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Sangu Mandanna: On Writing Her First Novel for Adults

Author Sangu Mandanna discusses the differences in her creative process when writing her first novel for adults, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches.

Sangu Mandanna is the author of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom, and several other novels about magic, monsters, and myths. She lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and three kids. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Sangu Mandanna

Sangu Mandanna

In this post, Sangu discusses the differences in her creative process when writing her first novel for adults, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, what she hopes readers get from the experience, and more!

Name: Sangu Mandanna
Literary agent: Penny Moore, Aevitas Creative Management
Book title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: August 23, 2022
Genre/category: Fantasy Romance
Previous titles: The Lost Girl (Balzer + Bray, 2012), A Spark of White Fire (Skyhorse, 2018), A House of Rage and Sorrow (Skyhorse, 2019), Color Outside the Lines (Soho Teen, 2019), A War of Swallowed Stars (Skyhorse, 2021), Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom (Viking Children’s, 2021), Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse (Viking Children’s, 2022)
Elevator pitch for the book: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a contemporary romantic fantasy about a lonely witch who becomes a tutor to three magical children and finds love, belonging, and family along the way.

Sangu Mandanna: On Writing Her First Novel for Adults

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What prompted you to write this book?

My books in the past had had plenty of hope and humor, but they were, on the whole, darker and angstier than TVSSOIW. They had battles and monsters. And I still love reading and writing those sorts of books, but when I started working on this book, we were several months into the pandemic and all I wanted was to lose myself in a warm, cozy, safe place that felt very different from reality. That’s what inspired Mika and Nowhere House.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

The idea first took shape in November of 2020, I started writing it in earnest in January of 2021, and it was published in August of 2022. So that’s almost two years from idea to publication!

And no, I don’t think the heart of the story changed at all because it was so clear and so important to me. Some of the plot details changed, and scenes changed, but the ideas of loneliness, belonging and family never shifted.

Sangu Mandanna: On Writing Her First Novel for Adults

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the writing and publishing processes for this title?

This was my first novel for adults, so there was a lot to learn! I think the thing that surprised me most was the difference in my creativity.

There’s a childlike wonder and joy that comes from writing a story for children, but also a responsibility to young readers that I take very seriously. When I write for children, I’m also writing for my younger self.

When I’m writing for adults, on the other hand, I’m writing for myself as I am now and that gives me room to be a little more myself.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Joy and laughter and swoony feels! Most of all, though, I hope readers find a welcoming, cozy world to lose themselves in when the real world feels a little too much.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Trust in your own voice. There’s no such thing as a new story, but there are new voices, especially marginalized voices, and you deserve to have your voice heard.

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