Victoria Goldman MSc. is a freelance journalist and editor. She is a book & stationery addict, crochet novice and nature lover (especially the local wild parakeets). She lives in Hertfordshire and is married with two sons
Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?
I’d always wanted to write a crime novel – since I was a child. The idea for The Redeemer came from seeing a fake blue commemorative plaque (a historical marker in the US) on a local house. I wondered what would happen if these plaques suddenly appeared on local buildings and no one knew who had put them there. And what if these plaques highlighted someone’s misdemeanour rather than a good deed, and were linked to a series of mysterious deaths? This led to the plot of The Redeemer.
What came first the characters or the world?
I guess I have to say the world, as The Redeemer is set in a fictional version of my home town in Hertfordshire, though obviously I’ve taken artistic licence. But when writing the books, shaping my main character, journalist Shanna Regan, was very important, as my book is as character-driven as it is plot-driven. Hopefully it’s worked, as readers have picked up on that and want ‘more Shanna books’.
How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?
So hard that I ended up having to publish it myself! I wrote three books in seven years and tried to get an agent or publisher. The Redeemer is the second book. Agents were telling me I’m a talented writer but ‘not this book’. After so many agents turned down The Redeemer, I gave up writing for a while, but crime authors and reviewers who had read my book urged me to get it out there myself. Three years on, I decided to take that leap. And I’m so glad I did as, to my astonishment, The Redeemer was shortlisted for Best Debut Crime Novel of 2022 in the 2022 Crime Fiction Lover Awards.
How long did it take to write?
It took me 2.5 years to write The Redeemer, but that’s mainly because I had to fit writing in between a hectic day job and a busy family life.
Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?
I don’t have a writing playlist, as such. But I do have a list of songs that remind me of my main character, Shanna, and her own story. All of the songs were in the charts (or being played on the radio) while I was writing The Redeemer.
- Promises by Calvin Harris
- Lost Without You by Freya Ridings
- Love Wins by Carrie Underwood
- Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood
- Don’t Feel Like Crying by Sigrid
- Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn
- If Tomorrow Never Comes by Kent Blazy and Garth Brooks
What kind of reactions have you had to your book?
I’m astonished by such a positive response, especially as I’m self-published and all the agents said ‘no’ to The Redeemer. To date, I’ve had 99 Amazon UK reviews with an average of 4.5 stars. Readers have really enjoyed my book and are saying that they’ve learnt so much from it – without realising they were learning – about Jewish culture and identity, and about antisemitism. My book was chosen for the Bloody Scotland Book Club in October 2022, and a book club in Indiana, USA, asked me to join them via Zoom. I’ve been interviewed on podcasts here and in the USA, and, as already mentioned, The Redeemer was shortlisted for a debut crime novel award. I never expected to find readers at all, but couldn’t let The Redeemer lurk in a virtual drawer forever.
What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?
It has to be a US review in a prestigious Jewish magazine/website (called the Jewish Journal). The reviewer began with: ‘Faye Kellerman – behold your British counterpart.’ This made me laugh, as an agent once told me I could be the British Faye Kellerman, but I didn’t agree with the changes she wanted me to make to The Redeemer. I’m glad I didn’t make those changes as it would have been a very different book.
What can you tell us about your next book?
I can’t give too much away, although the blurb is written and the cover has been designed. But it’s the sequel to The Redeemer and features my same main character, journalist Shanna Regan. She’s investigating a missing woman who has been working on a Jewish-Muslim interfaith charity project in East London.
Do you take notice of online reviews?
I try not to! Although, because I don’t have anyone to filter them for me, I do skim over them occasionally.
Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?
I originally started writing historical fiction but was getting too bogged down with research and wasn’t making much progress. I’m not sure if I’ll venture properly into other genres, but maybe one day… I have already written a health book and contributed to several more, thanks to my day job.
What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?
I’m a health journalist and editor (including freelance health editor for Bupa). I also edit and proofread fiction, memoir and nonfiction (especially health and wellbeing) for UK publishers.
Which genres do you read yourself?
I read a lot of crime fiction, but prefer it when it overlaps with horror and supernatural. I also love well-written creepy gothic fiction and some sci fi.
What is your biggest motivator?
Before I chose to self-publish, my self-confidence was very low, since The Redeemer had been rejected by all the agents. When I decided to go down this route, I realised I had to be my own advocate, as there’s no one to do it for me. And I had to make sure The Redeemer was good enough to sit on a shelf next to any book with a publisher and agent. My motivation is ‘not to fail’ rather than ‘to succeed’, and to try to open doors that aren’t often open to self-publishers. I’ve managed to get my paperbacks into 15 UK libraries so far, through perseverance and interested readers.
What will always distract you?
Chocolate … and people talking to me. I’m actually not that easy to distract as I’m used to working in a busy household, so if I need to focus, I just block out the noise around me. I often write in front of the TV. My theory is that I’m a big overthinker and my mind wanders a lot – I need to keep that side of my brain occupied with the distraction, so the rest of my brain can concentrate and focus properly.
How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?
Because I’m self-published, I guide the cover designer – but since he’s the expert, I leave him to come up with his magic once I’ve given him my brief. I can’t wait to reveal the cover for my next book.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I was a huge reader from a very young age. From Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie and then Stephen King. I was rarely seen without a book, and my parents would often tell me off for reading at the dinner table.
How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?
An embarrassing number. I used to be a book blogger, and I’m an expert reviewer for the Lovereading website. Because of that, I have so many bought books that I’ve not had a chance to read yet (as well as proof copies)!
Any events in the near future?
Nothing concrete but there are some plans in the pipeline.
and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?
My natural inquisitive nature, my interest in human behaviour and my love of the ‘dark side’ of life!