Welcome to the eighth Author Spotlight post of 2022! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.
This month, the author in the spotlight is S.L. Prater! I was lucky enough to read two of S.L. Prater's eARCs, and I was drawn in to her novels right away. I'm excited to read more of her work, and to share it with all of you!
Bio: Stephanie shares her Indiana home with three wild little girls and a husband so handsome he makes everyone else look like a potato. She fills her time reading fiction, eating tacos, and serving her community as a child welfare social worker. On the side, she loves writing fantasy stories about strong, mouthy witches, their mischievous use of magic, and dirigibles full of romantic tension.
Q: You write fantastically naughty stories about witches with strong personalities. Can you tell readers a bit about your books and the inspiration behind them?
A: I love reading about strong heroines who enjoy showing injustice their middle finger. I also adore Gaslamp Fantasy (books that take place either in the 19th century or a world based on our 19th century with MAGIC). When I started writing, my goal was to create witchy heroines who would always get back up again when they got knocked down and about the swoon-worthy men who fall hard for them.
I’ve also always loved “opposites attract” stories. I can’t think of anything more opposite than witches and priests. These opposites largely inspired my books.
Q: Kriegspiel is such an immersive and well-developed setting. How did you come up with the world and its magic system?
A: The Gaslamp setting is inspired partly by the late Victorian era with steampunk elements thrown in for fun. I wanted to know what magic might be like if the essences had a personality all their own. Could I make a magic system that was almost a character in and of itself?
If this magic system existed, it occurred to me that not everyone would experience it the same way. Similar to a religious experience, there would be debatable theories about it and perhaps people would sense it using different faculties. The Kriegspiel books set about to answer some of these questions I had about what this sort of magic system would look and feel and smell like.
Q: A common theme in your books is the ways in which people fight for freedom and justice. Can you speak about this theme and why it’s important to you?
A: I serve my community as a child welfare social worker because it’s always been incredibly important to me that I live in a society that protects its most vulnerable populations. Becoming a mother only grew this desire in me. I tend to run about with an overabundance of righteous indignation when it comes to matters of freedom and social justice, prompting me to write about characters with a similar need to not only reach higher for themselves, but to reach higher in order to make matters better for those more vulnerable.
Q: The heroines and heroes in your stories are delightful to read about. How do you go about developing their personalities and voices?
A: This is difficult to answer simply because I genuinely feel like I have very little say at all in who they turn out to be. They simply begin to whisper at me in a fashion that feels very similar to having an imaginary friend. When I attempt to control them at all, I usually deeply regret it.
In fact, I just had a conversation with my newest heroine the other day. I thought it would be delightful if she was a shy bookworm. She informed me that she was not shy and that if I made any attempts to write her in this way, she’d ruin my next book on purpose. So, there you have it. Authoring has made me a madwoman with many, many bossy imaginary friends.
Q: Of Heists and Hexes is one of my personal favorites because I adore Robin Hood retellings. Why did you choose Robin Hood as inspiration, and what was it like to write a retelling?
A: Robin Hood is a childhood favorite of mine. A certain cartoon red fox is completely responsible for this obsession. When I decided I wanted to make an attempt at writing my very first retelling, I knew it had to be Robin Hood. Childhood me would be very proud. I had a positive experience writing my first. Because it’s a story retold, the bones of the novel are already there, however, there’s also a great deal more pressure not to screw it up LOL.
You know while you’re crafting it that you’re playing with characters and a plot that’s beloved. You know readers are going to have strong opinions about how you handle the elements they cherish. No one has come after me yet, I’m happy to report LOL. All in all, I look forward to doing it again.
Q: Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
A: The short answer is speed and royalties. I couldn’t stomach the idea of only getting a very little cut of the product I had written. I also found the idea of waiting so long to share my stories with the world very daunting. The books in my head were bursting out of me. I simply didn’t have the patience to attempt anything else.
Q: What advice would you give authors who are looking into self-publishing?
A: Find a community of authors like you. Find your tribe. Authors need each other. Push aside the idea of competition and find a community that will lift you up. Author friends are worth their weight in gold.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)
A: I have a chair I prefer to do all my writing in. Currently, as I type this, I’m seated in my favorite chair, surrounded by empty Diet Mountain Dew cans and snack wrappers. This is about as close to a ritual as it gets LOL.
Q: What does your research process look like for your writing, if there is one?
A: I do spend some time researching fashion trends and the technology tree of the Victorian era. I also find myself searching for the meanings behind different common names as well. I love to give characters names with a fitting meaning when I can.
Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you've learned from on your writing journey?
A: RIP Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle is my absolute favorite book and one of very few that I will re-read again and again.
Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?
A: Comparison is the thief of joy. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, you’ve probably fallen into the comparison trap. This mindset was not helpful back in middle school when we tortured ourselves over our differences with our peers, and it’s not helpful now as adult authors. Stop comparing your journey to someone else’s and find your joy.
Q: How do you refill your creative well?
A: Reading. It probably surprises no one that I’m an author because I love to read. I love words. I love books. I love pretend worlds and pretend characters. I love adventuring with the pretend people I fall in love with. When I’m feeling creatively drained, I binge read.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Of Roses and Rituals, a naughty Beauty and the Beast retelling, is nearly written and will be released this October.
If you'd like to follow S.L. Prater on her writing journey or find out more about her stories, this is where you can find her: