Today's guest on The Write Type is Isabelle Santiago, author of Zerah's Chosen, a Young Adult romantic fantasy. Isabelle shares how music influences her work and how she has particular playlists for her novels--a very interesting concept. ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
A: Well, unlike most authors, I haven’t always known I wanted to write. I don’t have a cute story saved from when I was in grade school or anything like that, though if I remember correctly I was very fond of storytelling (in the form of completely over the top lies). Although I’ve enjoyed the occasional short story or fanfiction romp since middle school, my real passion actually lay in music and theater. I starred in the school musicals throughout high school and then went on to co-direct three more productions after graduating. I feel that theater background often seeps into my writing, particularly in my use of dialogue. I like to speak it out loud to make sure it sounds and feels real.
While in college, I got my freshman English final published in The Everyday Writer: 2nd Edition, a teaching manual for the university. This sparked a serious inexplicable ‘something’ in my head. I’d been doing a lot of recreational writing, but nothing to really try and establish a career. Then I was struck with this intense, tortured, complicated love story which snowballed into this epic series, the first book of which is my newest release, Zerah’s Chosen.
It’s a story surrounding six Elementals personified, prophecies, forbidden love and the end of the world.
Q: Zerah’s Chosen is a YA romantic fantasy, definitely a genre switch from your previous three romance novellas. What made you want to veer from romance into YA fantasy?
Honestly, I didn’t intend to write Zerah’s Chosen as a young adult novel, it just kind of happened that way. My characters’ story began with them as children and follows them until adulthood, which gives the book crossover appeal.
It’s definitely representative of where I was in my life as I was writing it, my early twenties, tumbling into adulthood as best I could, you know? But now that I’ve written YA, I can’t imagine going back to adult romance. I mean an occasional foray, maybe, but I’m just convinced YA, particularly YA fantasy, is where I belong. I find writing characters on the cusp of adulthood refreshing. I can be daring and emotional knowing that my readers are compassionate, intelligent, and open minded individuals. It’s great.
Q: I noticed your website’s EXTRA page has a section specifically for music. Obviously it plays a big part in your writing. What’s in your player right now?
A: Right now I’ve been collecting a lot of trip-hop, dance pop, and electronica/Britpop of the likes of Bloc Party, Lady Gaga, and Imogen Heap for a YA Fantasy I have in progress. I can’t tell you what a rush it is to put together writing playlists. It brings scenes to life in my head. I absolutely love it. And although Zerah’s Chosen doesn’t have its playlist up just yet, it’s coming, so look out for it!
Thanks for coming by, Isabelle.
By day, Isabelle Santiago fuels her muse and her love of literature as a devoted bookseller. By night, she is the mom of one hysterical infant and a cat that swears he’s a dog. She lives with her husband and her misfits in a cozy loft apartment on the New England shoreline.