Author Spotlight #14: Mandi Oyster

Mandi Oyster

Mandi Oyster dreams of living in a world where dragons and unicorns abound. For now, she lives in Southwest Iowa with her husband, two children, four cats, and two chinchillas. By day, she works as a Digital Prepress Supervisor for a local printshop. By night, she makes stories come to life.

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Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! As a fan of your Dacia Wolf series, I’m so excited to learn more about you and your writing. To kick things off, tell me a little about yourself.

Trees surround my Southwest Iowa home where I live with my husband/soulmate, two kids, four cats, two chinchillas, and my basketball hoop. My hoop has lived with me since my 14th birthday. It’s been cemented in the ground in two states and three zip codes with me. 

Except for 6 years, when I thought I’d try something different, I’ve worked in printing since I graduated from high school. I love vacationing in the mountains, hiking, camping, and just enjoying the scenery.

Spending time with my family is my number one priority. We love to play games together. Magic the Gathering is my son’s favorite. We’ve gone to several tournaments as a family, and when his friends come over to play, my husband and I always get invited to join in. When I’m not reading, writing, or enjoying family time, I also do photography, scrapbooking, crocheting, and painting.

Sounds like a well balanced life. What led you to write books, especially in the fantasy genre? Do you write in any other genres?

I don’t get sick very often, but right before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out, I did. My husband asked me if he could get me anything, and I told him everybody kept telling me to read Harry Potter. I really hadn’t read for a while because I had two small children and a job that had me working up to 70 hours a week.

My hubby picked up the first three books for me, and I read them over the weekend while I was home sick. I was hooked!

Shortly after finishing them, a scene kept playing through my head. I couldn’t get it out until I sat down and wrote it. Once I did, more words demanded to be written. Eventually, those words turned into Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy.

I mostly read in the fantasy genre because there are so many problems in real life. Turn on the news, and you will see a ton of them. I don’t want to read about those things. I want to read about things that aren’t going to happen but that can still teach us to be better, to do right. For that reason, I only write fantasy (for now anyway).

I definitely relate to that. What sub-genre of fantasy is your preferred area to write and read?

When I read, I like to read them all. I enjoy anything that takes me away for a little while and lets me live vicariously through somebody else. The books that I write are Magical Realism. I have always been fascinated by magic. Real magic, not sleight of hand. When I played Dungeons & Dragons, I always played a magic user, elf, or cleric so I could cast spells. I love the idea that mythical creatures could exist in the world with us, just hidden from sight of those who choose not to see.

Do you write with a particular message or worldview in mind?

I try to show people that no matter how horrible things are, there is still light. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope that they can get better. Never give up. A brighter future is just around the corner.

I love that! What is your preferred writing style? Is your writing style preference the same as your reading preference?

I prefer writing in first-person past-tense, but I have an idea for another series that would be written in third-person. Also, the dream sequences in my books are written in present-tense. I wanted something to set them apart, and present-tense gives them more urgency.

I prefer reading in past-tense. I don’t care if it’s first-person or third-person as long as it’s written well.

How do you feel about a hero vs. a protagonist in fiction?

I will always root for the hero, but there are times when I can see where the protagonist is coming from. I actually tell my kids this all the time. When they were younger and being bullied, I told them to see things from those kids’ perspectives. Both of my kids ended up befriending some of their bullies. Other ones, not so much.

Do you prefer a sympathetic villain or someone a reader loves to hate? Or is there another kind of villain you prefer to write?

I can’t say I prefer one over the other. It just depends on the book and the circumstances.

Tell us all about one your published series.

I have 6 books published in the Dacia Wolf series.

The time is drawing near …

The prophecy must be fulfilled …

Concealed deep within, Dacia Wolf’s power waits for the chance to emerge.

Unintentionally, it’s been buried for years beneath the grief and guilt over her brother’s death.

In a world where magic is no more than sleight of hand, Dacia is an anomaly. Unexplainable things happen in her presence, ostracizing her from everyone but her best friend, Cody Hawks.

Leaving for college, she hopes her life is about to change for the better, but when her powers surface in class, she finds out that her magic is more than just a minor inconvenience. She has the starring role in a prophecy involving a demon hell-bent on taking over the world.

Follow Dacia on her journey as she learns that there is more to this world than she ever imagined, how to control her powers, to believe in herself, and to trust those around her. 


What are you working on now?

I’m trying to write Dacia Wolf & the Phouka’s Curse, but I’ve written myself into a corner and can’t seem to find a way to back out of it.


Oh, man. I hope you get out of that corner soon. I can’t wait to read it!

Are you traditionally published or do you publish independently? Why did you choose that path to send your books into the world?

I tried to get traditionally published. I wrote Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy and sought out agents. I got a few requests for more. After a year or so of searching, I decided that I should write Dacia Wolf & the Dragon Lord. I figured that having two books would show that I wasn’t going to be a one-hit-wonder. I got the same results with my next round of queries. Trilogies were really big at the time, so I wrote Dacia Wolf & the Fallen Prince (which is my favorite of those three). With three books written, I still got the same responses.

Somehow, I stumbled across the Facebook Group 20booksto50k®. I did a ton of research on Indie Publishing. Unfortunately, I missed the part about getting an ARC team. (I think that would have helped a lot.) After a lot of deliberation, I decided to publish my books on my own.  

Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Favorites are a really hard thing for me. There are too many good ones to choose. My favorite book that I read last year was The Crow King by M.H. Woodscourt. I think my favorite book so far this year is The Girl of Dorcha Wood by Kristin Ward.

As with any good authors, their stories just drew me in, and when the book ended, I felt like I’d lost a friend. I wanted more time with them.

Becca Fitzpatrick writes the best body language. Janet Evanovich writes the funniest books I read. Cassandra Clare, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, JK Rowling, Melissa Marr, and Lauren Kate all write stories that immerse their fans in new, exciting worlds even with their set here on Earth.

You’re so kind to include me with such phenomenal names, thank you!

What are your writing habits?

I write whenever and wherever I can. Unfortunately, I still have a “real” job. I get to work early, so before I clock in, over my breaks, and at lunch, I write. I write in my recliner while my family is watching TV. I write in the car when my husband is driving.

I love to write while we’re on vacation in the mountains. Nothing inspires me like they do. Sitting around the campfire and staring up at the billions of stars is the best place to write. My next favorite place is while I’m lying in my hammock underneath the walnut trees at home. Listening to the sounds of nature and having the breeze gently rock me help the stories come to life.

Unless I’m outside, there is always music playing in the background. Sometimes, I sing away while still managing to type the words I want to write. I always expect to find song lyrics when I’m editing, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

A glass of ice water is always next to me. 

Ah, camping is my favorite writing place too. You’re definitely a diligent writer. Love it!

Do you prefer to plot your books out in advance, or do you dive in and see where the story takes you?

I wish I could plot, but I tried to write that way and discovered quickly that it doesn’t work for me. We head along the road that the outline was taking us down, and all of the sudden, my characters scream, “Hey, what’s over there. Let’s go that way.” By the time I get done, it’s nothing like the outline, so I don’t do it anymore.

Haha. I definitely relate to that! Do you enjoy writing plot-driven or character-driven stories more?

Because of the answer to my last question, I would have to say my stories are character-driven. Plot is definitely important, but the characters lead the way.

What type of fantasy mediums do you enjoy most?

Books are my favorite. The detail is so much better, and you can imagine everything the way you want it to be. Movies would probably be my second favorite.

What destination in the world would you most like to visit?

There are five places that I really want to go. 1) Northern California to Yosemite and the redwoods. 2) Alaska. 3) The Canadian Rockies around Banff and Jasper. 4) Iceland. 5) Hobbiton.

Take me with you, especially to Hobbiton! Haha. What is a fun quirk you have?

Whenever anybody at work opens a package with bubble wrap in it, they immediately bring it to me. When it comes to popping bubble wrap, I am worse than a two-year old.

Love that! In closing, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Sit down and write that book. You can edit it later, but it will never get done unless you just do it. 

Thank you again for letting me interview you, Mandi! I wish you every success with your continued writing endeavors and I’m stoked to read your next Dacia Wolf installment!

To follow Mandi Oyster’s author journey, and grab her series, check out the links below!

Check out Mandi Oyster’s fantastic fantasy series right here:

Author Spotlight #14: Mandi Oyster

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