Interview: Fantasy and Romance Author Susan Stradiotto

It’s release week for Once Upon a Name! We’re so excited to share this collection of weird and wonderful short fantasy stories with you, and we can’t wait to hear what you think.

Today I want to introduce you to another OUAN coauthor, Susan Stradiotto.

Susan Stradiotto writes fantasy for New Adult and later Young Adult audiences, with storylines enjoyable for adults too. Themes focus mostly on relationships of all kinds, family situations, coming of age, and finding oneself or one’s destiny.

Keep reading to find out more about Susan and her books!

Hi and welcome to the blog, Susan. First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from Texas. I grew up with the firm belief that ya’ll was a word and there was no I in oil. To this day, when I say, “You guys,” my brother corrects me by saying, “Ya’ll.” So there’s that. I moved around a bit but settled down in Minnesota with my husband to raise the family in 1999. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities area ever since.

We’re still very close to our three adult children and enjoy playing fantasy games (DnD, Gloomhaven, etc.) on the regular with them. My husband and I have 2 dogs: a Bernese Mountain Dog named Delaunay and a mini-Dachshund named Knox the Dox. However, along with my daughter I own 3 more Berners: Hodgins, Valkyrie, and Wanda. They’re still puppies, but we’re planning to breed them—first litters likely in late 2022, early 2023.

Oh wow, that many dogs sounds like a dream! I’ve got two German Shorthaired Pointers and they’re the sweetest. So, when did you start writing and what inspired you? 

I’ve always dabbled in writing. Usually, I’d write something once I’d read another story that inspired me. 

What are your favourite genres and tropes to read?

I gravitate toward longer stories with a thorough world and some political machinations. That, however, doesn’t mean I like politics. As N.K. Jemesin said in her master class, “All stories about people and their relationships are political.” 

My favorite genre, I believe, is Historical Fantasy. 

Favorite tropes are a tougher topic. I think most things are okay as long as they’re done well, but there aren’t any that make me pick up the book on that trope alone.

Some of my fave books are Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series and N.K. Jemesin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series. 

I love historical fantasy too, especially when the world building is rich and the historical aspect is really well researched and accurately portrayed. Kerri Maniscalco who wrote Stalking Jack the Ripper is brilliant for that, at the end of her audio books she includes a sort of appendix where she explains the historical details she uses and their real-world discovery and uses. It’s fascinating, and really makes you appreciate and respect the amount of effort she went to to craft a brilliant and accurate story.

Tell us about your most recent or favourite published work.

The work I’m the most proud of is The Serpentine Throne. It’s a 5-book series about a princess who’s lost both her parents and is the only person in the empire who believes her father still lives. It has many of the characteristics of a young adult finding yourself type story, but it’s geared toward the college age in that the characters experience a few more mature themes. This story was greatly inspired by my son who has adored all things dragon since he was in the 3rd grade and learned the difference in dinosaurs and dragons. 

The mythos in The Serpentine Throne is inspired by Japanese culture but is overall highly original. There are themes of found family and real family, learning the differences in love and lust, and rising to be something that the person thought they never wanted.

The first in series is free here: https://books2read.com/callofthestormsorcerer/

That sounds fabulous, I can’t wait to read it! Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings? 

Almost always, I am writing a story with one individual in mind. It’s usually someone I care about or once cared about in my life. I have a short story addressed to my mother, The Serpentine Throne addressed to my son, a romance novel addressed to a dear friend who I wanted to give a happy ending. Usually, my stories are to answer a need or desire I see in those people. 

There are a couple of stories I’ve also written when inspired by something larger in life—a turning of the wheel of time, if you will. That’s especially true in my novella, The Muse of Wynter.

For short stories, I will also find inspiration in the research I’m doing for a longer work. Such was the case with my free short story for signing up for my newsletter (The Wanderer and the Devil). 

Bottom line is that inspiration is almost everywhere, it’s just what feels like the best story to tell at the moment that pulls me forward.

It sounds like you’ll never be short of inspiration or a story to tell! Would you say you’re a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

I’m going with plotter. Even if I deviate, I usually have to do some plotting to get back on track.

I’m the same, I need an outline to keep me heading in the right direction! So, what are you working on right now?

I have 2 active projects at the moment. The first is a contemporary romance novel. The second will be a historical epic fantasy, tentatively entitled Blood of the Skies.

They both sound so exciting! I’d love to branch out into another genre at some point, possibly domestic thrillers, plus I have a historical fantasy WIP that I’m so excited to start working on once The Fair Chronicles is complete! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Start your story. Finish your story. Then worry about the rest.

Perfect advice, after all, many people start a book, but very few actually finish it, and even less go on to publish. If you write a complete manuscript you’re among the tiny percentage of people who will ever write THE END. And then the real work starts!

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Susan! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books? 

Susan’s Website:  https://susanstradiotto.com 

Sign up to Susan’s Newsletter and get a FREE story!https://www.subscribepage.com/susansfantasycommunity 

Follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanstradiotto/ 

Join her Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/aworldawayfantasyreaders 

Upcoming Release: Raine of Fire, A Wickney Mystery Novel coming August 23, 2022: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58736734-raine-of-fire


I hope you enjoyed my chat with Susan, she’s an incredibly talented author and has been an absolute dream to work with on Once Upon a Name, I’m so honoured to be able to call her my coauthor and friend. Susan also has a story in an upcoming anthology that is supporting charities in Ukraine. It’s just 99c to preorder and will be released on 28 June, so if you’re looking for ways to support the people of Ukraine during this horrific time, please do consider buying Feathers of Hope – you’ll get over ten stories by NYT and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors in return!

Happy reading!

Lyndsey

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Interview: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Romance Author Dani Hoots

Hi friends! With just three weeks to go until Once Upon a Name is released into the world (so exciting!), I wanted to introduce you to another of my fabulous coauthors.

Dani Hoots is a science fiction, fantasy, romance, and young adult author who loves anything with a story.

Keep reading to find out all about Dani’s books, and her upcoming story in OUAN.

Hi Dani, welcome to my blog! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I am Dani Hoots and I am a YA sci fi and fantasy author with over 20 books published. I live in Arizona with my husband where we spend our time hiking and finding new bookstores to check out and restaurants to eat at. I love manga and anime and learning new recipes. 

Reading and eating, my two favourite pastimes! When did you start writing and what inspired you? 

I started writing when I was very young. I always loved stories and wanted to create my own.

I can totally see little Dani reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and dreaming up her own version! What are some of your favourite tropes?

The punk boy with a soft heart. Also the badass female lead who doesn’t stick to gender norms. Enemies to lovers is also a fav.

Those are such good ones! I’m a big enemies to lovers fan too, and who doesn’t love a tough female main character? Tell us about your first published book, or your favourite or most recent release.

It’s not my first book published, but the first book I ever wrote and finished was The Quest and although my newest book always ends up being my favorite, I really love that one and it is dear to my heart.

That’s so heartwarming, it’s a really special moment when you finish a book and this just shows how important that feeling of achievement can be. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings? 

For The Quest, I think I was inspired by some dreams I had when I was in high school, along with actors/actresses. I always end up getting inspired by some actor/actress and make up a story for them. For The Quest it was Anna Van Hooft and Taylor Kitsch.

I can definitely see that, I probably did the same and just never wrote my imaginings down. Are you a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Plantser! I make some outlines and then let the characters go like squirrels.

Haha! That’s a brilliant image. Those pesky plot bunnies are definitely nothing like nice little ducks that will sit in a row! So, what are you working on right now?

I am working on the next books of my City of Kaus series.

I’m excited for that, Revenge has such a cool concept and is a really fresh take on the space western genre. I loved Firefly and your City of Kaus series gives me serious Firefly vibes! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Keep writing and don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it. You can and you will. Also take some marketing classes.

I completely agree! Especially on the marketing classes. Just kidding, but my day job as a marketer has definitely come in handy as an indie author!

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Dani! Before I let you get back to creating worlds, how can we find out more about you and your books? 


Which of Dani’s books are you going to read first? I have to admit, I’m torn between Trapped in Wonderland, Revenge, and Endangered! All of Dani’s covers are just so gorgeous, I’m going to need them all.

You can support both me and Dani by buying our anthology, Once Upon a Name, which comes out on 20 April and all profits go to Book Aid International.

Happy reading!

Lyndsey

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Interview: fantasy author Donna White

Hello, hello! The weather has brightened up considerably here in the Midlands (I imagine ‘the Midlands’ sounds pretty *^*fantasy*^* to people from outside of the UK, but it means exactly what it sounds like, the middle section of England).

We’re just over a month away from Once Upon a Name‘s release day, so if you fancy getting 20 short fantasy stories for 0.99 and supporting Book Aid International to provide reading resources and libraries in underprivileged countries, then you can preorder the book here.

Today, I want to share a chat I had with my new Enchanted Anthologies coauthor, Donna White. Enchanted Forests comes out 1 July and we’re so excited to share this follow up to Enchanted Waters, which will be raising funds for the Rainforest Foundation, and will be fully illustrated with gorgeous artwork by our incredibly talented coauthors, Elena Shelest.

On with the show!

Hi Donna! It’s lovely to get to chat with you finally, and welcome to the Enchanted Anthologies team! First off, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Tennessee where I started writing rock-n-roll songs about my cats and their adventures at the age of eight.  My life was filled with tree climbing, playing in any source of water, reading mysteries, and exploring with my animals in tow. Fast forward a few years, I married the Man of My Dreams and we moved out west, ending up in southern California.  We share four wonderful children and a pack of large, well-loved dogs. Writing brings me joy, as does being in the outdoors and driving fast cars.  For the great indoors, I love cooking and interior design. My husband is the biggest supporter in my writing. He talks over my stories with me, helps me with the technology, and keeps a stocked home library for our family.

That sounds wonderful, my husband isn’t a big reader, but I’m trying to instill a love of books in our little boy. And life wouldn’t be worth living without a pack of large dogs to snuggle! Tell us a little about your favourite books to read and write.

I’m a fantasy girl. I love the action/adventure stories of Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian series.  I’ve always been drawn to ancient cultures and different styles of fighting. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is my all-time favorite book. The forest adventures and wild creatures resonate with my imagination. I admire J.K. Rowling’s use of many legends taken from cultures throughout the world and given a new spin with stories inside stories.  My first book is The Whitmere Legacy: Inheritance which deals with a middle-aged mama and her unwanted inheritance.  It turns out there’s some supernatural mysteries and dangers that warrants the use of her hidden talents, alongside some pretty talented friends. One of my reviewers called me “a master of cryptic chill…” because I can put the scare factor in my tales. The second book is The Whitmere Legacy: Heritage which unravels some of the mysteries, and unlocks some scary beings. Readers are treated to mythological creatures, exotic locations, twists and turns, spine-tingling chills, lots of fighting, southern charm, friendship, humor, and gumbo.  There’s always gumbo.

Here is the link to my Amazon author page.

Wow, that sounds fantastic, I love books that are inspired by mythology and folklore – especially cultures I don’t know as much about. Books that I can learn something from at the same time as being entertained are my favourite. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings?

I’m over 50, so I’ve had a lot of experiences from modeling posh clothing to practicing Japanese martial arts that make it into my stories. I also know some of the most colorful individuals on this planet whose adventures get polished and handed to my characters. Once I saw someone who looked like they just escaped from the set of The Lost Boys walking around in the searing California sun. I took it from there and created more than I expected. Most of my settings are places I’ve been, or scenes that I’ve dreamed.  Nature, grand or gothic architecture make for iconic atmospheres. 

Those are some interesting and diverse sources of inspiration! It’s amazing when you can take bits and pieces from a dozen different places and combine them to make a story that is completely unique and yet still relatable. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser?

I start every story with a scene that mills around in my head for a long time.  The characters start out simple. They grow with the story. My body has to be engaged with an activity, and my mind has to be working on something satisfying for my imagination to be free. I have my ideas when I’m working in the kitchen while listening to music, or driving on the freeway. After I’ve written some scenes and stitched them together, then I jot down all the other scenes in my head and put them in order.  So, usually halfway through the first draft I have an outline. The story changes as I write it, but it’s good to have a list of things I don’t want to forget while in the wild stages of manic writing. I’m a plantser.  

I’m somewhere between plotter and pantser too, but leaning more towards plotter. I need a framework before I can even start, or I’ll get myself into a tangled mess that no amount of editing can ever get me out of! What are you working on right now?

I’m writing the first draft of the third book in The Whitmere Legacy series. 

Exciting! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Read On Writing by Stephen King.  It doesn’t matter what genre you write.  This master of the craft can teach you how to produce compelling stories. 

Thank you so much for chatting with me today Donna! It’s been a pleasure, and I can’t wait to read your story for Enchanted Forests! Before I let you go, how can we find out more about you and your books? 

Website: https://www.amazon.com/author/donnawhitethewhitmerelegacy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitmerelegacy

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/thewhitmerelegacy  


Donna’s story in Enchanted Forests, Dimension of the Sasquatch, is a companion story to her series The Whitmere Legacy, so you can get a taste for Donna’s writing before diving into her novels AND help us raise funds for the Rainforest Foundation at the same time!

Happy reading folks,

Lyndsey

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