Astrid Vogel de Johnsson is a South African author and anthropologist now residing in Sweden. In early childhood, she showed an interest in reading and languages—interests which her family encouraged. Astrid started writing her first novel at age 12 and now writes high fantasy, exploring her passion for cultures and languages. She is fluent in five European languages. She is happily married with two adorable children. When she isn’t writing, Astrid likes to read, take walks in nature, play silly games with her children, do embroidery, and play music.
Astrid writes transformational fiction: incorporating transformation principles in novels, rather than writing another self-help book. Astrid is also interested in minority group questions, considerations on social standards of beauty and the negative consequences these have, and would like to make the fantasy genre accessible to people of non-white, non-Christian backgrounds. Astrid feels the fantasy genre has become too restrictive with limited representations of race, ethnicity and culture. She seeks to explore other paths on this writing journey, incorporating her background in anthropology and psychology to create engaging experiences which also provide food for thought on the diverse topics she finds most important, such as: racism, minority rights, cultural diversity, culture change, intolerance, humanity’s environmental impact and much more.
What inspires you to write?
I might be reading a book, I could be having an engaging conversation, I may be taking a stroll through a forest – inspiration strikes me anywhere and at any time. Mostly, my inspiration comes from dissatisfaction with the state of the world or from a desire to teach, to help others avoid the mistakes I have made.
Tell us about your writing process.
I usually start with a lightning-strike of inspiration which is followed by writing down a series of notes. Then I sit down and write. If I reach a point in my writing where I feel the story has developed and I have left too much out in the beginning, I might go back and rewrite, Tolkien style. Once I’ve finished the rough draft I may leave it for a while before beginning the editing process to be able to look at the manuscript with fresh eyes.
My recently published debut novel is a fairy tale retelling, so the outline already existed in the form of the fairy tale. I spent 13 years on it, let’s hope the next one comes a little faster (it is due in August – yay)
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen. Although sometimes I may have a voiced argument with the MC. In all seriousness, though, I am the vessel for their story, so I listen and allow the events to unfold from them.
Who are your favorite authors?
Guy Gavriel Kay
George R.R. Martin
J.K. Rowling (later books, once her style developed)
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I realised that I had broken with so many tropes and “rules” of the fantasy genre that it would take a decade at least to convince a traditional publisher to run with it, since it is unconventional. Considering it took me nearly 13 years to make the decision to publish, I decided self-publishing would be the way to go.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is an exciting time to be a writer and publisher. I look forward to the new opportunities offered by modern technologies and will go with the flow. I certainly think it would be pertinent to have a greater focus on the readers than the authors from a publishing perspective. Many smaller publishing houses focus on the author’s ethnicity, gender, background while I personally believe it is more important to think about who the author is writing for. I think we are forgetting very big groups of readers and they are being marginalised by the system. This bothers me and is part of the reason why I am thinking about developing my imprint into a publishing house.
What genres do you write?
Fantasy and YA literature
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.