Susan Dennard Talks Epic Female Friendship and Brainstorms a Dragon Age Novel in Her Reddit AMA

Truthwitch author Susan Dennard is one of many authors donating her time to Reddit’s r/fantasy for The Pixel Project, a virtual nonprofit devoted to raising awareness as well as funds and volunteer power to end violence against women. Dennard’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread is the first of a two-part involvement with The Pixel Project; she’ll join almost a dozen other authors—including Max Gladstone and V.E. Schwab—in the Read for Pixels campaign in September. During a live Google Hangout, authors will read from their books and discuss why they support ending violence against women, their own writing, and women in pop culture; there will also be a live moderated Q&A session.

Speaking of Q&As, Dennard’s Reddit AMA was much like her last visit to r/fantasy: a mix of writing advice, Robin Hobb fangirling, some insights into Truthwitch and its forthcoming sequel Windwitch, and plenty of geeking out over video games—this time it’s Dragon Age: Inquisition instead of Fallout. Read on for the highlights!

 

Some of Truthwitch‘s biggest praise centers on the positive—some might say epic—friendship between witches Safiya and Iseult. It’s fitting that The Pixel Project chose this as the focus for their question:

ThePixelProject: One of the best things about Truthwitch is Safiya and Iseult’s friendship. It sticks out for us because female friendship isn’t usually at the forefront of fantasy books (especially high fantasy). What are the challenges of writing Safiya and Iseult’s friendship and why do you think positive takes on female friendship is still not very common in the genre?

Why do you support the cause to end violence against women and how do you think authors like yourself can help with the cultural change needed to put a permanent end to domestic violence, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence?

SD: I’m certainly not the first to write epic female friendship, and it was never something I intentionally set out to do. It just felt natural in this world and for this story. The challenges are no different from writing any character relationship. There’s so many layers and nuances to the way people connect to each other.

As a woman, this is important to me. Period. I’m fortunate enough to have a platform from which I can reach people and raise awareness.

 

Dennard, who has always been frank about her writing process, shares some hints about what it’s been like expanding Truthwitch‘s world for Windwitch:

geekchicfreak: Hi Susan! I just picked up Truthwitch from the library and I’m excited to start it! I was wondering if you plan out an ending to a series (and major plot points) before writing or if you let it come to you as you go?

SD: [O]h, I plan. But nothing actually fits when I arrive at my intended plot points, which is why the sequel to Truthwitch has been a challenge. It’s a larger more complicated world than I originally anticipated!

If you haven’t already checked it out, Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover for Windwitch and shared an excerpt.

 

Of course you’d expect the author of Truthwitch to have witches on the brain—but Dennard’s throwback to Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons has us all nostalgic now.

atuinsbeard: What are your favourite books featuring other witches?

SD: Hmmm… the Harry Potter series, for books. My favorite witch ever is from an older kid series called The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and I do love a good Hocus Pocus marathon!

 

If you’ve ever wanted to know the elevator pitch for Truthwitch, here’s your chance:

cymric: 1.) what is your elevator pitch for your favorite book you have written and published.

2.) what is the last good rpg you played ?

3.) if you could meet any person currently alive who would it be.

4.) if you could have dinner with any spec fic author who would you choose ?

SD: 1) Well, it depends on the elevator I’m in. And if it’s the one I’m in right now–get me out of here! In all honesty, it’s really hard to say which of my book’s is my favorite, so I’ll just do Truthwitch: Two witches. Three empires. One war. (It’s not great, but I never liked elevators.)

2) I just finished Dragon Age Inquisition. For the third time. I have a problem.

3) The one person I wanted to meet, I actually already did: my author hero Robin Hobb! And for some reason she still hasn’t gotten a restraining order against me. :)

4) Robin Hobb. It happened. She paid for it. It was awesome.

cymric: Follow up question: tell me about your canon inqusitor and who they romanced

SD: My favorite romance is Solas because I love to have my heart broken. In my latest play through, I was an elvin mage because I wanted to open up the most dialogue options with him. I really have a problem.

 

And as you saw, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Dragon Age. Perhaps someday Dennard will get to play in that world in a different way…

BurstDragon: If given the opportunity, would you write a Dragon Age novel?

SD: YES! But the fear of handling it poorly and disappointing fans (and myself) is pretty debilitating.

KristaDBall: Q. Will it have Cullen? If yes, the book will be good. If yes with kissing, the book will be very good. If yes with sexy times, the book will be a NYT bestseller.

SD: HAHAHA. Duly noted!! “Dear Editor, Please let me write a story about how Cullen falls in love with a self-insert heroine, thereby making all DAI fans happy.”

 

Dennard’s Read for Pixels Q&A will take place on September 25 at 8:30 p.m. EST on YouTube. Check out the full Read for Pixels schedule to find out when your favorite authors will be reading and answering reader questions.

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