Hysteriata by D.A. Botta
(Elyzian Chronicles #1)
Publication date: March 21st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Emily Hobbs is off to Salem State College when a chance encounter with a fortuneteller changes everything. Emily is transported to the realm of Elyzia and learns that she is, in fact, one of the most powerful witches in existence.
Madame Lavache, the strict headmistress of Cedalion Covenstead, has her sights set on Emily. In her desperate cling to power, Lavache attempts to protect her tyranny by invoking sinister forces, including bloodthirsty pirates and The Devil himself, to rid Elyzia of the rebellious witch.
Along with her companions – an old hermit, a small coven of witches, and their totems – Emily sets out on a collision course with destiny.
Just as the tarot foretold.
A powerful witch
A simple tarot read
And all hell breaks loose
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Q: What is unique about your fantasy series?
A: First, the plots of the novels follow a tarot reading set out early in the stories. This gave the novels a structure and theme I could really work with. Each chapter involves the decoding of a tarot card in the spread. Secondly, I incorporated elements from witchcraft, tarot, astrology, mythology, and runes into each story. This gave Elyzia its richness. It made for interesting characters, suspenseful plot threads, and themes that I could string throughout. It’s really a comprehensive blend of fantasy.
Q: Are there spells in your stories?
A: There just may be. I strongly advise not attempting them at home. Only experienced witches should meddle in magick and spellcasting. I did alter some recipes slightly … for no good reason.
Q: What does New Adult offer your stories?
A: New Adult is a real shift from young adulthood to adulthood. It’s that brief space in time where things are really exciting and a person has to figure out who they are. For some people, it’s a traumatic experience. It can be tremendously invigorating too. I think, for stories, it makes for extra dramatic (any perhaps traumatic) events – psychological, emotional, spiritual or physical. I try to capture a lot of these perspectives throughout the series.
Q: What is the main theme of The Elyzian Chronicles?
A: There are a lot of themes interwoven throughout the chronicles, but if I can sum it up it’s: to truly know yourself is to have all the power in the world. I think that can be dissected in many ways, but essentially its understanding and embracing your own unique identity despite a world that tries to change you. Understanding your fears, knowing your limits (or the cause of your limits) is a liberating thing. I think people learn who they are forced by people or circumstance to honestly look at themselves. I believe it’s a powerful thing, and ultimately a positive one.
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: Painful and slow. I have a natural impatience. Writing for me is grueling. I did a ton of research for the chronicles, not just for world-building but also for the magick and mythology. I wanted to keep true to the various elements (witchcraft, tarot, mythology) I was using, to a degree. I wanted to be respectful of those things and still push the envelope a little. I think once you understand something, you figure out where you can play with it a little to make it distinctive. I write at night, often late into the night. It makes for foggy mornings, and with a 3 year old daughter that’s pretty trying. I write linearly, mostly. I did skip forward when I got stuck, and revisited places once I fleshed out some of the heftier parts. But, I’m not one for rules. I wrote poetically where I wanted to. I wrote flowery where I wanted to. I think the modern convention of chopping hundreds of words has some merit, but in fantasy I think you need to build entire worlds and civilizations. That is done with words, so it is a real challenge to strike that balance.
Q: Who would play your main characters in a movie?
A: I’ve gone over this a million times in my head over the past few years. I think a majority of authors want to see their books become movies. It’s a natural progression. If an author says differently, they could possibly be lying. Emily is such a complicated character. I’d have to say Kate Mara would be a top choice. I’d love to see upstart talent in any role. I always pictured Uma Thurman as Madame Lavache. I’d have loved to see Robin Williams play Paronskaft, the quirky old hermit.
Q: Why did you choose to write a female protagonist?
A: Witchcraft, and paganism in general, is strongly influenced by feminine power. It was a simple choice, really. One of the great things to come from Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was a reintroduction of the concept of the sacred feminine into our lexicon. I think Brown really helped to educate a generation about the suppression and obfuscation of feminine spirit and the historical importance of goddess worship. For me, it was about honoring the struggles of a strong female, against other strong women and men. The gender stereotypes are broken down and juxtaposed in the chronicles. We see this with Emily’s sexuality, and with the contrast with, say, the pirate captains Brodish and Dresden. In Sinfluence, I depict even starker contrasts with the character Braun (a satyr).
Q: What readers would enjoy Hysteriata and the rest of The Elyzian Chronicles?
A: Definitely folks who read Rowling, but also readers who really enjoy some hefty NA. My characters endure some pretty intense situations. There are struggles between love and hate, power and weakness, fate and freedom, life and death, action, suspense, drama, satire, romance – all wrapped up in this magickal world. The series has believable characters with complex relationships. There is a lot for everyone really.
Q: What is your all-time favorite book and why?
A: It’s going to sound a little strange, but my absolute favorite book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It was one of the first books I read where I was like, “Wow! This is how you can play with words! This is art!” It shows in some of the words I created and my book titles. I believe that type of creative license makes treetrunk and springwater single words. Sometimes, as a writer, you just ignore parts of spellcheck when you know it works. My all-time favorite New Adult read, so far, is Butterman Time Travel Inc by PK Hrezo. It’s some awesome sci-fi. Very solid contemporary and super fun.
Q: What’s your advice to other writers?
A: I don’t typically offer writing advice. It’s just a very personal and private craft. But I will say this: I think one of the biggest mistakes writers make is they select a time for writing, and everyday they sit down at whatever-o’clock and open their laptop to begin typing. It’s the wrong approach – and apologies to any NaNoWriMo-ers out there. I don’t believe in it. I think we put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves, myself too, to produce. Perhaps the best nights I spent “writing” were those I actually didn’t write a single word. I just daydreamed of that place or those characters. Sure I beat myself up over it, but looking back over four years of writing a series, I find that those were my most successful nights. Just thinking. Just owning that space. Just being in that story for awhile. The words will come when they come.
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D A Botta has written four New Adult Fantasy novels, The Elyzian Chronicles, and has also published a collection of poems There in Them Blues. D A is currently working on a New Adult Mystery series, Seriously Confidant, projected for debut in the fall of 2015. D A is a Fantasy Representative for NA Alley and frequents #NALitChat on Twitter. When not writing, D A plays guitar and dabbles in graphic design. D A lives with his family in Massachusetts.
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