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Zartoto: An Interview with Author Callie Woodridge!

In the Zartoto series from author Callie Woodridge, a woman's life takes an unexpected turn when she is abducted and transported to a world she could only imagine exists. The spellbinding science-fiction story follows Tiffany Tremblay who is thrown into a magical world and given the mission of defending the people of Zartoto from the evil that threatens them. A Good Book To End The Day chatted with the author about the series and what’s to come for the ambitious heroine. Check it out below:

When did your love of writing begin?

My love of writing began once I discovered how much I loved books. I drew stories before I was writing them.

Tell us about the Zartoto series and the story world you've created.

It takes place on a magical planet called Zartoto, full of magical people. There are shapeshifters who can turn into werewolves, bears, or, most recently, wildcats. There are magical people, too, who cast spells using body language.

Higher-ups, who the characters refer to as Head Supernaturals, grant beings magic. The Head Supernaturals' main objective is to make as many magical planets as possible, and planets like Zartoto are full of magic because of them. People draw magic and energy from their surroundings. Even humans can draw in that energy once they're on a magical planet.

The Head Supernaturals are slowly planting magic on Earth too. They give it to humans and put it into the earth, plants, and water. Magic from people eventually goes into the planet too, so the abductions help make Earth more magical, and someday it will be even more magical than Zartoto.

The biggest threat to the people of Zartoto for years was energy vampires. They are mindless beings who can also turn other Zartotians into energy vampires.

There are many types of vampires out there, such as blood vampires, who exist on Earth. In many places, vampires work out just fine, but in other places, such as Zartoto and Earth, they backfired and became mindless beings who attack people on their planets before turning them into vampires.

What inspired the idea for your series?

The Walking Dead. I wondered what it would be like if the walkers and the people were magical. Originally, the stories were written on Earth. It started with Paul and Tiffany already married and dealing with magical beings who could turn other Supernaturals. The more I worked on it, the more it didn't work because I didn't want the vampires to affect everyone on Earth, just the Supernaturals, who were hidden from humans in communities all over Earth.

It's why in Powerless and Betrayal, people might notice that spaceships aren't used very much. It was originally written on Earth, and I rewrote the second and third books just enough to take place on Zartoto, and it was one book back then that I eventually split into two. Many people will notice a cliffhanger in Powerless, and that's because I split the book at that part.

I've always wanted to write about a world on another planet, so I decided to rewrite the whole series, which was three books at the time. I decided to have it set on a post-apocalyptic planet called Zartoto that was once a thriving and connected planet like Earth until they were overrun by energy vampires, who made Zartoto and its residents become every community for themselves.

The first book was completely rewritten, and in that book, Paul is a Zartotian, and Tiffany is a human abducted to Zartoto. Originally, they were just married humans who were given powers and stumbled into a magical community that Paul's parents led by accident.

One thing people might also notice is Powerless and Betrayal were written during the first lockdown. So some of that is reflected in those books. Abduction was rewritten after, and I wrote Secrets (book 4) and Invasion (book 5) last year when things started to go back to normal again. Invasion is nearly finished, and I’ve written a few chapters of the final book.

What three words would you use to describe your main character, Tiffany Tremblay?

Impulsive, an over-thinker, and very loyal.

Can you give us a little tease about the next book in the series?

It's not the next book of the series, but from Secrets (book 4) and after, other magical planets are introduced, including a water one where the citizens mainly live underwater. They are also all magical and have the same magic as Zartoto, but they have different shapeshifters who live underwater. There are fairies there too, although the fairies have different magic. That planet is one of my favorites, and I'm considering doing a spin-off someday based on it and another one that crops up in book 5. After book 3, you'll see a lot more space travel.

What does literary success look like to you?

I feel like it's someone who will write anyway and is prepared to expect their book might not be super popular. Not every writer, especially indie writers, makes it big.

However, if your passion is writing, then that shouldn't matter. You're getting your story out there for people to read, and as long as you can handle that there are people who will hate your books (because some will, it even happens to popular authors) then I think you can succeed. If even one person loves your book, I think that's success.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

My advice would be to take constructive criticism seriously but only take reviews that are helpful seriously. I once read a review on a popular book calling it inane, boring, and pointless, but this person didn't specify why. It's not a helpful review in my opinion.

I think if you have a passion for writing, you shouldn't let people take that away from you. Always listen to those who want to help you improve, and ignore those who attack your story without explaining why.

When someone takes the time to give you advice though, please do take it seriously because they’re only trying to help.

Thanks so much for being part of the A Good Book To End The Day family! Is there

anything else you’d like to add?

I've started a new Elemental series that isn't related to my Zartoto series. It's a completely different universe. It takes place in a school, and the first book is nearly done. If you enjoy my Zartoto series, be on the lookout for my new series, too.

Zartoto may also have a couple of spin-off series, including the one on the water planet. I'd like to do more with Paul and Tiffany’s youngest daughter. I may write a series that involves her and that connects all three of the series in the Zartoto universe.

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