Interview: YA fantasy and fairytale retelling author Alice Ivinya

Well, May has been wild here in the UK. From glorious sunshine, to torrential downpours in the span of minutes. We’re also within spitting distance of restrictions lifting, but another outbreak of a different variant in some cities is threatening our chance of freedom yet again. But things could be worse, and I’m still looking forward to being able to hug my dad again on Father’s Day, even if it’s been a little longer than expected.

This week, I had the absolute privilege of talking to Alice Ivinya, the USA Today bestselling author of Feathers of Snow and Silent Melody, as well as several other captivating fantasy and fairytale inspired novels for young adults. As a fellow Brit, Alice knows all about our crazy Spring weather!

Read on to see what we chatted about (aside from the weather, of course).

Alice Ivinya | Fantasy and Fairytales
USA Today Bestselling Author

Hi Alice! It’s so lovely to speak to you, thanks for joining me. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in wet and soggy Bristol, UK, with my husband, toddler and dog (oh and an immortal goldfish). I have loved fantasy all my life. My favourite authors are Brandon Sanderson, Holly Black, Amy Harmon and Robert Jordan. When I’m not off gallivanting in other worlds, you can normally find me climbing trees with my young son, working as a small animal vet, hanging out with my church family, or walking the best dog in the world.

Wow, that sounds perfect – fantasy books, animals and family time, what more could you want? How old were you when you started writing, and who encouraged you? 

I have written stories for as long as I can remember. My first book series was about a group of kids who ran away from home and became rulers of all the sharks in the sea. Worryingly they all got married at the age of 12-14, but that was old to my 8 year old self! 

I wrote my first full length novel at 11. It was about a magician’s apprentice who was bad at magic. 

Throughout my teenage years I wrote epic fantasy after epic fantasy that my poor parents had to read, even when they went over 200,000 words! As a child I was badly dyslexic and struggled with sentence structure and spelling to the extent that many of my early stories were illegible until I typed them up. It took me much longer than all the other children in my class to both write and type, but I just loved to write and have never been able to stop telling stories. Slowly, with the support of my parents and teachers, I developed techniques to get around my dyslexia and now it never holds me back.

I now have ten published full length books and four short stories.

That’s incredible, and so inspiring. It’s amazing that you’ve managed to overcome so many obstacles to become a bestselling author of more than ten published works so far. I want to be like you when I grow up! Do you have any favourite book tropes?

I love most tropes in fantasy as long as they’re not too depressing when delivered (I need all dark books to have a healthy dose of sarcastic humour!)! I love detailed, magical worlds and characters that make me see the world in a different way. I particularly like enemies to lovers, arranged marriage, and rags to riches.

Enemies to lovers is my number one favourite trope too, and I completely agree about dark books needing humour to balance it out. Tell us a little about your most recent release.

My most recent release was Feathers of Snow, a fairytale retelling of The Goose Girl. It is young adult, high fantasy with an arranged marriage troupe.  All my writing is young adult and clean. Here is the blurb:

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far are the eyes of her betrothed…

Brianna bears a deadly secret: she’s not the princess she is pretending to be. If the prince finds out, her life will be forfeit and her country plunged into war.

But there is more to the icy prince than meets the eye, and Brianna slowly unravels the secrets of his dark past while surviving in a strange culture.

However her goodness and wit will only get her so far. Terrifying beasts stalk the border and a murderer is at work in the town. They know the truth of Brianna’s identity and will stop at nothing to destroy all she has fought for.

That sounds absolutely captivating, and I can’t wait for book two, Feathers of Blood! Where do you find inspiration for your characters? 

I have no idea. My characters sit in my head and tell me what they’re like and what to write. However, I am often inspired by people with perceived disabilities and try to reflect that in my writing.

It’s wonderful how diverse and inclusive your stories are, you’ve given a voice to so many people and let them see themselves in a book for possibly the first time. I especially love Violet in The Flawed Princess and the representation of club foot, it’s not something I’ve ever seen in a fictional character before, but we absolutely need to see more differently-abled people in stories. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

I’m a plantser, though it depends on the book. Sometimes I get a very clear idea of the plot all the way through, sometimes I have only a vague idea of where it is going. I normally write key scenes first that I can feel down to my bones, then link them together.

I was following a plan for the last bit of Enchanted Melody which is what I’m writing at the moment. Then, whoosh, a dragon appeared! Now I have to plan everything around the dragon haha!

Those pesky dragons do manage to sneak up on you don’t they! I’m probably a plantser too, I love plotting, but at some point you have to put the post-its down and start writing and see what comes out! What are you working on right now?

I am working on four projects currently:

1.) Enchanted Melody which is the sequel to my Pied Piper retelling, Silent Melody. I am currently writing the last bit of the first draft ready to send it to my developmental editor. Out June.

2.) Feathers of Blood. So much angst in this one! I’ve planned it out and written a lot of the key scenes, but need to start fleshing it out. Out September. 

3.) Girls of Might and Magic anthology. I have had my short story accepted into this amazing anthology aiming to increase diversity in fantasy. Mine is about a girl with a stutter in an Asian-inspired fantasy world. I am currently waiting for the publisher’s edits to come back for my story.

4.) Enchanted Waters. I’m so excited to be part of this short story anthology featuring Heartless Melody, the prequel to Silent Melody. Every story features mythical water creatures and I’m working alongside some incredibly talented authors! All the proceeds are going to support ocean conservation.

Gosh, you’re a busy bee! I’m so excited for all your upcoming releases, especially Enchanted Waters! Before you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

My advice to authors who want to write fantasy is to read loads in your subgenre and keep writing. Never give up! Get as many fantasy lovers to read it as you can before you try to publish. Also start simple and master simple concepts in shorter books before your epic 12 book masterpiece!

Thank you so much for chatting with me Alice, it’s been so lovely getting to know you better and hearing about your projects and upcoming releases! Where can we find out more about you and your books? 


Newsletter signup:


Facebook page:

Facebook group:

Follow me on Goodreads:

Follow me on bookbub:

If your TBR hasn’t doubled in size just from reading about Alice Ivinya’s stories, then I’m not sure we can be friends. If you’ve never read anything by Alice, I highly recommend heading straight over to Amazon and downloading a couple to your Kindle to dip your toe into, you will not regret it, I can guarantee!

Enchanted Waters will be out on 16 July and includes two wonderful stories by Alice (I’ve read them, they’re completely different styles, but both gripping and gorgeous), as well as my story Daughter of the Selkie King, so it’s a great place to try out new authors you may not have heard of before.

For just $2.99, you get ten beautiful fantasy tales, and you’ll be supporting Oceana, a nonprofit working to protect our ocean’s and marine life. There’s literally no downside!

Happy reading folks!



Interview: Fantasy Author and Artist Elena Shelest

This week, I had the privilege of catching up with Elena Shelest, author of contemporary fantasy The Seven Lives of Grace and creator of beautiful artwork, which she shares on her Instagram account, @lena_fiveminutediscovery.

Read on to see what we chatted about…

Hi Elena! Thank you for chatting with me today. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in a port city of Odessa, Ukraine by the Black Sea (and still can’t swim well, go figure). When I was almost fifteen, I immigrated to the States and switched my major from art to nursing. Still do both. I currently reside in Oregon with my hubby, two busy and always hungry boys, a cutely annoying dog, a standoffish cat, and a nosy bunny. I wish we were closer to the beach and somewhere warmer but love the nature here. 

Wow, an artist and a nurse? That’s incredible! When did you start writing and who or what inspired you?

I’ve been writing poetry and journaling since I was a teen as a way to express myself. I think writing is in my blood as my mother is a poetess too. I’ve started a few stories but never had enough time to finish them until my husband sent me on a mission to test the waters in Texas (we’re always trying to move somewhere, by the way). It didn’t work out, but I had a few free weeks doing nothing at my friends’ house with no family to take care of (always hungry boys were at the mercy of my husband’s cooking abilities). So, I sat by the pool for hours and finally wrote a story that’s been on my heart for a while. New ones just kept coming afterwards. 

Gosh that sounds like the dream – weeks to spend writing while your husband takes care of the kids! I’m jealous. What’s your favourite genre to read and write?

Everything I read has to have a fantasy element in it. Otherwise I get bored. I love when authors explore the impossible, the magical, the realm of the unknown, stretching our imagination. Of course, some romance needs to be present as well. 

Romantic fantasy is my number one favourite too! On that note, tell us about your debut novel.

My book The Seven Lives of Grace is about dreams coming true. My heroine, Grace, is a twenty-something bookish Seattle dweller who’s struggling to make ends meet. She gave up her dream career to take care of her ill mother and younger sister but now wants to do something different with her life. Getting a magical inheritance was not what she had in mind! Mayhem begins when she decides to give mysterious gifts and tries to discover not only her destiny but also herself.

There is a caveat. She has only seven days to figure things out and make a decision that can alter her life forever. If you want to read a book that makes you go deep while having fun, check it out on Amazon.

That sounds wonderful and so uplifting! Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings?

I like it when magic meets everyday reality, so all the places in my books are real. Therefore, I do a lot of research. For The Seven Lives of Grace, the setting is Seattle. I loved visiting this port city that’s not too far from where we live. My character was inspired by my desire to see women realize their potential and reach for their dreams in life, so she’s very relatable to our everyday struggles.

With The Healer’s Choice that’s coming out this year, I wrote about places I’ve never visited but plan to. Istanbul and the culture behind it is fascinating. Southern Ukraine/Crimea is amazing too. The characters have some traits of different people I’ve met but it’s a completely new DNA. It’s like watching your kids grow up. I might do some initial molding, but then they take off on their own. 

Istanbul is incredible, and I’d love to visit Ukraine! Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser?

I am a total pantser. I love being surprised by the characters and the story. But that makes editing a longer process than I’d like it to be. So… I am transitioning to plantser. Does it make me a reformed pantser now? 

Haha, I think a lot of pantsers transition to plantser eventually. What are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on a historical fantasy set in the 17th century Ottoman Empire. It follows the journey of Adiela, the daughter of a Jewish merchant and the first carrier of the magical gifts. It was super fun doing the research for the story as well as looking a little deeper into my own cultural roots. The male character is a Slavic Cossack warrior from the territory that was the birthplace of modern day Ukraine.

If you’re interested in following my writing journey, being my beta-reader or getting some behind-the-scenes details about the story + a few other extras, you can sign up to be notified of the progress (you will also get my once-a-month newsletter. It’s fun and insightful, I promise!

17th Century Ottoman Empire? Sign me up! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

I wish someone would have told me how much time and effort it takes to birth a book. The only reason I didn’t quit was because I had a fully written manuscript on my hands before I realized how much further I needed to go. So my advice would be, if you’re serious about it, write the whole story first, then get into the nitty gritty of the writing and publishing jungle. 

Great advice, it definitely isn’t easy. How can we find out more about you and your books? 

If you want to look through my inspirational blog posts, check out my website: 

If you want to see my awesome updates about writing life and life in general, find me on Instagram:

If you just want to know when my next book is coming out, follow me on Goodreads:

Get a free novella, Sweets Make Everything Better (yes they do, especially if they are laced with some magic) when you sign up to my newsletter:

I definitely recommend checking out Elena’s gorgeous artwork, some of her pieces are going to be included in Enchanted Waters alongside Helena Satterthwaite’s illustrations of the ten enchanting short stories we’ve written for this collection.

Elena’s story, The Wishing Well, is inspired by Slavic folklore. It’s a haunting and captivating tale, complimented by stunning paintings by Elena herself. You’re definitely going to want the paperback of this collection! I’ll show you some sneak peeks of the artwork when I’m allowed.



Interview: YA Fantasy Author Jennifer Kropf

I recently had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Jennifer Kropf, author of the gorgeously festive fantasy novel A Soul as Cold as Frost, about her upcoming projects and where she finds inspiration for her stories.

Here’s what she had to say…

Hi Jen! It’s lovely to finally get to chat with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. First of all, where are you from?

I’m from Canada, where it snows too much and often smells of pines. I have a husband and three kids, and we live in a little town on the cusp of Stratford, Ontario that has all the small-town-charm you can imagine. I like to write late at night, and I’m one of those weirdos who would rather brew a hot beverage and snuggle up with a book on a weekend instead of going out to do things.

That sounds like the dream! I’m definitely one of those weirdos too. When did you start writing and what inspired you? 

Growing up, my dad used to read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis to me and my siblings before bed. We became obsessed with the world of Narnia, and Aslan. When I started having kids, I imagined having those same experiences with my kids at Christmas time, so I started writing A Soul as Cold as Frost with the hopes that every year at Christmas we can spend the month of December snuggling by the fireplace reading exciting Christmas stories, and bonding over them as a family. 

What a lovely idea, that sounds like the perfect family tradition. Aside from The Chronicles of Narnia, what are your favourite books?

My favourite books to read have always been fantasy books, especially with exceptionally built worlds. 

Those are my favourites too. Speaking of which, tell us a little about your debut novel.

I published my first book last year called A Soul as Cold as Frost, which centres around a girl whose eyes are opened to another realm at Christmas time, and throughout the series, will face all sorts of mythical villains pulled out of old Christmas legends.

It sounds like such a magical read, where do you find inspiration for your characters? 

Obviously I love Christmas, so a lot of my characters are drawn from Christmas stories or legends. I have a few different versions of Santa Claus (multiple characters who impersonate different versions of Santa) in my books, along with The Snow Queen, The Gingerbread Man, and the Nutcracker. 

I love characters inspired by myths and legends! What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on Book #2 of The Winter Souls Series (A Soul as Cold as Frost #2) which I’m calling A Heart as Red as Paint. AHARAP centres around my main character, Helen, who gets a visit from a ghostly being (inspired by the ghost of Christmas past/present/future in the story A Christmas Carol) who gives Helen three warnings in the form of a riddle. She has to solve the riddle before her time runs out, or she’ll face the dreadful future she was warned about.

I’m so excited to read it next Christmas! What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Market your books way ahead of time. With the pandemic, most of my marketing plan was squashed when our province started going into lockdown and all my kids ended up being home for most of the year, but your best way to get people excited about your book is to start telling people about it way in advance.

Thank you so much for chatting with me Jennifer, it’s been lovely getting to know you and your books better. Where can we find out more? 

Go to Jennifer’s website to learn more

Join Jennifer’s newsletter to hear about her upcoming releases

Find Jen on Instagram

Or on Facebook

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jennifer Kropf better, I highly recommend A Soul as Cold as Frost, it’s going to become a modern Christmas classic and would make the perfect family read over the winter months. And keep an eye out for book two, A Heart as Red as Paint.

Jen is also contributing a story to Enchanted Waters, Merrily Merrily, which tells the origin tale of snow pirate, Zane, with cameos by other ASACAF characters you’ll recognise! You can preorder Enchanted Waters for just $2.99 and get more than ten fantasy short stories from bestselling, award-winning and up-and-coming authors, with all profits going to Oceana to help save the world’s oceans.