Monday, April 15, 2024

Author interview with Astrid V.J.

I'm delighted to introduce my first author from the anthology 'Third name's a Charm' which was released on April 14th 2024. Astrid V.J writes fantasy and was first published in 2019. She has indie published 6 novels, 10 novellas and 5 short stories - wow! So let's meet her:

'I am a USA Today Bestselling and multiple award-winning fantasy author, originally from South Africa. I write a whole range of sub-genres of fantasy including historical, futuristic, urban, and fairytale retellings, but the one thing all my writing has in common is an exploration of our human capacity for transformation and achieving success in the face of adversity. For this reason, I term what I write: transformation fiction.'

Can she give us a tweetable (tweet here):

'Astrid V.J. writes fantasy in a variety of subgenres, bringing to life what she calls transformation fiction: exploring our human capacity to achieve success in the face of adversity.'

What inspired her to become a writer?
'When I was 12, I read a book that sparked an idea, which blossomed and grew. I have been writing ever since.'

What does her daily writing routine look like?
'I’m a mother of two young children, I work a day job to pay the bills, and I’m also a wife. There is no daily writing routine for me. I carve out small pockets of time every week to focus on what I love. When I have a chance, even for just half an hour, I’ll write all I possibly can, so I guess even if my routine is lacking I do irregular but highly effective writing sprints.'

Oh wow, that's impressive! What does Astrid enjoy the most about writing?
'I love the whole process of bringing a story to life. I love working on my characters and outlining the story. Writing the first draft is always a fun process of discovery, while the polishing that comes with several rounds of editing is always very rewarding. I guess, for me, the whole process is what gives me life, so I enjoy every moment of it.'

No wonder she finds the time then! What does she find the hardest part of the writing/ publishing process?
'I struggle most with marketing, although I think I’ve gotten better at it with experience. I find it challenging to talk to other people about my writing in a way that doesn’t over- or underwhelm. Finding the sweet spot of giving enough enthusiasm and information without inundating others is hard.'

She seems to have the perfect balance to me! What's the best money she's ever spent as a writer?
'Paying my editor. She is a wonder and has helped me refine my writing wonderfully.'

Good editors are worth their weight in gold! What does she find the most difficult thing about writing characters who are very different from her personally?
'This is a part I absolutely love. I adore doing the research to get into my characters’ shoes and shifting my perspective to see the world through their eyes is a lot of fun. I suppose what is hard about it is the time it takes, but I simply see that as part of the process.'

Does Astrid read reviews of her books and how does she deal with them?
'I do. I appreciate every reader who’s taken the time to write a review no matter what they think. There are so few who actually write reviews, so I totally appreciate that they do. 

Good reviews help inspire me to keep writing, while negative reviews, if I find the reviewer has a valid point about their negativity, helps me do better next time. I have, in fact, re-worked one of my earlier books thanks to a constructive negative review that helped me see where I’d missed clarifying important information that had been misunderstood.'

And this is how we have the power to help writers. If you're unsure how to write a review, do take a look at my previous post here

Before we get into the anthology, why has she chosen to be one of the authors featured?
'Many of my short stories appear in permanent charity anthologies supporting causes I care about. This means all profits from these books are donated in perpetuity to specific charities. I’m very honoured to be part of two groups of fabulous authors who participate in these inspirational projects.'

So, onto 'Third Name’s A Charm' - what is her story called?
'My story in this anthology is “Lady of Forests and Seas”'
And a tweet that promotes this book (tweet here):
'Third Name’s A Charm is a collection of 20 short, quirky fantasy stories about trios and triple threats suitable for YA and adult readers. All profits will be donated to support global literacy.'
 Could she give us a synopsis of her story?
'Johara is travelling her country when news reaches her of Kurtar raiders who've sacked Al-Madeh. Soon after, Johara comes face to face with a former suitor, turned enemy, the prince leading the raiders to pillage her country. After she is captured and her husband tortured, Johara despairs of ever escaping, but she has one unexpected chance to make things right.'
That sounds high action! Is this anthology part of a series?
'Yes, but each collection can be read on its own. They are:
Once Upon A Name
Twice Upon A Name
Third Name’s A Charm'

Excellent! What was the hardest scene to write and why?
'The scene in Lady of Forests and Seas that was hardest for me to write is when Johara finds herself captured and feels completely helpless. 

She returns to a frame of mind she thought she’d overcome previously, and being thrown back into that sense of utter uselessness was very difficult for me to capture, but I think I managed in the end.'

Did she need to complete any research?
'This short story is set within a greater world I’ve spent decades creating, so part of the research was done previously. What I had to research specifically for Lady of Forests and Seas was on Mongolian culture and particularly how yurts are constructed as well as the clothing worn during the time of the Mongol Empire.'

It sounds a fascinating short story in a wonderful charity book, so please take a look and help this cause if you can. You can find out more about the author on her links below:


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