Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Girl by Victory Witherkeigh

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Victory Witherkeigh will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to It's Raining Books. Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I write predominantly in dark fantasy and horror, emphasizing young adults. The first book I remember being so proud to finish was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I enjoyed Mr. Willy Wonka because of the incredible power he seems to have to punish these terrible children AND adults. The darker parts of stories or fairy tales didn’t scare me in the same way, I’d heard from other children or didn’t seem unbelievable to me. I thought as a kid that the real fairytale or made-up story was this “American dream of white picket fences and Hallmark family faces.”

What research is required?

As a genre or speculative fiction writer, the amount of research you need for your world-building depends on how proportional the story you are telling or trying to tell takes place in a world mirroring our own. This part of speculative fiction is a skill I need to improve, no matter how much I practice it. One of the best lectures I’ve seen about the concepts and where to begin is through MasterClass. The author N. K. Jemisin teaches the courses and offers some fantastic insight about starting world-building from a macro/planetary view, assuming the writer needs a brand new planetary system and helps lay out steps to the micro levels. One significant point in every writing workshop or course I’ve seen in world-building that I’ve found is valid for me is, as the writer, I will always know more about the world than will ever really be said on the page for the reader.

Name one thing you learned from your heroine.

The Girl helped me add a layer to the question I had 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 hope The Girl can help expose the dangers of the idea that “likeability” or even “popularity” means “goodness.” If anything in history rings true, it’s often those who are overlooked or unpopular that actually do the best work for humanity. I want future kids who hear this story to have another voice added to the chorus of us who have been “othered” or considered “unlikeable” and how being labeled by society doesn’t mean you are boxed in that trope forever.

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

The one caveat I try to adhere to when I’m writing is I purposefully try to avoid watching anything in the genre I’m working in. I have a tendency to become obsessive with a TV show or movie if I like it, so I try to avoid that during my writing periods because I don’t want to have any subconscious influencing or swaying of any ideas I have as hard as that is. I know there is the idea that “there are no more original stories,” but if I see something I like visually or plot-wise, it will stick a lot longer in my head. If it’s something that I have in my head to do and I see it or read it, I know I can get self-conscious enough to question my own writing as opposed to letting the journey see through where the plot or characters will go.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

A bit of both. I completed The Girl’s first draft as an exercise for NaNoWriMo in November 2019. When I said I would try NaNoWriMo, I had no discernible outline or plot strategy. The manuscript came as a free-form script, just random thoughts stringing along page after page. Once I hit over the fifty thousand word count, I laid out all the stories and realized I could outline a bigger narrative as part of the editing phase once I completed around ninety to ninety-five thousand words. This gave me a big-picture view of all the pieces I had created, allowing me to outline further if I wished.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

My newly arrived author’s copy of a horror anthology I’m part of called And the Dead Shall Sleep No More. This is the third story I’ve published with the publisher, I/O Enterprises. The book came out on Halloween this year with their favorite recurring theme- vampires. I’ve been on their previous issues, titled Unusual Vampires and Lost at Sea, respectively.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m an overthinker, so I feel like I have something brewing all the time. Before attempting to write a novel, I started my career as a short story writer in predominantly dark fantasy/horror. I have a couple of other scary short stories coming out in a few magazines this 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.”

Do you have a question for our readers?

What childhood nightmares or thoughts scared you the most as a kid?

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.

Read an Excerpt

“— there are certain… misconceptions about me, pretty girl. I, and those I command, end life. That is our purpose, always has been. Our valley is its own land as we are our own kingdom. Death is the one act all living things will succumb to, whether good, evil, or in-between. We don’t have a stake in moral debates or questions, as your kind has called it, since we are a constant, an equalizer. We come for everything and everyone. But humanity has definitely found some of the most creative ways to end life over the centuries, and every so often in history, we’ve granted a request to aid them in doing so.”

Only then did he look over at the girl, his tongue darting out to lick the sugar off his lips. She had barely breathed as he had been speaking, her tongue building more saliva as she became wholly entranced with his words, almost as though she saw the visions of his brethren carrying out their jobs over the centuries. She found herself a little startled that the sound of her own heartbeat was thudding loudly in her ears as he seemed to hesitate to tell her the next part.

“Your ancestors are one such example,” he said, head tilting slightly and as she gasped, he continued. “You, my dear, are the descendent of not one but two who sacrificed to one of mine, my finest general, in fact. You learned the story of Lapulapu?”

About the Author:
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.



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