Valerie Connelly

valerie-connellyValerie Connelly lives with her husband, Michael, in northern Illinois not far from the Wisconsin border. She divides her time between writing, teaching, painting landscapes and waterscapes, and traveling.

An educator and international traveller since her days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa in 1969, Valerie Connelly has been teaching French language and literature and inspiring the youth of Illinois since 1974. She holds a MA in French Literature from Northwestern University. In the 1980’s she founded the nonprofit organization, Overseas Alliance, to travel with her students in France to study art, history and architecture, live in French families, and to meet with her most famous friend, then French President Francois Mitterrand. Every year for five years, M. Mitterrand invited Ms. Connelly and her students to the Elysée Palace for the diplomatic celebrations after the parade down the Champs Elysée on July 14th.

Ms. Connelly has also traveled and worked in other parts of the world. In addition to teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for two years in West Africa, she wrote the English Language curriculum and helped set up a school in Iran in 1973, prior to the fall of the Shah. She has traveled extensively in Europe. And between teaching responsibilities, she researched and wrote about far-flung parts of the world as a copywriter for a major wholesale luxury tour operator. She also taught ESL at a local community college from 2001-2003.

Life experience, travel, a love of French literature, a consuming habit of reading American and English literature, all came together to ignite the spark of her writing career.

Inspiration for fiction comes from many sources, and every author’s inspiration is different. In my case, the stories beg to be released from my mind. They percolate over a period of time, and then I must write them. For SACRED NIGHT, I drew from life experience and expanded it beyond reality by constantly asking, “What if this happened?” Add a healthy dose of imagination, and the wish that life could be long and healthy well into old age to the ever elusive and evocative theme of the quest for the Fountain of Youth, and there is a time-tested recipe for good fiction.

For SIDETRACKS, I wanted to address the nagging questions, “What if I had done something differently when I could have chosen another path,” and “What kind of life would have been on my road less traveled?” Again, I took bits and pieces of life experience, inflated them with possibilities beyond reality, to create a story of two people who get the chance to try their life choices again, this time taking the other path. The Muse that takes over the writer’s mind is responsible for the story. The author is a vessel who types the content of his or her imagination and forms it into a readable structure, with believable characters and a universal theme. Above all, I want my characters to triumph, to overcome their obstacles, and in the end to change into better people having lived their experiences in my stories. This does not mean there is no tragedy or failure in my characters. All of them have flaws and weaknesses, as do we all. I believe a hopeful, if not happy, ending is a good thing.”