Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Candice Yamnitz talking about her debut novel, UNBETHROTHED, publishing journey, writing dreams, and so much more! It’s always a joy to interview new authors, and I’m excited to have Candice here with us today.
SP: UNBETROTHED will come out in February 2022 by Illuminate YA. Please add on Goodreads while waiting! Here’s the blurb:
Around Agatha Sea, princesses are poised, magically gifted, and betrothed.
So, when seventeen-year-old Princess Beatriz still fails to secure a betrothal, her parents hold a ball. Forming an alliance could mean the difference between peace and war, but Beatriz doesn’t want just any suitor. She’s in love with her best friend, Prince Lux. Marrying Prince Lux will always be a silly dream as long as she has no magical gift.
Princess Beatriz will do whatever it takes to obtain a touch of magic, including making a deadly oath to go on a quest to Valle de Los Fantasmas. A valley where no one comes out alive.
If she can manage to succeed, Princess Beatriz could have everything she desires and secure peace for her kingdom. If she fails, she’ll lose not only her greatest dream but also her kingdom, and maybe even her own life.
SP: How long did it take you to write UNBETHROTHED and how did this story come about? Where do you get your ideas?
Candice: I wrote the first chapters of UNBETROTHED in January 2018 after taking a 3-month break from writing. I had been discouraged about my writing. During that break, I had a character developing in my mind. She was someone so caught up in finding her value that she didn’t think of anyone else. I took another long break after typing out the first seven chapters until I buckled down in July 2018. This is where the magic happened. I squeezed in writing during every lull in my day and stayed up late enjoying the twists and turns. When August strolled around, UNBETROTHED was done. In my mind, it just needed another run-through. In reality, it took about 12 complete editing passes before I signed with my agent. Then, it took another 3 run-throughs before I signed my first book contract. After another 3 passes with my publisher, we have the UNBETROTHED being published today.
SP: Can you tell us more about the beautiful setting and Latina-inspired places or characters like the Valle de los Fantasmas? How did that come about?
Growing up, we’d visit family in Mexico and Puerto Rico. When I was a young adult, those visits became more frequent. We’d tour the Puerto Rican countryside. In Mexico, we visited Huasteca where I got to climb waterfalls and jump from the tops of them. Some of Beatriz’s adventures come from those experiences. Valle de los Fantasmas is an actual place in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but it’s not so tropical. You’d have to travel a couple hours East to get to the more lush lands over the mountains. I wanted my reader to enjoy those experiences that I had devoured as a young adult.
SP: What part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Which is the hardest?
Candice: I enjoyed writing the first draft of UNBETROTHED most. I can’t say that about every first draft. There was something fun about coming up with Beatriz’s blunders. The hardest part of this book were the edits. The first few chapters went through about 30 editing passes or more. Though the heart of the first chapters haven’t changed, everything else adjusted to better thrust the story forward. I’ve written about three other manuscripts since UNBETROTHED and some of them had more challenging first drafts and easier edits.
SP: How did you come up with the magic system in your book? What’s your favorite magic power from the story and how would you use it?
Candice: I love the idea of everyone receiving a magical gifting, and it seemed different than a lot of the stories I was reading. I wanted everyone’s magical ability to be somewhat unique like the people who wielded them. I soon realized; superpowers needed to be more tangible in stories so I made each gift come with a special marking on their bodies. My favorite magical ability is only an inaudible whisper in UNBETROTHED. I love portal making and delve more into the gift in a novella I am editing, UNBOUND. I’m reading through UNBOUND in my podcast. Check it out here: https://unbound.buzzsprout.com/
SP: Any writing tip you’d like to share?
Candice: There are so many. 1.) Learn how you best cope with criticism (You need others speaking into your story without you becoming discouraged). 2.) Have fun; it comes across in your writing. 3.) Be an always learner; your writing will suffer if you aren’t constantly learning the craft. 4.) Find a time to write and stick with it. Practice makes better.
A few fun questions. Is Candice a…
Plotter/pantster? I’m a plantser. I write a synopsis and character sketches first.
Last book you read? Realms of Light by Sandra Fernadez Rhoads
Current dream vacation spot? I’m not sure. I’d love to go visit family in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Current favorite K-Drama? I haven’t seen a K-Drama episode in a decade. I have some old telenovelas I love to rewatch.
Would you rather be a professional: Marine Biologist? Spy? Opera Singer? Brain Surgeon? OR? None of the above.
Favorite childhood book? I didn’t like reading as a kid. If childhood includes my senior year of high school, Lord of the Rings would be my favorite.
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