Welcome to my latest interview! While Beast From the East continues to ravage the UK (It is so cold that even the Scottish are wearing coats out there!), I interviewed an awesome up and coming author, Bonnie Price. Her book Beneath the Mists is out tomorrow, and I jumped at the chance to spotlight here on here! I hope you all enjoy. Here are the links!
- First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hello! My name is Bonnie Price and I write a romantic fantasy series called Of Astral and Umbral. I’ve been writing since I was young but more seriously over the past four years. Writing is one of the few things that I come back to every time. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things—three types of dance, horseback riding, figure skating, gymnastics, archery, drawing, painting, graphics design, and martial arts. While I enjoyed all of them, writing is the one that I would say is necessary. If I don’t write, my head gets too noisy with ideas and I can’t sleep well. That said, I’d love to get into martial arts again. When I’m not writing, I’m usually gaming, playing with my dog, Clarice, or experimenting in Photoshop.
- How do you develop your plots and characters?
By writing! Honestly, I am not a planner. I’m a discovery writer—or pantser by some definitions. I get an idea for a setting or story, jot down some barebones character profiles, and let the rest fill itself in as I write. The downside to my method of writing is that I will sometimes end up with thirteen or more drafts of my work. Once I have a few drafts down, I pick one that I like and switch Scrivener to split screen mode—old work on the left, new on the right. Then I start rewriting from there. During the entire process I add more and more world building files to my binder to keep track of everything. Eventually, my drafts become the foundation and guideline for the final product.
- Tell us about your current project.
Of Astral and Umbral started because of my interest in dichotomy, high fantasy, demons, and deities. The project’s plot has changed a lot since its initial conception but those key themes remain. When I started working on Of Astral and Umbral I had dozens of questions I asked myself—that’s how I work out details or try to fix things that aren’t working.
- What if “demons” were just another species or race like humans or elves?
- If they’re just another race instead of some supernatural embodiment of evil, does that mean they can become deities?
- What sort of cultures would exist among the different demonic races?
From there, I took and reworked characters that I’ve been writing about for a long time and introduced them to the world I created. Most of the changes I had to make to my characters were improving their depth and giving them each a unique voice. Their personalities didn’t really change, per se, rather than become…better.
- Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
I have two main characters in Of Astral and Umbral as a whole but the majority of the chapters are from the female MC’s point of view.
Arianna is a stubborn, bloodthirsty woman who likes to fight and enjoys hunting down monstrosities. She’s an Umbral Mage—someone who wields the power of darkness in conjunction with other elements. Her affinity for darkness has caused her to be ostracized by her people despite her role in protecting their city-state, X’shmir. Arianna is a former princess-turned-solitary warrior.
My other main character, Nalithor, is a member of the Devillian race known as “Adinvyr.” He’s the firstborn son of the Adinvyr racial deities, making him a demigod—originally. My goal with Nalithor was to create a character who was a true alpha male—not the misinformed caricature of an alpha that we usually see in romance novels.
Like the blurb for the first book implies, Arianna and Nalithor once knew each other.
- What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Don’t worry about writing rules while working on your drafts. Seriously. That’s what the editing process is for. If you agonize over every little rule that exists, and refuse to break any of them, you will only slow your progress down.
Make sure the writing rules you do want to follow are legitimate ones. Writing advice from famous writers is often misquoted.
Finish your full story, or at least the first book, first.
Also, keep character profiles and worldbuilding notes. Don’t delete drafts or chapters. It’s important to be able to track how far you’ve come since you first started. If you’re ever feeling down or uncertain, reviewing how you’ve improved over time can do wonders for lifting you back up.
- What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
My real life influences come mostly from cultures. More specifically, the cultures of my Devillian races are a mix of influences—Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian. I took aspects and styles I liked from different cultures and fused them together with other elements to create the cultures for my world’s races.
Some of the human and elven cultures are based on experiences I’ve had in real life or otherwise observed.
Aside from that, I tried to keep to whatever my crazy brain came up with.
- 7. What inspires you to write?
To quiet my mind, for one. Also boredom.
Second, I originally began writing because I couldn’t find the kind of stories I wanted to read. When I was a kid we couldn’t really afford to buy dozens of books and our local library was small. I exhausted their collection of what I wanted to read fast. And so, I turned to writing. My thought process was, “If I can’t find what I want to read—then I’ll write it instead!”
Third, music. The majority of the time while I’m writing I listen to music. However, it can’t have lyrics that I understand—so no English vocal songs. I’m having to phase out some Japanese songs too because I’ve been picking up the language here and there in my free time. Game soundtracks are one of my go-to’s.
- What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Choosing whether or not to rename races—and to what.
I originally used names that people would immediately recognize for my demon-inspired races. Things such as Ifrit, Djinn, Kitsune, Bakeneko, Lamia/Naga, and Incubus/Succubus (the gender-specific words for this created a whole slew of problems too.)
However, I noticed something interesting with some of my readers. They couldn’t abandon their preconceived notions about those races while reading my story. I received feedback saying that Nalithor was “unbelievable” for being a monogamous Incubus in a sexually free society.
“Sexually free society” should imply that people can be monogamous if they want to. The word “Incubus” overrides that idea in some reader’s minds.
And so I decided to rename almost every race in the series. Giving new names to seventeen races was arguably more difficult than editing. After all, I had languages established for the different species by this point. Making sure the names fell in line with pre-existing languages proved challenging.
- What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
From book one, Beneath the Mists, Chapter Six: A Familiar Scent.
If I had to pick a favorite chapter that would probably be it. It’s the first time Arianna is truly forced to question her origins.
- Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
While writing Beneath the Mists I settled into my own style and learned not to take my writing too seriously. Whether it’s writing rules, perfectionism, or something else, agonising over it will just give me writer’s block and that’s something I need to avoid since my process includes releasing drafts in a web serial format. For anyone unfamiliar with posting drafts as a web serial, it’s like crowd-sourcing beta readers.
It’s hard to release two chapters a week if you’re agonising over every little detail—many of which the average reader won’t even notice.
- It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I usually do this by tying aspects of the character’s personality into something I can relate to or already understand. For example, if I need to understand a character’s bloodlust, I can pull from my experience in gaming. Another example would be basing some characters off of people I’ve known.
I also spend a lot of time thinking about my chapters. Since I write from first person perspective, this means I need to think from that character’s PoV if I want to get a good feel for where the chapter is going.
- What are your future project(s)?
Well, Of Astral and Umbral is ongoing. I have roughly five books written in the series so far and need to work on editing books two through five so I can release them. As of early February, the series as a whole sits at around 700,000 words.
I have another project in the works that’s called Deck of Souls. I’d classify this one as a mix of portal fantasy, romantic fantasy, and maybe a hint of GameLit. It’s about a female gamer who gets transported to another world through the game she and her guild are playing. She soon finds out that the world is real and that the deities of different planets are “trading” people much like we trade Pokémon or Magic the Gathering cards.
- If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
If the cost of college wasn’t an issue, astrophysicist or archaeologist would be my top two job titles to go for.
- What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
http://www.avrirsa.com – This is my series website and one of three places I post drafts in web serial form. There is also a link to my Discord server on my website if anyone would like to interact with me.
https://www.patreon.com/BonnieLPrice – People who want to get sneak peeks at my work, cool rewards, or simply support me can do so here.
https://www.goodreads.com/BonnieLPrice – Goodreads! If anyone would like to ask me more questions, I’ll answer them there as long as they aren’t inappropriate.
https://www.facebook.com/OfAstralandUmbral – This is my series page.
https://www.facebook.com/BonnieLPriceOfficial – Author page.
https://twitter.com/Bonnie_L_Price – Twitter.
Many thanks for the interview, Bonnie! I have some reviews planned this month. Wrath and Red Sister will be top of my list, as well as a few gaming articles exploring RPGs and some more of my favourite PC games.