Creating relatable characters in Christian YA: An interview with Candice Pedraza Yamnitz

UNBETROTHED by Candice Pedraza Yamnitz caught my eye with its beautiful cover. I was curious as to what inspired its author and reached out to her with the following questions.

Q. Tell us about UNBETROTHED. Where did you find the inspiration for the book? When did you first start writing it? What was the writing process like?

A. UNBETROTHED came through a rough season. I had my second child, and I realized I wouldn’t be going back into the classroom. I’m a very social person so this was something I needed to work through. I also was a youth group leader, so I hung out with a lot of teens. I started writing UNBETROTHED in 2017. I wrote it fast and furiously within two months. Then I edited one time and thought it was done. The joke was on me. I ended up editing UNBETROTHED over 10 times before receiving a book contract. After the contract it went through three more major edits with a professional editor.

Q. As a busy homeschooling mother, how do you find time to write?

A. I tend to write more in the summer. I spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day writing after the kids go to bed and while my husband is studying. I’ve been doing this for years so I have many half finished projects I pick up and continue.

Q. Who are some of your influences as a writer?

A. First there’s my critique group with the ACFW. They help tidy up my work and inspire me with their writing. Next, it’s every book I read, and I read a lot. I read picture books, chapter books, audiobooks, ARCs (advanced reader copies), and my friends’ books.

Q. How does your faith influence your writing?

A. I got into writing because of my faith. I would read YA books and after a while I noticed the lack of Christians and Christian messages in books. I wasn’t seeing myself or my youth group girls in books. So, I decided to write my own book.

Q. What do you hope readers take from your books?

A. I hope they have fun and see themselves—not a polished, perfect version. I wanted to write something where God gives the powers and that matters.

Q. Tell me about your work with the American Christian Fiction Writers. What all does your position entail?

A. I am serving as the Chicago chapter president. That means that I am part of the board and make decisions about how to run the club and speakers. I get to contact publishers, agents, and authors to speak at our meetings.

Q. What issues do you feel most strongly affect teen girls today?

A. There are so many new issues that I never struggled with as a teen. Even so, I still think identity is high on that list. Who am I? Where do I belong? Am I good enough?

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I am working on the sequel to UNBETROTHED, sneaking in chapters to a historical middle grade book, and waiting on my sensitivity reader for a time-slip dystopian. I really try to focus, but I seem to cycle through projects. The historical piece is my grandmother’s story. The time-slip is about best friends who get dragged 190 years into the future only to find out one of them needs to play a doppelgänger to a missing social leader. They’re all very different projects. I can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Candice Pedraza Yamnitz fell in love with The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice in high school and hasn’t stopped reading since. She taught in a dual-language elementary classroom for years until she decided to stay at home, teaching a crew of imaginative children. In between reading lessons and converting cardboard boxes into pirate ships, she writes YA novels with a Latin twist. She lives in her native Chicagoland. Visit her at and find her on Instagram and TikTok at @candiceyamnitz.

By susanreimer

I am the author of the YA series Forged in Flames and the children's picture book Letters in the Woods from Word Alive Press. I am a Jesus follower, mom and gramma living in beautiful Northern Ontario, Canada.

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