Author Interview: Xanxa Symanah

1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a self-published author and I’m married to a home-based rock musician. We’re on the alternative side in our lifestyle. We don’t keep what most people would call regular hours. I consider myself a goth-hippie hybrid with a little nerdiness thrown in.

2. What do you write (genre, length)?

My main genre is fantasy, both epic and urban, in a modern-day setting. My novels tend to be on the long side, especially the later ones.

3. What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.

I’m currently working on a fantasy series called The Vyrdigaan Prophecies, consisting of four novels. The first and last novels in the series are drafted and awaiting revision and editing. I’m in the midst of writing the first draft of what will be the second in the series, titled The Donovan Destiny. The third novel of the series is only in the planning stages.

4. Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?

It’s hard to pin it down to anything specific. I’ve always made up stories, even before I learned to read and write. I’d recite them out loud, regardless of whether anyone was listening. I also used to act them out with dolls and teddy bears, putting on different voices for the various characters. I think my love of making up stories came from being read bedtime stories as a child, when my Dad would put on different voices. 

5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I’d encourage them to read, both for pleasure and to study techniques used by established authors. Also, I’d say write the kind of book you want to read.

6. What do you do for a living?

It’s not technically a job, since I don’t work for an employer. I gave up work several years ago to become a full-time carer for my husband. His mobility problems meant that he needed assistance with many everyday tasks. The Government pays me to look after him instead of going out to work. I also fit my writing projects in around his care needs.   

7. Who is/are your favorite author(s)?

On the fantasy side: Terry Goodkind, Joe Abercrombie, Robin Hobb, Trudi Canavan, Jay Kristoff, Lynn Flewelling and Raymond Feist.

Other genres: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, Tess Gerritsen and Thomas Harris.

8. What is/are your favorite book(s)?

Fantasy: The Sword of Truth series, the First Law trilogy, The Farseer, Rain Wild, and Elderlings series, the Black Magician and Millennium’s Rule series, the Lotus Wars series and the Riftwar Saga.

Others: All the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Chamber, The Poet, all the Hannibal Lecter books. 

9. What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?

That they want to live in my fantasy universe. Someone actually did say this. 

10. What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?

For my murder mystery novel, I interviewed a youth counselor and a social worker. I also did some research into therapy techniques.

For my fantasy novels, I’ve had to research so many odd topics, for example, genetics, childbirth and miscarriage, cannibalism, accelerants for setting non-wooden structures on fire, and most recently, fabrics and embroidery. 

11. What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?

I find restraint difficult. I have a tendency to go into too much detail, the dreaded info-dump. I’ve been working on subtle ways of revealing world-building elements that don’t slow down the pacing of the plot. Also I fall into bad habits with repetitive sentence structures and favourite expressions that I tend to over-use.

12. What is your favorite genre to read? Why?

Fantasy, because of the element of pure escapism. I love to delve into imaginary worlds where magic exists, along with mythical creatures like dragons and unicorns.

13. What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?

When I was a child, I wanted to be a gymnast. I’d seen Olga Korbut and others at the Olympics and I admired their skills and gracefulness. I went to classes from around the age of eight until thirteen. At that time, I had to make a decision as to whether to try to make it as a gymnast or concentrate on my academic studies. My coach delivered the bad news that I wasn’t good enough for competitive standards, so the academic studies won.

At school, I was a language nerd. I wanted to learn all the languages on offer but I had to make choices according to the curriculum. I learned the usual French and German, and I also started learning Russian. I didn’t get very far but I can still recognise the Cyrillic alphabet. As an adult, I learned Portuguese in evening classes and I’m sort of trying to teach myself Spanish and Italian, although in a very piecemeal fashion and without much discipline. 

14. Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?

I prefer physical books. I like the organic experience of holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. I’ve grown accustomed to reading ebooks and I’ve got some in that format that are out of print and hard to get hold of. I’ve never tried audiobooks but because I have a slight hearing difficulty, I think I’d find them harder to get on with. 

Find Xanxa at the links below!

Amazon Author Page US

Amazon Author Page UK

Website: https://virianchronicler.blogspot.com/

Facebook

The Virian Chronicler

Xanxa Symanah Wallace

Goodreads

Twitter: @cadytuttle

Instagram: @xanxa_symanah

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