Writer Interview: Astrid V. J.

This Writer Wednesday, the spotlight shines on USA Today Bestselling fantasy author Astrid V. J.!

Astrid is an award-winning writing and publishing phenom with nearly two dozen books in publication. She’s a highly intuitive writer with a fascinating background and an eclectic taste in reading and music.

Stay connected with Astrid on Instagram @astrid.v.j_author_official and a host of other platforms, the links for which you can find at the close of this interview.

A quick note:

During this interview, you might note that many of the questions include the word “we” as if “we” asked them. Well, we did. This detail is meant to include you, my dear reader, and I do hope you enjoy each interview published to this blog!

Additionally, please note that each interview answer is the author's own words and the interviews in The Intuitive Storyteller blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only.

Astrid is a USA Today Bestselling and Literary Classics award-winning author, social anthropologist, and transformational life coach. She grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Malmö, Sweden (after having lived in many exciting and interesting places) with her husband and their two children.

Her South African-German heritage and the experiences of living and integrating into other societies have given Astrid a great deal to think about and process. The training in anthropology has given her the tools to think beyond simple stereotypes and ideological explanations of social interaction, while the understanding she has of the human potential to achieve anything we put our minds to, which underlies her certification as a transformational life coach, allows Astrid to see what is possible and to appreciate the human capacity to achieve success in the face of adversity, no matter the obstacles.

About Warring Lions

Alanna’s way of life is facing collapse. The Léon clan is at war with the Haldrian Empire and faces complete obliteration. Add to that the darkness invading Alanna’s dreams and draining away her power, she’s certain there’s no way to survive. Sahara, the clan diviner, has spoken: if Alanna doesn’t come into her powers, more than the clan will be lost.

Warring Lions is one of The Wordmage’s Tales accompanying The Apprentice Storyteller. The apprentice has learned from master storyteller, Viola Alerion, and now he performs these classic tales from the Haldrian Empire in his own right.

Astrid’s book Warring Lions is available now!

And now, the interview:

Astrid, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 12 and started writing my first fantasy series set in Africa.

Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.

This stand-alone is part of my series The Wordmage’s Tales, where each story is like a fairytale but with empowering messages of overcoming our pasts and embracing the future. Warring Lions, in particular, was inspired by a dream I had many years ago and that has finally taken on a life of its own and grown into Warring Lions, a tale of overcoming fear and hatred and coming to terms with our human capacity for evil.

What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?

Fantasy. It is where my writing journey started and is a genre that has always fascinated me because of the beauty of slipping into a magical world and forget all about reality for a bit. My main reason for starting to write, even at the age of 12, was what I saw as the lack of cultural diversity in the Fantasy novels I had access to. I strive to create engaging and very different cultures.

Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!

This story has a scaly familiar. Kaida is an ehecatl (Aztec "wind serpent") and could be considered a "miniature dragon". Alanna, the MC in Warring Lions meets Kaida during her initiation as a dream walker, but it turns out Alanna is so much more and this familiar is part of that. Alanna can see through Kaida’s eyes, as one of her extra special abilities.

Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.

I’m a mother of two, a wife and I have a day job. Writing is something I do in my spare time. It’s what gives me life and allows me to be wholly myself. I do not write every day, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the story I’m working on and when I do eventually get to sit and write, it generally flows pretty easily.

Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?

It is deeply and essentially a part of who I am. I get depressed when I don’t write. It is my creative outlet, and it is who I am.

Think about yourself back when you first started writing. If you could travel back in time, what would you say to that version of you (about the writing process, publishing, the world, etc.) that might help prepare them for today?

There were a lot of things I needed to learn between starting to write and finally publishing my first book twenty years later. The one thing I would tell myself is to be kinder to myself. My thoughts and ideas have merit. I could have spent way less time putting myself down and instead focused on learning as much as I could.

What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?

Take breaks. Do things with your hands. If you get stuck, ask a question about where the story is going and what the character wants to do. Then leave it for an hour and go for a walk. The answer will come to you and will most likely be quite surprising, taking the story to new levels. One of my books, I had to wait ten years and do a course in life coaching to figure the missing link. Then I rewrote the novel in three weeks. You can achieve anything if you trust the process.

How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?

Yes absolutely. The entire Wordmage’s Tales series is based on powerful dreams that have stayed with me very strongly throughout my adult life. If I can’t work something out rationally, I’ll let my subconscious take over, so I rely heavily on my intuition for the writing. I definitely believe Carl Jung was onto something with the idea of a collective subconscious you can tap into through creative pursuits.

I definitely believe Carl Jung was onto something with the idea of a collective subconscious you can tap into through creative pursuits.

Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.

I’m currently publishing three series at the same time. Each book is usually a standalone or part of a duology. In 2022 I’ll be publishing three novellas in The Wordmage’s Tales series, one novel in The Wishmaster series (which is the frame story for the tales in The Wordmage’s Tales), and a short story as part of a charity anthology. The short story is part of my series of retellings of lesser-known fairytales, Elisabeth and Edvard’s World.

For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?

I’m most grateful to my husband who’s always been supportive and as understanding as he can be. He also always encourages me to keep going and never lets me throw in the towel.

Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?

Cross stitching, playing with my children, reading (both for myself and out loud to my children), watching TV series, playing the violin, being out in nature.

Which book are you reading right now?

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (re-read)

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?

I make a selection of my top 12 of an average of 100.

Fill in the blank: Magic is...

Magic is that moment when the dream comes true and all the work miraculously pays off.

Stay connected with Astrid! Here’s where you can find her:

Next up, I’m continuing my Tarot Stories series with the next card in the deck: Temperance.

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.

When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative or on Facebook at @haintbluebooks.

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