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An Exclusive Interview with Isabel Ibañez
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2020
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2020

This month we've been featuring beloved author Isabel Ibañez and her new book Woven in Moonlight. She Writes got the chance to sit down with this incredibly talented author and get to know her process better. 

Describe your writing routine

There are a few things I always keep with me while writing: a candle burning, lip balm, and a cup of tea or coffee. When I first sit down to write, I always create a detailed outline and because I do, drafting goes by very quickly. From there, I will take a week-long break and then jump into revising. Each writing session starts the same—turning on a movie soundtrack (usually epic/fantasy) and then I’ll write until I hit around 2,000 words. Candle is blown out when I’m done!

What is one of the first things you can remember writing?

There are so many little snippets of stories I dabbled in, some fanfiction, and stories about princesses and roguish heroes. My characters were often running for their lives, exploring far-off places and getting into the most perilous of scrapes.

When did you start to feel like a writer?

I personally started feeling like a writer when I started making time and space for it in my life consistently. I stopped treating it like something I sort of did and embraced it for the dream that it was. Something to work for, with goals and deadlines. Writing became not only a creative outlet but a career to pursue.

You've been heavily involved in Pitch Wars, first as a mentee and now as a mentor, what would say to those considering it?

DO IT! Pitch Wars is a fantastic way to meet fellow writers. Finding community has made all the difference in my life! Whether you get in or not, there’s so much around the hashtag that it’s easy to bump into other people on the same journey and place you’re at. Writing can be hard and having people to turn to is an absolute must.

You describe your book as Bolivian fantasy, what would you say are some defining characteristics of Bolivia/Bolivian culture that you couldn't wait to incorporate?

So many things! I love food—writing and talking about it, cooking, and sitting down at the dinner table. It’s just a huge part of who I am. So for Woven in Moonlight, I absolutely wanted to include all the dishes I grew up eating. The other elements I brought into the narrative were the Spanish language and clothing! I had SO MUCH FUN describing all the skirts and tunics and polleras and mantillas!

Your cover is incredible, and we know you had a friend design it, but as a designer and illustrator yourself, did you set the tone for it? Were there must-have elements you wanted to be included?

I actually designed the cover myself! My editor had reached out, asking if I knew of any Bolivian artists they could hire to design the cover and since I am both of those things, I submitted my portfolio. Illustrating and designing the cover, map and the interior illustrations was a total dream! I am still amazed by the level of trust my publisher exhibited—I had complete control over the style, layout, and composition. They supported all of my creative decisions. It really was a wonderful experience.

What advice do you have for diverse authors considering incorporating their culture into their fiction?

Details go a long way! I started with holding my favorite memories and aspects of my culture in my mind as I drafted. I found ways to include the unique elements in a way that felt natural to the story. I really thought through traditions and the culture, from what’s on the table, to the clothes all the characters wear.

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