Hey friends! I’m Tori. When I was a little sprout my epic fantasy storytelling involved small pirate and animal figurines who would brutally invade peaceful lego villages. Inspired early on by the powerful storytelling of writers like Jack London, Brian Jacques, and Francine Rivers, I was obsessed with characters I couldn’t get out of my head and the possibility of worlds undiscovered.
After writing a few books, being a self-published author starting at age 14, and teaching at Young Writers’ Conferences for a few years, I went to college. I married the weirdest boy I’d ever met. We now have three small humans of our own who are just as weird as we are, but much more wonderful.
Today, I’m a wife and a stay-at-home mom, but I’m still a storyteller. I write beneath the supervision of two feline overlords in a chair that is older than I am. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Pull up a chair and join the chaos. I hope you find a world here that you can’t wait to go back to.
Welcome to my favourite section of the web, talking with authors. Today we are accompanied by Victoria Tecken, author of Phased and BookTuber.
Let's dive in!
1.- What made you decide for self-publishing, especially as early as 2020?
I actually self-published my first book (a middle-grade chapter book) when I was 14, back in the dark ages of self-pub. It’s always been something I’ve been more comfortable with, and I think it just comes down to control. I enjoy the freedom of being able to make my own choices, choose my own team of people to work with, and know that at the end of the day, I have the final say. Plus, having seen the growth of self-pub over the past decade +, I’m very excited to explore the possibilities that didn’t exist when I started.
2.- How did the idea of Phased appeared?
Phased started as a National Novel Writing Month project back in 2019, and I wanted to try my own version of a werewolf story. I was tired of seeing all the supernatural toxic romance, and always felt like people were missing out on what was possible with mythical creatures. Werewolves have always fascinated me as a concept, and the idea that you could use their condition to explore some real-world themes intrigued me. It started with a “what if werewolves existed in modern society?” question, which immediately led to “there would probably be an organization to ‘manage’ the risk they pose”, and that led to the basic premise of Phased.
3.- Why did you decide on this kind of werewolves instead of the more classic ones?
If we’re talking about more classic in terms of shapeshifters, I wanted to work with a more hybrid form of werewolf, something that allowed me to keep more of the humanity of the characters intact even when they phase. And there’s so much depth you can achieve with the concept that it is possible to control, but has varying degrees of potency depending on the rank of the werewolf and the purity of their bloodline. I think this also ties in with the next question, but I wasn’t as much interested in writing a story about wolves as I was writing a story about mental illness, the struggle of feeling out of control or broken, and the societal effects of having that kind of condition.
4.- What inspired you to write the differences between Val and her sister?
Val and Lyla, to me, are a representation of how two people can survive similar trauma and yet have completely different responses and coping mechanisms. Lyla is obsessed with the idea of control, while Val responds more viscerally to external triggers. At the end of the day, they’re both just broken people trying to survive and overcome.
On a lighter note, I also have always loved sibling characters in novels, and it was an easy decision to use the contrasting sibling MCs to provide two separate angles on the story. It also gives an immediate depth to their relationship that doesn’t have to be built from scratch.
5.- Phased features some kind of PTSD, how did you make it accurate to real experiences?
Phased is heavily based on personal experience. I was diagnosed with C-PTSD about a month after the initial draft of this book started. Having battled mental illness my entire life with little to no outside assistance until my mid-late twenties, Phased almost became a form of therapy in itself, allowing me to pour a lot of real-life feelings and experiences into the characters. I think many books handle trauma in a way that either sensationalizes it or cheapens it to a simple plot element for shock value. I wanted a space to write my own take on the theme of mental illness, which is always something that features heavily in anything I write. Fantasy is wonderful that way, because it gives us a place to explore and express ourselves at a safe distance.
6.- Recently you started writing again, could you tell us a little bit more about it?
Yes! I am currently working on a dark military fantasy trilogy called Legends of the Bruhai. The first novel, The Blood Stones, should be released later on in 2023. What I can tell you so far is that the world has been over a decade in the making, and this trilogy has so many of my favorite things to write about in it. Motley crew, rune/written magic system that is being discovered instead of already established, found family, and themes of identity. I can’t wait to send this story out into the world, it’s been a labor of love for many years.
7.- You also have a Booktube channel, could you talk a little about it?
You can find me over at @ToriTalks2 on Youtube, and I have been running the channel since January 1st 2020. I do book reviews, author interviews, and a monthly writer’s room chat show called Imposter Syndrome, where a small panel of authors get comfy and talk about writing fantasy! I love what I do on the channel, and am so grateful for the awesome community of people I’ve met because of it.
8.- What can we expect in the future from Victoria Tecken?
Well, Phased does have a sequel in the works, jumping us forward a few years into Val and Lyla’s future and the aftermath of Phased. Bigger stakes, more action, and a further exploration of the themes now that I’ve grown in my own journey with mental illness. Beyond that, I also have the new trilogy launching in 2023, and I could not be more nervous and excited about that! I have a few other projects up my sleeve for the next couple of years, but those are the main features. I will continue working on my Booktube channel to feature other fantasy authors and give them an extra spotlight. There are so many incredibly talented authors in the industry right now, and I’m so excited to see what is coming next year!