Scarlett Van Dijk is a young Australian writer of young adult fantasy stories. She currently has two novels released, Sky Stone and Guardian Core, of the Sky Stone series.
My name is Scarlett Van Dijk and I was born in 1993. I am an Australian author of young adult fantasy stories. Besides authoring, I work as a radiographer and like to keep myself fit with pole fitness. I enjoy dancing, reading, role player computer games, and desktop publishing. I keep two mischievous, attention-seeking kitties who are constantly getting in the way while I’m trying to write.
When and why did you begin writing?
Right back in the beginning, my love for writing began with school and writing short stories and poetry. However, the first time I thought to try my hand at something more was when I was fourteen years old. However, this novel flopped badly (I didn’t have a plot . . . kinda important). I began writing Sky Stone, my first full novel at the age of fifteen although this was originally supposed to be a standalone novella. I had no idea that it would become a novel length story which would become the first in a trilogy.
I guess the reason I love writing is because it gives me a release and a way of expressing myself. I love the act of creating something that came to life in my mind and then sharing it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I began writing Sky Stone. I had a purpose and an idea I could get down on paper and wanted to share. This was the first time I had put effort into a story, based on my own motivation not for a school assignment and I intended to see it finished.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My latest release is Guardian Core, book 2 of the Sky Stone series. It continues the story of Skyla, a girl who had been stripped from her home in modern day Australia, and sent to the medieval land of Branzia. After becoming a legend throughout Branzia, she believes she can finally live in peace with her true love. However, the life of a Sky Guardian will always be filled with obstacles. In this instance, she must help to found a safe haven for all Sky Guardians, the Guardian Core. Soon this promising future is threatened and Skyla is torn between her own personal battles and her duty to the Sky Guardians she must protect. With her biggest weakness exposed, every step becomes a struggle.
What inspired you to write this book?
After writing Sky Stone, the first book in this series, I actually planned never to write another novel! It was soooo much effort! But, keeping an author from writing is like keeping a moth from a flame; you know it could end badly for you but you can’t avoid the temptation. Without expecting it, ideas for a sequel to Sky Stone formed in my mind and I couldn’t push them down. Guardian Core was born from my daydreamer’s mind. I can’t pin point an exact inspiration for Guardian Core but it is likely that music was involved. Music has been a major inspiration for my daydreams and story ideas for a long time.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Generally, I write in first person past tense, occasionally mixing it up just to keep myself versatile. Some people frown upon the use of first person point of view, however I love how it gives readers a more intimate feel for the main protagonist. I can easily express my main character’s fears and emotions, her thoughts and motives. My style had changed as I have grown up writing, and will likely continue to change as I mature.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
For this series I am going for two word titles, based on the title of the first book, Sky Stone. Sky Stone was an obvious title to me, referring to the pendent which sends Skyla to Branzia and gives her Sky Guardian’s abilities. Guardian Core was chosen in a similar way, based upon a major idea in the book, the Sky Guardian’s new haven. In this way, I have decided upon a title for the third book that is currently being written, Magic Spawn.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is a running message through the Sky Stone series. That is for young people to realize they don’t need to struggle alone, to share their load and allow others to be there for them.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think many of my ideas are based on experiences from both my own life and those of people around me. However, I also think they are based on my own wishes and fantasies. Skyla is based fairly strongly on myself. I think myself as self-sacrificing and Skyla also portrays this characteristic of always putting others first despite possible personal harm. A fantasy of mine is to have the power to actually do something meaningful–Skyla has this power as her ability to fight and wield magic, among other things.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
The most influential of authors to my life is Tamora Pierce, author of the Song of the Lioness series. As a child I hated reading. I blame this on undiagnosed Irlen Syndrome which I was diagnosed with at the age of about eleven. Concentrating of reading for long periods was difficult for me and so I avoided it as much as possible. Even so, I still enjoyed writing short pieces. When I was about thirteen I finally picked up my first fantasy novel and read it without anyone telling me to. This was one of Tamora Pierce’s books. If I hadn’t picked up that book from my school library, I would not have gained my love for reading fantasy, and definitely never would have considered taking up writing as a hobby. Tamora Pierce’s genre also influenced what I like to write about: sword and magic fantasy based in a medieval setting. She also wrote about young women who had overcome overwhelming odds to accomplish their goals.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
If I could ask for an author mentor, I would ask Brandon Sanderson. Since first reading his Mistborn series I have been in awe of how he could reel me in as a reader, make me believe one thing was happening, and then turn the whole world on its head with plot twist after plot twist. Each of his characters are expertly crafted so that you can relate to both the bottom dwelling thief or the high born lord. His worlds are so different from anything I have read about before and are so thoroughly thought out that you feel as if you know his fictional worlds . . .can you sense my awe?
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I designed and created my own book covers. I use Adobe Photoshop and Indesign to create covers using stock images for only about $30 out of my own pocket. I enjoy desktop publishing and have had a small amount of training in it from school and university.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
What I always want other writers to remember is why they started writing in the first place. Surely you didn’t start writing just for the money (hahaha . . .). You likely began because you loved writing, you loved expressing yourself and creating. Don’t get caught up on the ‘should’ and ‘have to’. Why write if you can’t write what you want, if you’re forced to write in a niche just because it ‘sells’. Every author’s goals are different: some just want to write, some want to publish, some want to make money. But, in the end, are you doing it for the same reason you began? Do you still enjoy it?
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you very much for reading, I truly appreciate your support. This year I hope to have the third and final book of the Sky Stone series, Magic Spawn, finished and published. Please follow me on any of my social media outlets to get the latest information on my writing. I’m always happy to have a chat so give me a buzz!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Adelaide, South Australia