Victoria Raschke wrote her first short story at 10. Her mother said it was brilliant but pointed out she had written “cereal” instead of “serial.” She still can’t spell but did manage an M.A. in English from the University of Tennessee and a Culinary Arts degree from Nashville State Community College. Extensive travels in Eastern Europe led to spending a year in Slovenia, where her daydreams and upcoming book are set. Victoria lives in Knoxville with her cats and human family who really appreciate that culinary arts degree.
Who by Water is out today, links below for acquiring a copy!
If I were interviewing you for TV, is this a late night comedy show or a daytime talk show? Are we gonna have a lip-sync battle, or dance badly and give stuff away?
– I think a late night talk show, something in between couch chatting and dancing badly.
This is your first novel with Griffyn Ink, have you been published previously?
– I haven’t published a novel previously. I’ve had a couple poems published (ages ago) and I write for a beer magazine as my side, side gig.
Tell us a bit about Who by Water. How many books are planned for the Voices of the Dead?
– Who by Water is an urban fantasy novel that colors outside the lines of urban fantasy. It isn’t set in London or L.A. or New York. It’s set in the small Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, and draws on Eastern European history but isn’t about vampires. The protagonist, Jo Wiley, is a fortysomething mom who refuses to act her age. Though there is a vein of romance, finding love isn’t Jo’s focus in life. It’s also in third person rather than first person, but the dialogue is still pretty snappy.
When I started thinking about the long arc of the series, I thought there were five books but when I finished WBW, I realized it was really better as a quartet. I’m about halfway through writing book two now.
When did you first get the urge to write?
– In fifth grade, when my English teacher had us all write limericks and haiku. I’d kept a diary as soon as I could write sentences, but that was the first time I realized writing stuff other people would see was an option for me. It spurred a very bad mystery short story called “The Corporate Cleaners” about a janitor who discovers her murdered boss. I’m pretty sure it was a pastiche of Murder, She Wrote episodes or something like that.
Do you have a favorite author who inspired you to start writing?
– There wasn’t an author who inspired that bad, fifth grade poetry, but there were several writers who inspired me to write more speculative fiction. I adore British sci-fi and fantasy writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Warren Ellis, and Jasper Fforde. I’ve also always read mysteries and have spent the last few years actively seeking out women writing speculative fiction and mysteries because that list of British authors I love was all dudes.
If you could sit down and interview any fictional character, who would it be and why?
–It’s probably cliché, but I would love to have a cup of tea with Dr. John Watson. I’m fascinated by sidekicks and how much they shape and steer protagonists. I love all the permutations of Watson’s character over the years in books, films, and television. My current favorite Watson is Lucy Liu’s portrayal on Elementary.
If you could sit down and interview any of your characters, who would it be and why?
–I am all about the sidekicks, so I would probably interview Jo’s best friend and business partner Vesna Kos. She’s a bit of a still pond in the first book but her character and story develop more in the second book. Of all the characters in the series, she’d closest to being like me and I’m overly interested in getting into and rooting around in my own brain.
You used to be an instructor for a college culinary department. Do you have any plans on incorporating that into your writing?
– There’s definitely some of that in Who by Water. Jo, Vesna, and Gregor own a punk teahouse together and there are kitchen scenes plucked straight out of my past in the restaurant industry. Jo is obsessed with Indian food and winds up eating or cooking it at some point in both books to date.
As someone who knows how to make good foods, which makes you cringe more: blue foods or bright red foods?
– Definitely blue food. There is no natural food that color – not even blueberries. They’re purple. My family laughs at me because I love M&Ms but I pick the blue ones out.
What’s higher up on your list of things-I-would-buy-when-I-start-making-all-the-money-from-my-books shoes or tattoos?
– Definitely tattoos. I have one, a seagull for my mom and the women in my family. I already have ideas for ones for writing, Slovenia, and ginkgo trees. Don’t get me wrong, I love shoes but I’m practical about them.
The first time we met, you had recently returned from Slovenia, and you just returned a few weeks ago again. How many times have you visited Solvenia? Did visiting spark the idea for your novel, or did you first visit as research for your novel?
– I studied at the University of Ljubljana in the early 1990s when Slovenia was a brand-spanking new country. I lived there for about 15 months during very formative years and always carried that time around with me. Life intervened in a big way and it took me about 20 years to go back. In the last four years I’ve been three times and am perpetually planning a way to go back again.
When I went back the first time, I thought I was going to write a memoir about that formative experience there. I did write it but it’s god awful and will probably live in a virtual drawer forever. I’ve joked with my son that he can publish it after I’m dead. When I went back the second time, I was touring Roman sites and had this vivid flash of a body on an ancient piece of mosaic floor. That sparked the novel.
Do you travel a lot? Any plans of joining the Traveler’s Century Club and visiting 100 countries?
– I love to travel, as does my family, but I like to marinate in a place more than just going to say I’ve been there. A weekend or a whirlwind trip isn’t as interesting to me as the opportunity to spend weeks or months getting to know a place and absorb the rhythm. I feel like I could visit a place like London every year and still not really ever know London. I’ll probably never make it to 100 different countries just because I keep going back to the same places to try to figure them out. I’d also really like to improve my Slovenian which seems to only get better when I’m there as I’m too lazy to practice much at home.
–I’ve included the opening chapter. It sets the scene and tone for the book and therefore has the setup built right in.
Who By Water Final [Excerpt]
click to download the first two chapters
Victoria is totally cool, you need to follow her on ALL the social media outlets!
There’s also an easter egg blog that Jo “keeps” for the shop: www.jowiley.si if you think it makes sense to include that somewhere.