Candice Zee is a middle-grade and YA fantasy writer who first dreamed the idea of The Munchkins as a child while playing make-believe with her brother in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She is an early childhood teacher with an M.Ed. in Elementary Education and has taught for over twelve years in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and primary grade classrooms. Like Casey Munch in her book series, she is passionate about creating a more just and equitable world. She savors vegan food, loves board games and podcasts, relishes horror movies and novels, devours social science nonfiction, spontaneously belts out tunes from musicals, and does some of her best writing while drinking coffee at 1 AM. She lives in Cleveland, OH with her wife Dana and their dog companion Solstice. The Munchkins is her debut novel. More information about her book series and the characters can be found at www.munchkinsbooks.com.
Are you indie or traditionally published? What made you decide to take that route?
indie. I didn’t want to wait to go through the long traditional publishing process and I wanted more creative freedom in designing my book.
Tell us a fun story about your publication journey!
When I first started writing The Munchkins, it was probably back in 2012 or ’13, and it started out just for fun. I didn’t have any intention to publish it, so I wasn’t too serious about working on it, and I’d write bits and pieces here and there. At some point though, I decided it was too good not to publish, and then I got more serious and banged the story out rather quickly. I’d go into a zone and spend whole weekends doing nothing but writing, staying up all hours of the night, only coming up for air to eat (and sometimes I’d forget to eat). I know this sounds cliche, but I felt like something was writing through me. I’d type out the words before I could even think of them. I wrote so much that I actually wrote the first and second book together. At one point I looked at the word count and realized I was well over 300,000 words. That’s when I decided to split it into two different books and write a series.
How about a horror story about your author life?
The biggest horror story I have is realizing how much time, money, and resources go into marketing and publicizing your book when you’re an indie author. I quickly discovered that writing a book is a cakewalk compared to marketing. I come home after work each night and spend hours, often staying up till the wee hours of the morning, just working on promoting and advertising my book. And you have to be careful because I also found there are a lot of scammers out there waiting to take advantage of new authors.
What do you think is the best thing about being an author?
Being able to take characters that you created and fell in love with and bring them to life for the world to see and also have the chance to fall in love with.
Who do you think you inspire? If not, who and what do you want to inspire?
I think I probably inspire my Pre-K and school-age students. At least I work to try to inspire them each day. I hope one day I inspire other writers.
What keeps you up at night?
All the suffering and injustice in the world.
What character archetype would you be if you were a character in a book, movie or TV series?
Probably the idealist or activist.
If you were a character in a book, movie or TV series, what would be your catchphrase or famous line or popular expression?
I’d probably just randomly break out into song since I do that a lot.
What food or drink best describes you?
coffee with soy creamer or a vegan baked good.
If you were cursed to only be able to sing ONE song in karaoke for the rest of your life, what would you like it to be and why?
Wow, that’s hard! Probably something from Les Mis like I Dreamed a Dream.
What else do you enjoy doing other than reading and writing?
I love to go out and eat and find new vegan dishes to try, watch movies (especially horror movies) and stream TV series, listen to my favorite podcast The Majority Report while playing Candy Crush, play board games, do puzzles, sing show tunes, color, and spend time with my friends and my wife Dana and our dog Solstice.
What do you consider as your weakness as a writer, and what have you done to overcome it?
Keeping the word count down! Like I said, I had to split my book up into two books because the word count was so high. But just getting the word count down to a reasonable level for the first book was very hard. I must have gone back through it easily 100 times, spending countless hours cutting material and editing, just to get the word count down. I think that’s the hardest part of the writing process because you have to make some really tough decisions about what stays and what goes, and when you’re so connected to the story and the characters, you want to keep it all but you can’t. I plan to write more succinct sentences and find ways to tighten up the language.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Dean Kootz, John Saul, Margaret Atwood, Naomi Klein, Daniel Quinn, Barbara Ehrenreich, Suzanne Collins, and Brad Warner, to name a few.
Any book recommendations?
I’m reading this book right now called Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy by Rachel Ricketts, and it should be required reading given everything that is happening right now in the current political climate, especially with censoring teachers and trying to stop them from teaching kids history and about social justice.
Anything else you want to tell your fans, our readers, and the writing/reading/blogging community at large?
Please support indie authors. Many of the traditional avenues of promotion and publicity are closed to indie authors, so the support you give them helps them so much more and means a lot. If you want to be an author yourself, go for it, and don’t let anything stop you.
Gold Award Winner of Teen Category in the 2021-2022 Reader Views Literary Awards
The Munchkins “has all the “ingredients” for a fantastical, magical, YA story that also caters to adults who absolutely love the Potter-esque world that happens maybe twice in a lifetime.” – Reader Views
Thirteen extraordinary children with mysterious powers.
Their loving and protective father.
And a sociopathic neighbor who knows them better than they know themselves.
When Capricorn Munch and her twelve siblings appear outside a children’s home, no one, including themselves, knows who they are or where they came from. At ten years old they stop aging, as she and her siblings develop powers that gift them with incredible abilities, like healing wounds and manifesting objects. They keep these powers secret and their adoptive father restricts their use. Capricorn strives to live a normal life, blissfully playing with her favorite sisters, witty and bold Allie, empathic and wise Breezy, and giddy and sweet Hazy.
But now a sudden threat has intruded on their carefree lives: Their next-door neighbor, a man who calls himself Big Boss. Capricorn watches fretfully as Big Boss encroaches on her family like a malevolent force, feeding hostility between her siblings and causing them to be reckless with their powers. Capricorn knows Big Boss is plotting something sinister and can only pray it doesn’t end in ultimate doom for her and her family.