Hi friends! I’m so honored to have Susan Dennard on the blog today! For those of you who don’t know Susan, she’s not only an incredible author (more below), but one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. I’ve personally been following her for years – especially because of the writing advice she freely gives, as well as her transparency and insight into the publishing industry. Her articles have vastly improved my own writing, and I have to admit, when I’m down in the dumps – reading her words never fails to inspire me.
Additionally, Tor Teen is partnering with me for a giveaway! Check out my Instagram for a chance to win the books!
But before I jump into the questions, here’s some info about Susan’s latest series, as well as her incredible background as an author!
SUSAN DENNARD is the author of the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series as well as the Something Strange and Deadly series. She 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. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo.
About the Witchlands Series
A favorite of booksellers, reviewers, and readers alike, Susan Dennard has become widely known for her young adult epic fantasy saga set in the imaginative world of her New York Times bestselling series published by Tor Teen, the Witchlands, told through Truthwitch, Windwitch, the special illustrated novella Sightwitch, and the forthcoming Bloodwitch (February 2019). Witchlands is set on a distant continent, in which some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. The series follows best friends Safi (a Truthwitch) and Iseult (a Threadwitch), as well as the cunning ship captain Prince Merik (a Windwitch), and the mysterious and powerful Aeduan (a Bloodwitch) as they must navigate warring empires, political machinations, and mercenaries who seek to use their magic for selfish gain.
Any fan of a gripping and fast-paced fantasy saga will be captivated by the wonderful world of the Witchlands, where Dennard focuses on the true power of magic, bravery, and most importantly, friendship.
Let’s hop into the questions!
If you could pick any power from your series, which one would it be?
S. Always a tough question. Definitely not a Truthwitch or Threadwitch –way too stressful. I guess I’d probably choose a Waterwitch (like Stix). I’m a Pisces and I used to work in marine bio, so water seems like the natural choice.
Also, Stix is a badass.
Was there anything in particular that inspired your magic system?
S. Nothing I can point to in particular. I’ve been reading adult fantasy since I was a kid (there was no YA!), so all those magic systems formed a massive base upon which to build from.
Originally, I actually had way too many witcheries, and my editor was like, “Simmer down now, Sooz!” And at her suggestion, I added in the elements to try to simplify things. Since I already had a running theme of six (Twelve Paladins, six Origin Wells, etc.), I settled on six elements.
In the end, I think this actually made things more complicated, but oh well! It all turned out exactly how it needed to be. 😉
Where in the Witchlands would you most want to visit?
S. Oh boy, things are pretty dangerous there! I suppose if I was a Waterwitch, though, I could survive. And honestly, there are so many places I’d love to see – I did imagine them after all. Lovats with its mile-high water-bridges, Azmir with its golden towers, the Carawen Monastery high atop a mountain peak. Yeah, seeing any of that would be pretty amazing.
Is there a character you became attached to that you didn’t expect?
S. Aeduan has always been a surprise. I never expected for him to become a point of view character, and then all of sudden, 1/3 into drafting Truthwitch, he started talking to me. And I’m so glad I listened since he has now become such a fan favorite!
Who in the series would be the most likely to start a band? A social media account?
S. Ha. I feel like Kullen would be all about a band. He’s just so good spirited, and he likes being around people. He’d assemble a band as a way to make his friends stop fighting – though it probably wouldn’t work.
As for social media, I feel like Safi would kill it on social. And she’d force Iseult to do a million selfies, and Iseult would glare in all of them.
What’s the most rewarding part of being an author? (And do you have a favorite fan moment?)
S. Meeting and interacting fans is definitely the highlight. It’s the reason I write books!! Drafting isn’t my favorite thing to do, but having written? Having shared – yes please!
And the Witchlanders (my street team) in particular have become so important to me. I love them, and they have become a real pillar in my life, through thick and thin.
You are well known (and loved) for your incredible writing advice – advice I’ve used and studied over and over! What inspired you to start giving it out?
S. Honestly, I just love to talk about things I’m interested in. When I worked in marine science, you couldn’t get me to shut up about oceanic evolution.
There’s also so little transparency in publishing – which I totally understand. It’s kind of a no-no to share some of the behind-the-scenes realities, and most authors aren’t comfortable being 100% vulnerable about their personal failures (I get that!).
I just seem to have literally no shame, and I think that honesty resonates with people. I know when I was first getting started, I was desperate for any Real Talk I could find – and it just wasn’t out there. So I’m trying to fill that void.
How does a writer stay true to themselves and the story they want to write when other people are involved?
S. It’s honestly not that hard. I’ve never met an editor who was like, “You must change this!” Editors are there to help you improve your book. They would never have acquired your book in the first place if they didn’t connect to the heart of it. Plus, they’re trained to help you make that heart shine.
Yes, there are times my editor will make a suggestion that makes me go, “No way.” But she suggested it for a reason, and if I can pinpoint that reason, I can usually find what’s broken and fix it in another way.
Thank you so much, Susan! You’re such a light in this community, and I’m so excited to continue on with the series! Everyone, I highly encourage you to follow visit the links below and check out the series!
Learn More About Susan