In fantasy fiction, the authors have a limitless scope of creating a world with unique characters to surprise readers. And, not many have mastered this art. We’re happy to introduce one such author, Ana Cristina Caelen, who has mastered the fantasy world-building.
Ana Cristina, the author of Wilding Souls, released her debut novel in January 2022 which became a 5-star rated book within a month of its release.
At Vowelor, we had an interesting conversation with Ana Cristina about her writing. But, before we continue with her interview, let us know a little more about the author.
About the Author: Ana Cristina Caelen
Ana Cristina Caelen is an author, voice artist, and musician from Mexico. She published her debut book Wilding Souls in Jan 2021. It is a high fantasy novel with dreams, shared souls, and more.
Ana was born in California but grew up in Mexico. She comes from a blend of Mexican (mother) and Belgian (father) heritage so bathing in different languages and cultures has always been a crucial part of her life.
Apart from writing, Ana Cristina also has a Bachelor’s degree in Music specializing in Musical Composition which led her to pursue a Sound & Voice Healing Certification, and ultimately, a Master of Arts in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.
Further, Ana shared about her childhood, her writing journey, her inspirations, and more interesting things about herself. Here are all of her interesting answers.
What were you like at school? Any childhood memory you would like to share.
At school, I was studious, a curious child, and a little shy. I was also hyper-sensitive, which meant I often needed to retreat into myself to process overwhelming emotions and inner realities.
What is your biggest achievement till today?
Even though I sometimes move slowly in life, I am most grateful that love—and a heart doing its best to remain wild and open—is ever at the core of my seeking, creations, connections, and experiences.
Which writers inspire you?
There are many, but three specific authors come to mind: The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman opened my imagination to what I call “circular writing.” The Madness Season by C.S. Friedman spoke of conscious patterns in a way I had not encountered. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin brought together existential questions with a fantastic imaginary world.
Writing is stressful at times. How do you relax your mind?
The writing of Wilding Souls was—surprisingly—a rather fluid process. The fire burning beneath this novel was so strong all I wanted to do for a year was spend time with these beloved characters. When I hit the places where I knew I needed to let go of the story and allow it to reveal itself on its own terms, I turned to music for relaxation and nourishment.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
I treasure the following quote by William Faulkner:
You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust. Trust your heart. Trust your path. Trust yourself. I am still holding to these words.
What books do you like to read personally? What are you reading currently?
I enjoy books that explore emotional boundaries and don’t shy away from the “strangeness” of life while delivering a plot through beautiful language. I appreciate gender-bending stories, odd or intriguing worlds, and novels that stay with me long after I have put them down.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
None. One of the things I love most about books is the opportunity to dive into another person’s unique world, one that surely differs from my own!
Being a musician and voice artist, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
Pure, raw, undeniable inspiration. I did not plan on writing a book although I have always been enamored with language and have written all my life. However, I began to have potent dreams, revelations, sensations, and impulses that came together in such a way I desperately needed to give birth to them. I chose to explore them in writing, and once I started, there was no turning back. Wilding Souls was born and I fell in love all over again.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I often spend around three hours a day writing. Sometimes I need to pause and let the characters mature inside me before I continue. When I am editing, I tend to go by chapters and try to schedule it out in advance, but mostly I work intuitively and feel my path forward moment to moment.
What is the reason you write for; is it for the readers or your own self or some other thing?
It’s a journey! I write the first draft for myself. I feel into the characters and their stories as they develop in my psyche. Then, as the plot takes shape, the following drafts start turning outwards, meaning some of the original elements fall away in service of how the worlds and characters want to interact with the readers. By the final draft, I must feel connected to both my heart and the reader at the same time—a precious space. That’s when I know the book is complete.
About your Book: Wilding Souls
Wilding Souls is a thought-provoking fantasy novel with characters that are nothing like anything you’ve read. The story explores unique ways in which dreams and souls work in a world beyond human experience.
On the outside, Wilding Souls is a poignant tale of partnership, hope, and the strong magic of dreams and far-reaching love. While, on the inside, you will experience dream weavers, shared souls, dragons and more.
What genre is your book? What draws you to this genre?
Wilding Souls is a high fantasy novel. Two things, in particular, draw me to the genre: poetic language and limitless creative possibilities.
Wilding Souls features many characters that are completely out of this world. What was the inspiration behind such characters?
The many voices, colors, and textures found within each of us. I am fascinated by the possibility of allowing each emotion, thought, sensation, and image that moves through us to speak—to have an opportunity to show us its truth before we censor the parts of us we might not want to acknowledge. After all, are we not truly all wild at our core?
What makes ‘Wilding Souls’ stand out in this genre? What should a reader expect from it?
Even though Wilding Souls is a high fantasy novel I did not want to engage with a familiar trope: the band of unlikely heroes on a quest to defeat a villain. There are many writers who have done that better than I ever could. I wanted—needed—to explore a way to tell a story that steps away from the dualities of good vs bad, man vs woman, right vs wrong. The tension in Wilding Souls happens through the choices each character makes and how every decision affects the other parts of a shared soul.
The story has a fairly complex fantasy world with dreams, shared souls and more. What was the hardest & the easiest thing while creating this world?
The hardest thing was weaving the different characters and worlds together in a way that felt natural, meaningful, and literary at the same time. The easiest part was letting my creative mind and imagination run rampant while it explored many choices at once. As a musician, I find it a relief to think in harmony and listen to many sounds simultaneously.
Any special experience about ‘Wilding Souls’ that you would like to share.
Without a doubt writing this novel has changed my life, not only because of the healing and regeneration it provided on an emotional level, but also because it restructured my brain. There’s nothing quite like wading through a hundred thousand of your own words to understand hidden layers of your thoughts, how you envision the world, how you communicate, and evidently, how you create.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My greatest desire is to forge a connection with readers who can hopefully see themselves reflected in my words so the collective stories of Wilding Souls speak uniquely to each of them.
Are you working on your new project? What will be your next book about?
I am currently writing a second novel that takes place within the same universe as the first one. In some ways it’s a continuation of the original story yet it also introduces new characters and themes to explore.
What does success mean to you as an Author?
Connection and balance. If I can connect with others through the magic of language and create a balance between the offering and the resources which allow me to continue to my craft—that is a sweet, sweet place to land in.
Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing and Why?
I see advantages and challenges in both. Eventually, I decided to take a plunge with Wilding Souls and learn as much about the entire process of publishing as I could firsthand, which is why I chose to publish as an indie author. I also felt I needed to steer my own ship in this case, even if the waters were—and might continue to be—unpredictable and hectic. It has also been epic.
One learning that you’d like to pass on to young debut authors.
I don’t know I have walked far enough down this road to be passing on advice quite yet, but if one thing has served me well it’s this: leaning into what feels right—whether it makes immediate sense or not. Writing and publishing require large amounts of energy, and allowing what feels good to be my guide through the many choices an author faces has helped me maintain a vital spirit even when things get difficult.
Your opinion about Vowelor.
I find it delightful to see a community of readers and writers from all over the world come together like this.