EDINBURGH – it’s a rainy evening and the crowd around me wait anxiously huddled with cups of coffee and tea. They wait for the arrival of V.E Schwab, an American author of primarily dark YA and adult literature with a few children’s novels tucked in there too. All of us are excited for her first British tour which starts anti-climatically as the author just sorts of appears with a stack of books in hand and a smile.
She begins with a bout of laughter as she introduces herself:
Q: Why are you named V.E Schwab instead of your full name?
And god question asker you don’t just ask why people don’t use their full name.
A: My full name is Victoria Elizabeth – very British I know, so it was just easier to shorten it down to the initials. Also, I find that a lot of fans are surprised that I’m actually female and I did that deliberately. I chose a gender neutral persona because believe it or not there’s still some stigma out there.
Then she called her fans the Schwablins which reminded her of underground goblins and that emitted a laugh through the room. The atmosphere throughout the event was colloquial and comfortable while she discussed her books in detail. Schwab also argued that she liked to focus her books on outsiders, particularly because she felt like an outsider and knew that she could help others who felt that way.
Q: It sounds like you really love your job. Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
A: I really do love writing. But I did originally go to school to become an astrophysicist, but then switched to juggling being an author and going through uni writing a dissertation on the visual depiction of monsters throughout history. It was the best thing I have ever done. But it meant having to write my dissertation in eleven days.
Q: Does it have any down sides?
A: Certainly, everything has some. It’s hard to maintain a schedule outside of writing… I have a calendar and coloured stickers to reward myself for other activities such as reading a book and going to the gym. A square without any stickers is disappointing. It may seem like something a kindergarten would do, but it works.
She also said that writing couldn’t be rushed. “When my publishers say ‘can you just write a little faster?’ I just can’t. I’m not Brandon Sanderson who can push out like five books at a time. Every time they ask me that, it’s exactly like when I was sixteen, my parents knew of my severe anxiety and my father – bless his heart – told me ‘can you just be calm?’ It doesn’t work like that.”
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect Narwhals. This obsession came about when I was living in Leeds away from home and I was feeling homesick. I went looking for a soft toy and found a Narwhal. That’s where it started and it’s just spiralled out of control.
Then it got to the part of the night where she signed the books. All I was worried about was blurting out, “I accidently stalked you in Waterstones earlier today. I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.” Luckily I didn't do that. I was able to function like a normal human being. And by the end of the night all four of my books were signed with a lengthy discussion on the biological aspects of being a superhero – a story arch in her book Vicious – and a desire to stay just a little longer.
Would I go back again?
Yes absolutely, if she’s doing a UK tour next year I’m certainly going to book it if I can.
Would I recommend others to explore her work?
Yes. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Besides that fact I recommend just looking her up to start with because she has such a lovely personality and character.