Interview with Vanessa G. Foster, 2021 Q3 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up with "Broken Hearts and Broken Dishes"

Saturday, October 02, 2021


Congratulations to Vanessa G. Foster and Broken Hearts and Broken Dishes and all the winners of our 2021 Quarter 3 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest!

Vanessa's Bio: Vanessa was a child of the sixties, came of age in the seventies, and lost everything in the eighties when she found herself married to a drug dealer and on the run from the FBI. Her harrowing story is fearlessly told in the compelling memoir, More Than Everything, published in 2013. An excerpt was featured in the Panther City Review literary journal in 2018.

 She participated in a Moth Story Slam shortly before the pandemic, and is ready for more on-stage storytelling opportunities. She recently started writing personal essays, and this is the first one she has let anyone but her critique partners read. It will be part of a new memoir. 

 Vanessa lives in Texas with her trophy husband and two rescue dogs. She is a licensed financial professional and helps clients with their investments by day. An unapologetic eavesdropper, she sometimes blogs ( flash fiction stories based on something interesting she’s overheard.  

 If you haven't done so already, check out Vanessa's talent in writing with the touching story Broken Hearts and Broken Dishes and then return here for a chat with this talented author. 

WOW:  What is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from Broken Hearts and Broken Dishes? 

Vanessa:  Life is exquisite and exhilarating and hard and heartbreaking. In Broken Hearts and Broken Dishes, I’ve focused on two events from my childhood that were very different, but also all those things. Memories live isolated lives in our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. Let them come out and play together. See what happens. Often, what seems like a simple solitary memory, when explored deeper, can bring into focus a fuller understanding. Also, let’s protect the children in our lives from the harm of grown-up drama whenever possible. 

WOW: I need to hear that again - that was pretty powerful stuff Vanessa - 

Memories live isolated lives in our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. 
Let them come out and play together. See what happens. 

That's some good stuff - I'm going to remember that!

Who is your favorite author and why? 

Vanessa: It’s impossible to choose one favorite. Like most writers, I’m an avid reader, and I’ve always been drawn to dark memoirs as a way of connecting with others who’ve survived trauma and created art out of madness and pain. I’ve recently devoured everything I could find by Abigail Thomas. A Three Dog Life broke my heart and then put all the pieces back together again. She has a lovely, effortless way of finding beauty and grace in everyday moments that helps me do the same. Mary Karr and Jeannette Walls are also at the top of the list. As for fiction, Sue Monk Kidd is one of my heroes. 

WOW: I'm intrigued and will definitely be checking out Abigail Thomas - thank you! Do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you? 

 Vanessa: I’d love nothing more than to go back in time and tell my younger self to relax! Also, to stop and breathe and follow her instincts. I have pretty good instincts and intuition, but it took many years to learn to trust my gut. When I was very young, I wanted to be an artist and a writer. I wish I’d had the gumption to not let go of that dream. It would have saved me decades of self-doubt and mis-direction. 

WOW: That's a fabulous conversation we could all benefit from - great advice for the next generation too! Speaking of advice, what advice would you give to others (specifically female authors) when it comes to self-care? 

Vanessa: Women often lose themselves in relationships and marriage and motherhood. It’s so important not to bury our needs, but it’s often what comes naturally when taking care of others. I’d say to ask for help when you need it, and schedule alone time (put it on the calendar). Luxuriate in a bubble bath, go for a walk or a run, take a painting class. Do whatever makes you happy and don’t feel guilty about it. For female authors, carve out a space to write where you won’t be interrupted. Make it comfortable and pretty, and surround yourself with your favorite things. You deserve it. Then put your butt in the chair and write. 

 WOW: Preach on Sister - I need to hear that OFTEN! Thank you!

What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond? 

Vanessa: I’m currently editing my second memoir…the first draft has been sitting on a shelf, percolating, for about five years. Writing is a slow, steady process for me. I wish I was faster, but this is who I am. Hopefully, I’ll have a honed manuscript ready to query by the end of the year. During the pandemic, I started writing essays, and have several that need polishing before I seek homes for them. I’ve also written about 60,000 words on a YA novel that I hope to finish soon, and have started another novel with a male POV. There are more ideas than time to write, and I get my best ideas from my very vivid dream life.

WOW: Thank you ever so much for sharing your essay, sage advice, and your laughter today - we look forward to reading more of your work! Congratulations again! 

  Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!

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