Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Vivian Zabel talks about her book Stolen

 At times, research for a novel comes through personal experience, as happened with Stolen. I did do some extra research to add a section at the back of the story itself, but all the rest came from personal experience.

Over 14 years ago, two of my grandchildren were taken by their father. We had no contact with  them, didn't know where they were, didn't know if they were alive or not. The pain nearly destroyed us, me. We loved them so much, and they were such major parts of our lives, my husband and I felt as if a chunk of our hearts had been ripped out. I can only imagine the agony their mother, our daughter, felt.
Something had to be done with that severe pain and despair. I turned to my therapy - writing. Stolen was born.

Every year for 12 years, around the time they were last seen by anyone in the family, I blogged a letter to them, giving my contact information. A friend asked if he could spread my latest blog, November 2007, through the blogs of his friends around the world. Of course I agreed.

Early 2008, I received an email, “I think you're my grandmother.”

Finally, the novel is out and a sequel will be possible. The “research” for the sequel is completed. Hopefully in less than the ten years required for Stolen, Betrayal will be released.

Every time I read, proofread, revised the manuscript, the experience had to be lived through again and again. I cannot read the final novel.


Vivian Zabel always has had a vivid imagination and, when a child, used it to tell her siblings and friends stories. As soon as she could write, she began to put those stories on paper. She wrote her first poetry when she was eight, and still writes it. Poetry was and is her therapy.  When a “friend” laughed at her announcement that she would write a book someday, Vivian didn’t share her goal any more, but she didn’t stop planning on writing that book.
As she reared her children and was a stay-at-home-mother, with spells of working in the business world, Vivian wrote short stories, poetry, and articles, which were published.  Vivian taught English and writing for 27 years and retired in 2001. Every year she taught, she attended writing classes, workshops, and clinics, not only to learn how better to teach her students, but also to hone her own writing skills. Finally in 2001 she was able to write full time and write longer works, after she retired from teaching.
At present, Vivian has six books to her credit, two co-authored. Her latest books are Prairie Dog Cowboy (written under the name V. Gilbert Zabel), Midnight Hours (written under the name Vivian Gilbert Zabel), and Stolen, released in November 2010.
Her interests besides writing include her family (husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren), reading, helping other people publish their books (through 4RV Publishing), and traveling.

 As an editor for over thirty-five years, an English and writing teacher for nearly thirty years; an author with poetry, articles, short stories, and novels published over a span of forty-two years (with more than her share of rejections along the way)  and the head of a small publishing company for over three years, Vivian Zabel experienced both sides of the submission experience.  Since submissions for 4RV go to acquisition editors anonymously (only fair way to do the job), one of her submissions was rejected a couple of months ago.
Her publishing company 4RV Publishing produced the Oklahoma Book Award winner in fiction for 2010: Confessions of a Former Rock Queen by Kirk Bjornsgaard.  Other books have received regional awards in their categories. 4RV has released children’s books, middle grade and young adult books, novels, and nonfiction books.
Vivian has also received emails from rejected writers thanking her for sharing evaluation comments that help and some swearing at her for being so blind she can’t tell wonderful writing when she reads it.
Since submissions for 4RV go to acquisition editors anonymously (only fair way to do the job), one of her submissions was rejected a couple of months ago.


Vivian’s website:
4RV Publishing


Thank you so much for visiting today and sharing this horrific event in your life that prompted the book. Marilyn
Anonymous said…
I'm surprised you could even bear to write STOLEN,Vivian. I always wanted to write a book about my mother's fall into Alzheimer's Disease, but I could never bring myself do it and bring back that horrible time in my own life. So my hat's off to you for being so strong. I definitely want to read Stolen, it's on my bucket list.
Jean Henry Mead said…
Such a heartbreaking experience, Vivan. Having lost a daughter and two grandsons, I can certainly feel your pain. I'm sure that your grandchildren will find their way back to you and their mother.

4RV Publishing said…
My grandchildren are back with us, as the email said, I am the grandmother of the young man who sent it. He had googled his name and found all those blogs with my letter to him and his sister.

My granddaughter lives with her mother and attends college. My grandson is attending collage in Florida.

That's how I can write a sequel, but the title is Betrayed, not Betrayal as I wrote in this post.

marja said…
I give you so much credit, Vivian. I tried to write a book about nursing homes and some things we went through with my mother-in-law, and I couldn't do it. It was too depressing. Wonderful blog!
Sharon Ervin said…
Writing is great therapy, eases some of the pressure and allows a writer to examine her thoughts and emotions, from sorrow to anger to euphoria and beyond. This is a perfect example.
4RV Publishing said…
Marja, writing "Stolen" was not easy, but I needed to do it.

Sharon, you're sooo right: Writing is therapy. You should read some of my poetry written during some of my dark times. Well, maybe you shouldn't.

Anne K. Albert said…
I can only imagine the pain you and your family suffered, Vivian. As is so often is the case, not knowing a loved one's whereabouts eats at one's soul.

Thank goodness the Internet allowed your family to be reunited. Happy endings are so much more satisfying when they're real rather than fiction, aren't they?
4RV Publishing said…
The loss of the two grandchildren ripped a hole in our lives and hearts. For over 12 years, we didn't know if they were alive or not.

My mother died not knowing where three of her grandchildren were because their mother hid them. She didn't want them, but she didn't want our side of the family to have any contact. After over 20 years, I now have contact with one of them, and know about the other two.

People can be so cruel.

Vivian, I too have a grandson that I haven't seen since he was three. He's a grown man now with at least one child. His father died of cancer a few years back and was denied the privilege of even communicating with his only son. Yes, it is difficult and your story reminded me once again of what I've lost.

4RV Publishing said…
My heart goes out to you, Marilyn. I understand only too well. I have contact with my niece because when she became an adult, she decided to find her father's family.

Since your grandson is an adult, maybe you can contact him?


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