Thursday, June 8, 2023

Q&A with Victoria Benton Frank




Victoria Benton Frank is the author of the new novel My Magnolia Summer. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.


Q: First of all, I wanted to express my condolences on the loss of your mother, author Dorothea Benton Frank; I had the pleasure of interviewing her in 2017 and really appreciated the opportunity. The writer Ann Patchett said of your novel, “Victoria Benton Frank shows that she is the rightful heir to the crown of summertime storytellers. Her mother would be so proud.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: Well, after I picked myself off the floor from fainting…. Listen, that’s about the nicest thing anyone could ever say about me. It’s probably all downhill from that comment, so I’m glad it’s in print! Thank you about my Momma, I miss her every day. I hope this book makes her proud… I hope everything I do does.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for My Magnolia Summer, and how did you create your character Magnolia and her family?


A: I took the advice of my mom, and decided to attempt to try and write a book I wanted to read. I have always been very drawn to multi-generational stories taking place in the American South, such as Steel Magnolias or Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I felt like it had been a minute since we got to enjoy voices like those.

Magnolia, or Maggie as she goes by in the book, is an extension of myself to some extent. I was a chef before I sat down to write, but to be honest that life was too difficult to do with two kids. So the whole theme of restaurant life is my way of dealing with that break-up.


Q: The novel takes place in South Carolina—how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: Very. Setting is a character within itself. I would love to one day entertain writing in other places, but for the foreseeable future it’s going to be the Lowcountry. I mean, it’s so dramatic, temperamental, rich with history. It’s like it gives you plot on a silver platter! Space has memory and if you listen closely, you can hear it talk to you.


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


A: No, I didn’t. I let the characters tell me how to end it. There were many endings planned, but the plot took me elsewhere. There were a lot of changes and edits made to this book. I truly believe that writing is self-taught…with the help of brilliant editors, like mine, Carrie Feron. So, my first novel is basically a journal of my journey on learning how to tell a story on paper.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Violet’s story! I am envisioning this to be a series. I am just not done with these women. They lived in my head for so long that I am just not ready yet to say goodbye. I am so excited about the new book!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: That above all I am so grateful for my chance to share my stories! This is absolutely my dream come true and I really hope I make the readers, new and old, happy and proud… and maybe hungry. I hope to become your author to take to the beach in the summertime.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment