The write choice for her

By Susan L. Peterson

Several years ago, Vicki Olsen had a friend who asked for feedback on a book he was writing. Little did she know that providing that assistance would set her on her own literary career path.

Vicki Olsen

Vicki had never considered writing a book. She had degrees in marketing and economics and held a variety of jobs, from insurance adjuster to owning a gift store. So, when a friend asked for help on a book he was writing, Vicki was hesitant. She had always been an avid reader and knew what she liked regarding plot development, so she agreed to give him feedback. As his book progressed, Vicki gave more detailed advice. She could feel her own confidence growing and thought, “I could do this – I could write a book.”

Following the book’s publication, Vicki found herself wondering about Sarah, one of the minor characters appearing in his book. Vicki couldn’t stop thinking about what her background story might be. When Vicki approached her friend with an idea for a book about Sarah, they agreed to co-author it.

It wasn’t long after the work began that it became obvious that Vicki was the one motivated to write the story. The two authors parted ways, but Vicki was permitted to use the name of the fictional town, Tolerance, Arkansas, and the character’s name, Sarah Jones. It took Vicki about five years to finish writing the book, which she did evenings and weekends when not working her full-time job.

“A Sparrow Falls” was finally published in late 2018, the year Vicki turned 70. “That was my goal, to get it published before I turned 70, and I did.” The story is described as both disturbing and nostalgic. The time frame begins in the 1950s and leads into the Vietnam era ’60s. Themes of the book involve abuse, family secrets, and spiritual reawakening.

Once the book was published, Vicki couldn’t wait to start the next two volumes in the series. The writing bug definitely took hold.

She retired from her job but finds herself at work in her office at 8 a.m. every day, spending a full day writing and editing her work. She joined several online writing groups. Work progressed on the sequels, but one thing got in the way – an idea for another book with a very personal family connection.

During World War II, Vicki’s father was on a mission over France, when his plane was shot down. With the help of the French Resistance, he was able to escape to safety. In 2017, Vicki’s family was contacted by the son of a Resistance member who had assisted her father. She and other members of her family were able to go to France to retrace her father’s footsteps, thanks to members of France’s Association of Rescuers of Allied Airmen. One of the goals of this group is to re-establish friendly links with the airmen and/or their descendants.

Incredibly, Vicki was also able to re-establish connections with people she remembered meeting as a child in the 1960s. Following the war, the family was stationed in Germany, and they would often visit her father’s war-time French friends.

Vicki was able to return to France for a lengthy stay in 2019 to visit her rediscovered French connections. She stayed with the families and listened to the stories told by the aging unknown heroes who put their own lives in peril in order to save others. Realizing that in another 10 years these Samaritans will all be gone, she decided to write their inspirational stories.

Because of COVID-19, she was unable to return to France in 2020 to complete interviews, but she was able to travel there in June of this year, right after France opened its doors to foreign travelers. She intends to complete “The Duty of Memory” before the end of the year, and it will be published in English and French.

Vicki is embracing her new life as a writer. She enjoys attending book signings and meetings to discuss her work. Find out more about Vicki and the updates on her upcoming books on her Facebook page and at VickiOlsen.com.

Susan Peterson
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