Posted on January 23, 2019 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

What were you up to right after college?

If you’re writer Victoria Hetherington, that answer is: working on a digital-fiction project, thanks to multiple grants, and seeing big-name publications like the Guardian and the LA Review of Books report on the final product.

Her writing journey, of course, didn’t end with I Have To Tell You; Hetherington continued to publish fiction in various anthologies and magazines, while working as a freelance copywriter and communications specialist, as she finished her debut novel.

With Mooncalves — which follows the bloody implosion of a cult in Quebec — set to be released April 5, she took the time to answer a few of our questions about her early career.

SADYE: When you were a kid, did you dream about becoming an author someday?

VICTORIA: Not at all: as a kid, I wasn’t a big dreamer.

When we were about nine, my best friend and cruellest bully — who I absolutely worshipped, of course — dreamed of being an astronaut one day, a Hollywood megastar the next. ...

I did write a lot and thought it’d be cool to be a lady who wrote, but I thought it’d be cool enough to get to adulthood, quite honestly.

If I could turn twenty, wear makeup, make money and spend it how I like, maybe learn how to shoot a gun, well, that was just about as glamorous as I needed.

SADYE: What were the most rewarding, most surprising, and most challenging parts of doing I Have To Tell You?

VICTORIA: When the book came out, I learned a rewarding, surprising, and challenging thing all at once — that nobody cares.

Nobody cares!

I was really young, so of course I was surprised: the world hadn’t ground me down yet.

But it was rewarding because I was coming to learn that there’s a staggering amount of enormous talent out there, so many beautiful books all as deserving to be read as mine — most of them, let’s be real, probably more than mine — and you learn about them, and you read them, and you feel humbled, and keep working, and you get better.

SADYE: What lessons did you take away from it and apply to your upcoming debut novel?

VICTORIA: That it’s hard and it takes a lot of time, and finishing a draft, as insurmountable as that seems, is just the first step.

I finished the first draft, and it was over a hundred thousand words, and then it took months to cut it down to a sellable eighty thousand, and then months to edit that, and edit it again, and then put it away and then reread it and hate it and then edit it again.

And then to try to find a publisher! And then the business of promoting the book so you don’t end up with hundreds of dusty copies of your book in boxes (still working on that part).   

SADYE: Where did you find your inspiration(s) for Mooncalves?

VICTORIA: I was inspired by cult infiltrators who risked their lives to drag people from the clutches of dangerous cults.

I was hit with a very uncomfortable thought: Eager as I am to please and belong, I'd be a perfect mark for a cult.

I got to imagining myself in a cult, then wondered what dark fairy tale would be the focus of that theoretical doomsday cult (what scary thing would compel this theoretical cult to drink their theoretical poisonous Kool-Aid) and thought “yes — the technological Singularity.”

I could just imagine a messed-up dude — and let's face it, it's always a dude — imagining strong AI catching up with, and then outpacing, human intelligence, and then maybe repurposing humanity for its own use.

Joseph, the cult leader, took shape from there. He's haunted me ever since.

SADYE: So what do you hope readers take away from the novel, once it's out?

VICTORIA: That life is full of black humor. That people, for better or for worse, are everything to us.

SADYE: You're also serving as a judge for the Deathmatch Indie Writer’s Short Story Contest — is this your first time judging?

VICTORIA: Yeah! This is my first time, and I loved every moment of it.

It’s exhilarating to experience the voices of up-and-coming writers; there are some extraordinary stories in this year's match.

I've worked with Broken Pencil before, and doing it again was really fun — and I’m such a fan of the Deathmatch itself.

Its irreverence and democratic-cum-anarchic nature really deflates a lot of clichés about “Can Lit,” I feel — regarding both its content and its production.

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Learn more about Victoria Hetherington on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Categories: Author Interview

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