Ask the Author: Elisa Bonnin
What would you like readers to know about you?
When I was eight years old, I wrote a story. It was called The Little Princess, and it was a story about a fairy princess named Elena who falls into the human world from the fairy kingdom and has to get back with the help of a human girl named Natasha and a baby monkey named Baby Monkey. Since then, I dreamed of being a published writer.
20 years and countless rejections later, my first novel is coming out. I’m both happy and terrified that my dream is coming true, and I can’t wait to share these books with you.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
My book, Brave, is a Filipino-inspired YA fantasy about a girl named Seri who just wants to start a new life somewhere far away from her hometown. But along the way, Seri gets roped into a heroic adventure. She meets and falls in love with Tsana, a girl who comes from a place Seri never thought existed, but in order for the two of them to keep their love alive, they have to keep their peoples from going to war.
It’s an epic fantasy full of magical, sentient beasts, high-stakes battles and heroic characters, but it’s also the story of a girl learning to be herself, no matter what anyone else says.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
At the time, I was getting a PhD in oceanography and I was really inspired by the theme of exploration. I became an oceanographer because I was fascinated by the ocean, and I loved the idea that there were parts of the world we still hadn’t discovered. In Brave, most of the world is still unknown, and I wanted to write a story about the people who go out and discover new places, but I also wanted to consider the idea of what happens when explorers run into other cultures.
I really wanted to add some cultural elements from the Philippines into the world-building. I wanted to write the sort of book I had never read as a child, a book where the heroes were people who lived in the same environment I did and shared some of the same experiences I had.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I really love writing endings, especially when elements that I had been setting up earlier in the book come together. So the climax of Brave was definitely my favorite part of the book to write. But because I can’t describe the ending without giving away the book, my second favorite part of the book happens closer to the middle when Seri is trapped in a watchtower and has to figure out how to get out. She makes a bold decision that I feel really establishes her character, and that I loved writing.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I was always a bookworm as a kid. I loved reading fantasy books, because they let me imagine worlds and situations so different from my own. I started writing at eight, so I really can’t pinpoint which book made me decide to be a writer. But my favorite books growing up were Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. I loved Keladry and her fight to prove herself, and Kel’s adventures inspired me through a lot of my childhood as I fought to prove myself in school and in other ways.
I realized I wanted to write books that inspired people in the same way. I think everyone needs heroes, and I decided I wanted to write epic fantasy stories with flawed characters just doing their best.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Don’t give up. As long as you keep writing, keep improving your craft, eventually something will break.
Write the books that you want to read. Don’t try to chase a trend, because if you aren’t enjoying the books that you write, your readers won’t enjoy reading them either.
Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration might strike once in a blue moon, and might give you what you need to start a story, but finishing a story comes down to discipline and hard work. But don’t worry if other writers’ advice doesn’t work for you. Every writer is different, and any process that gets words on the page is equally valid. You’re not less of a writer because you don’t write everyday.
Twitter (most active): @eabwrites
My newsletter comes out on the 15th of every month, and you can sign up for it on my website: eabonnin.com.
Brave Goodreads link (please note that the cover is not final yet!): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54809022-brave