Interview with Stephanie M. Allen, Author of Dueling Fates

14 Jul 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Dueling Fates?

Dueling Fates is a story that has been in my imagination for a very long time. About sixteen years ago, I was driving home one night and I had a very vivid picture in my head of twin princesses who had been separated and had chosen different paths in life. I’ve worked on the novel off and on since then. It has changed drastically over the last decade and it wasn’t until six years ago, when I attended a writers conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that I really solidified the story. Dueling Fates is very special to me because it’s the story I’ve always come back to regardless of any other projects I’ve worked on. It’s the story that won’t leave my head, so to speak. As I mentioned, it centers around twin princesses, Isemay and Alena, on a continent called Erez. Both young women have to make difficult choices throughout their journey and not all of their choices are wise. But that’s the fun part of writing about teenagers. They make lots of mistakes that evolve into really fantastic conflicts!

What or who inspired you to become an author?

For as long as I can remember, I have written stories. When I was younger, they all centered around animals and, as a teenager, I started writing fan-fiction. It wasn’t until I read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer that I wanted to take my writing more seriously. By that time, I already had the bare bones story of Dueling Fates in my head so it was just a matter of sitting down in front of my computer and punching out the story. I would say a lot of my inspiration comes from authors like George R. R. Martin, Sarah J. Maas, and C. S. Lewis. I’ve always been a fantasy girl so it only made sense to me to write stories in that genre.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I am quite the avid bookworm so it’s really difficult to narrow down my favorites to a top five! My favorite book of all time is A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I absolutely love the romantic tension throughout the novel and I adore Rhysand! Other favorites would be The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (yeah, I love Cardan too), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (because it was such an inspiration for me to dive into the world of YA), and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I’m currently finishing up the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber and I have to say it might bump up to my favorites list!

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

If I could invite anyone from any time period, I would ask J. R. R. Tolkien to be my first guest. He was such a master at world-building and he helped to develop the fantasy genre. I would love to ask him what his inspiration was and how he conjured up the world of Middle Earth. If I were to sit down with someone from today, it would be George R. R. Martin. Game of Thrones has become such a huge part of the fantasy world. I would love to ask him how he built his world and what inspired him to write some of the characters the way he did, especially the characters he killed off!

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love being able to share the stories in my head. For me, much of my writing is a product of the pictures/movies that play in my head. It’s almost as though the story is writing itself. Oftentimes, I will put something in a book that may not make much sense to me but it fits with the story so I go with it. When I’m writing the sequels, I then see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. It’s a very strange thing because it almost feels as though it’s out of my control – as though I’ve been given a glimpse into another world and I’m simply writing down what I see. There’s something really exciting about writing those moments down!

What is a typical day like for you?

Life certainly has changed since COVID-19 hit, that’s for sure! Right now, a typical day consists of getting up between 6 and 7am, working out, eating breakfast with my husband and children, waiting for my husband to go off to the tattoo shop where he tattoos, and then spending some time working on the sequel to Dueling Fates. Some days, I write anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 words. Other days, I read over what I’ve written and add little things here or there. If I’m writer blocked (as I am right now), I listen to my Spotify playlists. I create a playlist for each book I write and often, I find the inspiration I need through music. It helps me push through the block.

What scene from Dueling Fates was your favorite to write?

There are several that come to mind. I would say two stand out above all the others. The first is Alena’s wedding. It was something that was a challenge to write but it really moved the story forward. The second is the reveal of the villain in this novel. That was one of the scenes that I had never planned on. It sort of just happened. I actually had to go back through my writing and add some foreshadowing so it didn’t seem so “out of the blue”. It was a very satisfying and exciting chapter to write! Oh yes. And I think one of my favorite chapters is the celebratory ball scene. There is a very sweet moment between Isemay and Jordan that I absolutely love. Jordan is my favorite character for many reasons and this was a scene I went back and added to. Like I said, it’s a very brief, tender moment but it signifies such a pure, blossoming love – my favorite type of romance.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

For me, I feel it is so important to be a kind soul in a world that is full of division and hate. I try to treat others with kindness even when I don’t feel like it. A kind and uplifting word goes such a long way for many people. Even a smile can brighten someone’s day. That’s cliche to say, I know, but it’s a philosophy I try to live by every single day.

Stephanie M. Allen is the author of the new book Dueling Fates.

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