Viola van de Sandt’s favorite novels are those from the nineteenth and early-twentieth century. Some of her most cherished literature pieces are:
The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton; If nobody speaks of remarkable things, by Jon McGregor; Close to the Knives, by David Wojnarowicz; Bleak House and David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens; the Inspector Morse novels, by Colin Dexter; everything by Virginia Woolf; and all of Hermione Lee’s biographies.
She is finishing now her second novel – a story about an actor and a pathological liar travelling through Central Europe, and I can’t wait to read it, because the premise sounds incredible!
Needless to say, I submitted my entertainment-value sci fi story to her with tingling in my toes and trepidation in my heart. Can you imagine my emotions when I received her feedback, full of constructive comments and substantial literary critique, and yet, it read:
…I particularly enjoyed the section where you explained what happened after the Voyager record was brought back to earth. The moment you first mention this I felt ‘grounded’ in the story, and knew how I, and the world I inhabit, could relate to it. Your description of Istanbul and of the conversation with Solarin were, for me, the most enjoyable because they had something to say about the world we live in today. They were surprising in that I was very pleased to see that level of societal anxiety and critique in your story, which I hadn’t expected. Moreover, these sections showed how deep and colourful your imagination is, and they were very enjoyable to read…
…Please keep writing! I think the most beautiful aspect of the story is the richness of your imagination. I loved how you have provided a ‘backstory’ about the future of our planet. I’m not an avid sci-fi reader, but the fact that I would gladly buy the sequel to the story just to see how it ends is a very good sign with regards to your gift for storytelling…
Of course, there were critical comments as well, and to be honest, I’d be disappointed if at this point there were none, because I know that I can do better. What I need is feedback from someone who haven’t seen my story before, who can look at it as an outsider, and who can point me in the right direction.
Thank you, Viola for helping me so much to look at the story with a fresh approach and for investing your time and energy so generously. You have my literary fellowship and endless gratitude!