YEM Author Interview: Victory Witherkeigh chats about her main character being a female of Filipina heritage in her book The Girl

Victory Witherkeigh is the author of The Girl. The Girl of follows a young woman with dark chocolate eyes, curly long hair, and tanned skin of her Filipina heritage. She walked and talked in her sleep, and her parents warded themselves, telling the girl that she was evil, unlovable, their burden to bear only until her eighteenth birthday released them. YEM was able to speak with Victory about what it is like to have her book The Girl out, what her writing process was like, and how long it took for her to write The Girl.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

Victory Witherkeigh: I had multiple ideas of what I wanted to be as a child. I said I wanted to be a doctor, an author and fashion designer, and sometimes a scientist or witch? But writing and journaling were always my safe place. So when I could have enough financial cushion to attempt it, I allowed myself to take that risk.

YEM: What is it like to have your book The Girl out?

Victory: Oh gosh! So many feels now that it’s out there… shocked, nervous, excited, and grateful… all swirling at once. But considering how long I’ve thought about being a published author internally. I know the younger me is off doing cartwheels somewhere, then fainting.

YEM: Did you know from the start that you wanted your main character to be a female of Filipina heritage just as you are?

Victory: Yes! I wanted to write for young brown girls who felt they couldn’t identify with most of the female characters in the novels, especially if they were of the dark fantasy/horror genre, since I could find none at that age.

YEM: Are there other parts of the main character that are inspired by you as well?

Victory: Without too many spoilers – I’ll say that all the travel chapters are places I’ve been to. The mythology/pre-colonial gods are part of my oral history through various family members and traditional dances, especially as a former hula/Tahitian dancer.

YEM: How would you describe The Girl in three words?

Victory: Ambitious, Loyal, Needy

YEM: What do you love about writing for a young adult audience?

Victory: I love saying that I’m writing for young adult readers (both in age or in spirit) as a reminder to those who feel lonely and seek refuge while living in darkness. There are others out there like you who will choose to sit beside you and spin tales to pass the time — a beacon to show you’re not alone.

YEM: What do you hope readers of The Girl can take away from reading it?

Victory: I hope The Girl can help expose the dangers of concepts such as “likeability” or even “wealth,” means “goodness,” and that coming to terms with your darkest self is more important than following what others think. 

YEM: What was your writing process like for The Girl?

Victory: The Girl’s first draft was an exercise for NaNoWriMo in November 2019. I had no outline, just wrote free-form chapters. I only outlined it as part of the editing phase once I completed about 70k words. And lots of music/playlists.

YEM: Do you have a book that made you fall in love with literature?

Victory: One of my childhood heroes, Kobe Bryant, would recommend books, and I would devour his recommendations. The first series I loved were Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Series and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman DC comics. Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road, and Mary Shelley’s work impressed me. 

YEM: Who was the first to read The Girl after you finished writing it?

Victory: I think it was actually a Beta reader friend I had from the gym. I enjoy Olympic weightlifting as a way to stay in shape and found out they were a Creative Writing major and asked them to read it.

YEM: How long did it take for you to write The Girl?

Victory: I started writing ideas for The Girl as far back as the early 2010s. But the first time I really sat down to pull the ideas together into a manuscript was part of NaNoWriMo in the fall of 2019. Overall, writing The Girl would take about a year and a half to two years of full-time work.

YEM: What do you have planned to write next?

Victory: This is always the most complicated question! I am currently in a second draft for a significant TBD thing. But I have a new short story for preorder, The Underdog Press, due to come out in April 2023.