October 21, 2015

Voices in Fantasy: Susan Dennard

I'm a big fantasy reader, if you couldn't tell from some of the incredible fantasy series I've reviewed on the blog over the years. Heck, I'm even co-hosting the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge (which you should totally sign up for). I thought it would be a fun idea to find a creative way to talk about my love of fantasy even more when I realized: What if I asked my favorite fantasy writers some questions about the genre? Without further ado, let me present the first yearly edition of Voices in Fantasy!

I have a deep, devoted love for Susan Dennard, and not just because of the amazing novels she's written. Susan is one of the loveliest human beings I know, generous with her time and advice and extremely thoughtful and gracious to her fans. I will forever and always be book pushing her Something Strange and Deadly series (Something Strange and Deadly, A Darkness Strange and Lovely + Strange and Ever After), and I will definitely do the same for her upcoming release, Truthwitch (which is fantastic).

Over Sea, Under Stone book cover
Alexa: Why do you love fantasy?

Susan: I think the appeal of fantasy has always been -- especially when I was young -- the idea that someone "derpy-derp" like me could have magic and save the world. Since Tolkien's Frodo, we've really seen the ordinary guys/gals step up to save the world in fantasy literature. As a SUPER ordinary gal, that magical, sweeping potential you find so often fantasy has always really resonated. :)

Alexa: What are the easiest/hardest aspects of writing fantasy?

Susan: Gosh, there's not much I would say is easy! I think one of the hardest is not borrowing to heavily from what's been done. Obviously, it's impossible to create something completely new (as they say, there are no new stories -- only new ways of telling them), but I really think we've saturated (and over-saturated!) the LOTR copycats. There's a fine line to walk between paying homage and remaining "familiar enough" for a reader while also inventing something really new and different.

Alexa: What would you like to see more of in fantasy novels?

Susan: Diversity! I love that we're seeing more and more Asian-inspired and Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy. Next up, I'd love (personally) to see something Central or South American. Or maybe Polynesian!

Assassin's Apprentice book coverAlexa: What's the first fantasy novel you remember reading and loving?

Susan: The first I remember was Susan Cooper's THE DARK IS RISING. Oh man, it was so rich and epic and terrifying. But it still had a character from this world, so it was the perfect gateway into the wide world of fantasy.

Alexa: What are your top five fantasy recommendations?

Susan: First: Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. She literally "wrote the book" on assassin fantasy, and I love-love-love how her hero's magic comes into play and grows along with him. Also: Nighteyes is the best animal companion ever written.

Second: Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. What I love-love-love about these books is that she has 100% succeeded in creating a very different sort of fantasy world that still feels familiar.

Third: Sherwood Smith's Inda series is incredible. Just. Plain. INCREDIBLE. There's so much world-building, though, that it's not for the faint-of-heart or new-to-fantasy. But man, once you get accustomed to the world and the political structure...WOW! She writes the most incredible, powerful characters of any series I've ever read.

Sabriel book coverFourth: Garth Nix's Abhorsen series was life-changing for a preteen me. Waiting the many years between Sabriel and Lirael was agony. And, as far as talking animal companions go, no one -- no one, no one! -- beats Mogget and the Disreputable Dog. Also: the magic in this series is (I think) the most unique ever written.

Five: Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series is just...whoa. I actually think the first book is the weakest of the series, but I can say with absolute confidence that KING OF ATTOLIA is one the cleverest, twistiest (politcally) books I've ever read. I was so blown away, I had to get up and walk around every few chapters -- just to get out my nervous AWE at her brilliance.

Thank you, my dear Susan! It was lovely reading all your answers, and I share your deep appreciation for the Abhorsen trilogy and The Dark is Rising, both of which I read at a young age. I definitely have an eye on the Robin Hobb series, as well as Jacqueline Carey too. And readers, you must check out Susan's finished trilogy (You can binge read it all!) and get ready for her phenomenal upcoming release, Truthwitch.

Come back on Friday for the last post in this year's edition of Voices in Fantasy!


  1. One of my coworkers has been bugging me to read Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series since we bonded over realizing how much we both love to read and now that Susan is endorsing it too I feel like I HAVE to add it to my list!

  2. I still haven't read any books by this lovely author. But I own her first trilogy, and getting Truthwitch too, so reading them all sometime soon :) She seems so awesome and kind. Aaaanyway. Gorgeous post Alexa :D I adore your interview with Susan. <3 Thank you both for sharing :)

  3. Ah, it was so fun reading this interview between the two of you! I adore Susan; her writing advice is the best. I'd love to see more diversity in fantasy novels too. And I so agree with Susan's answer to question #1, especially that last sentence about how that magic and potential can really resonant with you. But I have no read any of her fantasy recommendations, so I should really get on that, huh? :D Thanks for sharing the interview, Alexa!


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