Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Victoria McCombs talking about her new novel, OATHBOUND, publishing journey, writing tips, and so much more!
SP: Hi Victoria! I’m thrilled to have you on the SP for your newest book! You’ve penned so many wonderful books and this one feels like it’s going to be the crème de le crème! What brought you to this point in your writing journey? How has your writing progressed since your first published book?
It’s insane to think about where I started as a writer and where I am now. For my first books, I had the beginning of a story idea and I just started writing it. The end result was messy and shallow. For Oathbound, I covered the walls in character charts, outlines, a map, and themes for the book before starting. Now it’s a story that I’m really proud of. I owe it all to the writing community who shared writing tips. They pushed me to grow in my craft and study it instead of casually throw words together.
SP: OATHBOUND will released on February 8, 2022 by Enclave, it’s the first book in the Royal Rose Series. Please add on Goodreads or go ahead and PreOrder, I did! Here’s the blurb:
Beware the waters. The dangerous deep brings ruin to all.
Emme has spent her life avoiding anything to do with pirates. But the fates are cruel, and now a hidden sickness leads her to partner with pirates for the one thing that can save her—a cure on an island none are certain exists.
The pirate captain’s secrets are darker than the deep and threaten to kill them all. His obligations are tinged with betrayal, for his oathbind must be fulfilled. To ignore it is to invite peril of unimaginable destruction.
SP: How long did it take you to write OATHBOUND and how did this story come about? Where do you get your ideas?
A few years ago I thought, “I’ve never read a sea-faring book.” Since then, at least five really good and popular ones have come out, including Fable and All the Stars and Teeth. But this book had gripped me and I had to write it. It took about four months to write this story, and many of that was at night on my phone while nursing my little one. It’ll be two years after starting the book that it releases.
Originally, I had the idea for a four-person cast, with two sisters as the daughters of a great pirate-mother, and two guys they meet along the way. Then a friend pointed out that I often do the sister relationship in my books, and it became a three-person cast with a brother and sister, then our main pirate, Arn. I’m so glad it changed because those three characters are so unique from each other that I was able to create an entire plot off their weaknesses and attempts to fix themselves.
SP: What was it like getting the call to work with Enclave? They’ve been publishing some great titles recently!
This is a crazy story. I’d applied to them twice before, then didn’t hear anything for eight months after sending Oathbound. I got ready to self-publish—I’m talking ‘bought the ISBN’s, paid for a cover and editing, and learned how to format a book’ ready to self-publish—then they emailed saying they wanted me to send it to them for consideration. I almost didn’t. But they’ve produced some awesome stories and I trusted their work, so I did. A week later they said they were interested. The book has grown under them, and I’m way more confident now. I’m so glad I didn’t self-publish!
SP: *Writing Tips* You are a storytelling queen, your world-building and character arcs are top notch. What tips do you have for writers starting a novel or in the revision stage?
Plot it out! This will save you so much work down the road!!! There are some key things I like to think about to create a plot. First, in what way is my character broken? By that I mean, what are their weaknesses and secrets and crippling desires? The plot is structured around them trying to get what they want and growing through that. Whenever the story feels dry, make sure their motives (and the side character’s motives) are clear, and maybe break them a little more.
SP: Okay, now for the fun part! Is there a PreOrder Campaign going on for OATHBOUND?
There is! The first 50 people to pre-order will get a free package from me with some art swag and a bookmark, bookplate, and a few more bookish goodies from my book! This is open internationally, too!
SP: And lastly, if your main characters were giving advice to a struggling writer, what would they say? And how would they deal with quarantine/covid 19?
Emme’s advice would be to keep at it. Arn’s advice would be to go on an adventure to find inspiration! They would both say that if it’s what your heart wants, you’ll make it through the hard times. For covid, Arn would be pacing by the window, desperate to go out, while Emme tells him to settle down or he’s going to run a tear through the carpet.
A few fun questions. Is Victoria a…
Plotter/pantster? Plotter for sure!
Last book you read? Crooked Kingdom and I’m still not okay!!!
Current dream vacation spot? Venice, because I want to see those streets of rivers.
Current favorite K-Drama? I really hardly ever watch tv!
Would you rather be a professional: Pirate? Mermaid? Avenger? Princess? OR? I feel obligated to say pirate!
Favorite childhood book? I read a lot of fairytale books growing up, and Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball made me want to be a writer.