2017 Fantasy Extravaganza - Susan Dennard

Today is the last interview this year, although I know technically it was supposed to be yesterday, I started school on Wednesday and didn't think I would have so much homework right off the bat.  I do hope you think the little wait was worth it because today I have another NYT bestseller whose books are also endorsed by the amazing Sarah J Maas.  I'm so pleased to end this feature with the lovely Susan Dennard, author of Truthwitch and Windwitch!

The Interview;

Once Upon A Teen Reader: You've created a world that has some "familiar" magic (wind, fire, etc.), but there are also an assortment of unusual magics (truthwitchery, threadwitchery, etc.).  Why did you decide to include the familiar magics, and where did the idea for the unusual ones come from?  Were there any ideas for types of magic that you threw out?

Susan Dennard: Actually, I started with the unusual magics. And I had a lot of them. Rather than having just “Waterwitch,” I had “Tidewitch” and “Icewitch” and even (yes, this is true) “Steamwitch.” And it was overwhelming and mildly absurd.

So one of the first things my editor asked me to do was simplify the magic—combine some witcheries, eliminate others, and add overarching elements within which each magic could be applied.

So now, while there are still Tidewitches and Icewitches, they are in the broader category of Waterwitches. And as you can see, that didn’t really simplify things at all, but only made it more complicated. ;) Whoops!

OUATR: There are so many great characters in this series, and we get to see through the eyes of so many of them.  Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) character to write?  What about one that's easiest (or hardest)?  Why do you think that is?

SD: I definitely don’t have a least favorite or a most favorite—I have to love them all in some way or I couldn’t authentically write from their POV. That said, some are easier to understand than others. Safi is very “this is good, this is bad, I fight for what I believe in” while characters like Vivia or Aeduan have many more shades of gray.

OUATR: You have some really impressive fight scenes in your books, how do you go about writing those?  Do you block them out, do you act them out, or something else entirely? 

SD: I definitely block them out. I’ve been doing martial arts since college (so…over a decade ;)), so I have a pretty strong sense of how fighting works, how our bodies move (or DON’T move, for those instances when you want to break something), and how to defend against common attacks. There are times I’ve had my sensei help me choreograph scenes, or whenever we learn a cool new move in class, I’ll file it away as one more thing to add to my book.

OUATR: It was recently announced that you're writing a prequel story, SIGHTWITCH, that will come out before BLOODWITCH, and even help set it up.  Can you tell us a little about that story, and how it came to be?

SD: As I talked about in depth in a recent newsletter, this was a project I tried to write in 2014…and failed at. For lots of reasons, I just couldn’t get the story to work or seem to find Ryber’s voice. Then, earlier this year, my publisher asked, “Hey, might you try that novella again?” And I thought I might as well give it a try—worst case scenario, it doesn’t work out and we move right on to Bloodwitch.

Surprise, surprise, when I sat down to work on this, the story just BURST forth! It wasn’t the format I expected (journal entries? world-related documents? Illustrations? Totally didn’t see that coming!), and there was a new POV in there that completely caught me by surprise. But oh wow, what a joy it was to write!

OUATR: The first series you wrote, the SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY trilogy, had fantasy elements in it but was set in the real world.  Why did you decide to go from a real place and time to a world of your own creation?  What were some of the challenges you faced in making that jump?

SD: I’ve always been a reader of high fantasy, so that specific genre has always been something I wanted to write one day. In some ways, it has been easier because I don’t have to research a real world with real history and try to fit story into that. I can build the world and plot hand-in-hand. But that, of course, also has its challenges—and I still have to do a lot of research to get things right.

The Book;

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: The Witchlands #1
Published: January 5, 2016
Add it on Goodreads

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
Buy it from B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository

The Author;

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world -- six out of seven continents (she'll get to Asia one of these days!) -- before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the Witchlands series, which includes the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch and Windwitch. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Find her on Her Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

The Giveaway;

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan when she went out on her Windwitch tour at the start of the year and I decided to squirrel away an extra signed copy of both Truthwitch AND Windwitch for just such an event.  For those of you in the US, you're welcome to enter to win both books, and for you International readers since Susan is a featured author her books are an option should you win, although they won't be signed.

US Giveaway

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International Giveaway

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