A Character Interview with Victoria from STONE COTTAGE plus a conversation with author Maighread MacKay!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview.  These character interviews, now and in the future, should prove to be very enlightening for all of us. 

We have the pleasure of meeting Victoria Anne McBride, a character from Stone Cottage. 
We'll get a chance to talk to the author, Maighread MacKay, in a bit, but now we have on the stage...Victoria! 


Marie Lavender:  Hello, Victoria.  Please have a seat.

Character Victoria Anne McBride:  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here. 
Marie:  We're going to start out with some simple questions, okay? 

Victoria:  All right.
Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?
Victoria:  I don’t know what you mean. In my society it’s bad enough that men work. Women do not work unless you mean being a wife and mother. I love being married to Will and looking after Maddy.  
Marie: All right.
So, what is your family like?
Victoria:  I am married to William McBride and we have a daughter Madeleine.  My Father’s name is Jonathan Smythe-Stratton and my Mother is Henrietta. As I mentioned before, I adore Will and Maddy and we are very happy. My Papa is a wonderful man, but my Momma is rather cold and unfeeling. I suppose it comes from being the daughter of an Earl and Countess. She is very proud of her ancestry and always points out that I married beneath my station.  
Marie:  Yes, I can see how that would be difficult. 
So...what did your childhood home look like?
Victoria:  It was quite lovely. We immigrated to Canada from England in 1855 and my father bought a large manor house a little outside the town of Briars Mills. It had belonged to the youngest son of Lord Ecklesby who had died in a riding accident. It has fourteen bedrooms, a large foyer with a central staircase going to the second floor. The nursery and the servants’ quarters were on the third floor. The home has a large formal dining room, a ballroom, conservatory, my Papa’s study, Mother’s parlour, and a huge kitchen in the back. There is a wrap-around veranda on the outside of the house that is perfect for sitting on a lovely afternoon to read. The grounds are surrounded by a huge stone fence. The gardens are beautiful with an abundance of flowers and trees. There are trails for walking or riding and three large ponds where the swans swim. It really is quite delightful.
Marie:  Indeed! It sounds wonderful!
Do you have any hobbies now? What do you enjoy doing? 
Victoria: I love to read. All about the world. I can travel anywhere in books and see all the beautiful places there are. It is unthinkable for a woman to travel alone in my time, although I have heard that some women actually do venture out on their own. Quite scandalous, but I would never be allowed to do that. I’m also quite good at sewing, embroidery and play the pianoforte reasonably well. My mother made sure that I was well educated in a lady’s graces.

Marie: What is your greatest dream, Victoria?


Victoria:  To be free. To travel and see new places and meet new people. I hate the restrictions of society that say a woman can’t do this or that, but now that I have Will and Maddy, that doesn’t seem as much of a problem anymore. I wouldn’t want to go without them. I’m hoping that as Will’s business grows, we’ll be able to visit some new places together. I do have more freedom with Will than I ever did at home with my mother. She would never allow me to talk to anyone outside our very close circle. ‘It’s just not done’, she would say. Since I’ve been with Will, I am allowed to talk to the shopkeepers, servants and others and I really enjoy it. Their lives are so much different from mine and I learn a lot from them.


Marie:  Well, good for you!  :)


Let's try something else. 


What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?  

Victoria: I would like to be able to please my mother more. She wants a proper lady as her daughter and I’m afraid that is just not who I am. I would like to be more patient with her, but she makes that impossible. Maybe someday when I have more children and have learned patience we might have something of a relationship, but I doubt it.


Marie:  Families can be tough sometimes...


So, who was your first love?


Victoria: Will…only and always.


Marie: Oh, I love to hear a good love story! Hopefully you'll tell us some more later.
So, I'm going to try a different question.
What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? 

Victoria:  I…I…don’t remember. I know something’s wrong. Something I need to tell Will. He’s away in Toronto working right now and something has happened, but I don’t remember what it is. I know it’s about Maddy. He can make everything all right when he gets home.




Marie:  Uh...all right. I'm sure things will be fine soon. (Pats her guest's hand.)


Let's try something else, shall we? 


What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Victoria: To have a family of my own, to love and be happy with. Yes, I did achieve it with Will. I am so happy with him and Maddy. I can’t wait to have a whole house full of children with warmth and laughter and lots of fun. But as I mentioned, something is wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but somehow I don’t think I’ll ever fulfill my dream.


Marie:  Okay...


So, who is your role model, Victoria?


Victoria: Do you mean someone I look up to? Hmm…I don’t think I have one.


Marie:  Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike? 

Victoria: Well, my mother is hard to like, but I really do love her. Maybe someday she’ll love me back.


Marie:  All right.  


What is your deepest desire?


Victoria: To have more children with Will and to live at Stone Cottage for the rest of our lives. I love it here. Will built this house especially for me and our children, and it’s the first place that I have truly been happy. 


Marie:  Wow, that's great! I'm really happy for you, Victoria!
One more question...
So, what is your greatest fear?

Victoria: That something has happened to stop my dream.


Marie:  I hope it all turns out well. (Shivers as a cold breeze drifts through the room.)
Well, it looks like we're running out of time, Victoria. Thank you for visiting us today. 

Victoria:  Thank you for letting me visit.

Marie:  Of course! It was so interesting getting to know you.  (Waves at her guest as she heads off the stage.)

Now, let's shift over and get the author's perspective.  We have Maighread MacKay on the stage today!  Hi, Maighread!
Author Maighread MacKay:  Hi, Marie! It's nice to be here!
Marie:  (Smiles.) Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  
So, we just got to talk a female character from your story...Victoria.  Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Maighread:  Victoria Anne was born in 1852 in London, England. She is the daughter of Jonathan Smythe-Stratton and Lady Henrietta Easthope, who is the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Rathbourne. The family came to Canada in 1855 and settled in the town of Briars Mills which is located north east of Toronto. She is 5’ 2” tall with the fair complexion of an English rose. Light brown hair, with smiling eyes and a sunny disposition, she is adored by her father and tolerated by her mother. She can be stubborn, especially when dealing with her mother, but she is kind-hearted and eager to learn about people and places in the world. Much to her mother’s dismay, she married William McBride, a local stone mason, on August 14, 1870 when Annie was just 18. Henrietta wished her to wed a man from her own class and never really forgave Victoria for going against her wishes and marrying beneath her station. On January 27, 1872 their daughter Madeleine was born.
Marie:  All right. 
What are your character's greatest strengths? 

Maighread:  Knowing her own mind and fighting for what she wants.
Marie:  I can certainly respect that!
So, what are her greatest weaknesses? 

Maighread:  Her feelings of guilt and her desire to make everyone happy.

Marie: What are some of her favorite foods?


Maighread:  Chicken. The cook had a wonderful recipe for a roast chicken in her childhood home and she secretly taught Victoria how to make it. Her mother would never approve of Annie talking to the help, but she snuck down to the kitchen when her mother wasn’t home and learned a great deal from Cook. She served the dish to Will at the first dinner in Stone Cottage and he loved it so much, it became her favourite.


Marie:  Great!  I noticed that sometimes you call her Victoria and sometimes Annie. Why is that?

Maighread:  Her mother named her Victoria after the Queen. Her father gave her Anne as a second name but he always called her Annie. Henrietta was quite displeased at the ‘pet’ name, finding it frivolous and unseemly. She refused to call her anything but Victoria. Will also knew her as Annie and he called her that.


Makes sense to me!


So, what's a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?


Maighread: Her great capacity for love.


Marie:  Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?


Maighread: I like this character. She is warm, funny, and full of love, even though she was raised by a mother who is cold and unfeeling. She is only 23 when she dies and becomes stuck in Stone Cottage for over 100 years. I was rooting for her to finally be joined with Will and Maddy. 


Marie:  I can't blame you! After meeting her, I want to find out what happens too! :)
Well, now that we have a real taste of Victoria Anne McBride (Annie), we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for
Stone Cottage?

Maighread:   A book entitled Your Soul’s Plan by Robert Schwartz where he talks about pre-birth planning.   

Marie:  Interesting!  Such a tease! I wish you'd tell us more...

Let's try something else. 
What is your writing style like, Maighread?  Are you a pantster or a plotter?

Maighread:  I guess a bit of both. I have the main story idea in my head, and then specific scenes and characters develop as I go along. As with a lot of writers, I am sometimes surprised at what my characters do or the way a scene unfolds. I think it should be one way and then when I go to write, it comes out differently. 


Marie: That certainly sounds familiar!  ;)

So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers.  Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Stone Cottage or getting it published?  What would you do differently the next time? 


I’m not sure I would do anything differently, but I would advise any aspiring writer to make sure that your manuscript has been edited by a professional editor before sending it in to a publisher. For instance, I had completed the first draft of my manuscript and thought it was good. I sent it to my personal editor and she loved the story, but the framework was totally wrong. I had to completely tear it apart and rearrange the story. That was hard to do and discouraging, but I did it and the story was much better. It has had many revisions and many hours of work, but it was worth it in the long run as it has been accepted for publication. Always run your story by an editor as they will help you polish it and help you grow as a writer.


Marie:  That's great advice!

Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on Writing in the Modern Age, Maighread. We hope you can come back sometime!  :)  
Maighread:  Thank you for having me here.


Marie:  Of course!

Readers, here is the blurb for Stone Cottage.
Victoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. For as long as it takes, she will wait...wait...wait.
Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Determined, her world is perfect and in control. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary...a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?
Perhaps, Annie can help.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01452HED4
Sounds fascinating!


About Maighread MacKay:


Maighread MacKay is an author and visual artist from the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada.  She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and the PRAC (Pine Ridge Arts Council).
Her publishing credits include three books for children:   Bedtime Treasures, The Mysterious Door and The Crystal Grove written under the name of Margaret L. Hefferman. Her novel Stone Cottage is her first foray into adult literature and will be published by Solstice Shadows Publishing in 2015. She has also published articles for a variety of magazines, including most recently, the Durham Region online magazine – More 2 Life 4 Women and the WCDR publication Word Weaver.

Author Links:

Maighread's Books:


As Maighread MacKay:




As Margaret Hefferman:





Once again, I want to thank the talented Maighread MacKay for stopping by with her character, Victoria! It was lovely to have you both here!

Until next time, readers, and in the meantime, as always, happy reading!   :)

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