Mymcbooks's Blog

Keepsake that Educates!

Mymcbooks Interview Author Victoria Griffith

Victoria Griffith worked for fifteen years as correspondent to the UK’s Financial Times newspaper. Her assignments included interviewing acclaimed architect Frank Gehry (who said the shopping mall across the street made him want to puke) and making lunch for master chef Julia Child (who did not like the blackberry dessert). As the newspaper’s US science correspondent, she wrote about everything from genetic breakthroughs to the space program. As Brazil correspondent, she covered environmental issues and spent time in the Amazon rain forest. It was in Brazil that she first learned about Alberto Santos-Dumont. Victoria lives in Boston with her husband and three daughters.

Victoria Griffith is the author of  The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?

The last kids’ book I read was MY HANDS SING THE BLUES, by Jeanne Walker Harvey. It’s about a trip the artist Romare Bearden made as a child. The book is a biography in rhyme, which is really hard to do.

The last adult book I read was Tea Obrecht’s THE TIGER’S WIFE. I had to see what all the fuss was about, and I wasn’t disappointed. I really liked the way Obrecht kept the novel grounded in reality while exploring fantastical stories.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I liked to write fairy tales when I was little. One of them even won some award and was published in a children’s magazine. It’s been all down hill since then.

What was your favorite children’s book?

I loved E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB. The first line “Where is Papa going with that ax?” is a masterpiece, full of intrigue and possibility. Who wouldn’t want to read more? The book continues to be a favorite of mine, because it is a celebration of writers. I also loved MR PINE’S PURPLE HOUSE, about a man who tries to make his house stand out somehow, even though it looks like all the others. I think it appealed to the non-conformist in me.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

My Scottish grandmother was a talented storyteller, and my mother toyed with humor writing, so I suppose the urge to get things down on paper runs in the family.  But I agree with Dorothy Parker, who said. “I hate writing; I love having written.” I think most authors feel that way.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes. My wonderful agent, Robert Astle, is submitting a middle grade novel and another picture book biography to publishers as we speak. I’ll keep you posted.


Running errands in a flying machine was a childhood dream of mine. When I heard someone had actually done that, I knew I had to write about it. Santos-Dumont’s life was exciting. When the Wright Brothers flew, they did so in front of just a handful of witnesses. Few people even noticed. But Santos-Dumont made his first flight in front of thousands of people in Paris. I love the way Louis Bleriot just showed up and tried to steal the thunder. It meant I had a real life “bad guy” to liven up the scene when Santos-Dumont takes off. And kids love bad guys don’t they? (Of course Bleriot redeemed himself later, when he became the first person to cross the English Channel in a plane.)

What is the most difficult part of writing?

I find endings more difficult to craft than beginnings. That’s probably a hangover from my journalist days, when my main job was to capture readers’ attention and hold it until the end of the story. The last line in an article is less important than the first.

Do you write full time or do you still have a day job?

I write full time, sometimes working on journalist pieces, but mostly working on my books. I also have three daughters who keep me very busy.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Knock on wood, but I haven’t really had any bad reviews. One thing that has surprised me is the controversy surrounding creative non-fiction like THE FABULOUS FLYING MACHINES OF ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT, which uses invented quotes. I had no idea people felt so strongly about the boundaries of non-fiction.

I don’t really suffer from writer’s block, but sometimes I’ll write stories that my family (my first critics) thinks are not up to par. I throw that stuff in the trash.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

I hope they will realize that history is a lot messier than it often seems. In 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont was arguably the most famous person in the world, and few had heard of the Wright Brothers. Today, Santos-Dumont is still considered the Father of Flight in his native Brazil, but most of the world has forgotten him.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Like many people, I adore J.K Rowling, but I wouldn’t want to have dinner with her, because she seems to be a very private person who mainly enjoys spending time with people she knows well. The poet Jack Prelutsky would probably be a lot of fun to share a meal with.

What author inspires you the most and why?

Jane Austen is a big inspiration, because she wrote at a time when it was something women just weren’t supposed to do.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

I work when my children are in school, basically.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Picture books for elementary school children (of THE FABULOUS FLYING MACHINES OF ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT ilk) are sometimes overlooked, because kids are pushed early into chapter books. But picture books are often so rich with vocabulary and ideas that they can expand a child’s mind in surprising ways. Parents who continue to read picture books with their elementary school children are sure to reap the rewards of a shared literary experience!

What advice would you give to new writers?

Remember that this is one of the biggest challenges you will face in your life. But if becoming an author is your dream, don’t let that knowledge stop you!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I’m so grateful there are people like your readers out there, people who feel so passionate about books that literature has become an indispensable part of their daily lives.  Thank you for this interview.

March 20, 2012 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , ,


  1. Interesting interview – thanks for sharing. I’m also a big Jane Austen fan, however I wasn’t so sold on the Tiger’s Wife

    Comment by londonchoirgirl | March 20, 2012 | Reply

  2. I enjoyed your interview. Your book sounds exciting. It’s important to learn about the people who dared to do what most thought impossible and have them remembered.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by caroluci | March 20, 2012 | Reply

  3. What an interesting person, she is! I know I could learn a lot by
    reading her books to my sons…
    Many thanks, Cindi

    Comment by cmh512 (@cmh512) | March 20, 2012 | Reply

  4. She sounds like a wonderful author! Can’t wait to read her book!

    Comment by lisa | March 21, 2012 | Reply

  5. I found the interview neat. I was a little surprised to read that the endings take more time then the beginning of the book. I would think it would be the other way around.

    Comment by larissa brunken | March 21, 2012 | Reply

  6. Victoria sure had some neat assignments while working for the newspaper!! I can’t imagine having to cook for Julia Child!!!

    Comment by Kristie | March 22, 2012 | Reply

  7. Good interview. She knows her subject well. Also she tells people who want write a book how hard it will be but she say’s it can be done. Interesting author.

    Comment by Barb K. | March 23, 2012 | Reply

  8. I enjoyed reading about the author’s writing process and the advice she provided.

    Comment by bn100 | March 24, 2012 | Reply

  9. I like the conclusion that history is messy. Of course it is, it’s life.

    Comment by domestic diva | March 25, 2012 | Reply

  10. Victoria sounds like a very interesting person. I would love to have dinner with her!

    Comment by likwan | April 7, 2012 | Reply

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