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Interview with Sienna Archer author of Bound by Scars & Secrets

In my Author Spotlight series, I shine a light on the talented authors in the indie romance community. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Sienna Archer, the creative mind behind the captivating book, Bound by Scars & Secrets. Sienna Archer believes romance should be epic, adventures magical, and the best characters are the ones who grow. She writes books featuring diverse characters and strong female leads that make readers laugh, shout, and cry.

Bound by Scars & Secrets is the first book in the Realms of Magic series. Seventeen-year-old Alathea has kept her sister safe and her forbidden magic controlled ever since their mothers fled. But when her sister disappears, a mage from the enemy realms outs Alathea’s magic. To get her sister back, Alathea must decide if she can trust her enemies or if the unraveling secrets will lead her to an even deadlier fate. This YA epic fantasy features a slow-burn queer love triangle, heart-pounding adventure, and unraveling family secrets.

What inspired you to write “Bound by Scars & Secrets: Realms of Magic Book 1”? Could you share the journey of how the idea came to life?

I was a complete bookworm from the time I was little and always loved stories about romance in far-off places with an element of magic. Growing up in a religious household where being anything other than straight was not an option, hiding a part of who I was became unfortunately normal. I started writing stories at nine to see myself in my own stories since I was tired of always reading about a boy being the hero. Over the years, I found friends who helped me accept that I’m lovely as is, and my stories began to change. Bound by Scars & Secrets is the story I wish I’d had when I was younger—full of adventure, magic, romance, and just so normally queer.

Your book features a unique combination of magic, adventure, and a slow-burn queer love triangle. What draws you to these elements, and how do they contribute to the story’s overall theme?

As a member of the queer community and a lifelong magic-adventure-romance fan, I wish there were more books with this combination! Bound by Scars & Secrets is my first contribution to the stack. I love a good slow-burn romance—if I’m shouting at the characters before they kiss or realize they’re in love, I’m very happy. Alathea’s growth requires an epic adventure to push her boundaries, magic that tests her fears, and love interests who chip away at the walls she’s built.

Alathea, the protagonist of your novel, faces challenges, makes tough choices, and grows throughout the story. How do you approach crafting strong female leads, and what message do you hope readers take away from her journey?

I love this question! I could talk about strong female leads all day. I start by thinking about the big character growth arc my lead will go through, which means they often start in a very uncomfortable place. I reflect on what strength beyond physical prowess is and consider which characters will best make them uncomfortable and help them grow. I hope readers finish Bound by Scars & Secrets feeling less alone and powerful and lovely, just as they are.

The concept of family secrets plays a significant role in “Bound by Scars & Secrets.” How do you build and unravel these secrets while keeping readers engaged and eager to discover more?

I wrote the backstories of almost all the characters in Bound before I wrote the book itself, so the characters came onto the first page with their own full lives—which naturally meant secrets. Many of us keep parts of ourselves secret from our parents or parents from children for various reasons, and it’s only under pressure and as we get older do those secrets spill out. I tried to reflect that building of pressure as the story progressed. Beta reader feedback was absolutely key! My beta readers were amazing.

Your world-building is immersive, introducing readers to different realms and creatures. Could you share your process for creating such captivating and vivid settings?

It is a process, for sure! I follow advice from Brandon Sanderson on this. I start with a single idea and continually ask myself, “What would make this even more awesome/better/worse?” For locations, I start by picturing a place I’ve been, which helps ground me in a specific natural landscape, and from there, I begin layering in those awesome/better/worse elements that magnify how I hope a reader will feel in that location.

With diverse characters at the forefront, what challenges and rewards do you encounter while striving to represent different backgrounds and perspectives within your storytelling?

I strive to be conscious of representation as I’m writing and consider what a character’s relation to power is and what message I am giving readers who see themselves in this character. I pay special attention to centering the joy of diverse characters alongside growth. I try and sometimes I get things wrong, so I learn, correct, and strive to do better. The reward is hearing from readers who feel seen in a story—that is one of the most amazing parts of having stories out in the world!

The indie romance community is vast and dynamic. How has this community influenced your writing journey, and what advice do you have for aspiring indie romance authors?

I can’t imagine having arrived at this moment without my indie author friends! We found each other via a National November Writing Month group in 2020 with romance being the one common thread between us, and we’ve been each other’s constant supporters and advisors ever since. To aspiring indie authors: Write the story you wish you could find! You’re going to spend so much time with your book that you need to feel the reason you’re writing it deep in your gut, or you’re going to burn out on the story.

Your online presence is strong, with an engaging website, active social media accounts, and even a TikTok presence. How do you balance maintaining a digital presence with your writing process, and what strategies have you found most effective for connecting with readers?

First of all, thank you for the compliment on my website! I try to bundle as much social media prep as I can at the start of the week so that it doesn’t eat into my creative writing time. I treat my writing blocks as sacred—no phone in the room to tempt me, and I turn off wifi on my laptop. I’ve met some wonderful people on social media, both in the Bookstagram and BookTok communities. I have found BookTok to be more interactive, although Bookstagram tends to have much further reach.

As an author, you undoubtedly wear many hats, from writer to marketer. How do you find a balance between these roles, and could you share some insights into the strategies you’ve used to successfully promote your work and engage with your audience?

It is a lot to juggle, and I don’t think I’ve found the right balance of it all yet, but I’m working on it. I continue to prioritize writing above all else, both because I love it and because I have so many stories waiting to get out of my head and onto paper! On TikTok, I make sure to check in on friends’ posts and support them. I intersperse occasional silly book posts with posting about my book alongside what I love to read myself—fantasy-romance stories that feature strong female leads and take me to amazing places.

Thank you for joining me in this fascinating interview with Sienna Archer. To stay connected with Sienna and explore more of her literary world, be sure to check out her Website and follow her on Instagram, Facebook Page, and TikTok. Keep an eye out for her upcoming work, and remember Sienna’s valuable advice for indie authors: write the story you wish you could find and stay true to your passion.

If you’re an indie romance author looking to shine in my Author Spotlight series, don’t forget to get in touch. I can’t wait to celebrate your books!