Author Interview with Iffix Santaph
New writers typically hope and plan to be published in the traditional way. We spend hours perfecting and emailing query letters, we send samples of our writing to publishers, and we adhere to every publication's specific submissions guidelines. Then, the rejection letters come one after another, and you realize what a lottery you are playing.
Lucky for authors, we don't have to stay stuck in this limbo forever, especially in this day and age. Author Iffix Santaph realized this and took it upon himself to self-publish his series titled, Forgotten Princess. He has already self-published two volumes of the series with a third due out soon. He answered my 10 interview questions below and really sold his story to me as well as his genuine love for the world that he has created.
1. How many books have you written and where can you buy them?
I have completed the first two novella-length books in a six part sci-fi adventure series for middle-graders and young adults. The series is entitled, Forgotten Princess. Book One is entitled Impulse and was published in April. Deception, the second book, is available this month. Both are available from a variety of online retailers.
2. What famous books can you compare to your own?
I have a great many inspirations as an author, ranging from Brandon Sanderson to Terry Pratchet to Patrick Carman. But my writing style is probably closest to Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, as the series interweaves an exciting, adventurous plot with a nice pacing of character-based comedy. The story itself is actually a fresh, space opera retelling of a classic fairy tale. I cannot specify which fairy tale persay, though it features a princess whose evil stepmother is actively seeking to destroy her, so that might limit your guess work.
3. Why do you write for this particular age group?
I love writing for tweens and young adults because these ones have a fairly good grasp of the English language while still having an imagination that isn't hindered by what we as adults tend to consider possible. I spent some time studying with Brandon Sanderson, and I really admired his approach to creating a new reality. Essentially, I believe in governing what is possible by our own enforced laws, achieving a sense of realism even while writing the fantastic. However, if one has lost his imagination, as so often happens as we grow older, these stories may be disappointing.
4. How autobiographical are your books?
Actually, for a sci-fi striving to mimic a fairy tale, there is more here of an autobiographical nature than I ever realized when I wrote it. I believe this really rings true from an emotional standpoint. There are feelings that my characters express that I personally feel. I'm not like Jendra in that I was blessed to have two parents who have cared about me all of my life. Still, I can imagine her pain of loss as she describes in the beginning of Impulse, and the feeling that "something wonderful is out there" speaks to me. I can understand her desire to explore new worlds.
A scene which takes place on the surface of Tranoudor was based on a hike I took here in Northern Minnesota. The ferry I described was based on a ferry that crosses a river north of St. Louis, Missouri, because the bridge is out. And though I never fell to my almost certain doom on a ramshackle rope bridge, there were bridges in central Honduras that definitely made me anxious while I crossed. In Deception, there's a character who has a stuffed toy named Squeaks and a tree house. These each had a significant place in my childhood.
5. What’s the best compliment that you’ve ever received about your writing?
I've had many comments that stuck with me. One reviewer said she'd never imagined wanting to read a book where most of the characters weren't human but I changed her perspective. But I think it meant more when I changed my grandma's perspective. She's never been much for sci-fi as a genre, but she's been selling my book to all her senior friends. Before this, however, I had an old math teacher who told me he still had one of my silly poems still pinned to his wall after 10 years. It was little comments like this one that told me I shouldn't give up my dream of sharing my story with others.
6. What has been your greatest moment as a writer so far?
I know it seems like a small thing, but I'm so early in the game, I was thrilled to have a stranger come up to me and ask me for my autograph. Ye know, I don't take the love and support of my family and friends lightly, but its nice to know that someone out there is enjoying the story for its own sake.
7. Where do you get your covers?
Actually, this represents a beautiful story. When it first occurred to me that I wanted to retell a certain fairy tale, I wrote to a bunch of artists on deviantart and told them what I had in mind. Some donated already created works that just seemed to fit. Mahgi, who graces the cover of Deception was an example of the donated work. I tried very hard to keep him exactly as Annalicia Valle originally imagined. Another artist named Sayla Barnes, when I told her about my concept for teenage aliens that resembled dwarfs (for lack of a better word; don't read too much into this as a clue to the mystery fairytale), offered to create Jendra from scratch.
The cover of Impulse is based on her picture of Jendra, which I photo-shopped to peer through a keyhole, reminiscent of a certain scene in that story. As I was given these pieces of artwork from a variety of artists, some reshaped the story I was telling in significant ways. I understand the squabble between the princess and her wicked stepmother because of another piece Sayla gave me. I understand the huntsman, er, shadow man and his motive for sparing her life due to a donation from Yanissa Bumroongrachahirun. All of this because of donated artwork. I only hope I can do justice to these works and draw as much positive attention to these amazing artists as possible.
8. What is a subject/character/setting you would like to tackle?
Something I've been making a strong effort to tackle in Forgotten Princess is the grieving process for someone who loses someone dear to them at an early age, and how a spark of inspiration from such a loss can actually change a person for the better even in spite of the pain. I began taking writing seriously after I lost my grandfather nearly 20 years ago. I was a kid a little younger than the gwalflings, and I know that other young ones are experiencing this sort of loss. I want them to know there is life afterward. Life will get better soon.
9. What is next for you?
I plan to continue working through the planned six books in Impulse. Conspiracy has a planned release date this Fall (2015). Retrospect is planned to be released in spring 2016. I also have other characters and settings from this series I plan to write about as I hopefully turn Forgotten Princess into the basis for an expanding universe. And, if, at that time, the stories become successful, perhaps I will have the opportunity to invite other writers to join me in this endeavor.
10. End with a favorite quote.
“Keep your fork. The best is yet to come.” - Anonymous