1 Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Victoria Lorrekovich-Miller and I love stuff that begins with W: Words, Writing, Wine, Women activists, Wagging tails and my World of family and friends. I am an APA style-certified editor and the founder of http://www.LocalEditors.com, which helps high schoolers craft their college application essays and graduate students polish and publish their theses and dissertations. My published pieces have appeared in print and online in The Bark,Dog and Kennel, Animal Wellness Magazine, WOW-womenonwriting.com, YourTeen.com, Diablo Magazine, Thought Catalog, Cricket Magazine, and more.
I am the guardian of a menagerie of critters—two dogs, two cats, a bearded dragon, and of course, a few exotic praying mantises. When I’m not writing, editing, or sheltering-in-place, I work as a wine educator in a Livermore Valley winery on the weekends. I write for both kids and adults and am currently working on a novel about a female-centric winery. I live with my incredibly fun and supportive husband, Martin, and we are parents to four talented children: Ari, Justin, Logan, & Kaitlin, who are all making the world a kinder and more interesting place to live. Visit me: www.VictoriaLorrekovich-Miller.com and check out my Instagram for my new children’s book, If a Mantis Finds a Fly in the Sky: mantis_picturebook
2 What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive. My husband is my tech support, social media director and all-around best hype man. My two sons also help me with tech support and are accomplished chefs so when I’m writing on a deadline, that’s a huge help—and a delicious one. My older daughter, who actually works as a social media director, has given me all sorts of great advice. She also reads all of my work and offers gentle critiques of my writing. When my children’s book was officially launched, she surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. My younger daughter, age 14, is a great proofreader!
3 Do you have a mantis as a pet?
Yes, I do. My husband has always raised praying mantises for pest control because they eat aphids, beetles, crickets, termites, as well as spiders (which were biting our kids). Then we began raising exotic mantises as pets. They have included Giant African Mantises, which is what Jade was, Ghost mantises, Orchid mantises—which are gorgeous, Devil Flower Mantises, African Twig Mantises, and others. Our kids loved watching the mantises hatch and evolve into little assassins. Eventually our kids outgrew their “insect phase,” but my husband and I just got more into it!
4 Which format do you prefer the most – audio books/paperback/hardcover/kindle and why?
This is a tricky question because I like different formats for different reasons. For long car rides, nothing beats an audio book; the Kindle is convenient for vacations so I don’t have to lug around several books, but my favorite thing to buy is first edition hardcovers. I love the way they feel in my hands—the durability and the quality. Plus, they also work as artwork on my bookshelves. My dream is to have an entire room filled with books from floor to ceiling.
5 What was your dream job when you were younger?
I used to imagine myself in all sorts of jobs: teacher, journalist, author, artist, geologist, philatelist (I’m not sure how I was going to make a living collecting stamps), psychologist, and college professor. I would also have an alter ego in the form of Wonder Woman or the Bionic Woman.
6 What is the inspiration behind your book – “If a Mantis Finds a Fly in the Sky”?
My favorite pet mantis was a Giant African Mantis named Jade who lived for an entire year. I was transfixed by her and was also thankful that she was only four inches long. She was this intrepid insect that was one part patience and one part daredevilry! When she died, I couldn’t believe how sad I was—crazy!! I knew she would need to have a story to memorialize her.
I decided to use a simple couplet rhyming scheme so that preschoolers could begin to develop phonological awareness as they’re building a foundation for literacy. I have a surprise ending that is also a gentle reminder about the cycle of life (hopefully it makes kids laugh). The last page offers 10 fun facts about praying mantises.
7 Can you share something your readers don’t know about you?
I have degrees or certifications in: Fashion Design, Human Development, Research Methodology, Dog Training, and Creative Writing. I’ve worked as an assistant fashion designer at Fritzi California, a graduate researcher in an aging and cognition lab at UC Davis, an adoption manager for Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, a foster dog coordinator at Maddie’s Fund, and the founder of www.LocalEditors.com. Throughout my journey, the one thing I always tell young people who think that having the right major and getting into the right college are the most important things in determining their later success is this: “Your path will twist and turn in ways you can’t possible fathom from where you are at this point in your life. Nearly ¾ of college graduates actually end up working in fields that are not related to their majors.” I tell girls that they, in fact, can “have it all,” just not all at once.
8 What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
One of my favorite quotes is by author, Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” I also love Anne Lamott’s notion of “shitty first drafts.” One can’t get to a polished draft without starting with a poorly written first draft. Also, as writers, we should be first and foremost students, always writing, always reading, always learning. When we are lucky enough to receive feedback on our writing from a trusted source, learn from it and revise, revise, revise.
9 Why and where do you write?
I have carved out of a section of our master bedroom as my office—it’s the only place in the house that is quiet. (Once one of my sons moves out, I will turn his bedroom into my writing lair. Shhh). My husband made a sign for our bedroom door that says: “Mom is working. Do not disturb unless the house is on fire.”
10 In life, what is the source of your motivation to keep going?
Writing has always been cathartic for me, but to be successful, it has to be more than just therapy. I love creating stories that will make people laugh but also leave them with something of import. I’ve got a rough outline now for a middle grade novel and the one thing I knew I wanted to have was a diverse cast of characters—including a trans girl.
My biggest motivation is my desire to learn and to be surprised by what I unearth. An example is when I was writing my children’s book about my mantis, Jade, I was doing research about praying mantises so I could include 10 fun facts at the end of my book. One thing I learned (which isn’t in the book) is that the late RBG (who I was—and still am—obsessed with) has a praying mantis named after her: llomantisginsburgae. Apparently only male genitalia had been used for insect species classification until researchers Sydney Brannoch and Gavin Svenson were able to correct a mistake. They found that two genera that had been lumped together were actually separate species, based on the female characteristics as well as other traits. This certainly underscores the need for entomologists to equally consider both sexes of praying mantises. I knew female praying mantises were bad asses but I had no idea that my favorite feminist icon had one named after her!
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