Author Confessions: Victoria Hendry

Victoria Hendry and Book Cover
Category: Writing

Best-selling Scottish author, Victoria Hendry, has just launched her book The Last Tour of Archie Forbes. She's taken a break from her busy schedule to tell us what makes a successful day of writing and who she fawned over as a child. 

 

What’s your guiltiest reading pleasure?

Andy McNab. I wanted to join the navy when I was sixteen but they wouldn’t let women go to sea then.

Which book has left the greatest impression on you?

I was very impressed by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The central message seemed to me to be that everyone wants to be loved and, if people turn away, as happened with ‘the creature’, then it can start conflict. I still laugh over the idea that Victor Frankenstein built his monster as a student project in his flat.

Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?

I would love to have written Jazz by Toni Morrison. Her writing voice is effortless and concise, while painting graphic pictures full of tension that drive the story forward.

I still laugh over the idea that Victor Frankenstein built his monster as a student project

Which of your characters is your favourite?

I like Archie, the hero of The Last Tour of Archie Forbes. He remains kind even though he is cracking up and is homeless. I met a lot of kindness when I was volunteering with homeless and ex-homeless writers, and their generosity of spirit inspired him.

What’s a successful day of writing for you?

I like to go to the library and do research from primary sources. I read one of David Livingstone’s travel diaries in the National Library of Scotland, and then went to Polbeth to see his recreation of the Victoria Falls near Limefield House. That prompted a lot of writing for my new book. A good day of writing usually comes on the back of new impressions for me.

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?

A diary I kept when my husband was dying of cancer, and one about my life as a young, widowed parent afterwards. I don’t know how I kept going, but I am proud of the younger self I see there, if I am feeling strong enough to dip back into it. I have a great respect now for anyone in a caring role. Writing was very therapeutic and kept me going.

What’s your most extreme research story?

I met a veteran of the Bosnian and Iraq wars who is suffering from PTSD. He told me stories so shocking I find them difficult to forget. It gave me an insight into the burden he carries. As part of my research, I subsequently made contact with Combat Stress who can offer help.

A good day of writing usually comes on the back of new impressions for me

What’s the strangest thing about the place you grew up?

I grew up in Glasgow in the 1960s and 70s. There were some WW2 bomb sites in the area and we used to play there, and on an abandoned railway. Everything was overgrown and, looking back, the freedom and adventures we had as children seem strange in relation to the anxiety that restricts children’s freedom to be outside today.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?

Keep writing and going to writing groups for feedback and encouragement, or join a creative writing evening class. Participants often stay in touch afterwards as peer support and give each other feedback.

Who was your childhood crush?

Donny Osmond. I used to kiss his poster good night. I suppose that dates me.

 

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Victoria Hendry

Victoria Hendry’s absorbing first novel, A Capital Union, explored the intriguing topic of Scottish nationalism during World War II and was shortlisted for the prestigious Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown in 2014. Her second novel, The Last Tour of Archie Forbes, is just out. Victoria has an MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and was shortlisted for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists International Life Writing Prize in 2012.