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JJ mew

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Victoria Maxwell about her writing career, what inspires her, and the work that went into her book series, the Santolsa Saga.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

In the fiction world I’m the author of the bestselling Santolsa Saga YA time travel romance series. Over in the spiritual world I’m the author of Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic and the Angels Among Us Oracle deck.

Victoria Maxwell, author of Santolsa Saga, interview on The Table Read

When did you first WANT to write a book?

The idea for the Santolsa Saga came to me while I was at university studying teaching. While I was on my teaching placement I’d often go and hide out in the English book room. It was an old school and most of the books in that book room were decades old. It felt like walking into a time warp. That got me thinking about the idea of a time portal in a school book room.

When did you take a step to start writing?

It was all just a bunch of scrappy notes at first. A few names, a few ideas for what could happen. One day I just sat down and wrote out a few chapters. Originally Class of 1983, the first book in the Santolsa Saga series, was going to be set in the sixties, so my first attempts at writing ended up all going into the junk folder, but they paved the way!

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The first book in the series took me about ten years, but that included a lot of putting it away and pulling it out again and just writing here and there.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

As my latest book was the final installment of the Santolsa Saga, in many ways I had the idea for it the whole time I was writing the first two. From putting fingers to keys, the book was done in just less than a year.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Santolsa Saga?

When I started getting absorbed in the world of Santolsa I began to get really curious about some characters and wanted to explore them further. As soon as I started writing about Janet, the high school teacher who takes Magz, our protagonist from book one, under wing, I knew I wanted to go back to her younger years and tell her story too.

Victoria Maxwell, author of Santolsa Saga, interview on The Table Read

What were your biggest challenges with writing Santolsa Saga?

Time travel is a big challenge! By the time I got to the third book there was a lot to remember about who is how old when, what’s happening on different timelines, who’s related to who and how, it was definitely tough at times to keep it all together! I used a lot of spreadsheets!

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Janet, our protagonist in book three 1966 Forever, was inspired by my own time teaching high school English and the kind of teacher I wanted to be, and also the kind of teacher I most wanted to have when I was at school myself.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

One of the main antagonists in the Santolsa Saga is a sleezy guy who works in a nightclub. I guess you could say he was inspired by all the sleezy guys I’ve met in nightclubs over the years!

What is the inciting incident of Santolsa Saga?

The moment the Class of 1983 yearbook slams down on Magz’s desk, containing the key to the book room, AKA time portal.

What is the main conflict of Santolsa Saga?

In Class of 1983 the main conflict centers around destiny versus free will. This thread continues through the series, but ultimately the Santolsa Saga is a story about love, relationships and finding yourself and your place in the world.

Did you plot Santolsa Saga in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

Victoria Maxwell, author of Santolsa Saga, interview on The Table Read

A bit of both! Some parts of the plot I knew way in advance, other parts just seemed to appear as I was writing them.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Santolsa Saga need?

I worked with a lot of beta readers on this series, many who are writers and have experience with editing. I think it’s so valuable to get as many people to read early drafts as possible to iron out any plot issues, character development, etc.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Just sit down and write! Don’t worry about how good your writing is, you can always re-write and edit it later. If you have an idea and the passion to do it, just start writing! Don’t let your negative self-talk stop you from going for your dreams! You will get better at writing as you go, but if you don’t start, you won’t get anywhere.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I’m currently working on a standalone YA romance about a super cute ghost.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Absolutely! There is nothing like holding your words in your hands and knowing that other people are loving your stories as much as you loved writing them!

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