YA books are my comfort reads. And I mean no disrespect with this *at all* – I’m so sick of people looking down on those who read or write YA as though it were somehow lesser. So why are they my comfort reads? I just freaking love teen drama, romance, and angst. It is comforting, endlessly relatable, and taps into my nostalgia for my teenage years without having to actually relive any of the crap parts! So I’m always excited for a fun new YA fantasy series!

And as you’ll see, Susan describes her new book, The Luminaries, as Riverdale meets the Witcher. Ummmm, yes please?! Am I right?!

Also, I don’t know who else out there can relate, but I’ve been a subscriber of Susan’s newsletter for years. And it is so inspiring. If you aren’t on it, get yourself subscribed. It is one of the few emails I see pop into my inbox and don’t actually think “I should really unsubscribe to that… but meh, effort…” 😂

Why do audiences love the idea of there being secret societies out to protect us from unknown dangers?

I think we’re all drawn to secret societies because they offer a sense of belonging, as well as mystery and secrets hidden just out of view. Plus, who doesn’t one to be one of the “special” ones who get to be an insider?

It is a nice twist to have Winnie’s father outed as a witch rather than a female family member. Why did you want to gender-flip this trope? What impact did this have on the story?

I wasn’t trying to gender-flip anything so much as be inclusive. My series, the Witchlands, also used the term “witch” to apply to anyone with magic. So when I created the Dianas society in The Luminaries, I wanted it to also be inclusive. For now, Winnie believes the Dianas (a.k.a. the witches), but…nothing is as it seems in Hemlock Falls!

What are some of your favourite monster hunter/hunting tropes? Which were the most fun to play with?

Who doesn’t love a super competent monster hunter à la Witcher? It’s fascinating to watch, to read, to engage with on a sensory level. And while Winnie isn’t super competent yet…that just gives her a reason to train with the mysterious Jay Friday!

What do you love most about creating monsters? Can you share with us any insights into how you build a monster?

I love crafting new magical creatures—all of my series feature different monsters and animals. I blame my background in marine ecology.

In The Luminaries specifically, it was fun to use my education to create cool, terrifying twists on creatures we’re already somewhat familiar with. Like the banshee who looks like a crying old woman…until you’re up close, and you realize the crying is just a trap to lure you, and that is not an old woman.

What made it fun, too, was thinking about how members of the Luminaries society could utilize different components from the nightmares. So, what do a banshee’s tears do to a person? Or what about the venom they inject with their claws?

Why should readers pick up a copy of The Luminaries? Pitch us your book!

The Luminaries is like Riverdale crossed with the Witcher, where a secret society of highly-trained hunters fight monsters that spew out of a forest every night. The society has seven clans, one for each night of the week, and they each have specific virtues they adhere to and roles they fill in the town of Hemlock Falls.

Winnie Wednesday (of the Wednesday clan—Loyalty through and through!) is a sixteen-year-old who was cast out from the Luminaries after her dad was caught as a witch. Now, the only way Winnie and her family can get back into the only world she has ever known is if she enters the deadly hunter trials that will pit her against the nightmares of the forest.

Susan Dennard (Author photo)

Susan Dennard is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series (now in development for TV from the Jim Henson Company), and the Something Strange and Deadly series, in addition to short fiction published online. She also runs the popular newsletter for writers, the Misfits and Daydreamers. When not writing or teaching writing, she can be found rolling the dice as a Dungeon Master or mashing buttons on one of her way too many consoles.

Follow her on Instagram @stdennard.