Here's the cover copy: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble--as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It's a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her--but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi's hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship's captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
Take 10 with Susan Dennard:
1.) TRUTHWITCH is the first book in a new series for you. How did you spark on the idea for this series?
Truthwitch was one of those interesting collisions of lots of ideas. I had an idea for a book about best friends; I had an idea for a book set in an alternate, fantastical Croatia; I had an idea for character who could see the emotional bonds of people; and I had an idea involving a pirate prince.
Then one day, I discovered a composing duo called Two Steps from Hell. I heard their amazing piece “El Dorado” and BAM! All these disparate ideas crashed together, and the story unfolded from there!
2.) I thought the magic system in the book was very unique and engaging. Can you explain how you developed the idea of the different types of witches?
It honestly began with a Threadwitch. I heard the word as I was falling asleep one night (isn’t that always how it happens?), and I scribbled it down. The next morning, I spent a while mulling over what a Threadwitch did. What her place in society might be—and who her best friend might be. The magic system and ideas just poured out from there.
Interestingly, though, the elemental divisions came later. My editor suggested it to help keep things organized, and it fit so neatly into the world I’d built (with the Origin Well and empires) that it seemed like it had been meant to be all along!
3.) I really loved the idea of the characters having a Threadsister or Threadbrother, can you explain that relationship?
Threadsisters or Threadbrothers (or Thread-families) are the “family we choose.” They’re the people in our lives that we can’t live without. Who are as close to us as siblings or parents, but who aren’t related to us by blood.
I have so many epic, powerful friendships in my life, and I knew I wanted to include that in a book—especially female friendships.
4.) What do you love about Safiya and Iseult? And what do they do that drive you crazy?
I love Safiya’s boundless energy. I might’ve borrowed some of that from myself (or I’d like to think I did), but she’s also so reckless—which is something I am not. I’m more like Iseult in that regard: I weigh all sides before I make any decision. Of course, Iseult can drive me crazy too with her tendency to hate on herself. I mean, we all do it, right? But sometimes I just want to shake her and say, “YOU ARE WORTH!” ;)
5.) I read your bio and am dead jealous that you have been to 6 out of the 7 continents (although I have been to China ;) and lived in Europe for awhile. I also noticed the map of the Witchlands has a vaguely European shape. How does traveling factor into your writing?
Traveling is one of the biggest source for my ideas. Especially for Truthwitch, which was so deeply inspired by my travels in Croatia. It’s all about feeling a place for me—tasting the air, touching the soil, and experiencing the way a culture intersects with the landscape.
In my first series, I set the books in Philadelphia, Paris, Marseille, and Egypt—and you can bet I went to each location before writing.
6.) Did you have to do any special research for this book?
Oh my gosh, I did so much research! Ha! Just because a book is fantasy doesn’t give me license to write whatever I want. So I took a workshop on ships and seafaring life. I took a workshop on horses. I studied tides and moon cycles. I researched the empires of Europe (and beyond). I traveled. I forced my sensei into weird poses just to see how he would get out of them…
So yes, lots of special research. I’m kind of a glutton for it—I mean, what better way to procrastinate?
7.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
So it’s kind of a funny story, that. As a child, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I spent hours pretending to travel the world in a submarine or building complex underwater labs out Legos.
Then in my tweens, I decided an author I was meant to be! I wrote and wrote and wrote, and then I headed off to university with all these plans of getting some a creative writing degree.
But a single class in marine biology (to fill my science requirement!) hooked me. Hard. I fell deeply in love with ecology and marine conservation, and a few years later, I ended up with a Masters degree in it.
Funnily enough, though, I fell in love with a French guy along the way, and when it came time to move with him to Europe, I couldn’t get a job! I mean, I didn’t speak the language, and we were moving somewhere landlocked. So while I continued to do some freelance ecological modeling for my old school, I also used my spare time to write a book.
And the rest is history!
8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
I have a routine, but the outcome of said routine is different every day. I’m such an organic writer—chasing after whatever ideas my muse deigns to provide. Each book has come out differently.
You see, I’m not a “commit 1000 words to paper every day” kind of person. I’m more of a “stay mindfully focused on writing/brainstorming/revising for an hour” writer. I used to try to write 1000 words a day, but after a few years of that, I realized I was scrapping so much of what I forced myself to write each day. So I started trying this new approach of “mindful focus sessions.” After about a year of that, I find it jives much better.
Honestly, I think the key is to just Do The Work, but what qualifies as “work” will vary from writer to writer and book to book.
9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write?
Oh, it’s so bad for my back, but I like to write in bed (when typing). That said, I also write by hand a lot (and revise entirely by hand), so I have a standing desk for that.
If I could write ANYWHERE, though, it’s my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house. Seriously, the instant I’m in there, the creativity just unfurls and the words flow.
10.) What are you writing now? What’s coming out next?
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Truthwitch, entitled Windwitch. I won’t lie: it has been a monster! I’ve really stretched my limits with this book, and I’ve had to tackle this Problem Child in ways that I’ve never had to before.
But like I said, every book is different!