V.R. Craft always heard you should write about what you know, so she decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on her previous experience working in retail and her subsequent desire to get away from planet Earth. She has also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where she found even more material for Stupid Humans. Now self-employed, she enjoys the contact sport of shopping at clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sale signs, and wasting time on social media, where she finds inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.
- What the path to publication for Stupid Humans?
I started writing Stupid Humans in November of 2012. I had this crazy idea it was going to be my Nanowrimo novel, and it was…sort of. I mean, I started writing it in November of 2012, and I finished writing it in November…of 2014. (Hey, they never said it had to be November of the same year.)
In between the two Novembers, I worked on it off and on. I’d write a chapter or two, forget about it for two months, then write another chapter or two. In November of 2014, the store I worked for closed, and I decided that if I didn’t finish it while I was unemployed and had the time, I probably never would, so I was determined to finish it. As luck would have it, I made the mistake of going on a trip to see relatives with my parents, so I was trapped in a car with them. When we talk, we tend to argue, and it’s a long drive back from Chicago, so I put on my headset, turned on some music to drown them out, and just wrote all day. I finished the first draft in a really crummy hotel room in Rolla, Missouri. (Seriously, don’t stay in a hotel room in that city. There was this rust-colored stain in the bathtub that made me think someone had been murdered in it and lay there for a week before housekeeping found them, and then I started thinking about other book ideas…then I remembered I just finished the last one, and that stopped my imagination from running away with me.)
I had always thought I would publish Stupid Humans on Amazon. I think that was a better idea when I started writing it than it was by the time I finished. The Amazon market was a lot less crowded with self-published books in 2012 than it was two years later, let alone now. I also realized I wasn’t visually creative enough to design my own cover, and I didn’t have the patience for formatting.
So I ended up talking with an indie publisher, Oghma Creative Media. At first I was reluctant to give up on self-publishing, because I really hated the idea of a publisher taking my book and turning it into something unrecognizable. That was probably my biggest concern. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case at all. My editor did a great job of editing the book without turning it into something completely different, and the creative team designed a great cover. It was important to me to make my own decisions about my book, and I have, but it’s been nice to have such a supportive team helping me.
- What tags does Stupid Humans have for the search engines?
I use “spaceship” and “planet Earth” in my social media descriptions as much as I can.
- Of the various jobs you’ve held, which provided the best inspiration for Stupid Humans?
Definitely retail. If you want to know about stupid humans, get a job working in retail. It was after a long, hard day of dealing with dumb people, otherwise known as customers, that I had the idea for the setting of Stupid Humans. I’d had this one customer that day who didn’t believe me that a six-pack of boxes had six boxes in it. That got me thinking about how I wanted to take all the idiots and move them to another planet somewhere that I’d never have to deal with them.
Then I realized that logistically it would make more sense to leave the idiots here, because there are so many more of them. It would be easier to just move the halfway intelligent humans to another planet, and let the idiots have Earth. Then I thought, that would make a great world for a story, and that was how I came up with the concept of the world.
- How extensive is your world-building?
I’m a pantser, so I make everything up as I go. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time specifically thinking about “How am I going to build a world?” That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. I tend to build the world to suit the story. What do I need in this world for the plot of my story to work? The wormhole was very important plot-wise. Certain technological advances—or the lack of them—were also important.
I did spend a lot of time thinking about what a society without dumb people would be like. Would we need warning labels telling people coffee is hot? Probably not. Would there be downsides? Would there be things they couldn’t deal with because they never had to?
- Which is more fun to write? Novels or short stories?
Probably short stories, because they’re shorter. Novels take a long time.
- What’s next on your writing agenda?
I have written several short stories, and I’m working on a couple novel-length projects. I also have a blog, vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com. I’m doing a thing right now where people can message me about an annoying person they know who they think should be abducted by aliens. Then I write a piece of flash fiction in which this person (whose name has been changed) gets abducted by aliens. I got the idea because I’m always writing stories where annoying people I know get abducted by aliens.
- What’s the biggest item on your author bucket list?
I have no idea. Selling a lot of books?
- Who are your favorite authors?
I read a lot of different authors in different genres. I like Stephen King, John Grisham, Ben Boa, Jack McDevitt.
- What is your ideal writing environment?
A nice beach on my own private island somewhere, with staff who take care of my house, I mean mansion, so I never have to stop to do laundry dishes or vacuum or anything. Not that I vacuum now. Well, maybe once a year when the dog hair gets so thick the black carpet in my room starts to look gray.
- What is your favorite electronic writing tool?
Open Office. I’m way too cheap to pay for MS Word.
- What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
My writing groups, which are great for getting feedback on my writing. I go to a couple local groups, and I’m also in an online group that does online write-ins.
- If you could go on a game show or reality TV show to promote your stories, which would you choose?
You know, I’ve noticed there’s no Writer Idol show. Why is that? Probably because watching someone type isn’t exciting or likely to result in two contestants punching each other out.
I guess I could go on America’s Got Talent and do a stand-up routine where I ask the audience to name people who should be abducted by aliens.
- Who shot first? Han or Greedo?
Han. Everyone knows it’s Han.