Interview with Victory Witherkeigh

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Victory Witherkeigh. Today, Victory shares interesting details about her creative journey and new release, The Girl.

Interview

What was your inspiration for this book?

I wanted to write a book for young brown girls like myself who felt they couldn’t identify with most of the female characters in the novels, especially if they were of the fantasy or dark fantasy genre. I wanted a heroine to help me add a layer to my question as a young girl — what does being “likable” have to do with being a hero? Can you do good if you come from something terrible where you’re told repeatedly that nothing “likable” can come from? Be Good? I wanted to help expose the dangers of the idea that “likeability” or even “popularity” means “goodness.” I want future readers who hear this story to have another voice added to those who have been “othered” or considered “unlikeable” and how those labels don’t always mean what we think they do.

What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?

The best part of being an author is that it has a targeted funnel for my creativity and a place to express myself. Writing was always my safe place. It was something I enjoyed doing, even simply for therapeutic purposes. Something is thrilling about putting the puzzle pieces together or feeling like your emotions are flowing out through your fingers at lightning speed when you’re in the zone, so to speak. Which is the double-edged sword of what I think can be the worst parts – mining and milking the most traumatic moments of your life, knowing that industry will then reject most of them while still struggling with diversity issues, can be very painful. As a writer, any scene that explores feelings of vulnerability or emotional struggles, especially in coming-of-age stories, is heart-wrenching to write, imagine, or empathize with. After the “bombshells” of the publishing industry for BIPOC authors came out in the past few years, the anxiety of getting into this business only increased. The last count I had in 2021 when I was querying the manuscript for The Girl, was something over three hundred agents or publishers had said no to it, so it’s definitely a process that is not for the faint of heart.

Describe your writing space.

I finally have a personal writing space that I can call my own, though it is pretty spartan. I keep a writing desk and a couple of bookcases to hold a few things that help spur my imagination or are key professional life mementos. These include some of the essential YA series or novels I remembered being inspired by as a kid and a small section of shelf for my author’s copies of various horror anthologies or horror and/or dark fantasy magazines I’ve been a part of previously. There is a shelf dedicated to more nonfiction works from my childhood hero, Kobe Bryant, and an entire series of books devoted to the pre-colonial era of the Pacific Island cultures. Interspersed through, there are some art pieces I’ve collected through the years, scented candles I love, and some crystals with older hula and Tahitian performance items from my previous dancing days. It is a work in progress, though, as my cat still does not approve of me not having a sitting area for anyone else, so she refuses to come into my office.

Which authors have inspired you?

I enjoyed reading R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike to Tolkien and C. S. Lewis as a kid. The first dark fantasy series I fell in love with was Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Series and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics. Once in high school, a friend recommended the Game of Thrones series as it felt the most realistic for a change. Once I was out of college, I had more time to pick up works by Leigh Bardugo and Erin Morgenstern. Books like I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez and The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke are other contemporary favorites I’ve discovered over the years.

What is your favorite quote?

“Everything -negative, pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
Kobe Bryant

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I’m going to pick something utterly obscure that I don’t know if many people will get, but if I had a choice, I’d want the superpowers of Cloak and Dagger from Marvel Comics. They were a crime-fighting duo that became friends as runaway teens. One ended up with powers of intangibility and teleportation. He’d give people sensations of numbing cold and experiencing terrifying visions of their greatest fears and nightmares. If they were exposed for too long, they could be driven insane. He could also see the fears of certain people he touched. The other could create a multitude of light daggers that drain living beings of life, and she could see the hopes of certain people by touching them.

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

Traveling! I love traveling because it is a great inspiration and, at times, a much-needed kick in the pants for my mental health and ego. Having fresh adventures and seeing/learning about older cultures just does something for me that gives me a feeling of inner peace, especially trying new foods.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

The first thing any aspiring writer should do is be honest with themselves about their writing journey goals. Do they want their work to be on shelves? Do they want awards? Do they want to interact with their readership, and how often? And maybe who do they see as their’ readership?’ The next step would be to write AND finish what they are writing – a short story, novella, script, or novel. Then, I would recommend learning all they can about the particular niche of the publishing industry they are trying to target. Joining writing or critique groups is a great way to get third-party feedback on your writing and some pros or cons about a particular genre. Various writers’ or authors’ guilds can help writers find groups or even offer courses on improvements that writers can do for their own skill set – world-building, editing, emotional scenes, etc. There are writing conferences that provide a variety of current industry topics, and even the streaming platforms of Masterclass or YouTube carry older material, like lectures from previous speakers, that are available for minimal cost.

What are you working on next?

I recently saw an anthology calling for fiction stories based on songs by David Bowie that sounded interesting to me, so I may pull something together for that. I still try to monitor short fiction calls even though I may only have time to do some of the ones that interest me. I’m an overthinker, so I have to have some other ideas on the back burner all the time. A couple of my scary short stories are coming out in December 2022. One will be in a magazine called A Coup of Owls. Diet Milk Magazine will release another on Christmas Day as part of a theme called “In Bleak Midwinter.”

Blurb

The parents knew it had been a mistake to have a girl. At birth, the girl’s long, elegant fingers wriggled and grasped forward, motioning to strangle the very air from her mother’s lungs. As she grew older, she grew more like her father, whose ancestors would dream of those soon to die. She walked and talked in her sleep, and her parents warded themselves, telling the girl that she was evil, unlovable, their burden to bear only until her eighteenth birthday released them.

The average person on the streets of Los Angeles would look at the girl and see a young woman with dark chocolate eyes, curly long hair, and tanned skin of her Filipina heritage. Her teachers praised her for her scholarly achievements and extracurricular activities, from academic decathlon to cheer.

The girl knew she was different, especially as she grew to accept that the other children’s parents didn’t despise them. Her parents whispered about their pact as odd and disturbing occurrences continued to happen around her. The girl thought being an evil demon should require the skies to bleed, the ground to tremble, an animal sacrifice to seal the bargain, or at least cause some general mayhem. Did other demons work so hard to find friends, do well on their homework, and protect their spoiled younger brother?

The demon was patient. It could afford to wait, to remind the girl when she was hurt that power was hers to take. She needed only embrace it. It could wait. The girl’s parents were doing much of its work already.

Excerpt

She smoothed the wrinkles down on her black Hermès slacks and shirt before turning the crystal hotel doorknob.

“You bring nothing good into this world,” her mother said, baring her teeth. “You just corrupt and destroy everything. You’re a catalyst, a demonic catalyst. You’re only fit to annihilate. One day you’ll understand the destructive nature of your power. You’ll see the damage you’ll bring to those around you when it’s too late. All those people who tell us you’re amazing, they’ll figure it out. You’ve fooled them for now, but they’ll learn.”

The mother slammed the door as she walked out with that last statement. The tears flowed from the girl’s face as she looked at the door. Her breathing sped up as her stomach roiled, sending her sprinting to the toilet. Her hands were shaking, clammy, as she collapsed to the floor, chills running through her body as she looked up at the ceiling. The orange and bergamot scents of the soaps mixed with the stark, white porcelain tile floor were the only anchors she could focus on to stop herself from throwing up again. Deep in her gut, at the core of her being, there was only one thought she could grasp: she’s right.

“I don’t want to be evil,” she said, whimpering to herself. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“But you aren’t alone, pretty girl,” a voice said with a throaty laugh.

Author Bio and Links

Victory Witherkeigh is a female Filipino author originally from Los Angeles, CA, currently living in the Las Vegas area. Victory was a finalist for Wingless Dreamer’s 2020 Overcoming Fear Short Story award and a 2021 winner of the Two Sisters Writing and Publishing Short Story Contest.

She has print publications in the horror anthologies Supernatural Drabbles of Dread through Macabre Ladies Publishing, Bodies Full of Burning through Sliced Up Press, and In Filth It Shall Be Found through OutCast Press.

Her first novel, set to debut in Spring 2024 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing, has been a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award, a 2020 Cinnamon Press Literature Award Honoree, and long-listed in the 2021 Voyage YA Book Pitch Contest.

Instagram | Facebook | Website | Twitter | Amazon Buy Link

Giveaway

Victory Witherkeigh will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Victory on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

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5 responses to “Interview with Victory Witherkeigh

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