Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
For some reason, when I was 18, I got it into my head that I wanted to write a book. Being a child who was very focused on maths and science growing up, I wasn’t particularly good at writing. This meant I had to learn how to write while I was an adult. The process was a little shocking, actually. I couldn’t believe the things I didn’t know! Surely I went to school?
What inspired you to write your book?
Death, sadly. I cover this a lot at the end of the book. But after a good friend of mine died at 24, I felt lost. I have been an atheist since I was ten and was happy with the prospect of there being no afterlife. But when my friend died, I was faced with the reality that everything she was was no longer in the universe. That was hard. In a way, I wrote this book to rage against the unfairness of reality. The Archivist is my creation that will keep loved ones tethered to me. It’s a fantasy I can escape into. I hope others escape there too.
What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope they enjoy the story more than anything. I don’t like books that preach. However, I think it would be difficult for this book not to light some kind of spark inside the reader. What I hope I’ve portrayed is a flawed system, as opposed to something we can all agree is amazing like having superpowers. On the surface, archivists seem like a wonderful idea that we should want to have in our world, but scratch the surface and you learn they only bring suffering.
I suppose then, if I want the reader to take away anything from the story, it is that death is real and one day they will have to face it. First, the people they love, then their own death. They can believe whatever story they need to calm their feelings, but that doesn’t shield them from the truth. Enjoy your life, enjoy the lives of others. We’ve all only got the one. Don’t waste it.
What drew you into this particular genre?
What genre is this? I called it dark fantasy, buy I’m not sure that’s accurate. Death fantasy, perhaps? Either way, I don’t think I was drawn to the genre, I think the book led me there. I wrote the story I wanted to write then when I took a step back, I understood that it was the genre it became. I never set out to write a specific genre, just a story I wanted told.
If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I’d ask Sun-young what would make her happy. Sun has been in my head for a long time and so she feels like a part of me. I want her to be happy. Perhaps if I write a sequel, I could give her that happiness.
What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Goodreads has been the best, though you do have to prepare yourself for some brutal reviews. I may not have received any of those myself, but I’m still prepared. I check for them around every corner, waiting to jump out at me and criticize my hard work!
What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Work at your own pace and write your own story. Writing won’t make you rich. Make sure you have a job, or better yet, a career, and write for your own enjoyment. If you are self publishing, put your money where your mouth is. Don’t toss out some nonsense on KDP without going through several rounds of professional editing. Edit your story, pay for a professional cover and be exacting with what you want. When you get a great review, let that warm feeling of satisfaction run through you for day. When you get a bad review, tell yourself that no story is loved by everyone, buy yourself some chocolate and get on with your life.
What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I have another book in second draft that I hope to get out in two to three years. This one is middle grade science fiction about a girl who sells time and lives with a robot at the base of a space elevator. I’m really excited by it. Totally different to The Archivist, but then I like books to be different and for authors to explore the wider universe of stories.
About the Author
V S Nelson writes unconventional middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction and supernatural stories for readers who enjoy something a little strange.
Their first story was The Keeper of Portals, a middle grade fantasy/sci-fi with plenty of portal jumping and time slipping. Their second story, The Archivist, is a young adult dark fantasy all about death and what happens after.
V S Nelson loves big ideas, fantastical concepts and stories that unsettle the reader and set them thinking about something new.
V S Nelson lives in Winchester with their other half, two children and three cats. When not writing, they’re either working as a theoretical physicist or building Lego.