I'm so thrilled to be interviewing my client, Victoria Dougherty, about her debut novel, The Bone Church.
Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia. She's represented by Josh Getzler at Hannigan Salky Getzler.
Kate: Welcome to the blog, Victoria! I'm so excited for you and for The Bone Church. What inspired you to write this story?
Victoria: The Bone Church is without question my most personal work of fiction. While it’s not based on specific events per se, it’s certainly inspired by them and heavily shaped by them. It is a wild tapestry of the real-life World War II and Cold War stories my family told at the dinner table, of my experiences living in Prague during the 1990s, of my Catholic youth and my return to faith after a very long dry spell, and the influence of every great thriller I’ve ever read – from Joseph Conrad to Raymond Chandler to Alan Furst. I really am a sort of thriller junkie.
Kate: And all that comes across so well in the book; it's riveting. What about the story itself is inspiring to you?
Victoria: As both a reader and writer, I’m definitely partial to stories that involve high stakes. It’s why I love thrillers so much. I’m especially interested in how ordinary people can get caught in history’s massive tailwind and get blown to the other side of the world. How love and a person’s intimate journey of faith – however one defines that – is marked and shaken by these enormous events. That, in essence, is what The Bone Church is about. The story revolves – quite simply - around a man and the woman he loves. But their lives are turned upside down and rerouted by war, by circumstance, and by how an individual comes to see his life’s purpose in the light of such significant occurrences. But I don’t mean to get all high-falutin here. The Bone Church is a thriller, tried and true. It’s not Macbeth.
Kate: It sounds like there's a lot of your life woven into it. Does the story have personal significance to you?
Victoria: It has huge personal significance. Magdalena, my female protagonist, is actually based in part on my mother. She’s my mother and me rolled up into one person, actually – with a few other flourishes thrown in - so in that regard she’s the most intimate character I’ve ever written or will write, I suspect. She has my mom’s looks (while I was growing up, my mother was so beautiful that cops used to pull her over to ask her out on a date – while I was in the car!), she has many of my mom’s experiences (my mother was a political refugee) and she has our combined grit (we are both like a dog with a rag). But I think Magdalena looks at the world very much the way I do. She has a cautious skepticism about what’s going on around her at all times and tends towards being a mile deep and an inch wide – sometimes to her detriment. She tends to get very intense when it comes to her interpersonal relationships. My husband will laugh when he reads this. “No kidding?” he’ll say.
Kate: Thanks so much for chatting with me on Pub Hub, Victoria! So many congratulations on releasing The Bone Church.
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and
Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.
Buy The Bone Church, add it on Goodreads, follow Victoria on Twitter, follow Victoria on her blog, Cold.