Lovely readers, do I have a treat for you today! Another amazing and thrilling YA fantasy novel is about to hit the shelves (February 13th) and I have the inside scoop on how it all came to be. I had the chance to interview Bonnie about her first book, The Ninth Sorceress, and she gives readers a look at her process of writing, how she tackled writing a fantasy series, and so much more! I also had the chance to snag an ARC of The Ninth Sorceress so you can read my thoughts on the novel as well. If you want to know more about Bonnie, The Ninth Sorceress, and my thoughts on the first book in the series then read on!
The ninth sorceress was a welcome adventure. I haven’t picked up a fantasy novel in a while so I felt like I was reading a fantasy novel for the first time and I loved it. I really enjoyed the steady world building. Most would say that following a fantasy novel is hard because it is a whole new world to learn and discover, but Bonnie does an amazing job at letting readers experience the new world without having to explain so much.The story flowed well and I easily fell into the story, which is hard sometimes with a fantasy.
As far as the characters in the novel, they were realistic, and I felt a connection to them be it little or big. Gwyn was written so well in this first book because she reacted as a normal person would at finding out that they are special. She tried to deny it and was scared, but in the end, she embraced it because she couldn’t change anything. Often times in tropes like these, the heroine just easily accepts the cards she is dealt and while it does push the story forward faster, it is unrealistic. Just that little touch of human response made the story all the more real to me. The supporting characters were also intriguing as they all seemed to have an interesting background rather than the one-dimensional side characters readers often see and that made me want to know more about them. I look forward to seeing more of them in the next book!
Lastly, the plot of this story was very captivating. We start off knowing nothing about the world and Gwyn but we start getting clues that something is special about her and throughout the story we slowly uncover little bits and pieces until the truth is revealed in an explosive scene. Along the way there is no lack of action and adventure. There were zealous wizards with drakes (you all know how much I love dragons), a shapeshifting protector, a necromancer who thrives in the grey areas, and a girl who had more power then she imagined. All of this mixed with underground caves and cities, hidden castles, explosive magic, and a quest for answers made for a thrilling read. I cannot wait to see what book two has in store because that cliffhanger was brutal.
Does that sound like a book you will love? Continue reading for a look into Bonnie's writing methods and secrets! Don't forget to add The Ninth Sorceress to your TBR on Goodreads or buy it on Amazon on February 13th!
Bonnie: Considering it took me about 15 years to finish the book, I guess I wasn’t very good at making time, haha! But now that I’m working on Book 2 and Book 3 in the series, and have to worry about things like deadlines, I’ve figured out some techniques to keep things moving.
I’m not a ‘write every day’ writer, although I know a lot of great writers like Stephen King and Brandon Sanderson do exactly that. After a long day at work, I don’t have the mental juice to write at night, and in the morning I like to sleep as late as I possibly can. So I do my writing on weekends and holidays, and that works for me, because I can really get in my zone and concentrate. If I have a whole day without distractions, it’s easy to write 5,000 words or more. My favourite thing is to book a week off work and spend it in an isolated cabin with just my writing. You really get into a zen state where everything else just fades into the background.
Bonnie: World-building can be a bit of a trap. It’s important, especially in fantasy, and it’s something that can really make the story come alive. At the same time, it’s easy to get so bogged down in world-building details that you don’t end up actually writing anything. I’ve seen aspiring writers who have whole folders full of world-building, but when it comes to the book itself, they’ve never gotten past Chapter 1! It’s tricky to find the balance.
For The Ninth Sorceress, there were a few things I needed to hash out before I started, like what the magic in my world can do. I didn’t want to have characters flying in Book 1 and then decide in Book 2 that magic can’t make you fly. I also like to build the overall scaffold of the world before I start – so I’ll identify the different countries, the politics, the climate; anything that’s going to impact what ends up on the page.
Otherwise, especially for the really granular stuff, I do my world-building as it comes along. So if I have characters eating a meal at a tavern, I’ll decide what kind of food they serve in this particular country and region. In Book 2, I introduce a character from the country of Shatse, and that was my opportunity to spend some time hashing out what Shatse is like, what their beliefs and cultural practices are, what values they might hold, and so on. I didn’t know any of that while I was writing The Ninth Sorceress, because I didn’t need it yet.
I do a lot of research while I’m writing. It’s crucial, especially when it comes to adding those crunchy details that make the world feel real. I read a lot of material on ancient/medieval cities, what kind of industries they had, what they might smell like, what you might see there. And I always find myself looking up architectural terms, because even if the reader doesn’t know what a gambrel roof looks like, at least it feels like something specific and not just a vague blob of ‘roof.’ I’m a big believer in the specific over the foggy and nebulous.
Bonnie: Great timing, because I just wrote a blog post about this myself!
Unlike a lot of writers, I’m not a ‘plot out every scene in advance’ kind of girl. I find that the story tends to emerge by itself as I write. But I do spend some time doing a general outline before I start, so I have an idea where I’m heading. Basically:
• I make a list, in no particular order, of all the important things that need to happen in the book.
• I fiddle with them until they’re in some sort of chronological order that makes sense.
• I write a few sentences about how to get from Point A to Point B to Point C.
• I look for holes, so anything that seems boring or pointless or nonsensical.
A writer called Randy Ingermanson came up with something called the Snowflake Method. I don’t stick to it exactly, but I think it’s a great starting point. Without going into a huge amount of detail, you basically start with a single sentence describing what your book is about (‘A hobbit learns that his magic ring is the key to saving Middle Earth from the Dark Lord.’) Then you expand that sentence into a paragraph which sets up the major plot points, conflicts and stakes. Then you expand each sentence of that summary paragraph into a full paragraph of its own, adding more detail about the characters and story threads (by now you’ve written about 1 page). Then you expand that page again into a four page summary with a scene list. And so on and so on, until the story basically builds itself.
This kind of step-by-step approach won’t work for everyone. But if you find yourself getting stuck and don’t know where to go next, it might be worth a try!
Bonnie: Fantasy has always been my favourite genre to read, so when I started writing my own story, it was always going to be fantasy!
When I was growing up in the 90s, aside from a handful of amazing female authors, fantasy was still a bit of a boy’s club – a lot of plucky orphan boys with magic swords saving princesses from dragons. I often found myself thinking how much cooler it would be if the princess was the wizard instead.
Bonnie: Gwyn and I have some overlap, aside from both being green-eyed blondes! We’re both natural loners who love books and spend our time dreaming of other places. We even wear the same perfume fragrance.
Gwyn is tougher than me, though. She’s been through a lot, whereas my life is pretty cushy. I don’t think I’d do well if I had to deal with her problems! On the other hand, Gwyn has a lot of insecurities, especially socially, whereas I’m less worried about what people think of me. I think that’s something that just comes with age.
I would absolutely like to have Gwyn’s magic! The megalomaniac in me would be thrilled to have phenomenal cosmic powers. She doesn’t tend to use magic for personal gain, but I definitely would😊
Bonnie: The Wheel of Time world for sure! I hope I would be able to use magic, but if not, it seems like even the common folk have a pretty good quality of life. Maybe I would learn the harp and become a traveling bard.
It would be great to live in Harry Potter world too, but with my luck I’d probably be a muggle.
Check out Bonnie's links below!