Interview with Victory Witherkeigh, author of YA horror The Girl
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.
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Excerpt from The Girl
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.
Interview with Victory Witherkeigh
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Writing was always my safe place. It was something I enjoyed doing as opposed to where I was in my career a few years ago when I tried at my dream of being a full-time writer. As a Project Manager, I have been part of industries that vary from nonprofits to various hospitals to construction and IT. It paid the bills and allowed me to make ends meet, so to speak, but I could never say it was something I’d dreamed of doing. So when I was in a position for the first time to have enough financial cushion to attempt the dream job, I allowed myself to take that risk.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I would love to visit the kingdom of the Master of Death, Kasanaan. My publisher released a short story earlier this year that I had written as a sneak preview for The Girl. Seeing a pack of dinosaurs swimming in a gravity-defying waterfall from the realm of the Dead sounds like such a mind-boggling experience.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
“There is so much more to this story than I can tell you, but do you really trust me?”
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
This may be a bit of plot borrowing – but I’d love to pull a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and take LapuLapu to a modern bar. Who wouldn’t want to take a Pacific Islander war chief to a bar and just see what happens? And I say ‘Pacific Islander’ because the islands known as the Philippines today were never united before colonial rule under Spain. I feel hopeful we would not want karaoke, and he would just walk around with the spear, full ancestral tattoos on display, watching him walk around a grocery or shopping complex and interactive things. The pragmatic nerd in me would be terrified about him drinking or eating our food – like all the bacteria in his stomach. Would it kill him because there’s no way he’d be adjusting to modern frying, pasteurization, and antibiotics of contemporary cuisine?
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
You have to accept it because it’s the only honorable thing to do. The question is – what kind of duel is it? I know I would lose in a duel of wits if he’s a Sicilian (yes, that’s a Princess Bride joke). If it’s a chopsticks duel, I stand a chance, or a dance-off, I might stand a chance. Magic the Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons are 50/50, but Uno or a game of Speed with a regular deck of cards is in my wheelhouse.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I don’t think I could ever really write poetry or humor well. I have a dry, sometimes macabre, sense of humor because I started my career in nonprofits and hospital systems. So I often feel like I don’t have a very optimistic outlook on writing anything considered mainstream funny. Romance is another genre I am unsure I could really write about. Not because I don’t have romance within my own stories, but because I think primarily because my target audience is young adults, especially young women. So much gets made about teen romance and love. I feel more of the push to be a voice reminding kids it’s okay if romance isn’t in the cards so early in life. It’s so easy for women to have their love lives be the only thing society cares about that I think having one more author add to the discussion of other issues that young women can deal with is more important.
About Victory Witherkeigh
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.
Victory Witherkeigh will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.