Interview with Holly Wiencek, Author of Capturing the Magic: A Photographic Celebration of the Disneyland Resort

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
I guess that depends on the writer. We are all human with different personalities and quirks. Authors spend a lot of time alone writing and creating so I can see where they would be considered loners. For me, I am an extrovert and enjoy spending time with family and friends, but I also really enjoy my alone time. It is a great balance.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?
Yes and no. I think all writers have a little grammar Nazi in them. Poor grammar can turn off a reader quickly, but if you have the right editor and copyeditors/proofreaders, it makes it a little easier on the writer.

How important is research to you when writing a book?
That depends on the subject of the book and how much knowledge you have. For Capturing the Magic: A Photographic Journey Through the Walt Disney World Parks edition, there wasn’t much research involved for me. It was a matter of what I chose to include in my copy. I grew up in the Walt Disney World Parks, and they have been a part of my life since I was a toddler, so I am very fluent in the details and history. For Capturing the Magic: A Photographic Celebration of the Disneyland Resort, there was much more extensive research involved. Though I love reading everything about Walt Disney and the creation of his original park, there is an incredible amount of history and details surrounding the creation of Disneyland which required travel, interviews and a great deal of research to make sure I honored Walt’s legacy.

How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
It is definitely a passion for me but then again, so is my subject. I am a total Disney nerd, and I enjoy reading anything about Walt Disney and the Disney parks so writing about the way I see the attractions and the parks, as well as their history, is one of my favorite things to do. A lot of people miss the intricate details of storytelling Walt Disney and his Imagineers created when they run from attraction to attraction. I get a great deal of joy bringing the details to light and some of the history behind them.

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I work strictly on my Macbook. Sometimes I will jot notes down if I am away from my computer, but I cannot function without my Mac.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who writes only when they feel inspired?
A set schedule would be nice, but I do not think there would be as much “heart” in my words if I made myself sit down and write at a specific time during the day. I must feel inspired when I write about anything Disney, and sometimes that inspiration could come from one small tidbit of information that makes my mind run. Once the inspiration hits me, however, it is hard to stop me.

Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
Of course. Hasn’t every writer? For me, it never really lasts long. When I hit that point, I close my computer and walk away from it – could be an hour or it could be two days.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
Both. I proofread and edit my words several times over, but when you proof your own work, it is easy to miss errors. It is always a good idea to have a different set of eyes on your work. I am fortunate to have an incredibly brilliant editor and friend who is not only well-versed in Disney but does not hesitate to correct me. And, I also have copy editors who have their eyes on my text several times over before my projects go to print.

Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
That’s a really funny question.  I don’t think I wrote a word-perfect first draft of these interview answers. Thoughts change and the flow of a sentence can change in an instant– so no, I would say there are probably not authors who have a perfect first draft.

Did you have a lot of differences with your editors in the beginning while you were still becoming used to getting your work edited?
Not at all. I have complete trust and faith in my editor, and she had full reign over any changes and edits. I never claim to be a perfect writer, nor am I too proud to have my writings corrected. My editor’s experience, editing skills, and guidance were invaluable with both books. I can recall her telling me one time, “there is no pride in authorship,” and she is 100% correct.

Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?
At the moment, I am not engrossed in any books because life doesn’t always offer the free time to do so. I do love to read, and when I find a book that grabs me, it is hard for me to put it down.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
The cover of a book is the first impression, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. The title and cover piques interest and draws the reader to the book, which in turn makes them curious as to what is inside.

Does a bad review affect your writing?
Not really. I think I have only had a couple of negative nellies leave unfavorable remarks about my first book and it wasn’t even about the writing part. People have their own opinions, and if they do not like what I write, that’s okay, I don’t always like everything I read either. It doesn’t keep me from doing what I love to do.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
I do have a day job. I am the Controller for my husband’s busy company. Though financial work is not my favorite, I do not dislike it.  His company is our livelihood, and it allows me a flexible schedule, the opportunity to travel and the free time to write. And, I am also a full-time mom to a busy teenager – now that is the best job in the world!

Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?
Sometimes. I am my own boss, so it is easy to walk away from the responsibilities of my day job and sit down and write, without any repercussions. Of course, there are days where I have a tremendous amount of inspiration and can’t write because there are demands of our company.

Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
I was fortunate enough to have my entire family behind me while I work on projects, especially my husband and my daughter, who sometimes were left to their own devices when I would go deep into my zone or had to travel.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I think if you have the right person to work with, one who is knowledgeable and brings something different to the table, co-authoring could be a great experience. I have not co-authored with anyone, but I do have one specific person in mind to co-author with and it would be a true honor to write with this person.

Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
Oh yes, every day. Marketing your own book is an absolute necessity. You cannot just rely on one person or entity to sell your book for you; you must be hands-on and get it out there. Using social media for marketing provides an excellent opportunity for high visibility. The more visible your book is, the better it will sell.

Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
I sure do! I love interacting with readers. It always brings a smile to my face to know how much joy the books brought them and their families as they browse through and relieve the memories of a family vacation. It is kind words and the reader’s shared memories that let me know I created something special.

Was it all too easy for you – the writing, the publication, and the sales?
Nothing is ever easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Creating my first book was a long-time dream of mine. It sat idle in my head for many years, and I had no idea if it would ever become a reality. Publishing was a whole different ballgame. I will not say it was easy, but it was definitely interesting. It was an entirely new experience, and I had a fantastic team of publishing professionals behind me. As with any publication, you hit little hiccups along the way, but for the most part, the team made everything move along smoothly.

How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?
Ebooks are convenient. We live in an “instant gratification” world, and the concept of Kindles and ebooks make it easy to have a book at your fingertips. I love my Kindle, especially when I want to take books on vacation with me, but I also love a tangible book. Some books just don’t lend well to being an ebook, especially not mine which is heavy in photography.

How did it feel when your first book got published?
What a thrill! It all became very real when the advance copies were in my hands; it was such a fantastic feeling. Very surreal.  I would walk past my coffee table and do a double-take like, “Wow that really did happen!”

Can you tell us about your current projects?
Not in any detail. I do have another project in the works, and it is centered on Disney again, but I cannot give specifics.   I will say, I am enjoying working on this book more than the first two.

Are you satisfied with your success?
Absolutely. Success is a journey, not a destination. I realized my dream, and that dream has brought an enormous amount of joy to countless numbers of people, including myself. Who could ask for more?

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