We’ve been overwhelmed by all the kind comments and tributes from our followers and supporters following the sad loss of our founder, Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes. We asked the Victorina Press authors, editors, translators, and other friends and colleagues to share their memories of Consuelo and to tell us a little more about their relationship with her.
Deborah Wilson: I will always be grateful to Consuelo for her kindness and generosity, in taking me on board as an unpublished, unknown writer, and showing faith in and enthusiasm for my writing.
Of course, she was a fierce champion of many voices. Unfortunately, I only got to meet Consuelo once, at my London book launch. She was so warm and encouraging that she immediately put inexperienced me at ease. I only wish I could have known her longer and spent more time in her company.
Caroline Moir: In 2019 I got off my bottom and went to the London Book Fair to see how publishing worked. I discovered Victorina Press and Consuelo – and she gave me a chance. I am a couple of years older than Consuelo and I hope to emulate her courage and kindness. I am so glad I went down to London for the award ceremony in March at the Chilean Embassy and got to meet her at last.
Chris Fielden: I first met Consuelo in 2017, at the book launch of Rhiannon Lewis’s My Beautiful Imperial at the Embassy of Chile in London. Consuelo hosted the event, and I was struck by her charisma and passion for publishing. I hadn’t heard the term ‘bibliodiversity’ before and was inspired by the principle.
When I was ready to approach publishers, Victorina Press was top of my list. Consuelo liked my book, Alternative Afterlives, and offered me a contract that was tailored to my situation. I was overjoyed. Since then, I have worked with Victorina Press on a variety of projects, including the world record-breaking 81 Words Flash Fiction Anthology. That project would not have been as successful without Victorina Press.
During lockdown, in July 2020, I had the pleasure of interviewing Consuelo about independent publishing. I thought I’d share it here so readers can learn more about this amazing woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHp-V_nQqCo
Consuelo was kind and determined. She put people first. I remember how welcome she made me feel when I visited her home and went out for lunch with her family. The publishing industry has lost an inspiration and a legend.
Amanda Huggins: I first heard of Victorina Press through fellow author, Gail Aldwin, and was delighted when they offered to publish my debut novella, All Our Squandered Beauty. Since then, they’ve published my second novella, Crossing the Lines, and my poetry collection, talk to me about when we were perfect.
Consuelo was always enthusiastic about my work and totally supportive, and I admired her integrity and strong sense of justice. When I was made redundant during the pandemic, Consuelo offered me freelance editing/admin work and I was proud to become a member of the VP team. She was kind, but no pushover (!), passionate and determined. Although I can’t claim to possess half of her good qualities, we did share a sense of fairness and a similar way of working, and I always felt there was an innate understanding between us. On more than one occasion I’ve asked myself what Consuelo would do when I’ve been faced with a dilemma! Her loss is immeasurable.
Marina Sanchez: I never met Consuelo, but in my experience she was always super supportive, generous and kind. I really admired her spirit and intent to live life as fully as she possibly could.
Jennifer Langer: I am deeply saddened to hear about Consuelo’s death, resolute as she was to always live life to the full.
I remember the occasion when Consuelo was a guest poet at one of our Exiled Lit Cafe events. She was about to read her long poem detailing the torture she had endured in Chile but before she read she was concerned to protect the audience, warning them that they would be disturbed by the content. Even in the face of the narrative about her terrible ordeal, she cared about us, the audience. Of course, there is so much more to say about Consuelo and her courage, energy and tenacity.
Catherine Davidaon, Exiled Writers Ink: Consuelo read at my first ever EWI event, and I will never forget the dynamism, resilience, creative energy and powerful voice I encountered that night. She flourished in her publishing venture and was an inspiration in her ability to spread her wings to lift up so many others. She was a major part of the EWI community and will be sorely missed.
Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale: I have only known Consuelo for a few years and yet she impacted my life in a way that is hard to describe. In many ways, she reminds me of my own mother, fiercely passionate about things that really matter in life, strong willed, a straight talker, a wonderful sense of humour and with a gentleness and kindness that made you feel comfortable and safe. When I interviewed her for an article, she shared so much of her life, comfortable to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly people and events she encountered and survived. Her love for both her sons, as well as her love for her partner Lynda, came across as strong as her passion for fighting discrimination and biases. Imagine what a better place the world would be if we listened and acted upon Consuelo’s words, “Tolerance and openness are at the core of breaking biases. We do not necessarily have to agree with different beliefs, lifestyles, or cultures, but we should tolerate them and open ourselves up to learning more about them.”
Codladh sámh, Consuelo, sleep well.
Gail Aldwin: With her passion for bibliodiversity, Consuelo immediately saw the potential in the text for Pandemonium, a story for young children which teaches about acceptance and inclusion through the adventures of a purple panda. Consuelo appointed the talented illustrator Fiona Zechmeister to join me on the project. Together we developed a picture book and through the various drafts, Consuelo respected our creative partnership – offering advice and support when necessary – but otherwise trusting in our creative potential and process. It was a unique experience to enjoy this level of support and confidence. I am forever grateful to Consuelo for the opportunities she provided.
Mary Williams (Valentine Williams): As one of her authors, I was very sad to learn of Consuelo’s passing. She took a chance on me and my writing and I will always be in her debt. Thank you, Victorina, and Consuelo for giving me this chance. My thoughts are with you all at this sad time.
What I loved about Consuelo was her earthiness, her talent, tenacity, and capacity to do what she set out to do. I admired her generous spirit and her determination to help other women realise their full potential. We shared a characteristicChilean sense of humour and laughed at similar things. The love she had for her partner Lynda was truly inspirational – she would do everything she could to support her, even at the very late stage of her illness. She showed unwavering commitment to her ideals, her aims and world vision. She honoured those she loved, particularly her mother, whose name she gave to her publishing company. Consuelo was a remarkable woman who made a deep impression on me. I will miss her dearly.
TogetherintheUK: TogetherintheUK will be forever grateful to Consuelo and feel deeply privileged to have known and worked with her over recent years. Our first encounter was when she agreed to be a judge in our storytelling competition in 2020. Then, she gifted us the amazing opportunity of publishing an anthology of some of the migrant poems and stories submitted in the competition. Her passion for sharing these stories reflected her fierce determination to stand in solidarity with fellow migrants who faced discrimination and hardship.
Throughout the publishing process of Hear Our Stories, we witnessed her passion, professionalism, and honest feedback, gently but determinedly pointing us in the right direction. She had a wonderful sense of humour, delighting in the ironic writing of one of our migrant writers who wrote, “You are invited to a costume party, and the theme is to dress like a British person.”
Through Victorina Press, Consuelo has left a lasting legacy by giving voice to authors who share her passion for equality, diversity, and inclusivity. TogetherintheUK will remember her always with love and gratitude and send our deepest condolences to her family and all at Victorina Press.
Paloma Zoyaya: I met Consuelo when I was invited to join the women writers group now named Las Juanas.
In a world where it so difficult to find a publisher interested in publishing one’s writing, Consuelo was willing to publish my novel and was incredibly generous and patient revising and advising me throughout the process. After publishing the original Spanish edition of Harutu Woman, she was then willing to publish the English translation, and she actively supported me and the translator in the venture, reading and giving us notes, even though she had to do much of the work from her bed due to her deteriorating health. She never ceased to amaze me with her good disposition and her endurance. But what will forever be engraved in my heart will be the affection and warmth with which she received me when I visited her at her beautiful home this April.
She came to pick me up from the station herself, which meant about one hour drive all round. She insisted in showing me the sights and made sure I had a very lovely stay. Consuelo was a master of the art of life, she loved to laugh, her sense of humour never dwindled – something that I believe amazed us all. She enjoyed good food, the company of her beloved Lynda and of her dear friends, including her three dogs. She was until the very end full of loving details like sending flowers and loving notes. She was always mindful of how she could contribute to art and social events, and of how she could help her friends be part of whatever was going on. Where so many of us would shut ourselves in our own personal suffering, Consuelo did the opposite, she was open and generous and bright, she became more and more affectionate, wiser and wiser, she bloomed like a lotus flower reaching for the sky. It is very difficult to think that she is no longer with us, the void she’s left is immense.
Love forever Consuelo!
Teresa Norman: I was very privileged to be invited to the celebration of Consuelo at the Chilean Embassy. I found it very moving that she had been treated so abominably under one regime and another was honouring her. It made me think of the quote from Martin Luther King, ‘the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice’. Of course, it doesn’t do this of its own accord, it takes resilient people with a strong will and imagination to bring about a better world. Like so many others, I admire people who turn their suffering into something positive. I often ask myself ‘how would I cope if x happened?’. If it did, I would think of Consuelo as a role model.
Nour Morjan: I first met Consuelo at a charitable event and we talked. She believed in my poetry before I did. She gave the Syrian woman a chance to spread her words out to the world when I didn’t believe in it myself. I am eternally grateful for the chance she has given me and for believing in me. She has changed my life. She was an amazing person inside out.