Spread the Word’s Laura was lucky enough to talk to Almasi League alumnus Stephanie Victoire, whose debut short story collection ‘The Other World, It Whispers’, published by Salt in November 2016. She’s an extraordinary writer whose star is rising – so make sure you check out her collection. Courttia Newland, Almasi League’s Writer in Residence, introduced us to Stephanie in early 2015, and her work was published in Writing the Future and in our short story anthology Flamingo Land and Other Stories. Stephanie shares her thoughts on her writing journey: how the Almasi League shaped and inspired her, how her ultimate aim is to remain passionate and how listening is key to growing.
Laura: Congratulations on your short story collection, ‘The Other World, It Whispers’. Can you tell us how the collection went from your writing desk to publication?
Stephanie: Thank you so much! The collection was ready and waiting to be seen when I met editor and literary critic, Ellah Allfrey, who came in to give us a talk at our final Almasi League workshop. She really took to my writing and went on to publish ‘Layla and the Axe’ from the collection in the anthology ‘Flamingo Land and Other Stories’. But I suppose it was actually through my appearance in Spread the Word’s diversity report, Writing the Future, where my agent, Elise Dillsworth found me. I had always known that I wanted the collection to be published with Salt, it was a deep intuition, a knowing, that it belonged with them. Elise felt the same and approached them immediately. Salt loved ‘The Other World, It Whispers’ as I had hoped, and here we are.
Laura: What impact did the Almasi League have on your writing and to your confidence as a writer?
Stephanie: It had a huge impact. I grew more knowledgeable about myself as a writer. It encouraged me to take risks and most of all, to speak up. Courttia Newland is an incredible facilitator and mentor, and his support and integrity accelerated my confidence. He sought to coax out my true voice, his guidance reflected back to me that it was always there, I just had to trust it and find strength in it, which I did.
Laura: Who are your favourite short story writers?
Stephanie: Most of my favourites are not exclusively short story writers, but I’ll begin with Miranda July, whose short story collection, ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ completely shifted my world and my perspectives as a writer when it was first released. It is still my favourite short story collection of all time – I love all of her work. James Baldwin, Anaïs Nin and Edgar Allan Poe are dear to my heart also, they’ve each given me different sentiments to enjoy, but all of it important and all of it so beautiful. And lastly, I must give credit to Brothers Grimm. Their stories were the first I ever owned and probably contributed to my desire to be an author when I was a child. This timeless way of short storytelling has certainly had an influence on my book and I’m sure will continue to, for future works.
Laura: What advice would you have for writers who are looking to develop their writing, and their writing careers?
Stephanie: First of all, have unwavering faith in yourself. Be flexible with your ability to change your work/process in order to find the voice/language that truly fits you; listen to others’ feedback, then really listen to yourself. And workshop as much as you can. Sharing your work with other writers really does trigger thoughts, ideas and inspiration that may not come to you when you’re working on your written pieces alone. Writing can be such a solitary role, it’s important to connect with others who share the same passions, who can ignite that spark and make you feel driven and excited. Attend book events, keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry – get involved with the world you wish to be a part of. But above all, inspire yourself! This is key.
Laura: What are your goals as a writer?
Stephanie: Right now, the goal is to complete my upcoming novel ‘The Heart Note’ in the most correct way it wishes to be written. The ongoing goal is to remain passionate. But ultimately, I hope that as a writer I will always have something to say – have a curiosity to explore or a taboo to address. I hope to grow wiser with every story. And if I strike at least one reader in the heart with a truth, then I’ve achieved what I always wanted.
Stephanie Victoire was born in London to a Mauritian family. In 2010 she graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from London Metropolitan University. In 2014 Stephanie completed her collection of fairy and folk tales, The Other World, It Whispers whilst on The Almasi League Writers’ Programme. This collection was published by Salt in November 2016. Stephanie is now working on her novel, ‘The Heart Note’. She’s on Twitter @StephySunkisser
Find out more about Stephanie at www.stephanievictoire.com
Published on 10 November 2016