Val Stasik shares a home in eternally sunny Santa Fe, NM, with her aging mixed terrier, Sugar, who allows her to sleep in his queen-size bed as well as sharpen her culinary skills for his benefit. Stasik spent many years as a writing teacher, helping other writers find their voice and tell their stories, and is a consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project. INCIDENTAL DAUGHTER is Stasik’s debut novel.
Stasik studied drama and English at the University of Pittsburgh and then transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park, graduating with high honors and a B.S. in Secondary Education, Communication. The year she attended graduate school was filled with student protests, bomb threats, and military helicopters.
Stasik became an editorial assistant for THE PHARMACOLOGIST in Bethesda. She then moved to Harpers Ferry where she taught for five years and participated in the Old Opera House Theatre onstage and behind the scenes.
In Harrisburg, PA, she became a groom and mutuels clerk at Penn National Race Track and, later, a commercial lines underwriter for Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company. Right before her son was born, Three Mile Island happened. So far, neither glows in the dark.
In Virginia, Stasik enjoyed the enriching experience of teaching writing and literature in the Loudoun County Public School system, instructed other teachers in assessing student writings, and helped develop various English curricula. She also participated in the Fauquier Community Theatre on and off stage. From 2002-2004, she developed a part-time hypnosis practice. She then retired to Santa Fe where she has been writing—a few film scripts that have been produced (Café Destiny, on the Web, Spring 2013, www.cafe-destiny.com) and a couple of award-winning play scripts.
Stasik is currently a member of the New Mexico Book Association, the New Mexico Book Co-Op; Southwest Writers; the Independent Book Publishers Association; the Small Publishers’ Association of North America; the Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network; and Pennwriters.
Thank you for this interview, Val. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I lived in Pittsburgh until I was twenty and have lived in Maryland; Harpers Ferry; Harrisburg, PA; and Virginia. I’ve been an editorial assistant, a commercial lines insurance underwriter, a racetrack groom and mutuels clerk, and a teacher. I’ve also dabbled in theater. I took early retirement from teaching a few years ago and moved from Virginia to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve never looked back. In addition to Incidental Daughter, I’ve written a couple of film scripts and award-winning play scripts during this time. However, I’ve been writing since I was in the seventh grade.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Incidental Daughter is the story of publisher Liz Michaels, born Liz Migielski, who, through a series of incidents surrounding her ex-husband’s death, comes to terms with a past filled with abandonment. In doing so, she finds the family and the love of an honorable man that has eluded her for so long.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
Women’s fiction and romantic suspense seemed the best way to tell this story. I had difficulty deciding how to classify it because it involves so many themes—family, abandonment, the loyalty of friends, the pain of losing a child, a failed marriage, the paranormal, success despite the odds, and love.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The analytical left brain (the part I’ve personified as “Lefty”) gets in the way of the early stages of my writing and slows me down. It takes me a long time to get out a first draft because of this interference. There’s a time for Lefty in the later stages of the writing process when analysis helps weed out what gets in the way of the plot and pacing and what needs to be added or changed.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I’m a bit of a control freak and tend to rebel against the traditional, so I’m an indie publisher.
Was it the right choice for you?
Absolutely. I’m not good at kowtowing and don’t like waiting up to two years to see my book in print.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I’ve used email, my website, Facebook, Twitter, a Goodreads giveaway, Amazon Author Central, news releases, Midwest Book Review, and am doing a blog book tour in May and June. I’m also featuring my book at the New Mexico Library Association Conference in April and at the Southwest Book Fiesta in May in Albuquerque.
How is that going for you?
Sales have been slow, but the response to the book has been quite positive. I’ll know better whether these measures are worthwhile after June. There are organizations and media I still need to contact in the places I have lived, especially Pittsburgh, which is the setting for the story.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Reaching out to family and friends on Facebook at this point has been most effective.
Do you have another job besides writing?
No. There is no way I could write, produce, and promote my book and work at another job. I admire those authors who can do this.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Something I wish I’d done was to begin promoting my book long before I published it. I think building expectations before the book comes out goes a long way to ensure that you have a ready audience once the book is out.
What’s next for you?
Most people would say I’m shooting myself in the foot with my next project and that I should continue to build my platform by writing in the same genre. However, true to my habit of rebelling against expectations, my next novel will be a young adult science fiction novel, working title Catching Air. Young Chet Hain, saddled with phobias because of a car accident that took the lives of his older brother and later his father when they were driving him to a skateboarding contest, must, seven years later, deal with the mystery of who is watching his home. His discovery of the mystery watcher leads him into a world where appearances are not what they seem, where a powerful and dangerous conspiracy continually strives to derail research and development into free energy.
Thank you for this interview, Val. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Visit me at