And now for something completely different; finally, I get to achieve my potential as a hard-hitting Journalistic Maverick. Today, I present an interview with fantasy author Katie Zaber, who writes in a familiar type of writer-chaos and makes fruity wine that I would absolutely try, even though I hate wine. She also has a new book coming out on July 29, 2022: Stranger Shores, the third entry in the Dalya series.
Katie Zaber, author of the series Dalya and DNA, is a fantasy author whose imagination knows no bounds. As a child, her parents read stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. She loves to spend what little free time she has winemaking, baking, and reading. When she has a full day to herself, you can find her at the beach or at a winery. Her favorite meals are the ones her boyfriend cooks, and she loves spending quiet nights at home with him, binge watching new fantasy shows or play video games.
Tell me about yourself. How did you start writing?
Hello! My name is Katie Zaber, author of the two different fantasy series Dalya and DNA. I live in Morris County, New Jersey where I can enjoy the woods and it’s a short ride to the beach.
I’ve always been creative, but never took up writing until I was recovering from surgery, was on a lot of meds, and let my imagination loose. Once off the meds and healed, I edited Ashes and Blood, working through draft after draft until I was happy. Ashes and Blood was published May 13, 2020 after working on it for about two years.
What does your desk or writing space look like?
I sit in front of a walnut-stained secretary desk with a hutch holding an array of keepsakes. Albums, picture frames, my Snoopy collection, souvenirs, and nostalgic knickknacks line the shelves of the hutch. My work space is a wonderland of post-it notes in three different colors: pink, neon yellow, and green. On the right corner of my desk, shoved between the monitor and notary stamp, is a yellow, mini-spiral notebook that contains book outlines, plots, and ideas. The notebook is separated by little sticker tabs. The tabs not in use are floating on the surface of pamphlets and lists of login information to accounts I hardly visit.
A leather bounded diary with nautical embellishments, complete with anchor bookmark, holds random thoughts and sketches. A mechanical pen can be spotted, hiding between the yellow notebook and leather diary. Its extra parts—erasers & extra graphite are strewn about the entire desk. Between post-it notes, there are three hacky sacks. There’s also a rectangular leather box with a brass kaleidoscope made to look like it was used on a whimsical pirate ship.
It’s a happy mess.
Which of your characters do you most enjoy writing?
Carmia was a ton of fun to write in Stranger Shores. The amount of research that went into her character and how she would react to the environment was fun to write. Carmia is from Dalya and found a way to come to Earth determined to find technology to bring home. She’s feisty and has the resources to create and launch plans.
Did you have any good surprises while writing your latest book? If so, what were they?
I’m not sure I’d say good, as for the characters I killed, but I was surprised about how many of them I murdered. In the end, their deaths will give more growth. It wasn’t planned, but it’s for the best.
Do you have any other creative skills, hobbies, or interests? What else do you do with your time?
I like to make country wine. Sweet, fruity wine that tastes amazing on a hot summer day. My favorite flavor so far is a watermelon cherry and apple cider wine. Currently, I’m fermenting key limes in the hope of making a delicious key lime pie wine.
Since I live in an apartment and have zero outdoor space, I’ve made an indoor garden. I grow anything from tomatoes to green beans and even a gigantic brussels sprout plant that was as tall as me. Most of my garden is hydroponic, but I do have a diamond grape vine growing in hopes of one day turn it into wine.
If you could take a vacation in any sci-fi or fantasy setting, where would it be?
Most of the time, fantasy worlds aren’t the best places to visit. Too much war and danger I’m not capable of fending off. However, on the show The Simpsons, Homer has a daydream about a chocolate world. I’d like to vacation there. Ski down on white chocolate sloops or sunbath on a dark chocolate beach while waves of milk chocolate crashed on the shore. I don’t think anything would eat me, but I’d eat everything and it wouldn’t be a crime. I also imagine some type of chocolate wine…
What do you like to have for breakfast?
When I’m on the run and it’s a normal workday, vanilla yogurt with crumbled granola. BUT my favorite thing to eat for breakfast is bacon and waffles.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading, Wedding of the Torn Rose by Brian Mendonca. Next on my TBR pile is The Bones of Crystal and Sand by Laura Winter, followed by Pull of the Vale by Lorin Petrazilka.
Would you rather write an entire first draft by hand or wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. to type?
I’d 100% wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. to type and I’ve done it before when both jobs were pressing. It’s not fun and I don’t recommend anyone to try it. Just thinking about writing a first draft by hand makes it sore.
Stranger Shores by Katie Zaber
Busy learning how to kill with her gift of life, Princess Megan craves time to practice how to heal, but knows that only death will win the upcoming war.
For the first time in Megan’s life, she has fallen in love, and with the wrong man, at that. As much as she loves Mana, will she have to end their relationship to keep her promise to the soon-to-be king of the Syreni, Prince Aenon?
Meanwhile, Kevin is busy preparing for his child with Dana and trying to keep Megan out of trouble. When Brynjar takes him to the Saoirson Fighters’ hideout, he realizes he knows nothing and if he wants answers, he’ll have to talk to people he never expected to meet and never wanted to.
On Earth, Carmia is learning what makes this foreign world spin. She discovers an island with inhabitants that appear primitive but are more sophisticated than anyone on Dalya. Their technology is more advanced than the inventions in her dreams. She flirts with the idea of staying on Earth forever until tragedy sends her sailing back to Dalya and into a deadly storm. She promises to return and never leave Earth again.
At the same time, the king of the Paradise Kingdom and secretly all of Dargone, Megan’s father, plans his next move against his daughter, giving her a surprise she will never expect.
Stranger Shores comes out on July 29, 2022, and is currently available for pre-order at $1.99.
Also check out the earlier books in the Dalya series:
Ashes and Blood will be free on June 16th and 20th, and July 28th, or anytime with newsletter sign-up.
Below Dark Waters will have a Kindle Countdown sale starting June 16th at $.99, then going up to $1.99 on June 18th and $2.99 on June 19th.
Visit Katie online at zaberbooks.com, or find her on social media.