TALE OF AN AWARD-WINNING FILIPINO AMERICAN AUTHOR

Victoria A. Grageda-Smith is a lawyer turned award-winning author who is also a freelance writer and editor published in all the creative writing genres of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

A first-generation Filipino immigrant in the US, she was born in the Philippines, the eldest of ten children in a family of humble means. Through full academic merit scholarships, she graduated Magna Cum Laude in her pre-law class and was among the top ten of her graduating class at The College of Law, University of the Philippines. She earned a Master of Laws from The University of Michigan School of Law at Ann Arbor. As an associate counsel in a world-class Manila law firm (Sycip, Salazar, Hernandez & Gatmaitan), she represented Fortune 500 companies and pro-bono, indigent clients before becoming the only female attorney in the twenty-five-lawyer legal department of the largest food, beverage, and packaging conglomerate in Southeast Asia (San Miguel Corporation). As she set out to start her own law firm, life threw the proverbial wrench at her well-laid plans: She met, fell in love with, and married an American.

The challenges of an immigrant starting over in both personal and professional lives, including motherhood, absent her support network of Philippine family and friends amid her husband’s frequent career-related travel, compelled her to choose to be the at-home parent. While raising their young children, she rediscovered a childhood passion: creative writing. She threw herself into writing, applying the same study and work discipline she’d devoted to her academic studies and professional legal career—writing eight to twelve hours a day, sometimes, even more. She wrote while doing laundry, cooking, and waiting for their children to get out of school, private lessons, sports, and other extracurricular activities, and after tucking them into bed. She joined various writers’ clubs—among them, the Austin Fiction Writers Group, Writers League of Texas, Novels-in-Progress Group, and the Ventura County Writers Club, of which she was elected Vice-President.

Lending her a powerful and unique perspective that informs and inspires her writing are her Philippine heritage and law practice years, her long history of social justice and human rights advocacy that predates her legal career, her immigrant experience, and her familys travels abroad and frequent moves across the US in connection with her husbands career.

Forthcoming from Orange Blossom Publishing in spring 2023 is her debut novel, THE THOMASITE, a literary historical novel based on the history of the American Thomasite teachers in the Philippine Islands during the US colonial period in the former US territory. She’s also the author of the Driftless Unsolicited Novella Award-winning FAITH HEALER (Brain Mill Press, 2016), a literary genre novella about a Filipino immigrant to the US who is an intersex psychic healer, set partly in California and the Philippines—during the 1986 Philippine People’s Power Revolution.

The first time Victoria submitted to a national writing contest, her short story, “Portrait of the Other Lady,” won first place and was published by the Ventura County Star (November 28, 2004). Her story collection manuscript, FAITH HEALER AND OTHER STORIES, was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Elixir PressFiction Award contest. This evolved into the story collection, DAUGHTERS OF THE BAMBOO, which is on the publishing track for 2024.

Victoria is also the author of the Kirkus-acclaimed poetry collection, WARRIOR HEART, PILGRIM SOUL: AN IMMIGRANT’S JOURNEY (Amazon, 2013). Her poetry appears in various literary journals, including the Slippery Elm Journal, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, New Millennium Writings, Reed Magazine, Lyrical Iowa, and Dicta (The University of Michigan School of Law literary journal). Her poems have been recognized with Honorable Mention in the 2016 Crosswinds Poetry Journal International Contest and as finalists in the 42nd New Millennium Poetry Awards, 2016 Knightville Poetry Contest, and 2016 Edwin Markham Poetry Award.

The anthology, OTHERS WILL ENTER THE GATES: IMMIGRANT POETS ON POETRY, INFLUENCES, AND WRITING IN AMERICA (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) includes her essay, Gatekeepers and Gatecrashers in Contemporary American Poetry: Reflections of a Filipino Immigrant Poet in the United States”, alongside works by some of the most celebrated contemporary poets in the US.

Among Victoria’s works-in-progress with working titles are: FINDING QIHARA, a sci-fi-fantasy, adventure-mystery novel set against the global warming crisis; THE JAPANESE LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN, a novel set in the Pacific during World War II; and MOTHER OF EXILES, a poetry manuscript anchored on the theme of the Filipino diaspora and immigrant experience, featuring many new poems individually published in several literary journals.

When Victoria isn’t writing or editing, she likes to read or walk in the woods and on the beach with her husband, dogs, and their visiting children at their home on an island in the Puget Sound. Having imagined herself exclusively in her youth as a professional career woman working outside the home, she’s surprised herself by being a happy homebody who, according to family and friends, is also a great, intuitive cook with a like talent and passion for home and garden design.

Readers may follow her on VictoriaGSmith.com, Facebook Author Victoria G. Smith, Twitter @AuthorVGSmith, and Instagram victoriagsmithauthor.

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