Interview with Holly Wiencek, author of “Capturing the Magic”

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 idiosyncrasies. 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 – people that I love, 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 authors have a little grammar Nazi in them. Poor grammar can turn off a reader quickly, but if you have a great editor, copyeditors or proofreaders, the author does not have to worry.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

I guess that depends on the subject and how much knowledge you have. For Capturing the Magic, there wasn’t much research involved for me. 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. I love reading about Walt Disney, the history of his company and his parks, so every detail just flowed right out of me. That is not to say that I did not make nine trips in one year from NC to Walt Disney World, you know in the name of “research.”

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Sometimes I will jot down notes but for the most part, I work strictly on my Macbook. If someone took it away from me, I would be completely lost.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write 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 particular time during the day. I have to feel inspired when I write. Once the inspiration hits me, 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. When a thought or inspiration comes to me, I go back to the Mac.

How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

Music plays a huge part in every aspect of my life. Whether I am in my office working or sitting down writing, there is always something playing in the background. When I am writing about Disney, I will sometimes turn to my Pandora Disney channel to immediately take me to my “happy place.”

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 good to have a fresh set of eyes proofread your work. I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly brilliant editor as well as copy editors who have their eyes on my text before the project goes to print.

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 am not too proud to have my words or text corrected. Her experience, editing skills, and guidance were invaluable throughout the whole process. She told me once, “there is no pride in authorship,” and she was spot on.

Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?

At the moment, I am not reading anything because I am working on another book. I do love to read, and when I find a book that grabs me, it is hard for me to put it down. Reading a book right now would take away time that I need to devote to writing. Before I started my current project, I did allow myself the time to escape into three different books written by my publisher, who unbeknownst to me, is a bestselling author. They were great reads, and I loved the escape they offered me.

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 into the book, which in turn makes them curious as to what is inside. My partners and I went through so many images to find the perfect image for Capturing the Magic. We all agreed on a stunning image of Cinderella Castle that is sure to grab the attention of any Disney fan.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I do have a day job, so to speak. I run the financial and legal end of my husband’s company. It is not exciting work, but it is our livelihood, and it allows me flexibility, the opportunity to travel, and the free time to write. I am also a full-time mom to a busy teenager – 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 worked on this project, especially my husband and my daughter, who sometimes were left to their own devices when I would go deep into my zone. My sister was the one who was my biggest cheerleader and pushed me to make my dream become a reality.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I did not have a co-author, but I do have two pretty cool partners who are the photographers for our projects. I do not have the gift of that art, and they are two of the best I have ever seen. We worked together on every aspect of Capturing the Magic, and we make quite a strong team.

Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?

Oh yes, every day. Marketing your book is a necessity. You cannot just rely on one person or entity to sell your book for you; you have to be hands-on and get it out there. The advent of social media marketing is a great option for do-it-yourself marketing and offers visibility to a large number of people. 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 face to know how much joy the book brought them and their families as they browse through and relieve the memories of a family vacation. One of my favorite messages recently was from a gal who gave Capturing the Magic to her husband for their 15th anniversary. They spent their anniversary at Walt Disney World, and he took the book with him to the parks and had the characters sign it. She sent images, and it just made me smile seeing how happy he was. It is kind words and moments like that when I know my partners and 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 this book was a long-time dream of mine. It sat idle in my head for many years, mainly because I had not found the right photographers to help me make it become a reality. However, once I found Bill and Eric, combining their images with my text was easy. I had a lifetime of memories and trips to Walt Disney World lying dormant, and once we chose images and I started writing about details and history, everything just fell into place. Publishing was a whole different ball game. I will not say it was easy, but it was definitely FUN! It was an entirely new experience, and I had a fantastic team of 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.

Do you blog?

Not anymore. What’s funny is I started out as a blogger and had a growing blog about Walt Disney World. It was a lot of fun, but I found that I did not have the time to keep it up. I would much rather work on books. In February, I passed my blogging torch on to two friends who do a great job keeping it up and that has given me the freedom to write.

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 an amazing feeling. I would walk past it sitting on my coffee table and do a double-take like, “Wow that really did happen!” It was a long-time dream, and I was not sure it was ever going to happen. When everything started falling into place, it was still hard to believe.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

Not in any detail. There is another project in the works, and it is centered on Disney again, but I cannot give specifics…yet! I will say that I am enjoying stepping back into my zone and writing about a subject that I love.

Are you satisfied with your success?

Absolutely. Success is a journey, not a destination. I realized a dream, and that dream has brought an enormous amount of joy to countless numbers of people. Who could ask for more?