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Why I created “How to Write YA Fantasy”

Candice Landau1 comment981 views

Hello all, and welcome to How to Write YA Fantasy. If you’re new to the site and wondering what it’s all about, your sniffy, doggy senses have brought you to the right place.

My name is Candice Landau and I’m going to be your host for as long as it takes to get you from prologue to conclusion. First, a little bit about why I’ve chosen to start this blog, and then a not-so-brief introduction to me.

So, why this site?

If I could dedicate every waking hour to writing fiction, or to writing about writing, or learning about writing fiction, I would. It’s my passion and it’s something I’d like to hone through practice. For some time now, I’ve been wondering what exactly to write about, and how to set aside the time to do it.

I’ve considered writing a book of poetry; I’ve considered finishing the book I wrote for my MA dissertation; I’ve considered returning to my old YA fantasy novel, and I’ve considered writing non-fiction in one form or another. It was only shortly after purchasing Nina Amir’s “How to Blog a Book,” that I realized I could combine two of my major loves: Young adult (YA) fantasy and writing. Nina’s book is a great read and it serves as the foundation of this site. If you too battle with the thought of one day becoming a professional writer, you might also want to take a stab at blogging your own book. Hitting publish turns you into an instant writer, and also gives you an opportunity to put a rough draft out in the world and get instant feedback on it.

So, to put it bluntly, this blog is a book in progress and a learning tool for anyone aspiring to write their own YA fantasy novel.

I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me. If you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear more about you. Please feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below, and tell me what you’d most like to learn about.

A long-winded blurb about yours truly

I’ve been a writer since before I can remember. I wrote short, fantasy stories from Grade 4 upwards, and I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction from age 14 to 17 (yes, alright, I was one of those teens). Unlike most Harry Potter fans, however, I’m not just Potter obsessed (though I can name just about every spell J.K. ever invented). I’m actually a lover of fantasy in general and have been ever since reading Enid Blyton’s “The Magic Faraway Tree” at the adorable age of 7. If you’re American, you’ve probably never heard of Enid Blyton, which really is a shame. She’s dead now, but she was perhaps one of the most famous, prolific children’s writers of all time. Anyway, this post is not about Enid Blyton, so we’ll save that for another time.

From the time I started writing Harry Potter fanfiction, I knew I wanted to be a writer. This desire was further abetted by the fiction writing classes my mother taught in South Africa. Sitting on the stairs, just out of sight of where she was teaching in our house, I’d listen to her helping others with their stories. When class ended and her students went home, I’d hurry to help her pack away and immediately begin picking her brains, asking her to help me plot my own story. My mother has always been fantastically creative and a great critic and as a child, I enjoyed running my ideas by her, excited to bring them to life with her help. It’s probably thanks to her enthusiasm and encouragement that I pursued writing as a career.

Soon after I began work on my own fantasy novel, my parents, sisters and I immigrated to the United States. Despite our British cultural heritage, America was still a huge culture shock. Moving to a place we had always thought of as hugely advanced, actually felt like stepping back in time to an era I only recognized from movies like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

We spent our first year on Bainbridge Island—a small island in the Puget Sound. It was beautiful and full of that old school charm I’ve since come to know as suburban America—pretty colored houses made of wood (not brick and concrete), white picket fences, gardens filled with rhododendrons, rocky beaches, snow-capped mountain views and little boutique stores and coffee shops that I could actually walk to on my own.

Growing up in South Africa, our world looked and felt a lot different. We lived behind walls, had security cameras at our gates, floodlights for safety at night, and of course, would never dream of walking down the street on our own—at least not when I was growing up.

So, even though I had a good grounding in what America was supposed to be like thanks to Hollywood, the country was still a culture shock.

Of all the places I’ve lived here, Bainbridge is probably still my favorite. Not only did it have the bibliophiles requisite independent bookstores, but it had huge public libraries, and the best atmosphere for writing angst-filled stories—cedars, the smell of wet pine needles, gloom, a historic town, and awe-inspiring scenery. I also made a great writing friend when I was there—a girl called Rebecca, who had just moved from mainland Washington.

Since Bainbridge I’ve lived in almost too many places to count: the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California; Davis—my University town outside Sacramento; the Monterey Valley, the U.K., and now, Oregon.

Though I haven’t yet published a book, writing has always been a core part of my life. I have a BA in English from U.C. Davis, an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University College (U.K.) and have since worked as a copywriter, a blogger, a freelance writer, a marketer and now, as the Managing Editor for a Eugene-based software company.

To this day, my desire to be a full-time fiction writer still burns strong and I hope that through writing this blog, I will not only inspire you to get started on your own book, but do the same for myself.

If you have managed to read all the way down to the bottom of this page, I’d love you to take a turn to introduce yourself and tell me what you’d like to read about.

Otherwise, enjoy perusing the site and good luck with your own writerly adventures!

Candice Landau
Candice Landau is the creator of How to Write YA Fantasy. This "blog a book" project is intended to help other fantasy writers get from prologue to conclusion, and to enjoy doing it in the process. You can follow Candice on Twitter @candylandau

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