Born in Poland, Joanna spent most of her childhood in Poznan, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she lived for over 8 years. In 2016 she moved to the US, where she hopes to finally settle.
She writes speculative fiction, so it goes without saying that she’s a fan of science-fiction and fantasy – mainly books, but also movies, comics and games (both video games and tabletop RPGs).
When she’s not busy writing, reading, or gaming, she enjoys crafts and drawing.
CONNECT WITH JOANNA
Welcome to SPFM, Joanna! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Writer, gamer, housewitch
Summarize your book, By the Pact, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
“Star Nomad” by Lindsay Buroker is a great space opera that feels much like Firefly series without being a crude one-to-one copy of the characters or setting. It’s action-packed without being overwhelming, it has easily-lovable characters, and interesting world that promises a lot more adventures. It’s such a fun, comfort read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who still regrets that Firefly got cancelled.
“Taming Demons for Beginners” by Annette Marie is an urban fantasy that surprised me on many levels. First of all, it has a pleasantly fresh approach to demons who aren’t just angels’ counterparts (something that is close to me, since my own demons have nothing to do with religion). Second, the main character isn’t the bad ass “I can do it all by myself” heroine – quite to the contrary, she’s not afraid to ask for help. Third, the relationship between the main character and her demon isn’t the tired approach of arguing through the whole book about everything just to be madly in love by the end of it. Instead, the friction comes from the difference in their mindsets and cultures and isn’t solved by constant fighting.
“Radiance” by Grace Draven is a fantasy romance that builds on the arranged marriage trope, where a political marriage of two insignificant nobles is supposed to seal peace between two species. I loved how the cultural differences were portrayed in the book, and how the main characters worked to overcome their prejudices against the other species, including some repulsion (as they find each other physically unattractive), and how they slowly become good friends to finally fall in love. It’s not a book that has a lot of action or complicated plots, but in the flood of stories in which friends lie to each other constantly and betrayal among allies is common, it’s a pleasant ray of light.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
It likely will come as no surprise that my favorite part is control. It’s not only about choosing which projects I will write and publish or who will design my covers, though there is a lot of appeal in that. It’s also about the feeling that my success depends more on me and my hard work, and if an issue appears, I can address it immediately, working directly with people who can solve it, rather than relaying the problem to others.
The least favorite part? I’m not sure. Some tasks are less fun than others, but they still bring satisfaction. I think my least favorite aspect is the multitasking: I can’t disappear for months writing the next book or spend a month doing nothing but marketing my previous one. Having to write, edit, and market books somewhat simultaneously creates this feeling of being pulled in too many directions, and that’s not appealing to me.
When did you start writing?
I suppose I had several starts. First, it was in my native language, Polish. Even as a kid, and I learned to read and write early, I was putting together rhymes and poems. When I was around 14, I started writing my first short stories, and as I discovered fantasy and science fiction, these genres became my creative outlets. Some of my stories got published on online portals, and I had my first professional magazine publications around 2005-2006. Then, I moved to Ireland, met my future husband, and he convinced me to start writing in English. It made sense at the time, since I made more and more English-speaking friends, and they wanted to read my stories. I think I started writing in English around 2009, and it’s been a slow but steady process of re-learning how to write, this time in Shakespeare’s language rather than my native Polish. My first short stories in English were published in 2014, and I’m still writing more.
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would tell your younger self?
Now that’s something I ponder every now and then. The appeal of being able to fix my mistakes before they even happen, to tell myself to start writing in English sooner, or to simply tell myself that everything will turn out just right despite the rough patches ahead… Such an opportunity sounds great. But at the same time, I’m happy with the life I have now, and it’s a result of all my choices, mistakes, and wrong decisions as well! I can’t help wondering that if I told my younger self something that would change her path, I would come back to the future to an entirely different life. And who can tell if it would be a better one?
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
I kind of don’t. The exhilaration of having finished a novel seems to be a reward in and of itself, and I never developed a specific ritual for celebrating. But after the project is done, I do like to take a few days off to just be lazy, play video games, and refresh my creativity. I still do tasks related to writing, but without pressure or obligation.
You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
I have several tricks. The first one is to reread my favorite scenes from the project, and the second one is to skip to a scene I’m particularly looking forward to writing. When I can, I’ll switch projects, because it’s better to have some words down than none. I also take breaks to do exercise or short house chores. If all else fails, I walk away and play video games or do art instead.
If you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
That’s a great question! When I was teenager, I was always running out of time to do all the things I wanted, so I dreamed about having the ability to stop time, or at least travel to an extradimensional bubble where the time flowed slower, allowing me to do all the creative things and then jump back to reality where only a second or a minute passed. Of course, that was before I discovered all the possible paradoxes of time travel, stopping aging while I was in the other dimension, or other problems that science fiction and fantasy made me aware of.
Nowadays, though powers like teleporting and invisibility have their appeal, I think I’d simply settle for the ability to fly.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be either a witch or a ninja. In my early teens, when it became clear ninjas don’t venture as far as Poland to find promising students, and there weren’t any school for witches, I thought of becoming a designer of everyday, commonly used objects like chairs or mugs. Instead, I went into teaching and languages, and through some winding roads, I arrived at a writer.
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
At the moment, I’m working on finishing my epic fantasy series, Pacts Arcane and Otherwise. The first two books are available, and as book 3 is already with my beta readers, I hope to release it next year. After book 4 is ready, I’ll likely dive into my contemporary fantasy series, set in Ireland destroyed by a magical war. As you might guess, the books draw from my experiences of having lived in Dublin which, although as mundane as the rest of our world, had that otherworldly charm that stayed with me even after I left.
Beyond that, everything’s possible! I have many more projects planned within fantasy and science fiction genres, but none of them is solid enough to share at this time.
About By the Pact (Pacts Arcane and Otherwise #1)
High mages lied: Veranesh, the demon who destroyed the continent is still alive. And it’s up to their former student to expose the truth—even if it means another Cataclysm.
When Kamira, a once high mage student turned arcanist, discovers an imprisoned demon in underground ruins, she is forced into a pact that grants her powerful magic, but also ties her to the very demon that once devastated the continent… and Veranesh wants his freedom.
With one friend by her side, Veelk, a mage killer bound on protecting her, Kamira will have to outwit the archmages, other demons, and possibly her own demonic benefactor to survive. Her chances are slim, but with Veelk’s ever-present sarcastic repartee, Kamira might just pull through.
Plots and schemes, power and means—sometimes the price for victory is choosing which friend will die, but when you only have one friend, the choice is… easy?