Zabel, Vivian Gilbert

We’re back in the coffeehouse with author Vivian Gilbert Zabel, author/co-author of three books, with three more coming soon, and CEO of her own publishing company, 4RV Publishing LLC. I "know" Viv from our long-term association on and have followed her publishing adventures. I lured Viv away from work with the promise of her favorite coffeehouse drink and some interesting conversation.

Susan: Welcome Viv. At long last we get to chat. First, what’s your favorite drink? Coffee? Tea? Smoothie?

Vivian: Hot tea, a combination of Bigelow’s Constant Comment and Green Tea, hits the spot with a bit of Splenda mixed in.

Susan: How many published books have you authored/co-authored?

Vivian: To date, I’ve co-authored two books: "Hidden Lies and Other Stories" with Holly Jahangiri and "Walking the Earth: Life’s Perspectives in Poetry" with seven other poets. I authored "The Base Stealers Club," a book written for readers ages eight to about fifteen.

I write under a different name for each age group’s books. For adult level, I use Vivian Gilbert Zabel; for juvenile/young adult, V. Gilbert Zabel; and for children’s books, Granny Zabel, since my grandchildren and great-grandchildren labeled me Granny.

According to a review about "Hidden Lies and Other Stories," authors Vivian Gilbert Zabel and Holly Jahangiri present a varied array of short stories in their book. Both have a writing style her own, but each complement the other with crisp stories with action, vivid characters, and plots in the collection of twenty-one short stories.

"Walking the Earth" gives the perspectives of life from eight poets, each with his or her own blend of writing styles.

In "The Base Stealers Club," when a thief begins to clean out locker rooms, not of trash but of money while players are on the baseball diamond, members of the Jonesville Chargers decide to try to uncover the person stealing from ball players as well as help their team win a championship.

Susan: What’s in the pipeline?

Vivian: I’m on the next to the last chapter of a sequel to "The Base Stealers Club," titled "Case of the Missing Coach." A mystery, "Midnight Hours," is in the hands of an agent. My own children’s book, "Louie Duck’s Adventure," is awaiting illustrations.

Susan: What’s your genre? What do you like to write? Why?

Vivian: My genre? Hmmm mm, what I don’t like to write might be easier to answer, since I’m not into erotica, horror, or anything with graphic sex or violence. I enjoy writing women’s fiction, because a woman’s point of view is unique; mystery, because I love to read mysteries and have since I was ten and met Nancy Drew; romance, since a touch of romance is always needed to make life interesting and worth living.

I started writing children’s stories when my night-time stories for three grandsons led to them asking me to repeat episodes from months before. I couldn’t remember, so I started writing them down. At present I have twenty Louie the Duck stories on paper. The first, hopefully, will be published in 2008. Come on, Bob, finish those illustrations. laugh

I’m also into juvenile or young adult since I have grandchildren in that age group. I discovered that fiction books about sports weren’t available for boys in the late elementary and middle-school grades. Since my three grandsons, who prompted the Louie series, played baseball, I developed the base stealers.

Susan: I read in your blog that you were having difficulty in writing about a character, Gloria, who will be in a future book. Can you tell us more about that dilemma, how it affects you personally and when choosing what to write?

Vivian: Gloria faces a severe financial and emotional trauma when the plant where her husband worked for thirty years closes, leaving employees without benefits. When her husband suffers a severe heart attack, Gloria worries about medical expenses to come; however, when she discovers that the plant never paid insurance premiums for months, leaving them without current coverage, she becomes desperate.

As a member of an online chat group, Gloria became the repository for many "secrets" since people trusted her and looked to her as a mentor and confidant. She uses that knowledge to blackmail three members. Her husband’s medical needs are met, but we don’t know what the final cost will be to an inherently honest woman.

The dilemma affects me because I know that everyone has that evil little voice giving dishonest advice. I, too, face huge financial burdens, and I know that I hold the means to get the needed funds unethically. I can put myself in this character’s "skin," and the idea scares me.

The villain in "Midnight Hours" evolved from a physically and emotionally abused young man into a serial killer. I can’t put myself completely into that character because delving into the mind of a killer completely is beyond my capabilities. I can relate to the struggles he faced, but I can’t write about the details of what he does to people from inside his head, only externally.

Susan: Tell us about 4RV Publishing LLC. Are you open for business yet? What’s happening?

Vivian: 4RV Publishing LLC is preparing its first children’s book release, "Al-the-Gator and Freddy Frog," by Doc Gator and illustrated by Valerie Broesch for the first of August. We have another that should be out in September or October, "Trockle," by Holly Jahangiri.

Our artists each have a different style, but for these two diverse books, the illustrator captures and creates colorful and entertaining pictures to match the story.

Anyone can visit us at 4RV Publishing LLC, where submission guidelines and authors services can be found. We accept a limited number of books to publish, and then we accept another number under author’s services.

Anything going through our company will be proofread and thoroughly edited by professional and qualified editors. We also will return all rights to authors within three years, unless a written agreement between 4RV and the author extends that time frame.

Susan: When did you start writing? Do you remember your first piece? Can you tell us about it?

Vivian: I don’t remember when I first started writing, but my mother had a book of poetry I collected that contained one I wrote when a third grader. Let’s just say I tried. However, that experience and teacher encouraged me to write and to keep writing, for over fifty-five years so far.

I’ve always had a vivid imagination and told my friends and sibling stories. Now I write the stories rather than simply tell them.

Susan: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Vivian: As far as adding anything, I guess I’d have to say that I write because I have no choice. If I don’t get the words out of my head, they keep irritating me until I do.

You’re welcome, and thank you for interviewing me.