Mary Victoria has just released the third book in a series of three titled “Oracle’s Fire”. She is a fantasy writer, a wife and a mother and the perfect fit for Beauty and Lace – so, lucky for us she was happy to have a chat in this recent interview:
What can you tell us about your latest book, Oracle’s Fire?
‘Oracle’s Fire’ is the third volume of a fantasy trilogy set in a giant tree. To picture that, rather than thinking of a classic oak or elm, imagine a whole continent of green rising above the clouds, with branches big enough to support human settlements. The story follows the adventures of Tymon, a young boy growing up in this World Tree, and explores the conflicts and mysteries underlying his universe.
Who is your target audience?
I originally wrote the stories for a YA crossover audience, age 15 and upwards, though they are marketed in the adult section and can be enjoyed by fantasy readers of any age.
You have lived in a variety of different places, what has been your favourite and why?
That’s an impossible question to answer! I’ve enjoyed each place I’ve lived for very different reasons. New Zealand stole my heart because of its amazing landscapes, but I also love the vibrancy of London, the culture in France and the history breathing out of the stones in my childhood home of Cyprus. Don’t ask me to choose!
How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I knew how! But if you mean how did I get my first professional gig, it was through the good offices of my then to-be agent. Basically, I wrote the first book of the ‘Chronicles of the Tree’, showed it to my agent, rewrote it according to her suggestions, then went on rewriting, improving the ms and showing it to her until she finally broke down and agreed to sell it for me.
Where does the cover art come from?
The cover art for all three books was done by Frank Victoria, an artist at Weta Workshop (who also happens to be my husband…)
What made you choose fantasy as your genre?
I’ve always loved stories that incorporate an element of wonder or whimsy. Though I may not always write epic fantasy, I will never lose that love of the magical, I think. Some magic can be buried very deeply in a seemingly ordinary world.
You previously worked as an animator, what made you focus on writing?
There was always writing going on in the background, no matter what else I did. I enjoyed animating and worked hard at my craft, but writing was a thirst – I couldn’t stop. When I was done with a long day animating I’d slink home and work on a short story. It was like an addiction.
How do you balance your family life with writing?
Luckily for me I have a very supportive husband. I write while my daughter is at school, for about five hours a day during weekdays.
Tell us something really unusual about you…
I don’t know! I don’t feel unusual in the least. Maybe it could be considered moderately interesting that my first language was not English. It was Persian – but baby babble Persian. I’m illiterate in that language.
Is it more difficult to plan a series of books than a standalone novel? What is your process?
I found I needed a series of three books to explore the ideas I wished to explore in this particular story. But I didn’t know precisely what twists and turns the plot would take, in advance. I worked out summaries and outlines to get things rolling, but had to be prepared to throw it all out if a better idea presented itself during the writing process. Which it inevitably did – I’m a great believer in working things out on the fly.
When venturing into a world of fantasy, do you switch off at the end of the day or does it stay with you?
When there’s a story knot to be unravelled, it certainly stays! Sometimes I’ll chew on it all night. When everything’s going well, however, I’m able to switch off.
What’s next for Mary Victoria?
I’m working on a new project, though I’m a little superstitious about saying too much about novels before they’re written – so I’ll remain quiet about that, if I may.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Well – I’ve never really analysed that question, to be honest. I don’t think of myself first and foremost as ‘a woman’, though of course the fact colours so much of my experience. I’ve been pregnant, I’ve had a wonderful daughter. I’ve also been blessed to have a mother who always encouraged me in all I did. I suppose, if I had to sum up ‘being a woman’ in a nutshell, it would be that sense of connection and continuity – between family members, over time, bridging cultures. While no man is an island, you could say that women are, or at least can learn to be, entire archipelagos.
Thanks so much, Anna!
You’re very welcome!!