Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses) and Susan Dennard (Something Strange and Deadly) are a YA power couple whose epic writerly womance is giving us serious Tina Fey/Amy Poehler feels (but with way more badass warrior women and general fictional magic). On the eve of the release of Truthwitch, the first title in Dennard’s Witchlands series, we asked Maas to interview her on the book, female friendships, and all of life’s most important questions (e.g., “Dragons or unicorns?”). This was the delightful result.
Sarah J. Maas: So, obviously, our friendship is pretty darn epic. And Truthwitch, at its heart, is about the power of female friendships. What are your favorite female friendships in books/TV/movies?
Susan Dennard: Female friendships for the win!! Although, sadly, this is a tough question for me. When I think of my favorite friendships, they’re almost always male (Maverick and Goose, Sam and Frodo, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect). I have to actually think to conjure female friendships I adore. I mean, it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s just that they’re not as easy to think of because I they don’t show up in popular media quite as often.
I mean, we have the words “bromance” and “BroTP,” but as far as I know, there isn’t a female version of that. (Which is, of course, why we filled that gap with a word of our own devising: Womance. It rolls off the tongue, right?)
But back to the question. I guess the first female friends that come to mind are Nancy Drew, George, and Bess. They’re a trifecta of sleuthing awesome that definitely defined my childhood.
Then there’s the Gilmore Girls. I love the relationship between Rory and Lorelei. They may be daughter and mother, but they’re also the most loyal, most incredible friends.
And, of course, I can’t forget Katara and Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. What I love most about their relationship is they don’t actually get along to start. They both have strong—though wildly different—personalities. So initially, they clash. But by the end of the series, they’re as close as sisters.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many people have said your website of writing resources helped them finish their book, land an agent, and/or get published. If you were giving advice to your teenage self (about writing, life, etc.), what would you say?
I think I’d say: “There’s no rush.”
Like, I think many writers fall into the trap of wanting publication NOW. I sure did! The dream of having my book out there for people to read was so powerful. And Iwantedittohappenrightnowthanks.
But sometimes it’s better to live a little. To explore the world. To make friendships and fall in love (or to lose friendships and fall out of love). To write when the muse strikes. To binge watch a Kdrama when the muse is nowhere to be seen. To study hard and play hard. To get a Real Job that pays the bills. To quit that job and try another. To travel. To observe. To enjoy.
And amazingly, you can write and publish at any age. There’s no expiration date on it! So don’t worry if you don’t have a book finished yet or a publishing deal on the table. It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen, and until then, embrace the world around you. The more you live and experience, the more you can bring that into your writing.
Speaking of your teenage self (*cough*MageSusan*cough*), let’s discuss what sort of fanfic you used to write. Care to share, Soozy?
You know I will punish you for this question post-interview. *glares*
Ahem. Like most writers, I got my start with fanfiction. This was before the internet was The Internet!, so I just wrote fanfiction with my best friend. On notebook paper.
And, of course, the one fandom I devoted my preteen years to was NSYNC. I. Was. Deeeeeply in love with Justin Timberlake (frosted tips forever!), so I wrote many a story in which we were soul mates. Sometimes I was an archaeologist (Indiana Jones style) and he was a soldier who ended up at my dig. Other times, I was a dragon-riding mage, and he was the prince of a kingdom I’d come to save.
Yeah, it was just as bad as it sounds.
Serious question: If you had one day to eat any/all the food you wanted and not get sick from it, what would you stuff your face with? (I’ve seen you devour an entire tub of guac in one sitting, so I’m dying to know.)
Ha! Guacamole defies physics. It’s like a black hole opens in my stomach when I start eating it.
But, if I could eat something ALL DAY and not get sick/die/hate myself, I’d probably go with chocolate chip cookies. With gluten (this is fantasy world, right? So, why not pretend I can digest it?).
And I haaate being asked this question because I have too many answers/possibilities, so I’m going to torture you with it (that’s what best friends are for, right?): if you had to live in one fictional world (from books/tv/films/video games) what would it be?
Actually, this is easy for me. I really want to live in the Four Nations from Avatar: the Last Airbender. Specifically the Air Kingdom because sky bisons. Also, because look at those monasteries!!
That said, I’d want to wield a magical power over water. Waterbending for life!
So, I totally have you to blame for my love of Kdramas (which are so addictive and time-consuming). For the people just discovering them (or looking to start one for the first time), what Kdramas would you recommend? And how did you initially get into them?
I got into them because I lived in Germany and the ONLY channel in English was Arirang (a South Korean channel). They would play Kpop and Kdramas, and I just…well, I got hooked!
I think the best one to start with is a classic, My Lovely Sam Soon. It just has all the humor, heart, and romance I love KDramas for.
And now for a few rapid-fire, supremely important questions:
This is cruel. Cruel, I say! But I’m going to have to go with Star Wars because I discovered it younger in life, and it had a huge impact on my childhood.
Dragon Age! For sure. It’s like playing out every fantasy novel ever written, and I adore the entire franchise.
TV or movies?
TV. I get bored with movies. I think it’s because I was only allowed 30 minutes of screen time a day growing up, so my attention span is exactly 30 minutes. After that, I need to get up and move!
Bacon or guac?
Guacamole. I just love the freshness of it. Chips are optional.
Velociraptor or T-Rex?
Dragons or unicorns?
Dragons. No explanation needed.
Legolas or Aragorn?
I mean, I was one of a hundred million girls who fell HARD for blond Orlando Bloom, but if we’re going on personality and backstory alone, Strider/Aragorn is a much cooler dude.
Anastasia was hands-down my favorite animation. I might’ve had an unhealthy crush on Dimitri, and I might still be able to quote + sing the entire movie by heart. Also, have I ever mentioned my dog was named Pooka?
Face a saltwater crocodile or a great white shark?
Uh. Since I’m probably going to die, I guess I’m choosing which set of jaws I’d rather lose my life to. Okay, I’m gonna go with the shark. I think it’d be a faster death. I hope, anyway.
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean. All the way. I thrive next to the sea.
Annnnd most importantly: Bounty hunter or smuggler?
I’m going to go with bounty hunter because I feel like one would need to be a good liar to smuggle successful. And I’m a terrible liar. Just terrible.
Also, let’s be honest, this question is really: Boba Fett or Han Solo. And the answer is Boba Fett. Always.
Thanks for letting me interview you, MageSusan! I can’t wait to see the rest of the world fall as madly in love with Truthwitch as I did. And not to be totally corny, but I’m so honored you’re my Threadsister. <3
Truthwitch hits shelves tomorrow and is available for pre-order now!