Author Interview–Alisse Lee Goldenberg

Alisse Lee Goldenberg

Alisse Lee Goldenberg

Questions: 1. Your novel Sitnalta has been out in the world for a number of months now, what has the process of having a book out been like for you?

Honestly, I've found it a bit nerve wracking. This book has been a private part of me for so long, that to have complete strangers reading it is a bit scary! But, at the same time, I love the idea that this little story of mine is finding an audience, and that people are enjoying these characters' journeys. So far, the reception has been really good!

2. One of the central themes of the book is the daughter (sitnalta) trying to find and do what she wants with her life. Did you base her feelings on any of your own experiences growing up?

I think every young person out there has to find their own way. Our parents want certain things for us, and they have a certain way that they envisioned our lives. Often what we want is vastly different. So, yeah, I did put a lot of my own thoughts and feelings into Sitnalta's journey, if only from the point of view of "I want something that my parents don't." In fact, I don't think that ever changes, no matter how old you are, and how old your parents may be!

3. what were some of your favorite fairy tales growing up and how did they inspire you as a writer?

My favourite fairy tales have been Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen", "The History of Jack the Giant Killer", "The Twelve Brothers" about a princess whose brothers get turned into swans, and "The Little Mermaid" - the original version. Not the Disneyfied one.

I always loved how creative the original versions of the fairy tales were. They didn't all have happy endings, but they all taught valuable lessons about life. I actually liked the really sad ones. They seemed more honest in a way. That inspired me a lot. I try to be honest in my writing, even if I'm writing my own fairy tale. It doesn't matter if you're telling a story about trolls and princesses. Everything should still seem real and true to the reader.

4. There are some cool names in the book (Najort is my fave) where do you come up with names for a book that resides in a fantasy world?

I pull names from anywhere and everywhere. If I like the way things sound, I will find a spot for it. I'm going to be hearing the names a lot in my own head, and as I read and write them, so I better find something that resonates with me. In the next Sitnalta book, I was stuck for a name, so I asked my kids what I should call the character. They came up with some interesting possibilities! Not all were useable, but together we found something that stuck.

5. You have young triplets! Does having young kids around help you as a writer, especially one writing fantasy/fairy tales?

It does! They have some great ideas, and watching them imagine and play together is some great inspiration. At the same time, it also gets hectic and crazy trying to find the time to actually sit down and write. It's all about finding a good balance in life. They love stories, and ask me to make them up for them. I love it. I started doing it for my younger brother, which was how Sitnalta was originally born, and now I'm doing it for my kids. It's wonderful.

6. What are you working on now?

Now I'm working on the sequel to Sitnalta. I was struggling to find a name for it, but I am pleased to say that it will be called "The Kingdom Thief". I am also working on first draft edits for the third book in another series I write. The first book is out now, and it's called "The Strings of the Violin". The second book is out September 9, and is called "The Dybbuk's Mirror". The third (the one I'm working on now) will be called "The Dybbuk's Revenge". I also have a short story coming out in an anthology called "Night Life". I wrote the story with a good friend, An Tran. It's called "Ouroboros". Other than that, I have the outline done for the third Sitnalta book. That one came to me title first. It's called "The City of Arches". It's more of a prequel, and will focus on the character of Kralc. So, I'm definitely keeping busy!


Alisse Lee Goldenberg is an author of Horror and Young Adult fantasy fiction. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folk lore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian. For more on Alisse and her books, check out her website

Behind the Mic interview with Michelle Yu


Michelle Yu

Michelle Yu

My guest today for this edition of “Behind the Mic” is Michelle Yu.  Whether it’s at Santa Anita, HRTV or now Los Alamitos, you can almost always find Michelle talking about Southern California horse racing year round, and doing it with a big smile on her face!

1.  How did you get into Horse Racing?


MY:  I was always into horses and found a picture of a racehorse in the LA Times.  That led me to start reading the sports section every day to find out more and more about horses.  My dad took me to my first race on Big Cap day.

What was your first job in horse racing?


MY: My first job in racing was as a PA for TVG.  Around that time I also walked hots for Ron Moquett.  

What are some of the key factors you look for when handicapping a race?


MY: I always look for excuses.  I generally try and beat the favorite or at least find a price horse to play with the favorite.  So I key in on horses with back form that I can make excuses for like a bad trip, an off track, a surface swap or too much competition.  I also like 2x lasix, 3rd off a layoff and drop from a maiden claiming tag to half the price for 1x vs winners . 

You often do interviews in the winner’s circle after the big races, what are some of the more memorable interviews/races you’ve been in the winner’s circle for?


MY: Gosh, I have done so many and at the time its easy to remember but as the years go by they kind of blend……I interviewed Jess Jackson one time in the pouring rain but I can’t remember if it was for Rachel or Curlin and he didn’t talk to anyone else that day so I got my interview played all over and I was a newbie so that was memorable.  A funny one was when I was interviewing Bill Currin (trainer of Stormello) on a colt that had won first time on the grass and we had been noticing that Stormellos were striking at an unbelievable rate on the lawn.  So I had asked Bill if he ever thought that Stormello would be a good turf sire and he says (live, mind you) “Well… know I think that the only time Stormy ever set foot on the grass was to go and take a piss.”.  There have been a lot of emotional moments especially here at Santa Anita with owners that are older or sick winning with a homebred or taking their first stake that everyone is in tears.  And even after the 2 year old races…you can see the hope people have.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on camera?


MY:  I don’t really get embarrassed.  I mean it’s live TV.  Sometimes you say something wrong but you just push past.  I am always the one to eat weird food or learn a dance or make a spectacle so that’s not a good question for me!!!

As a public handicapper, you get criticized and praised.  What’s the nicest thing a fan has ever said to you?  What about the harshest?


MY: Anything that is nice is always great.  Thanks to Twitter especially, fans can connect right with you all the time.  They might have played a winning longshot and are thanking you or just appreciate you explaining something they didn’t know or understand.  You always get a smile on your face when you read or hear that you made a difference in someones day.  The harshest is always the same.  “you don’t know anything because you’re a girl”, ” all you know you learned from sleeping with xxx” ” Why show this giggly child when there are real handicappers” and anything to do with a mumbled word.  I am first to admit that I am by no means perfect and that I don’t annunciate flawlessly all the time but again, it’s live TV and no one is perfect.  I think that I worked very hard to get where I am and I am the first to ask if I don’t know something.  And as far as me laughing and having fun, well have you seen my job?? How do you NOT have fun?!!  I LOVE it, I can’t help but smile and laugh and cheer.  Its amazing.  

You have an off the track Quarter Horse.  Tell us how you and he met and what you love about off the track horses?


MY: My current OTQH is named It’s Our Secret.  I remember I was at the State Championships for gymkhana and I was speaking to my boyfriend at the time asking him what he had claimed that day and he said “we got a horse you’re going to want for a barrel horse.  Bay with a blaze and socks”.  Im a sucker for a blaze and sure enough, when I got back to the barn I was head over heels.  I started working on flexing and stuff with him right away while he was still racing and a year and a half later he was my Christmas present.  I have had several off track Thoroughbreds, IOS is my first QH but they are just so smart.  They seem to take all this new stuff you’re asking them to do in stride, they are appreciative to have a human around.  I have a 30 year old Navajo mustang too and he could care less if I came out to groom him or ride him but the off track horses have always loved it.  

What’s your best hit as a gambler?


MY: I don’t really gamble!!  I hit the Oaks Derby double with Lemons Forever and got $864 or something for my $2 bet.  

In 2015 you get to handicap any race in the world on TV….which race would you choose?

MY: Does this mean I get to GO to the race???? I have always wanted to go to Dubai and I would love to go to the Arc.  If its just on TV, then I have to say that I am SO fortunate to be a part of HRTV because we really get to cover the best races.  We talk about Dubai, Ascot, The Arc, Derby, Breeders Cup…. You always get to be a part of amazing races.  

 It’s the last race at Santa Anita and I’m getting hungry.  Where are you gonna send me after the races for a great meal?


MY: If I was sending you for food I would probably quiz the heck out of you about what you wanted because I aim to please.  If you want to rub elbows with racing, head to the Derby.  If you want an upscale meals for a mid scale price Sesame Grill (french based cuisine!).  Chicken?  Head to Roscos Chicken and Waffles.  Just need to drink your woes away?  100 to 1 or Gem City (Can’t promise any food there…)

Thanks Michelle!