I'm tremendously honored to have Victoria McCombs on the blog today! I have admired her for quite a while now, as she is an extremely driven, kind, and wonderful person! Victoria's debut novel just released (with the most gorgeous cover ever) and I was so excited to ask her all about it. In today's interview, Victoria discusses fairytale retellings, the motivation to always keep going, and her inspirational journey to publication. I hope you enjoy!
First things first, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a YA Fantasy writer with my debut novel coming out this year. I grew up loving fairytale retellings so it’s fitting that my first series be a collection of these. I’m also a wife and a mom of two toddler boys who keep me busy during the day!
What has your writing journey been like?
I grew up writing and going to writing classes, so that helped develop my craft at a young age. But I never thought it was a practical thing to pursue as a full-time career. A few years ago I decided I wanted to try this for real. I sent out a mass query on an old book, and got no replies. It took another year for me to try again, and I wrote another book. This was the first book I wrote that I was really really proud of. I queried to a handful of people, got a couple of interests, but ultimately its set aside for me to revise later. I took time to read other books and paid attention to my favorite author’s writing style, read a bunch of online writing articles, and started my Instagram page. Then I sat down and wrote The Storyteller’s Daughter in four months. Edited, queried, and signed a contract with Parliament House Press!
If you could only own three books, what would they be?
Oh my gosh, this question isn’t fair. Alright, after tears upon tears and a memorial service for each of my other books, I’d pick Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball trilogy. Those books convinced me I wanted to be a writer, and even though they are simple stories, they are magical to me.
Your debut novel, The Storyteller’s Daughter, was released on July 14th. Can you pitch us this novel?
Everyone has a Gift. Some can tell mesmerizing stories, some can turn apples into peaches on Saturdays, some can jump as high as a horse. But then Cosette is the first to be born Giftless. When someone mistakenly assumes she has one, she chooses not to correct them, and word of her Gift travels to the King who demands she use it to help end the war. In her desperation, Cosette calls upon an ancient magic and finds Rumpelstiltskin, along with a power deeper than she bargained for.
What inspired The Storyteller’s Daughter?
I grew up loving fairytales. They inspired me to be a writer. But I didn’t want to write another Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella retelling. So I chose Rumpelstiltskin, a tale I was familiar with but had never read a retelling of.
This is the first in a series, what else do you have in store for this world?
Each book that I write in this series becomes my new favorite book. On July 16, 2020 I had the cover reveal for Woods of Silver and Light, the companion novel to TSD. This features Anika, Cosette’s sister, as she gets caught up with the thieves of the Silver Woods in a unique robin hood retelling. Next is The Winter Charlatan with a story about a girl who ought to be queen, who teams up with the fraud prince to save their kingdom while plotting how to steal back her crown. This one is a Sleeping Beauty retelling and once again we see Anika make an appearance. The fourth book, which I’m drafting now, will be a princess and the pea retelling (again, with Anika appearing somewhere.) Each book has a unique plot and cast, so it isn’t necessary to read the previous books first.
What was the biggest joy in writing The Storyteller’s Daughter?
Getting that offer of publication from Parliament House Press ten days after querying it was the best day. It was proof that everything I worked for was paying off.
What do you hope readers take away from The Storyteller’s Daughter?
I’ve read so many books about people who are overlooked, who then go on to discover a unique ability that makes them revered by all. I didn’t want that for my character, because that’s not real life. Cosette had to learn to love herself, even when no one else ever saw her worth.
What are you currently working on? Any future projects you can tell us about?
I’ve already written the next two books in this series (Woods of Silver and Light, and The Winter Charlatan) and am drafting the final book. These will all be released about six months after each other, so you don’t have to wait too long for them! And at some point Oathbound will be released, which is the first of my pirate series.
What are some of your future writing goals?
I want to write someone’s favorite book. I want to go to any library and see my books there. I want to make a career from writing and be able to support my family without my husband needing to work.
Do you have any advice for other writers of YA?
Yes! I’d say- decide what you want from this. If this is a side thing, then feel free to take your time and only write when you feel inspired. But if you want to make a full career out of this, then it deserves everything. I’ve stopped watching tv, I devour as many books as I can, I read all the articles I can find on writing advice, I spend time marketing and promoting myself through Instagram, I’ve created a website for myself, I write with every spare second that I have. It sounds like a lot, but I love it, so it’s not exhausting for me. If you want to be serious about writing, than it deserves your whole heart.
Follow Victoria on Instagram: @victoria_mccombs