Blog Tour & Giveaway: Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

I was lucky to be able to attend the Dallas stop of Susan's Sightwitch tour so today I've got a recap of the Q&A session during the event and a giveaway for a signed copy!

Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: young adult fantasy
Status: Book 2.5 of the Witchlands series

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard, Sightwitch is an illustrated novella set in the Witchlands and told through Ryber’s journal entries and sketches.

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch...

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch is a companion novella that also serves as a set up to Bloodwitch, as well as an expansion of the Witchlands world.

Note from Mary: I've gone to a lot of events, and this tour stop for Sightwitch was one of the most fun and most unique. Lindsay Cummings (The Murder Complex, Zenith) was on hand for conversation with Susan, and these two were honest and real about the triumphs and challenges of being a professional writing. To my best ability, I captured as much of the conversation as I could, but I'm not entirely infallible and there are some things that are just... "you had to be there" moments. But I hope you enjoy Susan & Lindsay's insight toward writing and some cool Witchlands info. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Susan Dennard: My shtick is total transparency. If you're an aspiring author, I will tell you the good AND the bad.

Lindsay Cummings: It's a hard industry. You feel like you're a factory, pumping out books, but you want to hold onto the art. You want to hold onto the love of the craft, love what you're doing.

Susan: Once it turns into a job, you start to lose the passion. You have to learn that balance. It [being published] changes things.

Lindsay: Was Sightwitch a rediscovering passion project?

Susan: I first tried to write it in 2013 when my first series was struggling so I wanted to be a hybrid author and self-publish. So I was going to self pub Witchlands as novellas, but I was so burned out, I dell out of love with it. And I struggled. I didn't eant to be a factory churningnout words. So I was spinning my wheels. I'd write 30 pages and start over. 100 pages and start over. And I did it with Windwitch for 2 years. It's hard to admit a book broke me, my publisher was waiting for me. I just felt so much pressure, like I was letting everyone down. But it came out, and then i pushed Bloodwitch back. And then last January, they said, hey, you know that novella? Wanna give that a try? I said i would. I sat and and... whooh... it came out in an unexpected way. I realized as i was creating it that I rely on simmer time. I hadn't given Truthwitch and Windwitch that time. Now Bloodwitch is behind, but my publisher knows they asked me for it so it's all good. I fewl really good about it, and if the format isn't for you, please don't tell me.

Lindsay: my first series came out and it was quiet. i had to grow up and reinvent what I was doing. That's why I went hybrid. You have to find ways to love what you're doing.

Audience Questions:
Q1. How did you come up with your magic system? How do you pronounce your characters' names?
Susan: I need to do a pronunciation video!
Iseult - Ih-soolt
Safi - Sah-fee
Aeduan - Ay-doo-an
Ryber - Rye-ber

I grew up reading adult fantasy. When I grew up, there was no YA. So Anne McCafree, Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan were what I read as a teen. Since adult fantasy has been around longer, they do new things that we're just now seeing in YA. It's just now branching out of medieval Europe. I don't know how I did it [created the system], but I wanted it to be different from what I'd read before. I wanted it to be elemental, but I didn't just do the six elemental, I started out with a bunch of witches. Like 1000 witches. And my editor told me we had to cut them down. So I ended up just splitting everyone into six categories. Since I love Avatar: The Last Airbender, I did the four elements and added my own. Many years ago, I was falling asleep, and the term threadwitch came to my mind; it was one of THOSE moments and I wrote it down and that was the start of it.

The cool thing about being a writer is that there's no age limit on it. You can do it any time. And the fun thing about writing is that you can write like 50 pages and then *blows raspberry* you get stuck and have to figure out what you're going to do next.

Q2. You're both active on Youtube. Is it a release to switch? Are you procrastinating?
Lindsay: I knew it would be a good way to connect with readers, but it's also a good way of storytelling. It was a lot of work, but it was also the most fun I've had on a project since The Murder Complex.

Susan: I'm not active on Youtube, but I do use Instagram stories. And I do my newsletter; they take a long time, but it's worth it because I know that's why Truthwitch has done well. It's an organic thing. I love to talk craft. I don't have a lot of local author friends so I only get to talk craft a few times a year. This lets me do it more.

Lindsay: there's only so much info you can share in a photo or a tweet. It's cool to have different platforms to connect with readers.

Susan: I was so obsessed eith Anne McCaffrey, and this was when the internet was very new and email. So magesusan emailed Anne McCaffrey, the original mother of dragons, because I wanted to know the endgame. And she emailed me back! And I totally didn't even understand the significance; I was like, oh, cool, that's who I liked.

Q3. Who would you romance in Mass Effect?
Susan: Kayden. I'm a total fangirl. In the first one, I romanced him, and then I stayed loyal to him in the second one, even though he was a jerk, and then in the third he came crawling back! I love games. If you know any people looking for game writers, point them my way. I just love the idea that one decision branches off into something bigger. Sightwitch is definitely inspired by my love of gaming. There's a book in the game that you can read IN THE GAME so I wanted this to be super meta. This would be documents you'd find in the Witchlands.

Q4. How did you pick your character names?
Susan: I'm a lover of games, not just video, also tabletop. It's a fun way to build worlds. I built cultures in the Witchlands, heavily influenced by eastern Europe. And then I built language systems for those cultures and picked the names from that. I wanted the names to feel like that. I do wish I'd googled the names because it turns out some of them are actual names, and it feels a little like cultural appropriation. Like Safiya is an Arabic name.

(I don't have it word for word, but Lindsay admits she plagiarized herself and reused a name from The Death Code in Zenith)

Q5. How has travel inspired your writing / what's your favorite place you've been?
Susan: It's because of my background in marine biology. Blue Planet 2. (Sooz gets very emotional about the Marianas Trench) (Sooz and Lindsay plan to start a band) Probably my favorite was Croatia, and it was not for work. It did end up being a big inspiration for the Witchlands. We didn't speak Croatian and they didn't speak English. It's amazing what you can communicate just with your hands.

Q6. Question about writing a book with found documents and non-traditional storytelling/not just using prose. (ironically this was my question so I didn't write it down and now I can't remember the exact words)
Susan: The artist was hard. We found him really late, and he had so many illustrations to do in a short amount of time. In some ways, the documents are easier because you can info-dump. If I want you to know background, I just slide a document in. If I want to show you something, there's just a picture. The story was really streamlined.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world -- six out of seven continents (she'll get to Asia one of these days!) -- before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the Witchlands series, which includes the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch and Windwitch. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Author Links:

1 winner will receive a signed copy of Sightwitch. Open to the US. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST March 15. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love fabrics and yarns... so I'd have to say that I'd be a threadwitch...

    1. That would be so cool! I love how Susan describes the threads in the series.

    2. Yes! My son had a loose thread last week and the first thing I thought of was of pulling it and working magic while doing so. LOL!

    3. Just curious... I've been entering the rafflecopter daily and just wonder about the daily tweet which isn't about Sightwitch at all or Susan's books... Is that intentional? Discover the secrets behind Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner's #Unearthed & enter to win a copy! …

  2. I haven't started this series yet so I'm not sure what type of witch I would be. A healingwitch would be awesome. Thank you

    1. Which would make you either a Firewitch or a Waterwitch, I think. :)

  3. "If you lived in the Witchlands, what kind of witch would you be?" I don't know!