A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: fantasy books

Twitter’s slow death has made 2023 a hard year for authors to celebrate our books, with many of us (myself included) losing our biggest platform. Meanwhile, many diverse authors are still finding the surest path to get our books out into the world is going indie. But without financial backing or publisher connections to promote our books, indie books of even the highest standard risk languishing in obscurity.

So as a queer, neurodiverse, chronically ill indie author of fantasy worlds, the logical thing was to showcase SFF worlds, diverse characters and key themes fellow authors of other worlds have written here. Most of the thirteen books in this post are first in a series, and all come with a Goodreads link to bookmark for future reading if you wish.

Genre: cozy epic fantasy set in pre-medieval times.

Asexual spectrum rep (ownvoices). and gender non-conformity.

Major themes:
blind fear & hate vs. good, love and friendship in day-to-day life.

Blurb: in a world where dragons & their riders are feared & killed, the life of one devout village huntress is changed forever when she meets a dragon hatchling.

Series info: book 1 of 3, all out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover
Title: DragonBirth
Image: young woman kneels before grey baby dragon, between two broad trees in a forest.

Genre: Victorian Steampunk

Cast: includes black & queer characters, variable socio-economic backgrounds, a talking cat.

Major themes: capitalism, equality, and societal expectations.

Short Blurb: Solving crimes is hard enough with secret societies and criminal chocolatiers to contend with, but add to that Dexter the talking mechanical cat, and it’s safe to say John Sinister is not having a good day.

Series info: stand alone, out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover
Title: Dexter & Sinister, Detecting Agents
Image: grey and white cat wearing goggles on its forehead and a green scarf sits looking up and out at the viewer, on a red background.

Genre: Scifi/ Mystery/ Comedy -recent past Earth & alternate dimensions.

Cast: bi main character.

Major themes: friendship, maturity, growing older.

Short Blurb: They’re not detectives, but they have to become detectives in order to figure out who’s telling people that they’re detectives.

Series info: book 1 of 3, all out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover (mostly blue toned)
Title: Duckett & Dyer, Dicks for Hire
Image: one detective raises an arm to their neck and looks uncertainly at the other, who thumbs up's the viewer with a crooked, uncertain smile Between them stands a dark, yellow eyed bull flanked by hands with eye balls instead of finger tips.
Bellow the title, a gun shoots a blue squiggle and sparks.

Genre: epic, portal, YA fantasy with beginnings in Australia, but mostly set in an alternate world (Umarinaris).

Cast: nonbinary and aromantic asexual leads (ownvoices), other queer, neurodiverse and BIPOC characters.

Major themes: found family, friendship, optimism and visionary leadership vs. adversity and war.

Short Blurb: King Kyura doesn’t want to invade Tarlah. Heir Ruarnon doesn’t want their people invaded and Aussie Linh has no desire to visit another world. But this book isn’t about getting what you want, it’s about people doing their best under exceptionally challenging circumstances.

Series info: book1 of 3 (1-2 out now, 3 on pre-order till April 2024 release).

Goodreads: link

Other Worlds -SFF Books Showcase

Genre: YA fantasy alternate history set in 1600s Viking and Spanish settled Canada.

Cast: First Nations / Indigenous rep, queer rep (after book 1 including ownvoices bi rep and lesbian, gay, trans, ace/aro rep.)

Major themes:
anti-colonialism, anti-racism, climate change, elemental/ nature-based magic, people’s lives diverging within parallel worlds diversity.

Short Blurb
: A rebellious heroine faces a colonial world coming unstitched: in a region tainted by prejudice and on the brink of civil war, 17-year-old Kateiko has to decide what’s worth dying – or killing – for.

Series info: book 1 of 4, all out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover
Title: The Call of the Rift, Flight
Image: A teenage girl walks alone through a dim, misty rainforest, carrying a spiked flail and magically lifting tendrils of water from a creek. The girl has brown skin, long brown hair blowing in the wind, and an arm tattoo of a bird and flowers. She wears a brown belted tunic, green leggings, tall fur-lined boots, leather bracers, and an embroidered red cloak. A line at the top says, 'The wind dies a thousand deaths, and still it returns.' "
and thanks so much, by the way!

Genre: gothic horror/dark fantasy-ish set in 13th century Eastern Europe in the fictional country Tristanja.

Cast: Bi & pan rep, demiro, polyam, and PTSD (ownvoices for the queer rep/polyam and PTSD).

Major themes: overcoming/healing from PTSD, rediscovering your sexual self after sexual trauma.

Short Blurb: Meya is Lord Deminas’ latest chambermaid and favourite source of blood to drink. To avoid being his next servant to vanish, she must uncover all of Castle Tristanja’s dark secrets.

Series info: 1 of 2 related books, both out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover
Title: My Lord
Image: naked young woman kneels in a bare stone room, strange red markings on the floor around her, a gold goblet before her, her hands raised and long, dark red hair flowing over her pale skin.

Genre: dark urban fantasy set in modern times (the 90s-present years) in small American cities.

Cast: includes a trans man, mental illness/ disability and DID rep (ownvoices).

Major themes: religious trauma, reversing the light vs dark narrative (dark’s good, light’s evil), angels & demons.

Short Blurb: Follow a trans man trauma survivor from childhood to adulthood as they face not only an evil angel, but also a sinister entity in their own head.

Series info: book 1 of 2 out now.

Goodreads: link

Book cover
Title: Everything is Wonderful Now
Image: upwards angle at a stone statue of a bare chested man, one hand raise to stone, wind blown locks, eyes wide, mouth open to cry out.

Genre: Dark Paranormal Fantasy set a few 100yrs from now in a post-apocalyptic world.

Cast: includes a lesbian and many POC characters.

Major themes: simple living, with money, rulers & religion no longer tolerated.

Short Blurb: An eviction. A stolen gemstone. A hidden network. Will retrieving her precious obsidian get Tricky killed.

Series info: book 1 of 2 out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: Dead Lake
Image: wooden slatted side of a house before golden, sunlit lake waters, a thin tree rising on the right.

Genre: YA sci-fi Futuristic setting near future (2165)

Cast: A plus size Jewish protagonist (ownvoices).

Major themes: a morally gray hero, how where we grow up influences our choices and perspective.

Short Blurb: Jorden Lund isn’t the chosen one, he’s the guy who volunteered. His suicide mission: build a bomb, destroy a space ship and save the world. Falling in love was not part of the plan. Now completing his mission means sacrificing the girl he loves.

Series info: book 1 of 2 out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: The Goodbye Kids
Image: space background, planet in sky, silhouette of girl and boy leaning towards each other in foreground, with full body silhouettes of them running hand in hand across a platform, a burning ship in space beyond them.

Genre: Scifi/Fantasy set in the US – 2,000 years from now.

Black, Latino and queer leads.

Major themes:
accepting oneself/found family, bringing down corrupt govt/upsetting the status quo.

In the distant future, the United States is long gone… the Realm stands in its place… and one peasant woman will become the catalyst for a revolution. The Serrulata Saga is a speculative dystopian sci-fi adventure you won’t want to miss.

Series info: book 1 of 5 out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: Gathering of Four
A young black woman with short hair stands in a red dress, her hands raised either side, flames burning from them. A young woman stands with a revolver raised in her right hand on the left, two men standing on the right, one holding a raised sword.

Genre: Dystopia/Sci-Fi World/Era: Near future Earth and alternate universe intersecting with it.

mental health rep (own voices), lesbian lead.

Major themes:
What is a human? How much impact can one person have on the world? Bigotry & othering.

Blurb: Local dumpster fire has her ex come back into her life. Plot twist — the ex is an android.

Series info: book1 of 2 out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: Kotov Syndrome
Image: a young woman's face, anime cartoon-ish style, her face framed with a long brown fringe on both sides and over her nose, her eyes glowing red, her mouth tiny and open.

Genre: urban fantasy/Sci-Fi set in the multiverse.

Cast/ Major themes:
include Dissociative Identity Disorder, Autism, kink/body positivity, and being transgender/queer by a trans, neurodivergent POC author with DID.

Short Blurb:
Years after a senseless murder, an autistic transgender man and his young teen nephew hope to finally find closure. Instead they are whisked away into the vast multiverse where a mentally unstable robot is set to activate the Mortal Engine.

Series info: book 1 of 2 out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: Mortal Engine
Image: a man with glowing red skin and a black beard stands with fanged mouth open, swathed in a bright blue, interior glowing red cloak, with neon lines waving around him.

Genre: Future, alien planet

LGBTQA+ main characters (except the gorilla, though apparently no one’s asked him 😉 ).

Major themes:
good vs bad, interplanetary culture clash.

Short Blurb:
When space poachers release Earth animals on an alien world, threatening a fragile new alliance, they anger the wrong people: a veterinarian, an accountant, and a furious sign-language-fluent gorilla are coming for them.

Series info: stand alone, out now.

Goodreads: link.

Book cover
Title: A Swift Kick to the Thorax
Image: floating manuscript pages over outer space background, pen floating below, bite mark in bottom right corner of pages.
Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.

SFF Author Interviews:
Mara Lynne Johnston (Swift Kick to the Thorax -Comedy SciFi).
Debbie Iancu Hadad (The Goodbye Kids, YA SciFi)
Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)
Elise Carlson (Epic YA Fantasy)

Manipulator’s War: Origins

Natalie was one of the last fellow fantasy author’s I was lucky enough to meet before Twitter imploded. We face similar chronic illness challenges, but are still making steading progress bringing our fantasy books out into the world. This Fantasy Author Feature Natalie Kelda talks about mental health, the theme of finding joy and belonging in her SFF books.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

I currently live in West Yorkshire, UK but I was born and raised in Denmark. I moved to the UK to study some 7 years ago and somehow landed a job through volunteering and love it here too much to leave. Outside my 9-5 office job I spend most of my time writing or talking my adventure cat, Barry, on walks. Due to some ongoing health issues I don’t hike or do any martial arts at the moment but I hope I can return to these activities eventually as they give me a lot of joy and I certainly miss them.

What drew you to your genre/audience age?

Worlds different to our contemporary one have always been what drew me to reading fiction so it makes sense I mostly write fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. I love exploring the other and getting a break from modern life and nothing is more immersive than creating those new worlds yourself. While I enjoy reading everything from MG to adult, my voice and the themes I usually explore lend themselves best to adult audiences. I have dabbled in MG and YA but find it difficult not to become too whimsical when writing for younger audiences and I don’t enjoy having to mind the layers and themes I imbue a story with. So basically, I enjoy as much creative freedom as possible.

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I tend towards the dark side of mental health and the human experience. I enjoy scrutinising humanity’s faults and weaknesses. Sometimes this means my main characters are very morally grey and stepping on the fine lines between good or bad. Other times the main characters are the ones fighting a corrupt and (often) incorrigible society that tries to kick them back down when they’re straining to stay upright. Most of my main characters have poor mental health. Not only are they fighting an unfair system, they’re also fighting their own inner demons and these can prove a lot more difficult to get rid of or live with than the crooked government.

Found family and a sense of belonging are secondary but almost as strongly recurring themes. The sense of being lost and directionless, of not having a place to fit in, of being other and different to everyone around them. Their stories regularly revolve around finding ‘their place’ and ‘their people’.

What drives your point of view characters? 

I think it usually boils down to finding happiness and a place to belong. Sometimes external forces trip them up but often they lay down booby traps in front of themselves, never even seeing the tripwires they need to dismantle in order to find that place of joy they’re searching for. They might know the end of the road they want to reach but can’t see what’s right before them. They’re also often fiercely protective of the people they call family – at least once they find those people. 

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

It varies between each character. I don’t purposely add something of myself as my main characters (and often most of the side characters too) appear in my mind like preformed people. Some will have one small thing – Merlon struggles with insomnia, Tara and Balfour with anxiety while Cali has my touch and noise sensitivity – others won’t really have much at all in common with me. Iolanthe believes slavery is fine and Torhildr thinks those who she judges unworthy deserve to be killed, obviously neither of those are things I would ever agree with. I do notice I have certain types of characters appear more often than others and this usually matches with my own personality. Most are depressed or anxious, many don’t like being the centre of attention and would be described as “reserved” or “quiet” if someone met them.

What influenced the settings they inhabit?

In my space fantasy series, Inner Universe, I have created a huge world with enough planets and galaxies I can take full advantage of all the travelling I have done. I have been extremely fortunate that I saved up enough (by working 3 jobs while studying) to move abroad, alone, at age 21 and from there on I worked in countries all around the globe. This means I have first hand experience with both Outback Australia and working outdoors during Canadian winter. I can pull on skills learned while doing martial arts and Viking reenactment when I write fight scenes and know what it’s like to forage your own food or live without electricity and running water for months at a time. I noticed a shift in my writing from before I had all those life experiences to after and definitely hope I’m not done raking up knowledge first-hand by going out there and doing the things most people only read about.

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

This ties back to the main themes in my stories: mental health and belonging. I suspect I’m autistic and have never truly fitted in anywhere. I struggle a lot with chronic depression and moderate anxiety but the one thing that consistently helps and keeps me afloat is writing characters who keep fighting even when they face much larger challenges than I (hopefully) ever will. It’s my hope that my stories don’t just bring catharsis and healing for myself but also for other people who find life difficult – because it’s really bloody hard sometimes and it can be nice to read about characters who aren’t so different to yourself.

Where can we find your books?

Author hand-stamped paperbacks and my free short stories are available on my website(https://nataliekelda.co.uk/shop) while ebooks of River in the Galaxy and Outer Universe can be found on Amazon and they are available through Kindle Unlimited as well.

Fantasy Author Feature: Natalie Kelda

Author bio

Storytelling and inventing new worlds has been a part of Natalie’s life since before she could read or write. Nowadays she mostly writes in English but you’ll often discover hints of her native Danish or some of the other languages she has picked up along the way.

Website Twitter Bluesky

Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.

Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspiration in:

Fantasy Author Features: Nikky Lee (YA SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Mara Lyne Johnson (Comedy SciFi)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’s Interview of Me

Where Fantasy Worlds Come From

Where do you get your ideas? is a question writers are often asked. But the question that interests me more is ‘where do the ideas for an entire fantasy world come from’? Having already blogged about the cultures and characters in my YA Fantasy Trilogy, I took the question to three fellow SFF authors: Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Mindi Briar and J.F.R. Coates.

How did you develop your magic system(s)?

J.F.R Coates

I love magic. A well-done magic system can add a huge amount of depth and interest to a world, and it’s no a surprise I’ve found a way to include magic in every story I’ve written so far.

I believe there are several important factors to consider when coming up with a magic system. How widespread is this magic system? Who can use it? What is the source of magic? And how is it used?

With my sci-fi series, I took a different approach. I worked hard to make something separate to the Force in Star Wars, so I linked the magic to the subspace dimension that also controls the setting’s FTL travel. Only a select few can utilise this magic, and it allows for the manipulation of inorganic matter. There is even one character who can sense the ripples of distant events through this dimension, giving him a limited ability to see into the future. Knowledge of this magic is strictly controlled by the religious fascist antagonists, so exploration of these newly-developed powers is just one of the many ways the main protagonist can break away from his old life.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward

In the Goddess’s Honour world, magic is tied to tangible things. It’s present in the land to various degrees, and the leaders of various nations must be able to channel and control that land’s magical strength in order to lead. Some nations require that the prospective leaders be able to weave a Tapestry or create some other sort of artefact that is reflective of the combination of their strength and the land’s.

In Becoming Solo, each chapter has an epigraph from assorted guides to that world’s particular form of witchcraft. Since Solo is, essentially, 4H Style Revue with magic, I needed a magic system that could be incorporated into clothing –and a reason for why it was so important for the woman winning assorted Crowns–Style, in this case to win those crowns, as well as what it meant to the magic system.

Mindi Briar

The “magic” in the Halcyon universe derives from the existence of alien dragons, who are able to teleport and read minds. I hate long travel scenes and wanted a way for my characters to travel between planets instantaneously. The dragons became intense pacifists who won’t teleport anyone they perceive as distressed, which means that pilots often have to take calming drugs. That prompted a bunch of questions about what it would mean for humanity to be in a symbiotic relationship with aliens.

In Adrift in Starlight, the dragons are revealed to be hiding the existence of other alien races from humans to protect the aliens. Later in the series, as the trust between humans and dragons breaks down, humans begin working on ways to steal the dragons’ power for themselves using genetic modification. This results in a group of humans who have dragon-like powers —the excuse I needed to give my characters “magic” but keep it plausible in the realm of science fiction.

What informs secular culture in your world?

J.F.R. Coates

This largely depends on what genre I’m writing, as that can play a big part into my vision for the world. My fantasy setting of Farenar tends to be one that I would like to live in – there is still conflict there, with wars between the gods and different interpretations of magic providing plenty to keep interesting, but I don’t tend to include a lot of the bigotry present in our world.

My sci-fi series, on the other hand, was a look towards the future of this world. I considered what might happen a few hundred years into the future if a few certain key events played out – largely revolving around the rise of the Catholic Church returning to a place of utmost power, like it had wielded in the Medieval Ages. This resulted in a pretty grim fascist empire controlling two of the three star systems humanity had reached. This also gave me a chance to explore the third system through the story, with all the issues and problems they face.

Mindi Briar

Quite honestly, I’m writing a world I would want to live in. I got into solarpunk back in 2015, and that’s been a huge inspiration for the planet Halcyon. I came at it with the mindset of, “If I got dropped on a new planet to build a society from the ground up, how would I structure it?” So I made it a socialist utopia where everyone works together for the common good, with the dragons as telepathic enforcers to keep everyone honest. It took a lot of drafts to fully flesh out my ideas, and half of it doesn’t even hit the page until book 3 in the series.

The other planets in the Halcyon universe are the late-stage capitalism foil to Halcyon’s socialism. There’s environmental damage, prison slavery, wealthy people taking too many resources…the Imperial government is kind of my take on where society could go if nothing ever changes.

How did you decide who would occupy positions of power?

J.F.R Coates

Characters in positions of power come in various forms in my stories – I definitely have a few with noble goals and intentions, but probably an equal number who abuse that power. Some even sway from one side to the other. The type of character they are can depend a lot on what my intentions for that power structure are. It is no coincidence that those in power in the fascist empire of the Reborn setting are older white men.

Monarchy and hereditary rule isn’t always portrayed as evil in my worlds, but it does lean that way more often than not. I like to display it as a flawed system, even when the characters in power have the best of intentions. This is certainly shown through the Destiny of Dragons fantasy series, where two of the main characters get their opportunity to rule, with varying levels of success.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward

Positions of power are tied to both leadership roles and the favour of the Seven Crowned Gods in the Goddess’s Honour world.

In Becoming Solo, leadership roles are earned by proof of magical strength and becoming a Solo-qualified magician, either by Academy graduation or else winning Fair Crowns. Otherwise, the witch either loses their power or must join a family spell matrix, where their power joins with others to produce magical goods. Solo magicians get to take credit for their creation. Family spell matrix participants are not identified in the products that the family creates for the use of those who are magical and non-magical.

Mindi Briar

In early drafts, Halcyon was ruled by a queen. It was my fantasy-world default, because who doesn’t love a good royalty story? However, the deeper I dove into worldbuilding, the more obvious it became that a monarchy was fundamentally incompatible with the idea of a socialist community. It had to become a democracy. But I still left the dragons in charge because their control of human culture had interesting implications that I wanted to explore.

In contrast, all the other planets in the Halcyon Universe are controlled by an emperor—one man with absolute power. This is portrayed as problematic in a number of ways that are, again, based on my frustrations with real-world systems of government.

What inspired religions?

J.F.R Coates

Religion takes a massive role in both of my settings. In the Reborn series, the entire conflict revolves around the position of the Catholic Church as the primary antagonist. I took a deliberate look at the church in the modern day and extrapolated out what I believed to be a logical conclusion, should the church be guided by the will of corrupt and power-hungry minds. These are people who do not care about the heart of the religion (which I intentionally did not criticise throughout the story), but are instead guided only by their own ambition. This is a religion that has been weaponised into something truly monstrous. Looking at how the world has developed since I first started writing the series, sometimes I wonder if I did not go far enough.

By contrast, the Farenar setting portrays religion much more positively. If anything, the religion spawned the world in my mind – it all started with the gods. They live, breathe, and walk through the world and are a big part of the many conflicts. Most of them seek to better the world, but some of their number seek instead to rule it.

Mindi Briar

Writing a made-up religion based on the dragons turned out to be an interesting way to deconstruct my personal IRL beliefs. Writing characters who were discovering big, life-changing truths about the universe was a way for me to dive deep into what I thought those truths were for myself. (And that’s the short version of how writing magical sci-fi helped me leave a cult…lol.) Anyway, I wouldn’t say the Halcyon Universe’s religion is an exact representation of my spiritual beliefs, but there are scenes, settings, and situations very heavily based on my religious past, with something of a rose-tinted filter over them.

What other sources of inspiration does your world draw on?

J.F.R Coates

So many of my inspirations come from the great authors who wrote rich and vivid worlds before me. I may not take directly from their work, but their writing has always inspired me to improve me own. My favourite authors will always include Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, and Philip Pullman. Our stories may be very different, but they are certainly my inspirations.

Other inspirations can come from strange places. One WiP series has been inspired by my childhood in Somerset, my fascination with an island in the Bristol Channel, and local myths.

The Reborn series was spawned because a friend told me to “turn him [main character] into a stoat.” So I did. And I wrote four books to explain why.

Mindi Briar

Reading fantasy and sci-fi inspires me all the time! I love to read books with lush, creative, wild descriptions that transport me somewhere new. It kickstarts my own imagination and forces me to think about different aspects of my own worldbuilding. A fantasy about road construction? Yeah, hmm, who builds the roads in my world? Or I’ll pick up a book that’s created a totally unique social culture and it’ll force me to think about how my world’s culture would be different.

J.F.R. kneeling beside an emu to pet it, wearing grey tshirt, jeans and sunnies over his short brown hair.
J.F.R. Coates

Reborn Book Cover: one fox person lifts another off rocky ground by the hand, storm cloud cloud background.
(The book with the Catholic Church as antagonist)
Mindi in a bright pink top and green, floral, elbow length cardigan belted at the waist and purple framed glasses. Smiling whimsically to one side, her long blonde hair half tied back.
Mindi Briar


Adrift in Starlight Cover: title displayed over purpled planet background, blonde (white) woman character hanging from top of cover reaching to hold mixed race, dense dark curled woman character hanging in the sky.
(The book with dragons)
Blonde Joyce smiling in black brimmed hat and glasses.
Joyce Renalds-Ward

Joyce’s website

Becoming Solo Book Cover: woman with gold face paint in red and gold robes holding ball of light between her outstretched hands.
Pledges of Honour Cover: title above a stone, silver sword with a brown and a purple stone tied to its hilt lying on grass, right.
Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.

Related Reading

Manipulator’s War Origins -the inspiration for the character’s, themes and world building in my YA Fantasy Trilogy.

Fantasy Author Features:  
Mara Lynn Johnstone (SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA, SFF)

Nikky Lee (YA, Fantasy)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Fantasy Author Feature: Debbie Iancu-Hadad

Debbie Iancu-Hadad is author of YA Fantasy and SciFi with strong romantic threads. Our debut trilogies publishing journeys have run parallel and we’ve been critical readers for each other during our editing journeys. My favourite things about her books are her well-developed characters, their flaws and the banter and relationships that exist or develop between them. I also enjoy the fast pace of her stories, which keep me turning pages through her fantasy and sci-fi worlds. In this Fantasy Author Feature, we discuss her characters and story worlds.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

I live in Meitar in the south of Israel. I’m self employed and when I’m working I give laughter yoga workshops, chocolate workshops and teach people how to improve their humour. 

I’m married and have two kids, my daughter is almost twenty and my son just turned 18. And my writing buddy Shugi is a five months old golden retriever mix. 

What drew you to your genre/audience age? 

I write the kind of books I’ve always read, which is fantasy and sci Fi for YA. Maybe one day I’ll write for adults but I’d probably need to grow up first. My first Nanowrimo project “The goodbye kids” was inspired by my daughter when she was 16, and I just stayed in the zone. My Achten Tan series has characters ranging between 16-22. 

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I like to discuss what makes us belong to a place and how where we’re from shapes our perspective. All my locations are very immersive, whether it’s a space station or a town made of bones in the middle of the desert. 

Another issue I want to promote is body positivity and the inclusion of people with disabilities. 

What drives your point of view characters? 

A profound desire to prove themselves. Mila in Achten Tan wants to release her magic and get her voice back. Kaii the chief’s son in The Bone Master doesn’t want responsibility but won’t turn his back on a friend. Haley in the Goodbye Kids just wants to avoid getting hurt again, but desperately needs a friend. 

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

There are probably pieces of me in all my characters, if not my current self then the way I was when I was younger. 

I’d love to say I have magical powers but sadly I have yet to come into my powers (I’m hoping it’s an old lady thing that’s still in my future). 

Joking aside, all my characters work through the sense of being an outsider. For me that reflects moving from England to Israel as a child and always feeling like a part of somewhere else. 

What influenced the settings they inhabit?

Achten Tan is a place like no other, a town built inside the rib cage of an ancient leviathan. 

The place is the brainchild of Chris Van Dyke, who initiated the original Achten Tan anthology. I just moved in there and refused to leave. 

The space station and futuristic world of The Goodbye Kids are nothing I’ve ever experienced outside of my imagination. I was going for a sense of extreme isolation. 

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

Millions and millions of dollars…ha ha, I wish. 

No, but seriously, I love having people share my character’s journey and being able to leave daily life aside for a while. I write about magic and it might be a cliche, but books really do have the ability to transport us to another time and place.

Where can we find your books? 

On Amazon

My fantasy debut, “Speechless in Achten Tan,” has a kick-ass tattooed witch who can’t speak, a city made of bones, giant ants, a heist by a cool ensemble cast, magic, romance, banter, innuendo, & cute boys kissing.

Prepared to be left… speechless!

Speechless in Achten Tan (Both books are on sale till Feb 14th)

The Bone Master follows Kaii Haku as he leaves the comfort of Achten Tan to save a friend kidnapped by pirates.

Connect with Debbie on:


Author Bio

Head and shoulder photo of bright red haired Debbie, wearing a denim jacket and pink tops. She's plus sized, blue eyed and has a pink lipped smile.

My name is Debbie Iancu Haddad (46), I’m a mother of teenagers (it’s like being a mother of dragons except they burn you with sarcasm). 

for my day job, I am a public speaker specializing in teaching people how to use humor and a laugh yoga instructor.

I was born in Israel to a British mother & Romanian father who met in the immigration center in Beer-Sheva. When I was 10 months old the family returned to England for six years and re-emigrated in 1981.

Growing up bilingual in Israel was a huge help and saw me through a BA, an MA, and a third of a PhD. Even though I take studying seriously (almost no one who knows me would say too seriously) – my research interests focused on humor.

My MA was an exploration of Diet humor and my doctorate research was about humor as a communication tool used by managers and headmasters.

You may ask “don’t I take anything seriously?”

The answer is: “No. But thank you for asking”. 

Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.
Total Page Visits: 1722

Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspirations in:

Fantasy Author Features: Nikky Lee (YA SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Mara Lyne Johnson (Comedy SciFi)

Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’s Interview of Me

© 2024 Elise Carlson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)