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IRDA Winner Skye Westdijk on the best part of being indie: “Being able to make all the decisions yourself.”

Songs of War: A Dance of Darkness was the winner in the LGBTQ+ (fiction) category of the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Skye Westdijk.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The book is called Songs of War: A Dance of Darkness. I published it on June 26th in 2019.

What’s the book’s first line?

The first line is from the prologue. “Blood had never been so dark.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

A Dance of Darkness is the first book in a 9-part fantasy series. The world has been wrecked by an age old war after the death of the Lady of Light. In A Dance of Darkness, seven unique characters cross paths and discover that they have a much bigger role in this war than they thought.

They traverse the Shining Lands, braving forgotten cities and hidden forests, to find the key to an ancient vault containing powerful relics that might turn the tide of war.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

My inspiration has come from a great number of things, but I would say it mostly formed from my desire for a story with no distinct good or evil. I would certainly say that my closest friends have played a large part for my inspiration as well, since some important characters are based on them.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

I have seven main characters who, I would say, are all very unique. Naka stands out because of her mysteriousness and cold appearance. Ara for her pride and sense of duty, as well as her appearance. Etaín for her open and excited personality as well as her love for food. Aergo for his charm and cool suave, and his style, obviously. Kaell because of his desire to keep his sister, Inza, safe from all harm. Inza is very unique through her innocence and combination of powers. And, lastly, Rynn because of his love for books and skill when it comes to magic.

Most characters are based on my friends, so I would certainly say they remind me of them.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

A Dance of Darkness plays in a brand-new world full of unique and new races. There is magic and adventure aplenty, as well as a lot of history to discover. The world is very diverse in all kinds of ways and very beautiful, which I love to show in my writing. In my opinion, it is the perfect book for anybody who loves fantasy filled with magic.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I would cast Daisy Ridley for Naka, Soairse Ronan for Ara, Jacob Dudman for Kaell, obviously, my friends for their characters, and for the others I have not yet found anybody that matched perfectly. In all honesty, it wouldn’t matter to me if it was a known actor/actress playing my characters, as long as they can portray them properly.

When did you first decide to become an author?

It was a decision that formed over time while writing this book. At first, it was a fun project for me to work on, but then my friends read it and were very positive and supportive. And so, over time, the idea of being an author formed, and eventually became reality.

Is this the first you’ve written?

It is the first full story I wrote and published.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I currently work a part-time job at the postal office.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I have the luxury of being able to spend 5-7 hours freely each day. My goal is to use at least 3-5 of them for writing.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

The best is being able to make all the decisions yourself. The hardest is without doubt getting some visibility on the market.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

I am not sure. I do really love the creative freedom I currently have, so it would fully depend on the conditions of the publisher.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Mainly my friends. Their excitement can get me out of the worst writing blocks. Of course, there is always the dream of becoming a renowned author and seeing my stories become movies.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I truly admire J. R. R. Tolkien for his ability to create such an extensive world with such details and history. The Lord of the Rings certainly sparked my desire to write fantasy stories.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

It may sound cheesy, but none. My books are the only ones I want to write, because I doubt I could make any other story work the way they did. But if I had to name one, then definitely the Song of Ice and Fire.