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Author Interviews

Author Interview with YA author Charity Santiago

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I’m hosting an author interview with YA fantasy author Charity Santiago today, the author of “Return”.

1) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, for as long as I can remember. I finished my first manuscript at age nine. It was called “Guinea Pig Code!” and it was about a young guinea pig named Al who ran away from home with his best friend and sister. I never considered sharing my writing with others, though, until I found out about Kindle’s self-publishing program in 2011.

2) Where did you get the inspiration for Return?

It really was just a random moment where I was standing in the middle of a surprise rainstorm, and I suddenly envisioned a lonely girl riding her horse through the rain. I felt so connected to that girl, almost as if her emotions were mirroring mine. Eventually she evolved into Ashlyn, the heroine from ‘Return.’ The story pieced itself together after that, and because I was writing it for myself and not for publication, I wasn’t afraid to include plot twists or characters that didn’t necessarily fit into the fantasy genre. Shape-shifting magic? Sure, let’s throw it into the mix! A talking wolf? A Vampire? Great ideas! Nothing was off-limits for ‘Return,’ and as a result, it’s a project very close to my heart.

3) Please tell us about Return. 

The simple description is that it’s a young adult fantasy novel- but it’s really so much more than that. ‘Return’ is set in a world of natural magic, where vampires, Angels, talking wolves and monsters are nothing out of the ordinary. The story centers on Ashlyn Li, an 18-year-old ninja who has spent years avoiding her birthright as the future Lady of the kingdom of Toryn. Ashlyn has a chance encounter with some old friends, and she learns that the new Lord of Toryn has started a war in her absence. Ashlyn has to make a choice- accept responsibility for her actions and fight for leadership of Toryn, or abandon her friends to the battle and return to her wandering ways. As she’s struggling to come to terms with the decisions she’s made, Ashlyn also finds herself torn between two men: Vargo, an elite assassin who was once her sworn enemy, and Drake, the mysterious vampire who already has a firm hold on Ashlyn’s heart.

4) What are your writing goals for 2013?

In 2012, I wrote and published three books, and I’d like to match that in 2013. I plan to release two more young adult novels by the end of July, with a holiday romance novel coming out closer to Christmas.

5) Do you write an outline before you start writing? Or do you write as you come up with ideas?

‘Return’ was actually the novel that made me realize I needed to start outlining my books. Before ‘Return,’ I just wrote whatever I wanted and took the story in whatever direction seemed appealing. Now that I’m actually publishing my books for an outside audience, I have higher expectations for the quality of my manuscripts. I outline everything now, and I also break the story down into chapters in the beginning so that I know what needs to happen in each chapter. I sometimes miss flying by the seat of my pants, but I’m sure my readers appreciate this more organized approach!

6) Can you tell us about your editing process?

I have an editor I work with closely during the writing process. As I write each chapter, I send it to him. He reads it over, notates what needs to be changed, and sends it back. I make my changes and add the new chapter to the manuscript. When the manuscript is complete, I re-read the entire thing, make my own edits, and then send it back to my editor. He reads it a second time and notates any additional changes. Sometimes I have a beta reader who is willing to read through it, too, but people can be flaky. I can’t tell you how many people have offered to beta read for me, and then I’ve never heard from them again.

 After the initial process with my editor, I usually edit the entire manuscript myself at least twice more before publication. That is definitely my least favorite part of writing. It aggravates me when typos or inconsistencies slip through the cracks, and I go out of my way to ensure that doesn’t happen. I’d like to give my readers the best experience possible. I think it’s so inconsiderate when a reader is distracted from the story by an editing error.

7) Are you working on something right now? Can you tell us more about it? 

I am working on something right now, and it’s a project I’m very excited about! The story is called “Blood Lust,” and it’s a paranormal romance set in Rapid City, North Dakota. It’s actually based on an idea that my dad suggested, of a vampire falling in love with a werewolf, and although at first I was leery of approaching such familiar material, I’m so glad I decided to take a chance and write it anyway. If all goes well, “Blood Lust” will be available on Amazon Kindle April 12, 2013.

About Return

coverTitle: Return

Author: Charity Santiago

Genre: YA Fantasy

For the last three years, eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Li has been running from her destiny. A free-spirited ninja, Ashlyn would rather loot an abandoned city or challenge a fiend to battle than assume leadership of Toryn, her father’s kingdom. However, when a series of attacks reunites Ashlyn with the friends who helped her save the sun three years ago, she discovers that her kingdom is at war and her father has presumed her dead.

Suddenly Ashlyn is faced with not only fulfilling her birthright, but also making sense of her feelings towards two very different men- Drake Lockhart, the enigmatic vampire who captured her heart three years ago, and Vargo, the charismatic assassin who was once Ashlyn’s sworn enemy.

Will Ashlyn ascend the pagoda and become Lady of Toryn?

Author Bio

In February 2011, Charity Santiago’s 7-month old son was admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory issues. While Charity stayed at his bedside, she kept them both entertained by downloading several books on her new Kindle and reading them out loud. It was during this time that Charity learned about Kindle’s self-publishing program, and realized that she had an opportunity to share her writings with the world.

Charity is a native of southeastern Arizona, and a writer since childhood. She wrote her first manuscript, Guinea Pig Code!, at age nine. When she’s not writing books, Charity spends her time wrangling children, watching Sylvester Stallone movies and pursuing a degree in Education.

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