We were all enchanted by Victoria's winning story and the news that she now has not one, but two novels soon to be published, is very welcome indeed. We're looking forward to them both. Here she tells us a little about what we can expect.
I was so delighted to win the Exeter Story Prize in 2019 for my story ‘Island Girl 139’. It was a story I’d been working on for a couple of years and the positive feedback from judges was a real confidence boost. Soon afterwards, I started a completely new project – a short novel about two medieval women, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.
Both women lived in Norfolk in the fourteenth century and both claimed to have visions of Christ. Julian recorded her experiences in a book, The Revelations of Divine Love, which she wrote while she was an anchoress – confined to a single room for thirty years – and which she kept secret all her life for fear of accusations of heresy.
Margery was an illiterate merchant’s wife and the mother of fourteen children, so her life was incredibly different from Julian’s. She often boasted of her visions, and she was repeatedly threatened with arrest. When she was in her sixties she dictated her life story, The Book of Margery Kempe – and it’s the first known autobiography in English. When I read that these two women had actually met, something sparked in my imagination – what would a celibate anchoress and a mother of fourteen have to say to each other?
In 2021 I sent the manuscript to Sam Copeland at Rogers, Coleridge and White, and he proved to be my perfect agent. He loved the book and quickly secured me a two-book deal with Bloomsbury. I can really only speak in cliches about this moment in my writing career – I was over the moon!
My novel, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain (a quotation from Margery’s book), will be published in early 2023, and a second novel, Brantwood, about the Victorian art critic John Ruskin, will be published in 2025.
After many years of writing and trying to get an agent, my advice to other emerging writers is to follow your heart. Write about what interests you, what you want to read, and this passion will surely show on the page.
You can find out more about Victoria here:
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