Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Q&A with Victoria Lilienthal




Victoria Lilienthal is the author of the new novel The T Room. She is a healer, and she lives in San Francisco and Western Sonoma County.


Q: What inspired you to write The T Room, and how did you create your character Vera?


A: While studying archetypal symbols and myths with cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, I was inspired to write The T Room. Learning that symbols have the power to change a point of view, and/or perspective, fascinated me. Angeles kindly pointed me toward many great books.


As I undertook the adventure of decoding symbols, myths, and rituals, a loose scenario for a funny romance novel about a fledgling healer with mystic tendencies evolved. I decided to set it in the New Age subculture of Northern California.


Angeles agreed that the healer’s path was a great idea for a novel. Developing a female character with modern super-powers like intuition – and who isn’t a Marvel hero – was an intriguing way to explore Vera’s raucous, entertaining, erotic path to wisdom.


Q: What do you think the novel says about women's relationships to spirituality?


A: I am very grateful for this question. Much has been made of the erotic component of Vera’s journey by my readers.


Certainly, Vera’s relationship to her sexuality is a hearty one and I enjoyed developing a character who is more comfortable with her sexuality than she is with her spirituality. Yet almost immediately after buying a sexy red bra that she can’t afford (to impress her lover) the magic finds Vera anyway.

In a bookstore, she notices a small clay icon of a goddess. She googles the goddess and learns that the icon embodies the mystical Tara, goddess of compassion. Vera is about to turn away when she glimpses a tiny spark.


Vera’s initial response is to dismiss what she has seen as a random trick of light. Yet it is her deep longing for something more, something that she does not yet know, call it compassion, that ultimately motivates her curiosity.


It is also the cultivation of her awareness of what she values and holds sacred that becomes Vera’s inside job.


Q: How did you first get involved in healing, and what impact has it had on you?


A: I’m a life-long learner and found myself evolving through various healing practices. Along the path, I’ve been blessed to study with many great teachers. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about remarkable alternative ideas and philosophies that have expanded my world view.


Writing seemed the perfect place to pull them all together. As an author, it’s been great fun exploring the wacky antics of healers, dreamers, and seekers as a way of unpacking everywoman Vera West’s heroic path to wisdom.


Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I did not know how the book would end when I started writing it and I made many changes along the way. Coming up with the idea for the book was so effortless and easy. I knew that I wanted the book to be silly, sexy, and a lot sacred. But I had no idea where the story would take me and how long it would take to get there!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve been working on the next book in The T Series titled The T Garden. In this book, Vera’s mentor Grace is the protagonist. She discovers an ancient practice that will help her dismantle her perfectionism.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you for reading this interview and please support independent bookstores!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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