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Author Interview: Sonja Blanco

Sonja Blanco is another wonderful author I met in #thewritercommunity. She is the wicked #fantasyauthor of Witch of Ware Woods, and someone I'm honored to call a friend.

The author grew up in New England where she ran barefoot through the woods, chased lightning bugs, and tapped maple trees for syrup.

Having an ancestor who was hung as a witch, Sonja is naturally drawn to all things magical and fantastical—trees and cemeteries in particular.

At 5’2” she is often caught climbing tables, chairs, and small children to reach the upper shelves. She likes coffee and tea equally, both of which most certainly contributed to her diminutive stature.

Witty comics easily amuse her, as do heavily jowled Hell Hounds that talk in their sleep.

Blanco stated she "writes fantasy as if it were real, because believing makes it so."

Witch of Ware Woods is Book One in a series that's perfect as we head into #spookyseason, I honestly can't say enough great things about this read. Here's the official blurb:

Dark secrets. Dangerous power. And a fate bound to a forest entwined with magic.

Eighteen-year-old Sara is not normal, and she’s losing her grip on hiding her inexplicable power. Hunted by a dark witch and facing devastating losses, Sara finds refuge in Ware Woods—a spellbinding forest protected by witches, shapeshifters . . . and thorny secrets. Here she discovers true magic and an electric connection with Thomas, a wickedly charming and equally headstrong witch from a dangerous family.

But Sara is an outsider who has brought darkness and a fatal prophecy to the forest. To prove she belongs in Ware Woods, Sara is tested and pushed to master new magics, all while concealing the monstrous force that makes her undeniably different.

As the dark witch closes in on her and an insidious blight threatens Ware Woods, Sara must release her full power—and either save the forest and everyone she loves or destroy everything.

Witch of Ware Woods is a contemporary paranormal fantasy filled with fast-paced wonder, fierce characters, deadly magic, forbidden romance, and a world so fresh you can smell the pine trees.

Sonja was also gracious enough to give us an excerpt from the book:

Subscribe to the author's newsletter and you'll receive the exclusive prequel novella Witch of Ware Woods -- Flood and Fire.

I've read both books and they're fantastic! You can read my full review of the origin story here, and Book 1 here. Trust me, your TBR will thank you.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I find inspiration everywhere but mostly from music, artwork, history, mythology, dreams, travel, nature, other cultures, and personal memories and experiences. Oh, and books too. Dante’s Inferno has me all fired up about a future series.

My current series is strongly influenced by my New England roots and spending lots of time in the woods as a kid.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Ha! I have so many but perhaps my biggest is that I like to mentally write before I hit the keyboard. And some of my best mental writing happens while I’m walking because my monkey brain is focused on not tripping while my creativity can take an idea and run with it. I’ll wave my arms and mutter through entire scenes and dialogue. Some of my neighbors know I’m a writer but I’m sure the rest of them think I’m crazy.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

If I’m not writing, I’m usually reading.

Non-bookish activities include listening to music, singing in the car at the top of my lungs, meditating, exercising, hiking, drawing, journaling, and overwatering the houseplants.

Do you like to create books for adults?

My debut series is upper YA which I consider to be the sweet spot for exploring relatable coming-of-age challenges and emotions while subtly providing positive examples of internal growth and healthy relationships. I find this resonates with mature teens and adults alike because, no matter your age, we all feel unsure of ourselves at times and diving into a book to safely experience someone else’s trials and triumphs is both reassuring and enlightening.

What is the first book that made you cry?

The Velveteen Rabbit. OMG—they burned the stuffed animals! I still get choked up when I think of this story. Bridge to Terabithia is another huge tear jerker for me.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try for a balance by delivering what I would like as a reader: structure and tropes specific to my genre but with settings, characters, and plots that are refreshing.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

At the moment, I’m building a body of work with the Witch of Ware Woods series—a planned trilogy with a prequel novella. After this I’ll have another series which will either be a trilogy or duology. While the characters and settings between these series will be separate, I’m not opposed to having “certain” magical elements overlap.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Such a great question! Avatars, just like names, can be so powerful. If it were a real animal, I’d choose tiger (I love William Blake’s poem The Tyger). If it were a magical creature, dragon for sure; because, hellooo – dragon! If it were a Tarot card, The Magician.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything?

A big thank you for letting their light shine bright and having a certain spark—an authentic uniqueness—that inspires me. While none of my characters are ever solely based on one particular person, some have been strongly influenced by real people. For example, my Witch of Ware Woods’ character Gran is loosely based on my own grandmother. They both share a steel blue gaze, a strong personality, and the ability to knit or quilt anyone under the table.

What do you have coming next?

Book 2 in the Witch of Ware Woods series will have a title and cover reveal this October and will be officially available in February 2023. I’m very excited to share this next installment where Sara has a crash course in how to be a High Witch and is tested by new allies and enemies alike. The character banter and development has been a blast to write.

Stay connected with Sonja by following her on:

Witch of Ware Woods is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the author's website:

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