If you are reading this, you're probably in the mood for an author interview. Fortunately, that's exactly what I have in store for you today, as we will be having a chat with South African fantasy and sci-fi author Yolandie Horak.
PB: Hi Yolandie! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
YH: Thanks for having me. These days, I’m a full-time author and hobbyist artist, but I used to be a graphic designer, then makeup artist and beauty blogger.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
YH: I’ve always loved writing, but forgot about this passion when I entered the adult world. Ironically, my makeup artistry studies were what brought me back to writing. While looking for inspiration for my exams, I came across a few great makeup blogs, and realised I could totally do that. So my beauty blog was born. I blogged every weekday, and soon realised that the writing part of my day was better than the actual makeup application. I wrote my first novel during that time and have been in love with writing since.
PB: When did you first start writing?
YH: I was always writing in high school, but I began my first real novel in the early 2010’s. Maybe I’ll even edit and publish that novel one day.
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
YH: I was about in Grade 7 when I wrote this story about the teenaged daughter of a mob boss. I only remember enough to cringe when I think about it.
PB: When you begin writing a new story, do you always know the ending?
YH: I tend to have a vague idea of how it should end, but I’m much more of a pantser than a plotter. If the story needs to go in a different direction than I initially thought, I’m okay with that.
PB: If you could meet any of your characters, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
YH: I really want to meet Pointy and Vendla. I’d love to have a fun day hanging around Little Mordoux, eating and laughing with Pointy. Vendla and I would have deep conversations about the history of her people, and I’d learn from her wisdom.
PB: Tell us about your recent novel, A Study of Ash and Smoke.
YH: A Study of Ash & Smoke is the story of a young woman who is forced to hide for her life as a male physician’s apprentice. Aelland, the kingdom where the story is set, is closed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable forcefield called the Mantle. There’s a war outside the Mantle, an impending civil war within, and to make matters worse, a plague breaks out.
The story has a steampunk flavour, and is a mix of medical elements, intrigue, politics, and spies. Basically, Grey’s Anatomy meets The Americans in a steampunk setting.
PB: Where did the idea come from?
YH: A Sci-Show video about the deadliest viruses known to man. I was fascinated by the idea of an invisible antagonist, something that could kill masses and bring the world to its knees. Little did I know back then that Covid-19 would hit just a year after I published this novel.
I was also inspired by The Great Political Game in the Dragon Age games, and an article I read about the changing beauty standards in Victorian England. Apparently, blondes were considered the pinnacle of beauty until somewhere in the Victorian era, then brunettes spent some time in the spotlight. Of course, blondes reclaimed the throne after a time, but the idea of brunettes being more sought after than their fair-haired counterparts really made me wonder. What if dark hair was a rare thing, and everyone was blond? And boom, we had a plotline.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
YH: I haven’t been a published author for very long, so this is a short list. But A Study of Ash & Smoke was nominated for a Nommo award in 2020, and that meant the world to me.
PB: What is your favourite book series to read and why?
YH: I’m in love with the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan and have read and reread those books a hundred times. I also really enjoyed the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo.
PB: What are your long term ambitions with regards to writing?
YH: I want to finish the Fall of the Mantle series. A Trial of Sparks & Kindling, the sequel to A Study of Ash & Smoke, is set for publishing in July 2020. I have three more books planned in the series, but this isn’t set in stone. After that, who knows what new story idea will grab me?
PB: If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
YH: Anything art-related, or probably even editing.
PB: What’s the next target for you?
YH: Now that A Trial of Sparks & Kindling is on the brink of being published, the plan is to get the third book, A Curse of Venom & Scales, written and edited.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
YH: I collect mugs. I’m a huge fangirl, so any fandom I love is bound to be represented in a mug, and I also like to collect mugs from the places in the world I’ve visited.
Snap! I collect mugs on my travels too. My wife says I have an addiction!
Thank you so much to Yolandie Horak for speaking to us today. You can purchase her work via the links below:
Until next time, happy reading!