Interview with Victoria Costello (conclusion)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up?

VC. My new book comes out on June 13, 2023, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring it to readers. As mentioned, it evolved from the true story of my tragedy-plagued Irish American family I told in A Lethal Inheritance, but with me giving myself permission to ask, What if? What if the youngest family members dared to confront and reverse this legacy of violence and madness? The result is Orchid Child, a mix of history and fantasy inspired by Celtic folklore, along with science, and bits of mystery and romance. It’s a story told in three voices, one per generation, over a century.
Teague is the novel’s orchid child, who hears voices and talks to trees, but rarely people. Bullied back home in New York, he finds validation when his Aunt Kate takes him to West Ireland, where neo-Druids identify his strange perceptions as the gift of second sight, putting Teague at odds with Kate who sees his mental differences as a medical problem to be fixed.

Kate is the family success story, whose rising star in neuroscience has crashed in a sex scandal. She vows to salvage her career by taking on a study on the epigenetics of family mental illness in a rural Irish county. Only to discover she’s unknowingly come to her ancestral homeland, meaning she’s studying her own genes. As Kate’s research is blocked by hostile locals, Teague drifts further into his pagan fellowship, pushing Kate to confront the limits of science and the power of ancestral ties. Ellen is the apothecary’s daughter who will become Kate’s grandmother. Forced to flee Ireland for New York City after her beloved, also a holder of second sight, is accused of betrayal in the 1920 Irish Rebellion, Ellen lives to her eighties as the matriarch who struggles with the burden she’s accepted to keep the gift alive—until the family wound, past and present, can be healed.
I’m feeling gratified by the early positive reviews, the feeling that the story you’ve slaved over for ten years, is touching people, making them think and have hope when times are tough.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VC. A weird thing about me is that even as a kid, when I kept a diary, or scribbled poems, I always took my writing seriously. It probably has to do with the fact that I’m a Scorpio and writing has always been my secret life. And that’s probably why it took until this year, when I’ve just turned seventy, to share my most secret story with actual readers around the world.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

VC. I, for one, love paper books, especially hard cover, fine paper books, but I read e-books and listen to audiobooks more often

for practical reasons. I imagine I’m typical that way. So until we run out of trees, that will probably stay the norm.

Q. What makes a writer great?

VC. Oooh, hard one. Maybe the courage to bare their soul, regardless of what anyone thinks or says. The ability to find the right, and the fewest, words to express the ineffable.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

VC. It all comes down to perseverance. Orchid Child took ten years from beginning to end. You have to want it more than anything else in your life during that time of writing, revising, querying, and promoting. There may not be room in your life while you have young kids to raise. That’s why I think a lot of women publish later. But I believe our books are richer for it.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

VC. It’s all there in my writing.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

Top of Mt. Victoria

VC. Walks with friends in our wonderful downtown Ashland, Lithia Park. Hikes in the hills. Cat play. I really don’t have what you would call hobbies. I eat but I’m not a cook. I read and watch endless Scandinavian and British mysteries, from Shetland to Inspector Morse, I find are the perfect diversion when my mental energies need a rest.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

VC. Being new to fiction, I’ll stick with it for the time being as my main creative output. I’ve also been writing essays on craft and theory of fiction and especially autofiction.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

VC. I’m good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Why, oh why, did I, like most women, take so long to learn this? Being enough is wonderful. Try it!

Did you miss the beginning of this interview?

To receive my weekly posts, sign up for my  On the home page, enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.   April: Author, H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard, May: Victoria Costello.  June: Laila Ibrahim


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