An Interview with M.J. Vigna

Where are you from? 

I was born in Texas.  When my mom separated from my father (a very untypical thing in the 1930’s) we lived mostly with her sister and husband in Oklahoma.  My mother was a teacher and when I was a teenager we moved to Burbank, CA.  One of the unique things both of us did and it was my first paid job as an artist was painting ties.  This was very popular back then and the ties were sold in upscale stores.  I got my first horse in Burbank also.  I was used to riding as we had horses I could ride in Oklahoma but not one of my very own.  I rode all over the Burbank, Griffith Park area, mostly bareback.  If I wasn’t working or in school people usually saw me riding my horse around town.  Back in those days Burbank was still fairly rural, not the city it is now.  I excelled in horsemanship and could run my horse down the road at full speed bareback.  

I got married when I was only 17 and proceeded to have 5 children.  I grew up having to pinch pennies and during my first marriage it was the same.  I raised all of  my kids on a with frugality being the norm.  Being a pioneer and living that way has alway appealed to me, so it was nothing for me to try and raise my first 3 kids in an adobe house with no running water and electricity.  That worked fine until all 3 of my boys came down with whooping cough at the same time.

In order to make ends meet I modeled for a number of years.  I lived in Hemet, CA at the time and I would have to drive into Los Angeles several times a week.  After 20 years of marriage I separated from my first husband and moved back to Burbank where I met my 2nd husband.  We ended up moving to Las Vegas, NV after a short stint in Reno.  We bought a Ranchette in Las Vegas and I started raising horses.  I had my 6th child, a daughter, and had her very involved in horse showing.  I was heavily involved in franchising for many years but in my free time I wrote, painted, did silversmithing and leathercrafting.  I also raised pot belly pigs, hedgehogs and peacocks.  We had chickens and ducks.  I earned a nice living from raising dashunds for about 25 years.  I have always been surrounded by animals and just seem to have mental connection with then.  When I got to old to handle the full sized horses I switched to miniature horses as I couldn’t stand the thought of not being close to a horse. I have recently moved to a little tiny town outside of Ely, Nevada.

Tell us your latest news?

Right now I have Deadly 2, in the works.I am currently writing a sequel to Deadly Deadly, but I have completed a sci-fi Fantasy book which I need to just get the final touches on. It is an incredible story that highlights an incredibly strong heroine who has a talent for connecting with people and beasts.  She is a trained warrior.  She is very similar to us humans but there are a few differences.  It is best not to give these away and spoil it for the readers. She lives in a world that has never heard of earth. In her world everyone works together and each unique territory contributes something vital to the whole.  2 poisonous explosions which occur 20 years apart have distroyed a few of the territories and anialated their advanced technology.  There world is limping along over a 40 year period trying to understand if they were attacked, will be attacked again or were the explosions a natural phenomenon?  Their civilized lifestyle has been reduced to survivor living mostly a pioneer lifestyle with the advanced technologies only available in short supply in the governing area of their world Zigguria.  It is the job of our hereoine, Helonius, to travel to one of the territories to give word of a gathering to discuss the worlds future and try to figure out where the source of the attacks on their planet is coming from. It is a perilous journey that Helonius takes to Pourvon, the ice territory, to bring back its Marcsus.  The book is call Ziggurian Wars.  It will not disappoint the readers of Deadly Deadly and it will also invite a younger audience to enjoy my writing.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I’m an animal lover, I’m most comfortable working with and writing about them.

What books have most influenced your life?

At 85 I’ve had a lot of life when someone could influence me. Marriage, child bearing, careers, Horse and dog training, etc. I guess, Lassie would be a good example. Or now,The Horse Whisperer. How about Marly and Me, or Lonesome Dove.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Zane Grey.

What book are you reading now?

Frederick Forsyth’s The Cobra, Tami Hoag’s A Thin Dark Line and Linda Howard’s Dying To Please.

What inspired you to write Deadly Deadly

I have always loved the pioneer era. In writing Deadly Deadly I really wanted to show people how excellent an animal can be when it is loved and taught properly.  The things that Deadly does in the book are a stretch but they can happen in the real world.  I thought it would be interesting to use a bull instead of a horse because of the size, strength, and uniqueness.  No one writes books in which a bull is a leading character.  Horses are common and there are tons of books with horses as main characters.  I wanted to have a book that stood by itself as far as the material.  There are lots of vampire, witch and werewolf novels, and there has been an explosion of soft porn.  Even with the western novels, my book is different.  I believe anyone who reads Deadly Deadly and enjoys it, will alway remember the story they read about a big bull that was a hero.  I read 3 to 4 books a week and I have a hard time remembering what I read right after I am done.  So many books are alike.

Another reason I was inspired to write Deadly Deadly is because I can craft the heroine into the image I myself wish to be.  I do want to mention that we are finding that the best response we are having on Deadly Deadly is with the baby boomer crowd and people who love animals.  In fact on the Amazon page the very first sentence cautions people to reconsider reading it if they are neither of the above.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I mostly read authors I’ve read and know they create a satisfying read in the genre I prefer.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, and at 85, I’m loving it!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It started when I wrote articles for Horse related magazines.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Dana Stabenow, James Lee Burke, James Patterson, Harlan Coben, John Sanford. Good
mystery writers. How do you pick favorites?

Who designed the covers?

I did the artwork, My grandson Joey Ruggieri did the cover.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

It sometimes hard finding time to write. I believe that’s been the hardest part about writing in general- is setting aside time you need to get your writing done.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? That I loved being lost in
another world for a while.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I hope readers enjoy my book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Learn more about my work at