Bethany Atazadeh

Bethany Atazadeh is best known for her young adult fantasy novels, The Stolen Kingdom Series, which won the Best YA Author 2020 Minnesota Author Project award. She is a new mama, native Minnesotan, and obsessed with stories.
  1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story? 
    The Secret Gift is inspired by some favorite fairytale villains such as the evil queen in Snow White and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. My main character, Jezebel, originally appears in my other fantasy series as a villain, but I wanted to show in this series how she was innocent until betrayed by someone close to her, and how that led to a dangerous spiral that forced her to choose between her friends and her freedom.

  2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?   
    The nice thing about fantasy is we can make up quite a bit! While I love to base things on real world elements when I can—such as the Jinn, who evolved into genies in modern culture—I ultimately tend to mash different things together to make them less recognizable and feel fresh to a reader. So I typically just research as a I go when needed. The most difficult part is probably the proofreading stage for me, because at that point I’ve read my story a few dozen times and it’s harder to keep up a passion for the current story once I’ve gotten the bug to write something new instead.

  3.  Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
    When I first began writing, I really admired Marissa Meyer for her series, The Lunar Chronicles. She’d written (the first draft of) multiple books in that series in just one month! That was eye opening to me, making me realize maybe this daunting task of writing a book didn’t actually have to be as overwhelming as I’d thought. (It still is, but it made it feel doable haha!)

  4. What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
    Back in 2016, I was laid off from my job along with 60+ other employees. It ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me, because I was able to use my three months of severance pay to explore other possible careers, such as writing and self-publishing, and I never looked back!

  5. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
    I used to say read and binge tv shows and movies—everything story related! But these days I have a one-year-old son who keeps me busy chasing after him, so being his mama has become my favorite thing outside of writing and publishing.

  6. Favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
    In the summer, we love to go for walks around Fish Lake or Elm Creek Park. In the winter, can I say staying home? Just kidding… kind of. A favorite restaurant we do enjoy though is Grill Hall.

  7. Where can readers find you online? 
    Instagram: @authorbethanyatazadeh
    Youtube: @bethanyatazadeh