An Interview with Veronica McGivney
Veronica is a multi-genre author who writes novels and short stories, some of which have been short-listed in British short story competitions. Her fiction books are written under the name V. K. McGivney.
When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
When I was about 6 or 7.
Why do you write? What drives you to do it?
Stories and dialogues start going round in my head and eventually I feel an irresistible urge
to write them down.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t have a schedule! I write when the spirit takes me. Likewise, I
do little initial planning of my novels. Once I have an idea, a character, or a theme, I write a
beginning and just let it develop from there.
Which three words would you use to describe your writing?
Gosh, this is a difficult question! I think I have a mania for clarity in writing, so would
1. Clear (author Corinna Edwards-Colledge has described my writing as ‘clean’, by
which she may have meant the same thing)
2. Pacey (I hope!)
3. Intelligent (I also hope!)
What inspires your writing?
Anything and everything! Something seen or overheard; an item on the news; an incident
that happened to me or to someone I know.
For example, the first scene of Inheritors of the New Kingdom was inspired by something experienced by a friend of mine. A Reluctant Hero was prompted when, from a bus, I saw a very miserable-looking man standing outside a shop, and started to imagine what had happened to him.
Similarly, many of my short stories in Ghosts, Resolution and Revenge were inspired by incidents that had happened either to me or to people I know.
Multi-genre? I enjoy the challenge of trying different styles and genres and don’t wish to be
limited to any specific one.
For many years, because of the work I did, I was constrained by the requirements of academic writing so it has been a relief to have the freedom to experiment with different ways of writing fiction. (I use my initials in writing fiction because I want to keep it separate from academic stuff written under my full name).
Do you base your settings and characters on real places and people?
Most of the settings in my novels are based on real ones. None of my characters are based
completely on individuals I’ve known, although I’ve used aspects of people I’ve met in
creating some of my characters.
Do you have a favourite book, place, or character from your own work?
Of the novels I’ve written, my favourite is Inheritors of the New Kingdom because it
has a sci-fi slant. This novel hasn’t been as popular as my other books, but I’ve explored more themes and put more of myself into it than into any of the others. My favourite character is Sister Francis in the same book. My favourite setting is the Gower Peninsula in Wales in Aftermath of a Murder.
What makes a good story in your eyes?
A good story is one that grabs you from the very beginning and keeps you guessing and
interested as it unfolds; one that doesn’t get too bogged down in unnecessary details and
searching for poetic effect.
What do you like to read?
I love biographies, historical novels, such as those by Hilary Mantel, and novels with
stories so gripping you can’t put them down, like those written by Robert Harris.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a writer?
What always amazes me is how a story will take off on its own once you have started
writing it, and lead you into unexpected areas. This has certainly happened with all of mine.
What are you currently writing, if anything?
I’m currently writing a third in the Aftermath psychological thriller series – Aftermath of
an Affair – to follow Aftermath of a Murder and Aftermath of a Party. Unfortunately,
this one is going rather slowly because it has to compete with my other great love, painting,
which has rather taken over during the Lockdown – painting is calming and very therapeutic.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
If you have an idea or something you want to write, just let it spill out onto the page and
refine it later. Then check, check, check and correct, correct, correct!
It doesn’t matter how often you re-read your own work, there will always be things you may miss – repetitions, typos, silly mistakes – that will show up glaringly once the work is in a published format.