Q & A with Naomi Valkyrie

What prompted you to start writing?

When I had to retire from being a Massage Therapist after almost 20 years due to health concerns, I figured it was as good a time as any to start writing. I'd been contemplating it for several years but never had the time because I was busy running my practice.

Why did you choose to write Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy?

I didn't choose them. They chose me.

Why do you prefer PNR & UF?

Previously I said that the genres chose me. I don’t know that it was a conscious preference when I started writing. A lot of my work crosses genres. My House Valdis series is a strange mix of Urban Fantasy/SciFi, and PNR. My Life is Hell series is a blend of PNR and UF. Two of my novellas are PNR, but one of them ended up being a romantic comedy unexpectedly. I just write the story how it shows up. There’s not a lot of conscious choosing of genre. One thing I do love about the paranormal and urban fantasy genres is that I can be more creative. Magic lends itself to a lot more options than writing in a contemporary or mundane world.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I get my ideas from everyday life. Pretty much anything can spark an idea. I’ve gotten ideas from seeing a shoe on the side of the road, something in a store window, a vanity license plate, passing conversations I’ve heard walking through the store, my dreams, things my kids say. I feel like if I’m open to receiving ideas, they’ll show up everywhere.

What is your writing process?

I don’t have a structured writing process. Most often, I refer to my process as pure chaos. Being neurodivergent, most of the mainstream writing advice out there doesn’t work for me, so I’ve learned to patch together the things that work, and it’s ever-changing.

How would you describe your writing style?

I think the popular element in my writing, at least according to feedback I’ve gotten, is the fact that I’m not overly descriptive. Many people have commented that they enjoy that I leave them room to imagine the characters and the setting. They’ve indicated that too much description bogs down the story and they have a difficult time concentrating, and my books don’t give them the experience of having to wade through extraneous detail to get to the meat of the story. So, in short, ease of reading and easy to follow.

I’ve also had comments that my books are written in a way that introduces the paranormal elements but makes them flow seamlessly into a more realistic setting and characters so it is easy to resonate with. I’ve had several readers tell me that they never read PNR or UF before because it didn’t make a lot of sense to them, but they are enjoying my books because I’ve made it more relatable.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm definitely a pantser. Most of my writing is done intuitively with no plan. I get an idea, then I sit down and start writing. If my brain is giving me an info dump for the story, I'll jot the notes down on my whiteboard so I don't forget; but it's not anything formal.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on whether I am overwhelmed from sensory input or experiencing Autistic burnout. If I'm in a hyperfocused state, I can get a book written and published in three-four months. If I've slowed down due to burnout, it could be much longer.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

As a neurodivergent person, any part of the process can be my least favorite at any given time. A lot depends on how much sensory overwhelm I am experiencing in every day life. I’d have to say that one of the consistent least favorites is the marketing part. Trying to find new ways and effective ways to get my books in front of people is a challenge and drains my already limited energy significantly.

How does being Autistic and ADHD affect your writing process?

Being neurodivergent influences my entire process because my brain is wired differently. This is why a lot of the mainstream writing advice out there doesn't work for me. It was difficult for me to find my footing in the very beginning because I was hearing so much about what you should and shouldn't do, but none of it made sense. Once I finally let go of trying to do it "right," I discovered my own way of making things happen.

There are days I can't write at all because I am experiencing sensory overwhelm or Autistic burnout. Forcing myself to write during these times just creates demand avoidance that makes it take longer for me to pull myself back into a regulated state of being.

Because of my brainstyle, I can't plan and outline because it creates demand avoidance. I've also learned that I can't set firm deadlines for the same reason. If I just let things flow, I find I get more accomplished because my brain doesn't feel stifled or chained to an expectation.

On days when my focus is particularly bad, I allow myself to go with it. I don't try to fight against it or stop it. This usually looks like five minutes of writing and then some social media time or reading, then five minutes of writing... and so on. It might not get done as quickly, but it's still getting done.

A lot of my learning curve as an author has been learning to allow and accept rather than push and expect.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

-There is no one correct way to write. Whatever writing method/process you use that works for you is the right one.

-Don’t compare your writing progress with another author’s progress. They aren’t living your life and you aren’t living theirs. You don’t know what factors are allowing them the progress they’re making.

-There’s a ton of writing advice out there. Not all of it is going to apply to you or be good for you. Take what works, the rest is just noise. Just because someone has been writing longer doesn’t mean they’re always right.

-It’s okay if you don’t write every day. Some days are getting-words-down days and other days are thinking days. Both are progress.

-It doesn’t matter what you use to write – Word, Google Docs, a professional writing software, pencil and paper – as long as words get on the page, you’re doing fine!

-You’re never too old to start writing!

-Don’t let someone guilt you because you can’t afford something. If you can’t afford a professional cover designer to make custom covers, find a pre-made cover that will work. They’re usually less expensive. If you can’t afford a pre-made by someone else, design your own in Canva (check which photos are licensed for redistribution). If you can’t afford an editor yet, get an editing software to help. It’s better than nothing. We all have to start somewhere and not all of us can afford all the bells and whistles right out of the gate. Do the best you can with what you’ve got available. It’s okay!

-Don’t let critical people ruin your day. Your book isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. The people it is for will love it!

-That feeling that your writing is horrid and you should take it out and burn it – it’s normal! You are your own worst critic. Find someone you trust and get some fresh eyes on the story.

-It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write the book – three weeks, ten years, whatever. If you are getting words on the page, you’re making progress, no matter how big or small.

-Even if you are writing to market, make sure you have some passion projects to work on so you don’t lose your enthusiasm for writing.

-Burnout is a real thing. If you get to that point, don’t try to force yourself out of it. Rest. Relax. Your desire to write will return.

-If you want to write but you are struggling to find ideas, remember that ANYTHING can spark an idea. I’ve gotten ideas from my dreams, from the license plate on a car, from a person I saw walking down the street, from a shoe on the side of the road, from a song… Literally anything can trigger an idea if you are open to it.

-Don’t worry about whether your idea has been done or not. It likely has. There’s nothing new under the sun. What matters is your version of the idea. No one else is you. They won’t have your unique voice. The world needs all voices.

-If you use a ghostwriter, make sure they aren’t plagiarizing someone else’s work. I saw that play out with another author and they lost a lot of opportunities because of their ghostwriter’s shady tactics. Same with cover designers. Make sure they aren’t copying someone else’s design. You’re paying good money for the design; you don’t want to have to have a whole new one done later because you get into hot water with the original designer.

-Most importantly – you are amazing! You can do this!

Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite?

That’s a tough one. I have a soft spot for Onyx from my House Valdis series, and Jaru from my Life is Hell series. Of course, Lark is also a favorite - so mischievous! Acheron from Fate, Frankincense & Funerals.

How do you choose names for your characters?

Sometimes I don't choose them, they come to me with a name. If I'm actively choosing a character name, I'll go by meaning that fits the story or a theme. For example, in The Ghastly Gumball, all of the magic-borne characters have a name with the letter X in them.