The Literary Vixen presents…
Joining us today is Astrid V.J.! Author of The Apprentice Storyteller.
What inspired you to start writing?
When I was twelve, I read a book that started an idea. But before I get to that, I have to acknowledge my mother’s dedication to fostering my love of the written word. By the time I was twelve, she’d already read Lord of the Rings to me. And I wanted more! However, I was also a little sad about the fantastical books I had access to. There were so many wonderful fantasy novels, but almost all the ones I’d read thus far were of white boys. As a girl growing up in multi-cultural South Africa the whiteness of fantasy really bothered me.
So, back to the idea… Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock inspired me to write an African Occult Fantasy series about a girl from Uganda in search of Atlantis. No, I have not yet finished this epic adventure. It has grown and matured as I’ve learned new things over time, and it has a ways to go yet to be ready.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I work best in absolute silence, which is hard to come by in a family with young children.
How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
I compartmentalize and I focus on what the situation means for the character and how it will make them grow. I often try to get through the writing of difficult scenes in a single sitting so they don’t have to linger.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Thus far, I have published four novels, two novellas and I have two more novellas and two short-stories in the pipeline for this year, as well as a whole host of novels in my two current series. That excludes the Atlantis project, which is a half-written quintet.
Just like with my children, I can’t say I have a favourite. Each of my books is unique, and the characters and their journeys have grown me and made me a better person. They truly are my book babies and I cannot choose one over another.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Are you prepared for the answer to this question? I’ll try to keep this as short as I can 😉
From Fantasy, I’ve been heavily influenced by a range of authors including Tolkien who taught me the value of worldbuilding and developing details that will never be seen in a published book. Phillip Pullman taught me that no topic is too difficult to take on as a writer. If you think its important and feel it will contribute to humanity, write it—and set it in a Fantasy setting for good measure. Guy Gavriel Kay taught me the beauty of writing Fantasy and that this genre can be literary, too.
Michael Ende taught me the power of imagination and how to twist even the most mundane thing into a magical concept. J.V. Jones, J.K. Rowling and Ursula K. Le Guinn showed me that girls can, too, and that we have the power to write incredible fantasy. Their writings totally inspired me to keep on writing myself, even when I doubted my craft.
Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters taught me the value in writing about relationships and how we humans interact through society.
Neil Gaiman is my inspiration for quirky, dark twists.
Robert Rankin inspires me to find my funny side. I’m still struggling to put it into writing, but I feel I am improving thanks to this hilarious author.
Margaret Atwood is simply awesome. I love all her books and how she twists things around to make me think about the world we live in. I aspire to write books with great messages thanks to her writing.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I have a core group of die-hard fans who love my work and support me in the most incredible ways. Many have become my beta readers and give me invaluable feedback during the writing process.
What book is currently on your bedside table?
My recent publication, The Apprentice Storyteller, alongside Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart: Daily meditations on the path to freeing your soul, and Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion by Jack Zipes.
Do you have any new series planned?
I have several. One that’s taking shape nicely is The Last Vasa, an urban fantasy set in contemporary Sweden.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
I’d want up-and-coming actors from India and Africa to star in any film versions of my books.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Believe in yourself. Only you can write the book you are writing. The fact you are writing a book already makes it unique because no one else has your experiences and knowledge-set. Trust in that what you have to say is important and will reach the right people.
What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?
All my books engage with key principles of human transformation. I love exploring our human capacity for achieving success in the face of adversity. As a transformational life coach, I love the fact that through my writing I can reach even more people with the messages I teach to my clients. I want to see people succeed and achieve their dreams. That is my calling. And if my passion for writing can help that along, then it makes me happier.
Thank you Astrid V.J. for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her books today!
“Set amid an imaginative blend of sci-fi and fantasy, the novel’s fictional universe is vividly realized and will grab curious readers. The book works in thought-provoking themes that will further draw readers in.” BookLife Prize
The Alchemist meets fantasy with a splash of space opera.Viola Alerion, a renowned storyteller in the Haldrian Empire, wants to be left in peace. For years, she’s been hounded by her past, never to find a moment’s rest. Then she meets a boy who wants to become her apprentice. He refuses to take no for an answer, and she reluctantly yields, even though she knows taking him with her could endanger his life. As their journey progresses, Viola begins to understand she’s not the only teacher in the equation. The nameless boy also has something to teach, but Viola makes for a reluctant student.
Can she give way to possibility and embrace a future in alignment with what she’s always wanted? Can she find the courage to embrace the principles that will transform her life? Can she overcome her circumstances and face her past? Or will she keep on running with nowhere to hide?
And what of the boy who guards untold secrets and exhibits mysterious powers that defy belief?
The e-book of The Apprentice Storyteller also includes exclusive access to “Viola’s Guide to Achieving the Impossible”. This workbook to help guide you through the first steps towards achieving your own dream is based on key transformational principles from the DreamBuilder™ Course and is not intended for publication. The workbook is only accessible through The Apprentice Storyteller e-book. The link to Viola’s Guide to Achieving the Impossible is embedded in a concealed place. This is a treasure hunt. Good luck!
This book is accompanied by The Wordmage’s Tales, a series of novellas based on the tales the apprentice learns from Viola Alerion in this story. The Sewing Princess is exclusively available to my newsletter subscribers and The Artist and His Muse and The Last Warrior are available on pre-order.
Also by Astrid V.J.!
Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author, Astrid V.J. was born in South Africa. She is a trained social anthropologist and certified transformational life coach. She currently resides in Sweden with her husband and their two children. In early childhood, she showed an interest in reading and languages–interests which her family encouraged. Astrid started writing her first novel at age 12 and now writes fantasy in a variety of genres, exploring her passion for cultures and languages. When she isn’t writing, Astrid likes to read, take walks in nature, play silly games with her children, do embroidery, and play music.
Astrid writes transformation fiction: incorporating transformation principles in novels, rather than writing another self-help book. She loves exploring the human capacity for transformation and potential to achieve success in the face of adversity. Astrid is interested in minority group questions, considerations on social standards of beauty and the negative consequences these have, and would like to make the fantasy genre accessible to people of non-white, non-Christian backgrounds. Astrid feels the fantasy genre has become too restrictive with limited representations of race, ethnicity and culture. She seeks to explore other paths on this writing journey, incorporating her background in anthropology and psychology to create engaging experiences, which also provide food for thought on the diverse topics she finds most important. These include: racism, minority rights, cultural diversity, culture change, intolerance, humanity’s environmental impact, the representation of people on the autism spectrum in among the general populace, the human capacity for transformation, and much more.