So happy to have an author interview with C.S. Wachter. Welcome back, C.S.!
Why do you choose to write speculative fiction for young adults rather than adults?
I write for both audiences. My epic fantasy series, The Seven Words, is “adult” only in that it has some dark scenes. In a classic struggle of light against darkness, where the antagonist is a demonic sorcerer, there will be evil. Even the Bible doesn’t whitewash mankind’s violent nature or demonic darkness. But, because of this, some have found it inappropriate for sensitive Christian readers, especially younger readers.
So, since I enjoy reading YA books myself, I decided to make my second series, the duology Stone Sovereigns, a Young Adult series. It was fun to do something lighter in feel and appropriate for younger readers. This does raise the question, ‘who comprises the young adult market?’ I am a senior and yet have read many books marketed as YA. As a Christian that label gives me the confidence the book, most likely, won’t contain sex, language, or graphic violence (though I have run across some graphic violence). I also think, having raised children, I have a soft spot in my heart for those teenage/early twenties years. And yes, my main characters (so far) have been male, another result of having raised boys.
Let me go back to the first part of the question though, why write speculative fiction as opposed to Romance or Contemporary Fiction. I find fantasy to be a great vehicle for developing realistic, relatable characters in a setting that feels distant and unthreatening, and yet exciting and strangely familiar at the same time. Real world issues can be worked out on a larger canvas through a character’s need to overcome unique difficulties. We, the readers, join in the story and become armchair adventurers and heroes. And speculative fiction is broad enough to incorporate other genres within its umbrella. For example, I tend to include a romance or two in my books.
You’ve hit on many reasons I think fantasy is so popular with teens. And by the way, I absolutely love the cover of the first book in the Stone Sovereigns duology. Gorgeous!
What do you think are the keys to creating engaging main characters for young adult readers?
Round the characters. Flat or stereotyped characters won’t fly. Even secondary characters need to be more than cardboard cutouts. The characters need to be relatable. They need to experience real feelings: boredom, anger, pain, loss, sadness, confusion, pride. They help drive the story forward and keep the plot moving. Though teens are good at wearing masks of confidence, inside, they question themselves. I don’t try to use slang because I would most likely mess up and use it incorrectly, a big problem. I keep try to keep the language simple and not dated.
What is the greatest challenge when writing for young adults? What is your greatest joy?
The greatest challenge is to keep it real. Young adults are smart, and they want a well-defined plot(s) and relatable characters with enough action to keep them involved with the forward momentum of the story. My greatest joy is watching my characters grow as I write. The ability to carry a young person through trauma and growth and present it on the page. Then, to have readers share the journey.
What are some of your favorite young adult speculative fiction stories?
Of course, I’ve read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series but I’d like to mention a few Indie authors you might not know about. Recently I have enjoyed Devil Game by Kyle Adams. It is not marketed as YA but the main character is a teen and it checks the boxes for YA Christian fantasy for me. M.J. Lau’s The Virtual Realms series is good and J.S. Worth’s Sword & Spirit series is a fun read.
What story are you working on now?
I am, once again, working on an Epic Fantasy series. It will not be YA, per se, but I will keep it clean and hope it will appeal to younger (13 – 17 year old readers) as well as adult readers. It does feature a shoulder dragon named Willow as well as human characters, elves, giants, and Shadow Shifters. So this will be my most fantastical story yet!
Thanks so much for doing an interview with me. Great to have you back! If you’d like to read C.S.’s previous interview, click here.
Raised by his secretive grandfather, Pop-pop Ian, high school junior Lander’s history had always been shrouded in mystery. His after-school hours were spent in the woods flicking fire on his fingers, tracking Ian, or standing still as a statue, invisible, observing the wildlife that never noticed him. Until the day Ian dies. His final words direct Lander to a buried box. Within it, Lander finds stones that glow when he picks them up and a letter telling him to seek out a man called Castor Elm. Alone and pursued by menacing strangers, Lander sets out on a journey to find not only safety and friendship, but the truth of why his grandfather called him special … the truth of his legacy. A legacy that will take him to the center of the earth.
C. S. Wachter lives in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband Joe, one German Shepherd, and three cats. She and Joe have been married for more than forty years and have three sons, one grandson and one granddaughter.
Ms. Wachter earned her degree in Performing Arts and English Education from Rowan University in 1975. She compares developing a character’s perspective to preparing for an acting role. As a life-long lover of books, she has read and enjoyed a variety of genres. However, after reading J. R. R. Tolkien in middle school her favorite has been, and remains to this day, Fantasy with a Christian perspective.
The Seven Words Epic Fantasy series
The Sorcerer’s Bane (Indies Today 2020 award winner in Religion)
The Light Arises
The Deceit of Darkness
The Light Unbound
“Demon’s Legacy: A Worlds of Ochen Short Story” (based on The Seven Words series)
A Weight of Reckoning (sequel to The Seven Words series)
Stone Sovereigns YA Fantasy duology
Various Flash Fiction pieces for Havok and in their anthology Stories That Sing