As so often seems to be the case, I met KV at Readercon 2011. She let me order her coffee from the Starbucks stall in the hotel lobby on the last day, which remains one of the most hilarious experiences of my life. As it was something I’d been dying to do for YEARS, I remain forever indebted to her. I’m also quite grateful that she accepted my invitation to talk about how her debut paranormal thriller, DARK DEALINGS, manages to blend her Irish heritage with her extensive Wall Street experience. Druids and Wall Street? Personally, I wouldn’t have made the connection. But then, I’m not K. Victoria Smith.
When I describe Dark Dealings to some and include words like vampires and Wall Street, they chuckle and comment about the natural connection. Then, I throw in that there is also an Irish Druid twist. I know a future fan when the response is something along the lines of “cool” or “can’t wait to read it”. The responses of others tell me they have misconceptions about what a Druid was. They might wonder how I could make Mists of Avalon work with Gordon Gecko.
I have always been fascinated by my Irish Heritage. As a child, I grew up in a four-family apartment building in a working class neighborhood. My grandmother, Agnes Ní Kilkelly of Athlone, owned (after her husband’s death) the building and lived in the upstairs front apartment. I spent much of my spare time with her. She would tell me stories of her childhood in Ireland and give me books of old stories. She regaled me with tales from home like the sister who missed curfew because she was trapped in a fairy ring. And she tried to teach me Irish. I struggled with it at the time, seeing it to be akin to the Latin that they tried to teach in Catholic school. I didn’t understand the importance of either language at the time.
Off I went to college and began to explore my heritage further and found the Druids. In seventh grade, I, together with some friends, organized a school assembly for the very first Earth Day. We promoted recycling. One of the nuns decided we were communists.
As I studied more about what we did and did not know about my ancestors and their European relatives, something stirred inside. Are certain memories passed through the generations until it is part of your DNA? That power comes from the elements, the rituals and structures.
I took my place on Wall Street, it is a place that is rich in history, traditional and ritual. Granted it was and still is male-dominated. But that brought out the stubborn warrior in me. The worst thing you can tell me is “you can’t.” But in its purest form, Wall Street can create good things: research companies that find cures or new technologies. But it was also a place of the seanchai, the storyteller. Traditions and oral history reigned. For example, I was told that the Stock Market was closed on Good Friday, because back in the day the market “crashed” on Good Friday and it was viewed as punishment from God. It didn’t matter whether it had happened or not. The story was the point. It appealed to the Druid pagan in my soul. I found a place in an old firm, now gone, called Kidder, Peabody, in their Health and Education Finance group. We helped hospitals, nursing homes, college and universities build and equip the facilities of tomorrow. Learning and medicine, topics that are dear to the Druid. We fought battles to get deals done and win them from the competition.
It was also a place where greed was worshiped by some. At its worst, it was the ego battles for territories, modern warfare. When I was on Wall Street “The Art of War” was highly recommended reading. The age of insider trading and betrayals, stories that were reminiscent of the great Irish cycles.
What I have learned about ancient Druids is that they were a complex people connected to the land and its cycles with hope, fears, jealousies, loves and passions. Having actually been inside Wall Street, it seemed like the natural place for my main character in Dark Dealings, Micaela O’Brien, to call her ordinary home in the ordinary world. Of course, she finds out that everything is not as ordinary as she would like it to be and that when, push comes to shove, the old ways may be the best ways.
Check out Karen Victoria Smith’s debut, DARK DEALINGS:
Wall Street has fangs. When international power brokers, creatures hiding in plain sight, threaten Micaela and those she loves, will this heiress of a Druid legacy deny her power again and let others die? A thrill ride of money, magic and murder across the globe.
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark. KV lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real.