A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: indie author

Most of my blogs about authoring are practical advice, save my my decision to self publish. I’m now at a stage of outlining thoughts on other big (in this case ethical dilemma) author decisions; which social media and advertising platforms to use as an author. This is not an advice blog and definitely not a ‘how to make money as an indie author blog’. It’s why I chose to leave Twitter, opt out of Kindle Unlimited and delete my Facebook Author Page. It may help you reflect on your choices and what’s right for you as an author/ reader/ person. (And maybe we can lament the demise, death and zombie status of Twitter together).

Amazon, Libraries & No Thanks Kindle Unlimited

When you’re an emerging Indie Author and readers don’t know you from Adam, entering your book in Amazon’s Kindle Select program (into Kindle Unlimited -KU) is very tempting. It has lots of readers, your book is discoverable and you will get some page reads (even if you don’t market much or aren’t very good at it). Conventional author wisdom seems to be that its a wise financial and discoverability move for a first time author. But my books are not in Kindle Select (despite that at the time of writing I’ve only published 2/3 of my debut trilogy).

Growing up, I was the child of a single parent. Money was tight. We got most of our books from the library. I like libraries. I like that they’ve always made access to books, digital resources, the internet, printing and apparently now recording studios, an equitable experience. So when I published my first book I wanted libraries to have access to print AND digital copies. But no library could have digital copies in their catalogue if my ebook was in Kindle Select (KU).

No matter what research I did, or advice I considered, for me it was the ethical point that got stuck in my head. I’m a full time teacher and can pay off a home loan on my own salary (which is great because I don’t have a partner and am not inclined to want one). I’m privileged enough not to depend on writing to earn a living. Which is awesome, because as a debut author breaking even financially is a challenge. So I’m in a financial position to stick to my ethical guns and make my ebooks available to libraries.

Non-Amazon Stores

Then there’s stores. I don’t like Amazon. When I got long covid, I got banned from having books available on pre-order on there for a year. That’s because Amazon’s highest priority is customer experience (read ‘profits’). Authors don’t matter to them. I’ve heard of authors having their accounts deleted, their books taken down (before I left Twitter, more on that below). It doesn’t have authors’ backs.

So I researched bookstores and looked at alternatives. I discovered (I’m Australian so neither of these is really a thing here) that Barnes & Noble have a reader subscription service (Nook) and Kobo has Kobo Plus, and unlike Kindle Select (KU), neither of those subscription services is exclusive. So you can have your ebook on Nook, and Kobo Plus AND in libraries.

And there are so many other (non-exclusive) ebook subscription services online (Scribed & Hoopla for example). Sure, these services don’t make your book as visible as Kindle Unlimited, but they have less books for yours to get lost competing among, so I figured why not?

Cover of fantasy book Manipulator's War, purchase icons for ebook: Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Booktopia, Scribd, Vivlio, Smashwords, Indigo, S24, Thalia, Bucher De, Angus & Robertson.Paperback purchase icons: Barnes & noble, Waterstones, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, Bucher De.

The above isn’t all the digital stores my first book is on, its just the main ones. If I was in Kindle Unlimited, you’d only see the first two ebook icons. That’s quite a few stores of difference.

Eggs in One Basket

I also don’t like a ‘put all your eggs in one basket approach’. Not just in terms of one basket, but also an American and far from global basket. Of the icons above, the blue icon is a French store. 24S is a Spanish owned subscription service. Thalia and Bucher De are German, and the green Rakuten Kobo is Booktopia, Australia’s biggest online bookstore. Not everyone will choose to buy from an American company when they can support stores in their own country and not everyone is fond of Amazon.

But the biggest problem of putting all your eggs in one baskets is it leaves me vulnerable, should the basket break. Which leads me to Twitter.

Goodbye Twitter, Hello Mastodon & Blue Sky

Perhaps a pressing author ethical dilemma for many authors of late has been the demise of Twitter. Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was my first social media home as a writer. Privately I was on Facebook (which I’ve never liked). On Twitter I found a space to network with, befriend, learn from and help my fellow writers. It grew beyond that. When I identified as both queer and neurodiverse, I saw great overlap between the writing community and those communities.

Twitter was a space where I could listen to voices I’d never heard before. Among them were, black people in America, BIPOC the world over, people with chronic illness, mental illness, neurodiverse and gender diverse people. It was a fabulous space for both professional growth as an author and personal growth as a person. Then Musk bought it.

True, algorithms always made your visibility and how easy it was to find friends on your feed variable. But Musk’s take over mostly made me feel more invisible than ever and made a concerted attempt to banish familiar faces from my feed. Familiar faces and good friends started leaving or stopped tweeting. The TERFs, transphobes, Trump supporters, and raging anti-science tribes started sounding louder. Twitter seemed to be competing with Truth Social to become the leading social media hate space.

Time To Go

I thought it would be transphobia and homophobia that drove me off Twitter. I’m the kind of person whose inclined to tell people where they can stick their shitty opinions. And I didn’t want to go on Twitter to be outraged or get angry or to argue. But that wasn’t the final straw.

A tweet about who was profiting from every fifth tweet (now a paid ad tweet) on our feeds stopped me tweeting. Fund the alt right? Fuck that! Sure, you can get an ad filter (which I did -and it helps a lot as someone with ADHD and visual sensory issues). But as Twitter became more like what I imagine Parlour or Truth Social stands for? I didn’t want to be associated with that place or its owner.

Hate Site

Since then and before publishing this blog @GasTheJews was revealed to be an entirely acceptable Twitter handle, when it was reported for hate speech multiple times, and Twitter claimed it wasn’t breaking any of their rules. Because did you know it isn’t hate speech if its in your Twitter handle instead of a tweet?

Text from tweet by Elliot Malin: Account @gasthejews6969 has not broken @X's safety procedures because 'gas the Jews' notably is not 'threatening violence against someone or a group of people' and definitely isn't 'celebrating or praising violence' whatsoeverAnd @ElonMusk wonders why advertisers left.Screenshot of Twitter's reply to a reported account: Hello, After reviewing the availible information, we want to let you know gasthejews6969 hasn't broken our safety policies.

The Kid’s Aren’t Safe

Then came the move (nearly two months after I ceased using my account), which persuaded me to delete it, cutting off multiple friends I don’t see on any other platform. My country’s Esafety Commissioner concluded that Twitter doesn’t have even the most basic child safety measures in place, to prevent not only child abuse but also child sexual abuse from occurring on it, and our Esafety Commissioner fined them accordingly.

Australian's ESafety commission fines Elon Musk's X $610,500 for failing to meet anti-child-abuse standards

Worried its only a matter of time before child abuse material is circulated on Twitter (if it isn’t happening already), and disgusted that every type of marginalised adult AND children don’t matter enough to Twitter (or its reputation) for them to even pretend to be doing anything to ensure user safety on the site, I deleted my account.

The Dilmena

How is Twitter being a hate site a dilemma? People seem to be staying because they personally aren’t attacked or aren’t witnessing marginalised people being attacked. People seem to be making decisions based on their personal user experience. And or indies are reluctant to give up sales from the site, when many of us indies struggle to even pay the costs of our business with our earnings, let alone MAKE any money (my cover art and editing costs are several thousand dollars more than I’ve earned so far as an indie author).

As for me, I had ten thousand followers on Twitter. I’d welcomed newbies, done threads to connect writers. I made lists, and gave extensive feedback on pitch party pitches over two years (and wrote this blog on writing a good one, still my most popular post.) That was my community. I had good friends on that platform who weren’t anywhere else, and dm groups -writer, author, queer and ND support groups that as a group didn’t want to move. Leaving meant losing my community and my platform as a budding indie author.

What’s an Author’s Place?

There was an interesting prompt for October on Mastodon: should writers post about politics or avoid it to avoid controversy? Should we publicly interact as if we are part of the world, or act like Ents, tending our books? Predictably, people who thought politics wasn’t an author’s place were white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied authors oblivious to their own privilege. They didn’t seem to notice that for others, eg. First Nations, Black, Asian, Queer, Neurodiverse, Chronically Ill, or Disabled people -existing IS political. (I’ll be blogging about writing diverse casts in Jan 2024 ????).

To me, a nonbinary, a-romantic, asexual, neurodiverse, chronically ill white person living in a cishet, ableist world, ‘should writers speak publicly about politics’ translates as, ‘should writers shut up and put up?’ My answer is ‘no and did I mention fuck no?’ I agree with writers who said they are part of this world, impacted by it and am writing my identities into a world that barely knows we exist and or doesn’t understand and or accept us.

My Place

As part of this world, how could I tacitly support for example, the idea that @GasTheJews as a Twitter handle is acceptable, by retaining my Twitter account or using the platform? If you think I’m going too far in saying that not deleting your account is publicly signalling support of Musk and all he and his bootlickers stand for, I’d refer you to Mene Wyatt, who said, “Silence is violence. Complacency is complicit.” (Source, a powerful monalog on the Australian Aboriginal experience, worth watching).

I’d also point to the blog one of a nazis who greeted Posie Parker (a UK TERF) on the step’s of my state’s parliament house with a nazi salute. In his blog, he referred to most people as ‘normies’ and presumed he and his neo-nazis were acting on behalf of ‘normies’. People like him can’t claim shit like that if you publicly signal that you DON’T support them and they DON’T speak for you.

So I see removing all association with Twitter as a way of making my disapproval of Musk and everyone and their hatreds he shelters and promotes undeniably clear. Do I value that over money and even friendships? Yes.


So where does a writer, author, and a queer, neurodiverse person seeking all of those communities go? Mastodon had the greatest appeal. It’s similar in terms of functionality. The main difference is the whole platform isn’t the plaything of a single dick who can screw it up any which way every time he throws a temper tantrum. Or persecute minority groups wholesale because he’s angry at one individual in his personal life, who happens to be marginalised in a particular way.

Each Mastodon instance has a different admin. Hashtags can display toots on hashtag feeds that bridge instances (#WordWeavers and #WritersCoffeeClub being my favourites). And the Fediverse has toots from every instance your instance hasn’t blocked. This means Mastodon can’t be destroyed by a single white man who scores zero points on the diversity scale and doesn’t give a shit about marginalised people. I also like that there’s no advertising or algorithms, just humans interacting, as opposed to glaring ethical concerns.

Blue Sky

The issue with your single greatest social platform turning to shite is that the communities and contacts you’ve made there aren’t all migrating to the same place. They’re scattering to the winds. Spoutible and Post as well as Mastodon and Blue Sky and I don’t know where else. But writers in the DM groups I was in (DMs being about the only reliable space on Twitter to talk to people I knew at this stage) seemed keen on Blue Sky. Created by the man who created Twitter, also without algorithms or paid ads (yet) and most importantly, not controlled by Musk or Zukerburg or other bastards, as ethics would define them. (For more about Blue Sky, see my Blue Sky Newby Guide.)

The above is how I traded my largest social media account of 10,600 followers to 100 (and slowly counting) on Mastodon and 500 (also climbing) on Blue Sky. Not a decision you make to get publicity for yourself or your books. Not a smart financial decision, at this time. But why stay on a poisoned, sinking ship where decent people are leaving (or hiding in dms), when I could build a small community on platforms far better aligned with my values? Not to mention where people like me can interact publicly and safely, without constantly blocking those who hate us for not being cishet/ neurotypical/ able bodied or in other people’s cases: white?

Goodbye Facebook Page!

Before Musk blew up Twitter, Zukerberg was the bad name in social media. I cracked it at Facebook, (at the height of the Pandemic in 2020) when without warning they blocked Australian community groups (including emergency service warnings that literally save lives), without warning. (We passed some law, I think around journalism, that pissed Facebook off). So I closed the writer Facebook groups I’d made (I’d liked having publicly discoverable groups for writers) and moved them to Discord (all four are described here.)

Facebook rebranded as Meta, but I’d never liked the platform (I find it primitive now, especially the limited functionality and clunkiness of Facebook Groups compared to Discord) and I hated it for its lack of ethics. Yet all the indie author advice seems to recommend that if you want to minimise time wasted on social media and make more time to actually write books; at least have a Facebook Page. In fact, you can’t run ads on Facebook (or Instagram) without one. So de-activating yours is directly a financial and business decision.

But I deactivated mine. I hate the platform. It doesn’t have a great demographic for my books anyway (that demographic being educated, lefty/ liberal minded, teen to forty-ish or young at heart allies or queer folk -Mastodon/ Blue Sky seem most likely for them). I could still advertise on Amazon (yeah, that doesn’t appeal either -again, ethics, eggs, one basket- no thank you.) But having just a Facebook Profile (for over 50’s in my family and the few Gen Y people who actually post there) and inviting anyone wanting to follow me as an author also keeps my writing Facebook private from students. And technically I’m still on ‘the world’s biggest social media’. It’ll do.

Can You Be Ethical & Still Make Money Writing?

Now I’ve abandoned my biggest social media platform, deactivated my Facebook Page and not put my books in the easiest place for the biggest number of readers to find, read and review them, how do I make money as an author?

You may sell the occasional book directly via social media, but I’ve been watching this for over a year. It seems you either push hard with ‘buy my book posts’ that I feel must annoy people, or you sell to friends via conversations, small scale. Its seemed to me for quite some time (and yes, the authority on making money as an Indie Author, the Facebook Group 20BooksTo50K agrees), that you make money selling books by spending money, mostly on advertising, though in-person events like conferences can be great too.

There is one big advertising option I’ll consider ethically: Bookbub. Their features cost hundreds, but are well worth it. You have to apply and they’re hard to get. But like Facebook and Amazon, they also have ordinary paid ads, which I plan to start experimenting with. And their adds reach readers who purchase from many stores, in many countries, which I also like.

What About Community?

Having left the platform my online communities were on, I’m rebuilding, a little on prompt hashtags on Mastodon, a lot on Blue Sky and on my Discord servers. I’ve just created a Discord for Queer, and or Neurodiverse, and or Chronically Ill and otherwise Disabled Writers, which is getting as much interest on Blue Sky as my writing, and indie authoring Discords once got on Twitter. (More about my discords for writers here). I’m making new friends, staying in touch with the few old ones still on platforms I use, and rebuilding my writerly, queer and disability communities.

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Related Reading

Getting started on Blue Sky Guide

Why I Chose to Self Publish

Writing Diverse Characters (coming Jan 2024)

Becoming an Indie Author (practical advice from ground zero)

Becoming an Indie Author part 2 (Book Launch)

Text: Manipulator's War (book cover)
Image: red glyphs outline a stone archway, through which fire arrows rain down on torch-lit battlements atop a castle, at night time. Spears in the foreground indicate an advancing invading army.Text: Secrets of the Sorcery War (book cover)
Blue glyphs in a stone arch frame a pair of tall cliffs, a ship sailing on bright blue water through the gap, into the sunshine of a natural harbour.Rebellion is Due Cover: portrait of young Urmilian, his hair braided back, eyes outlined with kohl, wearing fitted bronze armour, a bronze disc kilt, holding a helmet in their left hand and leaning on a spear with his right, a quiver of arrows at their hip.

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

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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

Fantasy Author Feature: Mara Lynn Johnstone

Mara Lynn Johnstone and I met via Twitter when I was preparing to become an indie author. I was an ARC reader of her debut SciFi novel Spectacular Silver Earthling, which stars a robot with attitude, whom a friend compared aptly to Bender from Futurama. In this interview, she talks about the inspiration for her world building and whacky characters.

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

I live in California, where the weather is lovely when things aren’t on fire or flooding. Husband, son, cats. I do a lot of writing-related things even when I’m not working on my own projects: organising events and anthologies for the local writers’ club, judging for contests, and planning multiple cooperative projects with other writers. Plus I play a lot of D&D with good friends, which is an excellent form of storytelling that sometimes leads to actually writing things down.

What drew you to your genre/audience age?

I’ve always loved reading fantasy and science fiction— all the exciting adventures that I couldn’t expect to do in real life. While I would have loved to grow up to be a dragon-rider, dimension traveller, or shapeshifting magician, I made the decision early on to write about it instead. I’ve never looked back.

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I’m sure if you look closely, a lot of my stories boil down to “Treating others well gets you farther than treating them badly.” That’s a pretty basic trope, but it’s amazing how many different ways you can show antagonists who are cruel and sow the seeds of their own downfall while the protagonists cooperate. Now that I think about it, the last three books I wrote all hinge on the main characters making friends who help make victory possible. It’s definitely something that’s held true in my own life, so I’m not surprised it comes through in fiction. Anyone who’s worked retail can tell you that the nice customers are the ones who get all the favors, while the pushy ones only think they’re getting a better deal. Friendship is magic in all forms.

What drives your point of view characters? 

They often have a catastrophe to avert, a kingdom/species/planet to protect, but sometimes the core conflict is as personal as specific friends that they care about intensely. My characters tend to be optimistic and resilient, though with a definite range on the “dignity to silliness” meter. A good sense of humor is crucial in coping with all manner of crises.

Some are more like me than others, but there’s always a facet that makes them feel familiar on a deep level. An element of “Oh yes, this is what I would do.” That can mean being patient and chronicling part of their life through art, or being the centr of attention with witty things to say, or being ready and willing to befriend any random animal that crosses their path. I like to say I’m an ambivert: just as happy reading alone as dancing on a table with friends. I can see myself in the quiet characters just as much as the wisecracking loudmouths — as long as they’re kind. And I like to think that all of my main characters would make good friends, just in a variety of ways.

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

A Swift Kick to the Thorax Book Cover, floating manuscript pages over outer space background, pen floating below, bite mark in bottom right corner of pages.

And for the record, Robin Bennett of A Swift Kick to the Thorax has the most similarities of any character I’ve written, simply because her first short story was an exploratory bit of nonsense that I didn’t expect anyone to ever see. Ha. It turned out to be great fun, and snowballed into two novels and an endless list of short stories. I regret nothing.

What influenced the settings they inhabit? (What real world places, experiences, studies etc influence your world building?) 

I keep a collection of ideas to use in fiction someday, and that includes many interesting locations. The sandstone beaches and bizarre rock formations in Spectacular Silver Earthling were based on those at Salt Point State Park. The car chase through a lightning storm in Swift Kick was inspired by a photo of thunderstorm weather over farmland. I am endlessly fascinated by how many awe-inspiring sights there are in our world; more than enough to create a whole galaxy of others. I’m always taking note of more. 

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

I have fun with it, first and foremost. Delightful adventures; memorable experiences; fictional friends who are near and dear to my heart. Since I grew up reading constantly, I’ve lived many a life through other writer’s books, and I hope to bring readers along for the ride with my own. There’s so much to do and see: excitement and drama, exploration and close calls, good times and cathartic emotion. My characters can find things to enjoy in even the darkest times, and they’ll see you through to the other side. Often with a feeling of “Woo, that was intense! Let’s do it again.”

Where can we find your books?


Headshot of SciFi author Mara Lynne Johnstone, a white, brunette wearing blue rimmed glasses, a big smile, elf ears and with a blue stuffed dragon perched on her shoulder.

Mara Lynn Johnstone grew up in a house on a hill, of which the top floor was built first. Interested in fiction, she went on to get a Master’s Degree in creative writing, and to acquire a husband, son, and three cats. She has published several books and many short stories. She writes, draws, reads, and enjoys climbing things and can be found up trees, in bookstores, lost in thought, and on various social media.

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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)

Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’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”. 

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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

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