Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann, pub date: October 3, 2023, Regal House Publishing
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Victoria Swann is a successful author of romance and adventure novels who becomes a champion of women’s rights as she takes on the literary establishment and finds her true voice, both on and off the page. Everything changes for Victoria when she goes against her publisher’s demands and abandons her frivolous style to tell her own story. Her new, young, Harvard-bred editor becomes her unexpected ally as she fights for the women who have been her faithful readers. Set in Gilded Age Boston, The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann shows writing and reading as acts of defiance and revision in life and revision on the page as intimately entwined.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
Fiction; historical fiction
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
It’s a toss-up between:
“The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann is a captivating and delicious novel.” – Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field
“Virginia Pye has written a novel as full of vital ideas about truth, progress and how to live with intention as it is with wild romps and charming encounters. The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann may be set in Gilded Age Boston, but it’s a celebration of readers, writers and bookstores everywhere.” – Elizabeth Graver, author of Kantika
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
I’m never good at coming up with comps, but I’d say it’s like The Paris Bookseller, by Kerri Maher or The Gilded Age, by Claire McMillan.
- Why this book? Why now?
The Literary Undoing of Victoria is about a woman finding her voice both on and off the page. It shows the joy of creating—in this case, writing. It’s a book lover’s story and a feminist story. And although it is set in the Gilded Age, it explores issues vital to us today, including abortion and immigrant rights, freedom to love whomever we choose, and addiction.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
I loved teaching writing, especially to adults. My students at NYU School of Continuing Education had stories to tell and I loved encouraging them to do so.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I want them to be entertained while reading and to later mull over how the past informs our moment today and how we can be guided by that into a better future. But first, I want them to fall in love with my characters and enjoy the story.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Hmmm…sherry? It seems appropriately Victorian. But also, how about Chinese food and Irish soda bread, because Chinese- and Irish- American characters have a lot to say in this story, too.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
I just finished Bill Roorbach’s Lucky Turtle, which I loved and I’m now reading another book I can already tell I love and admire: This is Happiness by Naill Williams. Both novels are about human connection and warmth, with some conflict, too, but mostly big-heartedness. That’s what my novel aims for, too.
Learn more about Virginia on her website.