I love when life experience influences writing. As Isabel Bandeira shares in her W.O.W. today, her travels to Portugal with her family when she was young helps to inspire her work today. It proves that creativity can come from the most simple and inspiring situations.
Many thanks to Isabel for sharing her writing journey today…
Amy: At what age did you truly know you wanted to be a writer?
Isabel: I think I’ve always known. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and telling stories. My mom even has these “books” I made as soon as I learned how to write– we had a good laugh over them the other day!
And no, I’m never sharing those “books” with the internet. Nope.
Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?
Isabel: Does my attempt at an epic Star Trek novel in high school count? (That thing was massive)
Well, back in senior year of high school, I had awful advice from a well-known author that had me convinced my chances of ever getting published were nonexistent. It took over a decade to learn that he was wrong, and I’ve been making up for lost time ever since. I completed my first recent manuscript back in 2011.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered agent interest?
Isabel: BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER was the second manuscript I queried, and I was very lucky that it found an agent and publisher home. What’s funny is that I wrote B.E.A. just for fun and just for me while I was querying my first manuscript. I never thought it would actually be something I would query. But sometimes, those turn out to be the best kind of manuscripts.
Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?
Isabel: People actually find query writing easy? What magic is this?
As hard as it is to write queries and pitches and synopses, I’m actually really thankful I had to! Now, when people ask me about my book, I lean on my twitter pitch. When my publisher asked for a draft book jacket description, I started with the body of my query. Writing condensed versions of your plot is a great skill that you learn and hone in the query process.
Amy: I love the fact that as a child you spent your summers in Portugal. How did that experience influence your writing?
Isabel: My sisters and I like to joke that you can’t throw a rock without hitting a castle in Portugal. And scattered in the middle of forests and farmland, there are remnants of Roman roads, stone circles, and ancient tombs. My grandmother would tell us about old traditions from her childhood that, when I’d look them up years later, stretched back millenia. Stealing a saying from Anne, there was (and is) so much “scope for imagination” there. It was the perfect place for younger me to dream up her own fairy tales.
Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Carrie Howland? How did you know she was the right fit for you?
Isabel: My call with Carrie was actually while I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a cadaver lab. I’d spent the entire day with surgeons testing products and, since cleanup ran late, I didn’t have time to change or drive home. Back then, it felt like a disaster, but now I like that my call story is pretty unique.
Most of the call is a little bit of a blur. We talked about BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER and the other Ever After series books, as well as some of my other projects. Carrie told me about her process and her clients. I remember feeling that we seemed to click really well with each other.
I actually had to choose between Carrie and another awesome agent. I made pros and cons lists and talked with friends, and each time, I had a gut feeling that she would be the right agent for me. I’m glad I went with that feeling.
Amy: The writing process is grueling and querying even more difficult. What one piece of advice can you impart to aspiring writers to encourage them to keep working towards their dream?
Isabel: I’m going to quote straight from a blog post I wrote back when I started querying BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER. I still believe every word of it:
“What I’ve learned from years of product development (Proof that engineering has hardened part of my soul?):
- You are not your design (or book.) When people critique/reject/whatever your product, you are not the product. I know it might feel like an extension of your own body and soul (believe me, I knoooooow,) but it’s not– it’s only something you made. If the product disappeared, you will still be here and valuable.”
… (the rest is here if you’re curious: http://isabelbandeira.blogspot.com/2013/05/whats-up-wednesday-i-need-to-blog-more.html)
Keep writing. Do things to remind yourself why you love to write. And remember, no matter how deep those query trenches feel, you are not your book. But you *are* a writer, and that’s a really special thing to be.
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?
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. In her day job, she’s a Mechanical Engineer and tones down her love of all things glittery while designing medical devices, but it all comes out in her writing. The rest of the time, you’ll find her reading, at the dance studio, or working on her jumps and spins at the ice rink.
Isabel lives in South Jersey with her little black cat, too much yarn, and a closetful of vintage hats. She is represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olson, Inc.
For more on Isabel, check her out on these social media sites: