Updated: Jun 22
This Writer Wednesday, the spotlight shines on Staci Olsen!
Staci’s recollection of growing up in Alaska, her rescued pets, and her intuitive writing style made her interview such a pleasure to publish. When you read it, if her adventurous spirit doesn’t make you feel like you’ve known her for a thousand years, I’ll give you a thousand Schrute Bucks.
A true indie spirit, Staci is an acquisitions editor for Immortal Works, mostly reading and championing the publishing efforts of indie writers like herself, like you, and like me.
Staci’s latest work, Falling Through Stars, is a Whitney Award nominee.
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.
Staci Olsen lives in Utah with her husband, five children, and three pets in a townhouse that is too small, but growing up in Alaska in a 16 x 20-foot cabin with ten other people (give or take a few) made her accustomed to small houses. She bathed in a wheelbarrow, was hunted by wolves, and survived earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Staci is the author of Defender of Dragons and Falling Through Stars. Salsa dancing, treasure hunting, and escape rooms are just a few of her more unique hobbies. She works as an Acquisitions Editor and the Production Manager for Immortal Works, and she loves helping other authors put their work out into the world. Visit her website at staciolsen.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Falling Through Stars
After crashing her dogsled into the frozen river, Ts'ellbah fears something is wrong, something deeper than the inexplicable new scar over her heart. She feels like a stranger in her own skin and struggles to remember her closest friends and family. At first, her clan is relieved that she survived the accident. But on a night when red spirit lights stain the sky like blood, Ts'ellbah suffers her first violent seizure and sees a vision in which a revered elder encounters a mythical monster and dies. When her announcement of the elder's death proves correct, many are convinced something evil possessed her in the dark river. They believe she killed the old man and want to cast her out. Before they do, Ts'ellbah must persuade her people that their ancient enemies have indeed returned, that they are looking for something, and they'll destroy the entire clan to find it.
Staci’s book Falling Through Stars is a Whitney Award nominee and is available now!
And now, the interview:
Staci, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I could write, I was fiddling with stories and poetry. I decided to write my first novel when I was 14.
Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.
My parents adopted four Alaska Native siblings. Those kids had a hard childhood, and I felt compelled to write a story demonstrating how much I love them. It's set in the wilderness where we all grew up.
What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?
Fantasy is my favorite by a long shot. I love the expanded settings and human capabilities offered by the genre. I love that we can go to a world with a completely foreign set of natural laws and give the characters completely alien problems and abilities, yet we still learn about human nature.
Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!
I have three. The first is a boxer mix dog that we took in from one of those people who irresponsibly adopted a puppy and was going to return it to the shelter. The second is a feral-from-birth black kitty that was trapped in our neighborhood when on the verge of death by starvation. The third is another black kitty that we adopted from a shelter to be a companion for the feral kitty living in our house. Vesper is so fun to take hiking. She's sweet and really obedient. Everyone in the neighborhood adores her. Nox has slowly warmed up to me. She hides on a storage shelf in our basement, but over the years has started allowing me to pet her, purrs on occasion, and even let me hold her once! Venus is your typical bouncy, mischievous house cat who bullied Nox with friendship until they bonded.
Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.
Honestly, I don't have one. I tend to do a lot of writing at night because I get migraines, take Excedrin, and then have insomnia. Since everyone else is sleeping, I write. Otherwise, I just sneak in a few words here and there when I can. Very often, I want to write but can't because of one thing or another, and then when I finally have the time, I don't feel like writing anymore. Finding a schedule that works is a huge struggle for me.
Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?
I adore telling stories! I love manipulating word choice and order to incite an emotional response from the reader. It's like magic and it gives me such a thrill!
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?
Keep writing! Don't be afraid to take an untraditional path. Success comes in many forms and does not have lesser value if it comes to you in a different way than you thought it should.
Success comes in many forms and does not have lesser value if it comes to you in a different way than you thought it should. –Staci Olsen
What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?
Read and write a lot. Your imagination will become stronger every time you use it, just like exercising will give your body strength and health.
How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?
I am highly intuitive. That's also why I'm a pantser. I write what feels right instead of planning ahead.
Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.
I am currently working on the sequel for Defender of Dragons and I'm halfway through a memoir about growing up in Alaska. For publishing, I will continue to self-publish novels and traditionally publish short stories to add clout to my resume.
For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?
I'm grateful for a safe home and loving family. They give me the freedom to express myself creatively, and they support all my writing and publishing efforts.
Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?
I love hiking and doing anything outdoors with my family. I enjoy salsa dancing and escape rooms. In the last year, I have gained a reputation for being pretty good at treasure hunting, which is kind of random and fun. I do a little beading here and there. Paint nights are fun to do with my husband. I really enjoy trying new things in my area: axe throwing, fish kiss spa, pottery painting.
Which book are you reading right now?
I'm an acquisitions editor for Immortal Works, so I can't talk about what I'm currently reading.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Again, I don't read many books that are already published, but Bake Happy by Cori Cooper and The Map of Us by S. A. Fanning are some really excellent books forthcoming from Immortal Works that I've read this year.
Fill in the blank: Magic is...
Magic is the power to make what we dream become real.
Stay connected with Staci Olsen! Here’s where you can find her:
Next up in my Tarot Stories series: The Chariot and thoughts around managing the Indie Author publishing process. Don't miss it!
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.