Swanky Seventeener Chelsea Bobulski recently sat down with Sixteener Isabel Bandeira to talk about about her YA debut, BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER (January 12, Spencer Hill Contemporary).
About the Author
Growing up, Isabel Bandeira split her time between summers surrounded by cathedrals, castles, and ancient tombs in Portugal and the rest of the year hanging around the lakes and trees of Southern New Jersey, which only fed her fairy-tale and nature obsessions. Even though she’s a Mechanical Engineer and tones down her love of all things glittery while designing medical devices during the day, it all comes out in her writing. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the dance studio or at the rink, working on her jumps and sit spin.
Isabel lives in South Jersey with her little black cat, too many books, too much yarn, and a closetful of vintage hats. She is represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olson, Inc.
About The Book
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
Chelsea: I think it’s safe to say that all book nerds will connect to your main character, Phoebe, right off the bat (I know I did!). Have you ever used your favorite books as instruction manuals for your life like Phoebe does?
Isabel: Yes—definitely not as dramatically as Phoebe, but sometimes, when I’m coming off a book high, I’ve found myself taking wardrobe inspiration from my favorite book characters or going “what would xyz do in this situation?” One of my hobbies is figure skating, and I definitely get into character mindsets there, pretending I’m a favorite kick-butt heroine as I go for something like a hard jump or a sit-spin.
Chelsea: I loved that you included actual scenes from Phoebe’s favorite books, and I was so impressed with how these scenes, while using different main characters and different situations, managed to increase the romantic tension between Phoebe and her love interest, Dev, in such an organic way. What were some of the challenges of writing so many different types of books and melding them into Phoebe’s character and story?
Isabel: The hardest part was to keep track of the different plots and different “author” voices while writing the excerpts and still keep them relevant to what Phoebe was doing at that point in the story. I had to write synopses for every book Phoebe read, and some of that meant a lot of research into the different worlds where the stories were set, like deep dives into Irish mythology for the Golden series or Victorian superstitions for the Hidden House series. I also had to keep track of the different tenses and make sure I didn’t write, say, a Hidden House excerpt in third person past tense or a Cradled on the Waves in first person present. It was a good exercise for me as a writer, but wow, it was a lot of work for only a few thousand words. Also, as we revised, a lot of excerpts ended up having to be replaced to fit the new text, so I practically wrote four or five books for the “price” of one! Still, it was a lot of fun.
Chelsea: One of my favorite scenes is when Phoebe’s waiting in line to meet a beloved author at a book event. Again, all of us book nerds know exactly how this feels, especially for an author who has gained rock star status in our eyes, and Phoebe captures the excitement and anxiety perfectly. Did you draw from your own personal experience of meeting a beloved author for this scene, and how does it feel now that you’re going to be on the other side of the signing table?
Isabel: I did, especially with the horrible picture thing. I don’t think I have ONE good picture from a booksigning. In every picture, all of the authors look so calm, cool, and have great hair, while I look like I was hit by lightning.
Meanwhile, in the four pictures where my hair actually looks great (while meeting one of my heroes, Meg Cabot!), my dress had a low v-neck… so you could see straight down my top in Every. Single. Picture. *insert facepalm here*
When it comes time to hold my own signings, I have a feeling that my pictures will still look awful, but at least I’ll always wear something with a higher neckline!
Chelsea: Common advice given to budding writers is to read often and across all genres. What other advice would you give to someone who is writing their first novel, or who perhaps has written several novels but just hasn’t quite made it to that next level of finding an agent and/or publisher yet?
Isabel: It’s easy to bury yourself in books and writing and bookish social media, but also make sure you get out into the world regularly. Take the time to recharge yourself, interact with others (gasp!) and get inspired—the outside world is what you’re (probably) writing about, after all! Your writing will thank you for it.
The one book you would use as a life/romance manual if need be:
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (sorry, Emily of New Moon.) The world would be a nicer place if we were all like Anne… though I might think twice about imitating how she originally dealt with Gilbert, the swooniest of swoony book boyfriends. (btw, totally picking classics for this and question 2 because I can’t choose between my recent favorites!!!)
The one book you love but would never use a life/romance manual:
Emma, by Jane Austen. I ship Emma and Knightly so hard, but Emma gives the worst romance advice ever.
Favorite time of day to write?
Go-to writing snack?
It was gummy bears, but as I get older (and more prone to sugar headaches), it’s more likely something salty, like goldfish or cheeze-its.
Favorite fictional couple?
Oh, you’re EVIL to make me pick! Waiiiiitt…
Belle and the Beast (well, at least Belle and Beast’s library…)
Ravenclaw (though I secretly want to be cool enough to be Slytherin)
About the Interviewer
Chelsea Bobulski is the author of THE WOOD, out in the Spring of 2017 from Feiwel and Friends. She was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised on Disney movies, 1950’s musicals, and Buckeye pride. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2010 and promptly married her high school sweetheart. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future.