- award-winning author of transformative fiction — overcoming obstacles and achieving success in the face of adversity
Readers, thanks for checking out another Author Spotlight Interview. Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
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 that 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.
She writes transformation fiction: exploring our human capacity for transformation, overcoming the obstacles we face, and achieving success in the face of adversity.
Astrid, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most author spotlight interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I grew up with pets all around, but after reading Harry Potter, I did want a familiar and tried to convince our tortoiseshell cat that she could do it. I just got green-eyed death stares…
I’m sorry you didn’t get a familiar.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write fantasy in a variety of subgenres, although all my books have a common theme: our human capacity to transform our lives and actually live lives we love. That’s why I call my writing “transformation fiction”. But, to get back to your question, I didn’t realise that when I started writing at the age of twelve. Growing up in South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to democracy, I was very aware of racial difference and questions of diversity. Although I loved the fantasy genre, even at that young age I was very upset by the lack of diversity in my favourite genre. That was the initial push I got to start writing and I’ve never stopped.
Indeed! My favorite stories are the ones that show the human capacity for change — preferably growth.
What do you like to read?
I read anything I can get my hands on. Since becoming a self-published author, I’ve moved away from traditionally published books and have immersed myself in the indie scene, but I still read a wide variety of genres, and am open to trying everything. So far, I’m more likely to put down a book because of poor editing than the genre putting me off.
An excellent choice!
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you
Write every day.
I do think about my writing every day, but I am a mom to two young children, a wife, have a house to keep clean and a day job to bring in the bacon with. Modern living in the West is not easy and although I am blessed to have a very supportive partner who helps everywhere he can, a single income just doesn’t cut it, so I have to carve out writing time where I can. That means it’s usually good if I get several short slots in per week. And it works for me.
So true. Life happens, but as long as you make your writing is a priority, you can make it work.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice they can pry out of your cold, dead hands
Write for yourself. Edit for your readers.
I don’t write to market or even genre most of the time. I just write what wants to come out and then I adapt it to reader expectations later in the editing process.
I love this one.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Twice Upon A Time
Double the name and double the magic, mystery, and mayhem
Once upon a time, a fairy tale name generator issued a challenge to a group of authors. Volume Two of these quirky stories brings double trouble.
In this clean YA anthology, spy on thieves discovering their princely identities, accompany villains seeking redemption along with accident-prone geese, and rejoice in the reunion of siblings separated at birth. Side with twins split between good and evil, giggle over mistaken identities, and discover the secrets of royal doppelgängers. When fates are intertwined by a namesake, mayhem, and mischief are sure to follow.
The Apprentice Storyteller
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 Word Mage’s Tales (1-7)
In The Apprentice Storyteller, the boy learns and performs the tales Viola Alerion taught him. Immerse yourself in the tales of the Haldrian Empire and experience these folktales as they fit into The Apprentice Storyteller and Finding the Way. Each tale is a stand-alone and every one of them refers back to the moment it was mentioned in The Apprentice Storyteller or Finding the Way.
The twists of life confront us with the worst within ourselves. At the same time, these moments provide us the opportunity to offer up that which brings out the best in us. Dreams are the seeds of our potential. They are the life-giving guides that unfold the path of our highest achievements. Our dreams require belief—in both the possibility of that intangible dream becoming a reality, and also in our capacity to make it happen.
Love. Loss. Longing. Loyalty. The Wordmage’s Tales bring it all to life.
A coven of witches plots to overthrow a kingdom. One brave woman stands in their way.
At her mother’s death-bed, Elisabeth learns her mother’s illness is no accident and that her own life is in danger. Evil witches are plotting to take over the kingdom of Vendale. All alone, naive, and untrained, Elisabeth’s determination is all she has to confront her mother’s murderers as she discovers love at the same time. While Richard’s behaviour sends distracting mixed messages, Elisabeth finds herself stuck in limbo: she is treated like a child but is forced to make adult decisions. Meanwhile, the witches’ plot spins a fateful web around her.
Can Elisabeth succeed in the face of insurmountable odds?
What really lies beneath the waves?
Dive into our magical collection of short stories written by award-winning and up-and-coming authors and follow the ocean’s call. Meet murderous kelpies, hear the mermaid’s song, find a kidnapped prince, and explore the beautiful underwater kingdoms. Befriend selkie royalty, break fearsome curses, and swoon as you fall in love. This book is fully illustrated with stunning paintings by Helena Satterthwaite and Elena Shelest.
All profits go to Oceana to support their mission to protect the world’s oceans and promote sustainable fishing.
It’s A Bear’s Life
There’s nothing much more life-changing than a bullet to the neck…
While he contemplates death and the consequences his will bring for his family, Bashir is offered a chance at a new life by the Swedish police officer who finds him in a dark alley of Gothenburg’s infamous north-eastern suburb. Bashir’s new life comes with the surprise that nothing is as he previously believed: magical creatures exist, and preying on the weak are forces far more sinister than the drug dealers he’d contended with before.
But if becoming a part of Sweden’s hidden underworld of shifters weren’t enough, Bashir’s discoveries are upended when he meets Milena: the last Vasa.
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