”
“I went as a man.”
“I was so scared they’d figure it out and show me the door.” I sat on the coffee table.
“Sit on the couch like a lady.”
I plopped onto the couch without worrying about which way my legs went. “I walked right into Macy’s and…’
“Macy’s! Oh, my god.”
“My friends, Freddie-Faye and Lady Day taught me.
“Who’s Lady Day?”
“A female impersonator I know.”
“You should not be with someone like that. Someone who doesn’t even know what their sex is. She’s, he’s mentally disturbed.”
“She is not. She’s real nice. She has a nephew who sometimes stays over. She leant me his dungarees. Then she gave me this hair style. I went to the men’s department with my friend. I bought my own Men’s clothes. I was scared the salesman would figure it out, but he just called me ‘sir’ and showed me things and let me go into the fitting room.
“Watch me comb it.” I jumped up. “Butches have to comb their hair different from everybody else.” I reached into my back pocket and slid out my new comb. I jutted my chin out and slapped the comb against the palm of my hand. “You’re sposed to do that first.”
“Why?” Max asked.
He wrapped his hands around his knees. “Listening.”
“Watch. You hafta hold your comb between your first two fingers like this. Then you flick your first three fingers through the front of your hair and, uh…” I stared at my two fingers holding the comb and the one extra finger sticking out by itself.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m sposed to make a curl come over my forehead. It seems it’d be easier to do with just my fingers, but then what do I do with the comb? Oh, well, there’s a whole ritual to combing your hair when you’re a butch. Like there’s the show combing. Stop grinning like you’re not taking me serious. Butch’s comb their hair in public to defy the rules that get thrown at women. Butches are independent. When they look in a mirror…” I stepped over Max’s white rug and saw myself in the mirror. “They tilt their heads like this and then to the other side like this. That’s to show they know they look good, and everybody wants them. I swear I’m gonna be one, Max!” I grandly threw my comb on the rug.
“Get that comb off my clean white rug!
I picked it up.