Wednesday 21 November 2018

Author Interview - Ronel Janse van Vuuren #WriterlyWednesdays

Greetings and welcome to Writerly Wednesday. I am very pleased to welcome the lovely Ronel Janse van Vuuren to my blog today, some of you may know her as Ronel the Mythmaker. She has very kindly agreed to do an interview, so settle in and enjoy.

Author Interview - Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Section 1 - Introduction

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Rottweiler pack leader and horse servant (my haughty mares look down on my obsessive cleaning of their pasture and stable) who lives in South Africa with a whole menagerie to inspire me. I’m fascinated by folklore and mythology; researching it and using it in my writing makes me happy. I also spend (a lot of) time on my compost heap while stories are sorted out in my head. Sometimes you can hear me arguing with my characters…

I’ve been writing since I was a tween (twelve), but seriously started writing a decade ago. It took a while to find my voice, a genre I love and to do the world-building necessary to “just write”.

I blog regularly about folklore and the writing life over on my blog Ronel the Mythmaker and I also guest blog monthly over on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. Instagram – and taking good photos for it – is something new I’ve been trying out. It’s actually a lot of fun!

2. Tell us about your book(s). 
“Once…” is a collection of tales, myths and legends of Faerie (as the subtitle says). The secrets about how Faerie changed, why Faerie changed, who the rulers of Faerie truly are, the secrets of the seasons, and how magic and fae have infiltrated the mortal realm all make up part of the stories – the rest is about the characters, their choices and experiences.

I wanted to write about what the original fairy tales never shared: the how of it all. Somehow it all came together…

I started with writing how Faerie changed, learned about the publishing competition on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans and then wrote the rest of the stories by drawing from notes and character sketches in my notebooks. It turned out to be fortuitous: The Afrikaans edition of “Once…” (“Eens…”) won the competition and got published.

Since then I’ve ran around like a nearly-headless chicken to figure out the publishing side of the author business – scary! – and both translations of “Once…” are available now in print, audio and eBook editions globally.

I also have short stories in three anthologies: “Just Deserts” and “Lights” in “Cinderella Reimagined” – both are New Adult contemporary Cinderella retellings; “Black Moon” in “Unbound” – Valkyries and Furies fight over the souls of the recently dead; “The Inn” in “FairyTale Riot” – an Urban Fantasy retelling of Fitcher’s Bird (this anthology was released last month).

More excitement – and stories from Faerie – will follow in 2019.

Section 2 - Some More Serious Question

1. What started you writing?
The voices in my head needed to be quieted… Turns out they were characters vying for attention in the form of their stories being written down.

2. What inspired you to start writing in your favourite genre?
I read Holly Black’s “Tithe” and realised that this is my genre. My stories can be Urban Fantasy, Low Fantasy, whatever you want it to be – but it will always be Dark Fantasy.

3. What is the hardest part of a book to write, beginning, middle or end?
The muddy middle. Maybe because I know where the character starts out and where she should end up, but the middle can get boring – or overwhelming! – and turns into “work”.

4. Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Absolutely! But that will take forever… So just head over to my blog. I’ve added a new page “For Authors” listing the posts on my blog (with links) that will help.

5. Is there any genre you won't write and why?
Erotica. At least not under my own name. Why? Because I don’t want readers who know me to blush every time they see me.

6. What is your favourite genre to read and why?
Currently, I’m enjoying thrillers. Usually I read within the genres I write (Young Adult, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Fairy Tale retellings, etc.), but I’ve been seeing the tropes more than the stories of late, so I’ve decided to take a break and read a genre I like to watch. And it’s been quite inspirational.

7. How do you publish, print, ebook or both?
Both (when I’m in charge and it makes sense). When possible, I have it turned into an audiobook too.

8. What social media do you find most effective for connecting with your readers?
Twitter and Instagram. Images with a few carefully selected words, hashtags and links (when necessary) have been met with lots of likes (and retweets).

9. How do you approach constructive criticism, either giving or receiving?
It comes from a place of honesty and someone really wanting to help: so when receiving, I don’t get angry because that person didn’t “get me” or told me I have a crutch word I didn’t know about, rather, I look at what they said and figure out how I can make my story better. When I give constructive criticism, I sprinkle in the compliments of what I liked because it takes away the sting of the things I didn’t (or should change) to make it better – I also try not to take over the story and make it mine, remembering that it’s the work of another author.

10. Do your stories carry a message? 
Absolutely. Dark fantasy is all about examining the human condition, looking at the consequences of actions and decisions, and how the beliefs we hold can change the way we see our world. I think “Rumour Has It”, “New Divide” and “Castle of Glass” depicts all of this from different points of view about the same moment in Faerie history very well.

11. What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I’d define “Once…” as being Dark Fantasy and New Adult. I already explained what makes Dark Fantasy special (all that digging around in the psyche and looking at reactions). New Adult is all about figuring out who you are, who you want to be and what you have to do to get there. Some would say it’s all about the journey of becoming an adult: the trials, decisions, and reactions to things in life that has far-reaching consequences. Taking all of that into consideration while writing a story means deciding how you want to depict the world and what message you want to share about growing up.

Section 3 - Less Serious Questions

1. Do you have conversations with your characters?
And arguments! And not just while I’m writing…

2. Do you have any odd (writing) habits?
Does staring at the blinking cursor count?

3. When do you have the most fun writing a book? When you first start? When you are blazing along with the main bulk of the plot? When you are rounding it all up?Definitely when I’m rounding it all up. There’s this feeling of elation when I know I’m putting the finishing touches on something I’ve been working hard on. Sure, starting a shiny new project is always fun, but actually finishing it is a much more satisfying.

4. If you could invite one character from your books to dinner, who would it be?
Cian, the Assassin who works for the Faerie Queen. There’s just something about him… I think he’ll be starring in more stories from now on.

5. Do you ever cast your characters with actors in your head?
Yes. For a while, Ian Somerhalder played the lead in many stories… Many others might be quite exhausted by now – seeing as they had to play major and minor roles not just in my writing, but in the works of other writers and in their actual jobs, too :-)

6. Do your characters every run away with the plot when you're not looking?
I’m sure someone’s trying to alter their destiny as I answer this question…

7. Why a faery dog - what was your inspiration?
Faery dogs – or Cù Sìth (pronounced “coo shee”) – play a major part in Faerie. They do not answer to the monarchs of either Court and are more powerful than any other fae (there are a few exceptions, but that’s for later). I like to sprinkle them in through my stories just to make sure everyone remembers that they are there even if they are not the main character (though, Tony is the MC in “The Fae of Bremen” in the anthology “Once…”).

As for my inspiration… As I learned more about faeries, I came across various dogs in mythology and folklore (Barguest, the Church Grim, the Cù Sìth, among others) and realised that I would like a powerful race of dog fae. I have had many Rottweilers in my life, taken away too soon. (I lost another one this year to a fatal disease.) So I decided to immortalise them in my writing.

The Cù Sìth – or faery dogs as I use them in short stories and Middle Grade novels – look just like Rottweilers and make for great protectors (and intricate characters).

Section 4 - Random Questions!

1. Are you a dog or a cat person, why?
A dog person. Dogs give unconditional love. I work hard enough to woo my characters to do what I want them to, I don’t want to win a cat’s affection anew every day.

2. What's your favourite colour, why?
Purple. It’s such a vibrant colour, filled with passion and life. (Maybe that’s just me?)

3. What is your favourite style of music?
A mixture of symphonic metal and hard rock (example: Within Temptation and Linkin Park). We were talking writing music, right?

4. Do you believe in the paranormal?
Yes. Check out my folklore posts for more… But I just go with: if I leave them alone, they’ll leave me alone. And everyone should stay out of the faery circle in the corner of my property – unless they want to end up somewhere else.

About the Book

Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.

A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.

Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…

Available on major online retailers in print, audio and eBook.

Also Available in Afrikaans as "Eens..." 


Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.

Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.

Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.

An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…

Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are… well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.

About the Author

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase from all major online retailers.
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Ronel the Mythmaker (blog) | Instagram

Thank you again to Ronel for giving such a thoughtful and interesting interview. Don't forget to visit her blog - her "For Authors" section really is amazing.


  1. Heh, if we admitted to hearing voices in our head to anyone but another writer... luckily we all 'get' what it means.

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