Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles of local authors who will be appearing at the Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend.
By Janet Metzger
Valerie Connors is a two-career author with a commitment to the growth of other writers as a longtime officer in the Atlanta Writers Club. She has a very demanding day job as a CFO in an engineering firm, and she cherishes her writing days.
What inspires you?
Everything! But I’m probably most inspired by photographs, places and music. I’m also inspired by feelings that are evoked when I’m listening to audiobooks, which is the way I have to do almost all my ‘reading’ while I commute to and from work.
Does your Muse understand this demanding life?
When I was writing ‘Shadow of a Smile,’ I had an image appear in my mind: a woman in a bathtub in a candlelit bathroom, listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ She was alone in the house, and she had a gun on the closed toilet seat lid. I couldn’t allow myself to stray too far from the book I was working on, so I wrote the first chapter of ‘A Better Truth,’ then got back to work on finishing ‘Shadow of a Smile.’
This tension between working a full time job and writing a book a year also provides Connors with lots of inspiration.
Back in 2013 and 2014, when I was the President of the Atlanta Writers Club, I used to wonder how many more things I could put on my plate before I just lost it. How busy is too busy?”
I always think I’m the busiest person in the world, until I talk to other people. I have friends who do everything I do, plus they have children. Most of us are able to manage it without falling apart. [The protagonist] Willow, on the other hand, experiences her stress in a whole different way. She has vivid nightmares, and sometimes she can’t tell the difference between reality and hallucination, or nightmare and memory. Willow doesn’t really have any more on her plate than the rest of us do, but because of her childhood trauma, she’s not coping with it very well.
How do you see the future of your writing?
I was in my 50s when I began writing. C.S. Lewis said: ‘It’s never too late to set another goal, or dream a new dream.’ I like to think I could have another thirty years of writing, during which I could amass quite a significant body of work. I’d like to publish at least one book a year for the rest of my life. I will probably write more historical fiction. I’d also like to try writing a detective series. I definitely want to write another thriller. My stories will probably all include a character that’s a bully, because I don’t like bullies, and I enjoy giving them a hard time. But what I’d really love to do is write the kind of stories that inspire people to be better human beings. When readers say, ‘I thought I was the only one who felt that way,’ I feel like I’ve touched someone with my work, and maybe made their journey the tiniest bit easier.”
Valerie Connors appears at the Decatur Book Festival Saturday, Sept. 3, 11:15 a.m. to noon at Decatur City Hall. Other AWC writers Ilene Benator, Buzz Bernard and Julia McDermott will join her.
Janet Metzger is an audiobook narrator and teaches courtroom persuasion at Emory Law School.