Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Author Interview with Victoria Ceretto-Slotto

After many years of working as a Registered Nurse in the field of death and dying, Victoria Ceretto-Slotto enjoys the creative life. Author of two novels, poet, would-be artist, museum docent, Victoria, like Claire, received the gift of a kidney from a friend. Her work is inspired by spirituality, her experiences with end-of-life issues, and nature. Victoria and her husband, David, along with two canine kids, reside in Reno, Nevada and spend time in Palm Desert, California.

Author Interview with Victoria Ceretto-Slotto

What inspired you to write this novel?

 As I writer, I often discover story lines by asking the question: what if? In 2001, when I learned I was in end-stage renal failure, a friend and co-worker, Paula Roukie-Dinkins, offered me a kidney. An obvious answer to the what if question is, “What if something happened to Paula?” The rest evolved from there.

Is your story autobiographical?

The only autobiographical aspects are related to the kidney transplant. All the other characters and events just came to me as the story unfolded. My 90-something year old mother was concerned that she inspired Helene. The only similarity is that Mom’s home was in my mind as I wrote the story. However, I did draw from my own experience with dialysis and the surgery itself.

How else has your background impacted your writing?

I’m a Registered Nurse and worked most of my career in the field of death and dying. I’ve had a lot of experience with families who are dealing with grief. I was a nun for 28 years and you will find threads of Catholicism and spirituality woven throughout the book. And, of course, my first-hand experience as a kidney transplant survivor and my medical background helped me in understanding and explaining the clinical and practical aspects of kidney transplantation.

Why do you write? 

I think most writers will answer because I have to. I’ve always been a creative person but my life decisions lead me to work with death and dying. For me, nursing is an art. Yes, my degrees are in the field of science and management, but there is much that is intuitive when it comes to helping others deal with life-threatening illness, impending death and bereavement. When I was “helped” into retirement—my position as Community Educator for a local hospice was eliminated—I came home and told my husband I wanted to write. He told me to do it! And within a couple of weeks I began the long, tedious process of writing
Winter is Past.

How long did it take you? How did you go about it? 

I’m almost embarrassed to say. I began it in the spring of 2003. I began writing by hand, without an outline. In fact, the entire plot emerged from the characters and went through many, many transformations. I participated in a number of writing critique groups and conferences, which included work-shopping. At first I heeded every suggestion and made changes accordingly (big mistake). I sent out queries before it was ready. I signed a contract with an agent who was wonderful to work with, but who didn’t really represent my genre. And, finally, I met my publisher at a friend’s book-signing. In the meantime, I have another novel completed. I’ve also written and published articles, short stories and poetry. I spend a lot of time blogging now, mostly poetry.

What did you learn in the process? What did you change when you tackled your second novel?

The second time around I outlined the story, scene-by-scene and did worksheets on characters and setting—not that it turned out the exact way the story unfolded. Just as in
Winter is Past, the characters drove the plot, so in The Sin of My Father, they led me down unexpected byways.  I also used an expert as a consultant. This time, I did not show the manuscript to anyone until it was completed. Only one writer-friend has read it and I’ve yet to review her comments. It’s gestating for now.

What are your plans?

Right now, the immediate focus is to work on promotion of Winter is Past. I would also like to self-publish some poetry. My blog keeps me busy and I contribute articles to a poetry community at By the way, the whole retirement thing is a huge myth. I’m as busy as ever.

Is your second novel a sequel?

No, it’s a stand-alone. I woke up at 3 AM one day and jotted down the plot. I don’t have any solid plans for a sequel to
Winter is Past, but there are some ideas jiggling around in my head.

Tell us a little about the second novel.

It’s called
The Sin of His Father. It’s about a young man who learns on his mother’s deathbed that he was conceived in an act of rape. He must then go out and find redemption through forgiveness.

Who will want to read Winter is Past?

I see it as a novel that will appeal primarily to women. People who read inspirational or Christian fiction will enjoy it. It will be helpful to those who have experience with organ transplantation, or who are facing that surgery or the prospect of becoming a donor. I’d like to think health care professionals, especially those in areas such as hospice, would find it useful. People who like authors such a Jodi Picoult or Nicolas Sparks will find that it is along similar veins as their novels. To me, perhaps the most significant audience for this book is book clubs. There are issues that bear discussion, such as transplantation and Advance Directives. To that end, I have included questions for their consideration.


Taylor Boomer said...

great experiences shared.

Victoria C. Slotto said...

Thank you for the Interview, and Taylor, thanks for your comment. To read more about "Winter is Past, or to order it, check out my website. Thanks.

Bluebell Books said...

good luck on your book sales,

Thanks for sharing.