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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Victoria Goldman. Author Writes Crime Fiction With A ‘Jewish Flavor’ And One Eye On Current Events

Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Victoria Goldman. Author Writes Crime Fiction with a ‘Jewish Flavor’ and One Eye on Current Events

My ALLi author guest this episode is Victoria Goldman, an author of crime fiction who tried to go the traditional route, but her work was too difficult to categorize. So, she went indie, where her audience understands her unique voice. Part of that voice has to do with her Jewish identity and she writes with one eye on current events and the rise in antisemitism.

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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Victoria Goldman. About the Author

Victoria Goldman is a freelance journalist, editor and author. She has particular expertise in health communication, but also edits and proofreads fiction and nonfiction books for publishers and authors. Victoria’s two contemporary crime novels, The Redeemer and The Associate, are set in England, UK. Her books have underlying themes of Jewish identity, heritage and culture, antisemitism, racism and interfaith. The Associate was the Editor’s Choice Winner of Best Indie Novel of 2023 in the Crime Fiction Lover Awards. In her limited spare time, Victoria crochets little people and toys, and loves to read, watch TV and go for long walks. You can find Victoria on her website.

About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and X.

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Read the Transcripts to the Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Victoria Goldman

Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is Victoria Goldman, an author of crime fiction who tried to go the traditional route, but her work was too difficult to categorize.

So, she went indie, where her audience understands her unique voice. Part of that voice has to do with her Jewish identity, and she writes with one eye on current events and the rise in antisemitism. I'll let Victoria Goldman tell her story.

Victoria Goldman: Hi, I'm Victoria Goldman. I'm a freelance journalist and editor. I specialize in writing and editing health, but I also edit and proofread books, fiction, non-fiction, and memoir.

I'm also author of two crime novels which are set in Britain. The first one is The Redeemer, and the second one is The Associate. The Redeemer was published in July 2022 and The Associate followed in July 2023.

I have grown up in the area in which I live now, I haven't moved very far. I always loved reading and writing from a very young age, and in particular crime fiction.

I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but when I was at school, I was torn between following my heart, which was art, music, and writing, or following my head because I went to a very academic school, and going into the sciences. So, I decided to follow my head and go into the sciences, and I obtained a biomedical science degree at university in London.

In my final year, I realized I couldn't spend the rest of my life working in a lab. It just wasn't for me. So, I took a master's in science communication and that led me to writing about health and editing health as a career.

Howard Lovy: But while she was working her day job, Victoria was honing her skills as an author.

Victoria Goldman: I was always writing, although, funnily enough, it wasn't crime initially, although I wanted to write about crime. I was starting a lot of novels, women's fiction, historical fiction, and I realized that they weren't for me. Firstly, I kept trying to kill characters off, and secondly, I was getting bogged down in research when I was writing historical fiction, probably because my professional background has always been very factual.

So, I was thinking, what would a little girl have worn on her feet and what colour would her shoes have been, or what would this building have looked like? And I wasn't actually making much progress with the story. So, I decided that it was time to actually sit down and write something more crimey.

I do tend to like the darker side of life. Even as a child the books I would read were always, as I said, crime fiction. That led into Agatha Christie, Stephen King, a bit of horror. Even watching TV, I grew up watching Action, like the A Team, and things like that. So, I wasn't really into other genres, and I guess that has followed through into adulthood.

Also, I like exploring how people think. I'm interested in the science side of it as well, and I guess it's just a natural gravitation towards crime fiction for me.

Howard Lovy: When Victoria began writing crime fiction, she tried the traditional route first, but eventually discovered that indie publishing was the only way she could write what she wanted.

Victoria Goldman: The background is that I never planned to go into indie publishing, I always wanted the agent publisher route.

I wrote one book that was turned down. Looking back now, it wasn't a very good book, but agents and publishers said they loved my writing, but not this book, come back with another one. So, then I wrote what became The Redeemer and I sent that to agents and publishers, and I had the same response.

I was well known within the crime fiction community because at that point I was blogging about crime fiction. So, I knew a lot of authors and I knew a lot of reviewers, and they had read The Redeemer, and they couldn't understand why agents and publishers had turned it down.

Now one publisher said to me, I really love this book but it's not right for the crime/thriller market. If you write something else, come back to me.

So, a year later, I went back to her with another book, which I call my prison book, and I worked with this agent for three months. rewriting a third of the book for her. She said she loved it, but it needed changes, and she kept contradicting herself. In the end, she said it still wasn't working out and she wouldn't sign me.

This was in May 2021 and at that point I told everyone, I'm giving up writing, I can't do it anymore, and I put everything aside. But my heart was still with writing, I couldn't run away from it, and actually I was working in the industry as well as an editor and proofreader.

So, after a lot of soul searching and discussions with friends, I decided I need to do something with The Redeemer, and these authors and reviewers who had read it were urging me saying, you must do something with it.

At that point I decided, I'm just going to go for it. I'm going to go into indie publishing, I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to treat it like a research project, which I did. I'd already built up a library of how-to write books, and those kinds of books, and I then built up a library of how-to publish books.

I should also add that because my background is in journalism and editing anyway, I know the industry and I do know how to get books out there. I do know some of the marketing side of it anyway because that's the world that I'd been living in, but it was very much a case of pushing myself to do it because it was a daunting task.

Howard Lovy: Another key element of Victoria's fiction is her Jewish identity. Her books have what she calls a Jewish flavour.

Victoria Goldman: The Jewish side is important to me and to these books. The Redeemer is set in a small town, it's actually a fictional version of where I live, so there is a thriving Jewish community.

My main character is a journalist, and she arrives in this town, she's working there, and she finds these threatening historic markers or commemorative plaques, and as she researches them, she discovers they're linked to vigilante killings and with ties to the local Jewish community.

The book is very much about themes of prejudice and racism, heritage and identity, and revenge and redemption. It's very much a crime novel. I don't call my books Jewish books, they're very much crime fiction with a Jewish flavour, rather than Jewish books.

The Associate features the same main character, it is a sequel but can be read as a standalone, and that looks at interfaith research, charity projects, interfaith charity projects, and also identity within Judaism itself.

The whole idea is I wanted to use crime fiction to show real Jewish people, not the very religious Hasidic communities that you often see in fiction or on TV, in movies. I wanted to show real people living real Jewish lives who aren't necessarily that religious, but they have a strong identity, and show the diversity in Jewish communities in Britain.

Howard Lovy: Victoria writes fiction, but she also has one eye on real life current events, especially the rise in anti Semitism around the world.

Victoria Goldman: The real world is very much part of my books. The Redeemer features quite a bit of antisemitism in there that actually happened either locally to me, maybe I've experienced it, family or friends have experienced it, or it's been in the Jewish media or the local media here in Britain, but it doesn't always reach the national press.

The Associate, in particular, is very topical and timely. It features, as I mentioned, an interfaith charity project. It also features the refugee crisis and gun crime. So, they're very topical, my books. Social issues, contemporary issues, what's going on in the world around us.

I think there's a lot that fiction can say. In fact, some people who have read The Redeemer have said they've learned a lot about Judaism and Jewish people just by reading my book, something that they wouldn't have done if they'd tried to read a non-fiction book, and they actually realized it was educating them, but in a fictional way.

I think that relates probably to my day job, where I'm passing on medical information, but I have to make it sound interesting and write it for the layperson.

So, when I'm writing my books, I'm explaining it to people who don't know anything about Judaism, and that's something I've actually really enjoyed.

Also, the interfaith side, things that people don't know about, things they don't read in the media. The fact that there is a lot of interfaith charity work between Jewish and Muslim people in Britain, for example, and people don't realize that. So, I wanted to show that actually there is a positive side going on, that there is a lot happening.

Obviously, more recently, since my books came out, things have changed a lot in the world, and my books have actually become more topical, you could say, and a lot of other people say, and I wish they weren't. It's quite hard, isn't it, and I don't want to market them on tragic events, because that's not why I wrote them. That's actually quite difficult, because there's a lot going on in the world, and my books can maybe educate a bit, but I don't want to highlight that too much, because there's tragedy going on as well.

Howard Lovy: Victoria's books have been boosted by awards and good reviews, which she says is proof that people really get what she's trying to accomplish.

Victoria Goldman: The Jewish Journal, for example, that review was amazing, comparing me to the British Faye Kellerman, because that's what I had in mind.

Then in December 2022, The Redeemer was shortlisted for a Crime Fiction Lover Award as Best Debut. It didn't win, but then in the December just gone, December 23, The Associate was the Editor's Choice winner of Best Indie Novel of 2023 in the Crime Fiction Love Awards.

That has really helped, and it's shown me that people understand what I'm trying to do. That there's more to my books. They are crime novels, but there's a deeper meaning to them, and that's been part of my marketing. They may be a bit different from the standard crime, and that's what a lot of readers have said, that they are a bit different. They've got a lot of depth. They are very authentic, very timely, their own voices. There's a lot in there, and that hopefully makes them stand out a bit more.

Howard Lovy: Victoria says her sales numbers show that what was a negative for traditional publishers and agents, being a little different and harder to categorize, does not hurt her as an independent author.

Victoria Goldman: Yes, I think that is a big thing within the industry, and obviously I work in the industry, so I know that being different is a good thing, but it can also work against you within the industry itself.

It's nice to see that my books have been well received, because I said to friends when I first put The Redeemer out there, if a handful of people I don't know read this book, then I'll be happy, and sales have been a lot more than that, and for The Associate as well, and there has been a good response.

So, I feel I did the right thing, and I think that's mainly the important thing.

I put The Redeemer out there initially because I decided life is too short for regrets. I had people telling me I had written a good book and it deserved to be out there and sit on a shelf with other books. So, I used editors, I paid editors, I paid a cover designer, I did everything that a traditional publisher would have done for the book themselves, and hopefully I've created something that will stay out there, and people will continue to read.

Howard Lovy: Victoria's advice to others who are frustrated with traditional publishing and want to go the indie route?

Give it a go. You'll enjoy the control, but make sure you hire a good team of editors and designers to help you out.

Victoria Goldman: I think you have to follow your heart while also following your head. I know a lot of traditional publishers who are now going into indie publishing as well, maybe alongside or even instead of traditional publishing.

It gives you control, obviously and I think it's always worth giving it a go.

I would always advise people to hire editors, proofreaders, cover designers. Do it as professionally as possible and learn about the process, read up on it, understand how the process works and take a chance on different opportunities that may arise.

If they don't work out the first time, if it's advertising, for example, or even a Kindle deal, try it once and then decide what to do a second time if it doesn't work out so well, but give everything a go because you just don't know what works, and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else. You just have to do what works for your own books.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is a novelist, nonfiction author, developmental book editor, and journalist. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can learn more about him at https://howardlovy.com/


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