August 5, 2016

Q & A with Victoria Griffin, author and editor

Victoria is a recent graduate of Campbell University’s softball and English programs. She now resides in East Tennessee, where she writes fiction and works as a freelance writer and editor. When she’s not downing coffee in a local cafe, you can find her running by the lake or napping in a hammock. Her short fiction has appeared in various literary journals, including NonBinary Review, Synaesthesia Magazine, Apeiron Review, and Torrid Literature Journal. Visit her online at her website ( and follow her on Twitter: @victoria_grif7. Find her on Facebook too.


GB: Victoria, thank you for taking the time for this interview. My first question is usually: Can you share a little bit about yourself? What's some background info worthy of noting for the readers? Any publications or previous work you'd like to self-plug?

VG: Thanks for having me! I am a creative writer, freelance writer, and editor. I am from East Tennessee, and after attending school in Indiana and North Carolina, I’m back in Tennessee. My fiction tends toward suspense and horror, though I do branch out—such as the literary piece appearing in (plug alert!) Scout Media’s A Journey of Words later this summer. I also have a story appearing in the horror anthology Death and Pestilence from Sands Press.

I’m also a former college softball player and am still getting used to mentioning that as an afterthought.

GB: So you're an author, a freelance editor, and a wearer of many different hats. Can you tell us a little bit about what it's like to be on the freelancing side of writing? How did you get started and what influences brought you to that side of the creativity?

VG:  Writing is art. Freelancing is business. As a writer-for-hire, not every project I take on is as enthralling as fiction. But each project has artistic potential. Writing is all about reaching the reader and evoking emotion, whether we’re trying to tell a story or to market a product, and remembering that helps me apply lessons learned as a freelancer to my fiction. How did I get into this? After taking a detour from my anticipated route (BA to MFA to teaching) I was approached by a Facebook-user who needed writing services for his business. I realized I had two things: time and writing skills. Freelance writing seemed to be the perfect use for them. So far, it has been.

GB: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into that side of the business? What kind of experiences should someone look for in order to take a step in that direction?

VG:  My advice: Never sell yourself short, with prices or otherwise. Your time is valuable, and your skills are valuable. For some reason, notion is growing that anyone with proficiency in the English language is a writer. Don’t fall into that trap. Recognize that a good writer, one with control and mastery of the language, is extremely valuable. Set your prices accordingly, and do not put up with clients who attempt to devalue your skills. Because they will. They’ll try to claim your time, and they’ll ask you to jump through hoops because anyone can do your job. A good client will recognize that falsity of that assumption, and that’s the sort of person you want to work with.

GB: How has being an editor, who provides many different editing services, helped your life as a writer? What about as a reader?

VG:  Practice is integral to becoming a good writer. The same is true for editing. The difference is that you can write until your fingers fall off, but you can only edit what you’ve written. Having the opportunity to edit others’ work has definitely strengthened my skills. It also helps me approach my own writing as though it belongs to someone else. That separation allows me to be harsher, merciless.

In editing my own work, I’ve struggled with separating substantive, editing, copy editing, and proofreading. I would consistently fix grammatical mistakes while I was supposed to be dealing with structural changes—a huge waste of time when I wound up performing a close edit of a section I’d later cut. By offering three different depths of editing services, I’ve learned to mentally separate them while editing my own stuff.

As a reader, my tendency to analyze the books I read for pleasure has gotten much worse (or better) since I’ve been editing professionally.

GB: What are you reading currently? Who's on your must-read list?

VG:  I just finished up Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I am consistently awed by her deep characterization. Currently, I am beta reading a book by the incredible Tom Hoover, with Stephen King’s Finders Keepers waiting on my nightstand. In the queue, I’ve got Bloodroot by Amy Greene, Missing Mom and Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates, and the final two books of Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy: The Eye in the Door and Ghost Road.

GB: What does "success" mean to you? What keeps you going?

VG:  For me, being successful means being one step ahead of where I was yesterday. Those forthcoming publications mentioned above are today’s version of success. Tomorrow’s version will be securing an agent, finding a publisher, and holding my novel in my hands. Who knows? I’ve found that the more I try to guide my path, the more unhappy and unfulfilled I feel. As long as I am moving forward, I am successful. The only truly unchanging image I have of success is writing fiction full-time. Everything I do is driven by that image and the thought of being able to follow my passion every moment of every day.

GB: A positive attitude is the drive behind much of humanity's success. It is the foundation of relationships, networks, and growth. How does this concept help your professional career? Do you have any anecdotes about personal or professional success that could help us understand this from the perspective of the "Blue Pen"?

VG:  A positive attitude is a huge part of my identity as an editor. It can be easy, when you’re marking up pages upon pages of work, to forget that the work belongs to someone—a writer with the same hopes and dreams that I have. I actively remind myself of this every time I open a project and every time I correspond with a client. I never give negative feedback without including positive feedback. I follow up with past clients to see how their work and careers are doing. I try to be open, accessible, and transparent in the editing process. I know it is a painful process, having a stranger tear your work apart, so I try to be respectful of that and to be as little a stranger as possible. In the end, whether it’s editing, self-promotion, or simple interaction, it’s important to me to always leave a positive impression. After all, there are enough naysayers in the world.

GB: What is your goal for the upcoming anthology, Flooded? Who would you like to see benefit most from that?

VG:  I have three groups of people in mind: people who have experienced brain injuries and need an outlet to express their realities, people whose loved ones have experienced or are currently experiencing brain injuries and need a way to understand what exactly their loved ones are going through, and people who will experience brain injuries in the future and need to be prepared, as best as anyone could be.

Yes, those three groups of people encompass everyone because a brain injury can happen to absolutely anyone at any time—sports, a car accident, tripping on the sidewalk. Having an understanding of brain injuries before one happens can make a major difference. And I’m not talking about knowing statistics. We can spout statistics until I’m blue in the face, without reaching a single person. Writers and artists know that people remember and connect with emotions above all else, and stories are a fantastic way to convey emotions.

Collectively, we have been “educating” using facts and statistics about concussions for too long. I was a college athlete. I heard them. When an injury actually happens, they mean nothing.

GB: What's next for Victoria Griffin? Got any projects you're working on that we can keep an eye out for (besides Flooded)?

VG:  I’m currently querying agents with a suspense novel titled Ghostlings, which uses a cult setting to explore how far desperation and loneliness can drive a person. I’m also in early revisions with another suspense novel, Left at the Sycamore, which breaches a topic I am extremely interested in—the desire, both essential and harmful, to belong in Appalachian culture.

GB: Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for Flooded? What experiences brought you to focus on brain injury? What difficulties did you face and how did you find the silver lining in all of it?

VG:  January 26, 2016 I took a blow to the helmet during softball practice. It was a week and a half before opening day of my senior season of my college career. My trainer told me I would be fine in two weeks, max. That turned into four months. At my worst, I was unable to read, write, or understand words being spoken to me. Dim lamplight was unbearable, and the sound of footsteps sent me into a seizure-like state. I was often unable to speak and would actually forget to breathe. I was too weak to walk across my bedroom, and I’m told I sounded like a four-year- old on the phone.

Thankfully, I have incredible friends and family who protected me. But even though they saw my battle, I could never tell them what it was like for me. The experience goes beyond simple explanation. That led me to write about it, attempting to find truth in fiction, and that led to the realization that no publications existed which were specifically devoted to the subject.

The idea for Flooded happened very organically, but it’s no surprise. The concussion stripped everything away from me—my entire identity. I couldn’t even feel my own emotions, only the synthetic depression and anger from the injury, and the medication (which is another story). So when I began to get better, and even now, I am beyond grateful simply to be here, to be aware, and to be able to do the things I love. Listening to music, standing in the sunshine, writing, watching a movie—I am grateful each day to be able to live my life. That sort of positivity infects every part of my life, and it drove me to create, using the most destructive force I have ever encountered as fuel.