In Isabel Bandeira’s debut, Bookishly Ever After, readers meet Phoebe, a bookish girl who thinks her life hardly qualifies as a contemporary and is a far cry from the paranormal novel with an attractive love interest that she wants it to be. But when she meets Dev, a hot guy in the clarinet section, she turns to her books not to provide an escape, but for advice.
“Books let us escape, but they can also act as mirrors for our world, letting us see into other people’s heads,” said Bandeira.
And readers know this to be true. For some, reading is a purely escapist activity, and writing Phoebe gave Bandeira an opportunity to escape for awhile.
“Because Phoebe is such a prolific reader, I had to research and write synopses for all of the ‘books’ she reads,” said Bandeira. “I got to play with paranormal and fantasy stories as well as contemporary. If I ever got tired of writing anything, I’d just switch stories for a little bit.”
For others though, readings acts as a way to expand horizons and gain a different perspective on the world.
“[Books let us] see how we fit into the bigger puzzle that is our incredible and diverse world. They say readers are more empathetic than the general public and I believe that very much.”
And for some readers, books are one in the same – they give readers an opportunity to escape and offer a deeper dive into the experiences of different people. Of course, when writing a book, authors are challenged to do a little of both and sometimes, a little bit more. That’s certainly the case for Bandeira, who not only got to escape to other stories while writing, but also had to dig a little deeper to draw more out of the story.
“I’m a plotter, so a lot of my ‘ah-ha!s’ came in revisions with my CPs or in edits with my editors. They told me to dig deeper to push the story further. They asked me hard questions about my characters and their motivations so that the book didn’t skim the surface of the story. And they kicked my butt until the excerpts really fit with Phoebe’s actions.”
As a debut author, Bandeira’s certainly had quite a journey to publication – she was actually in the middle of querying her “‘more serious, paranormal’ manuscript” while working on Bookishly Ever After – but she’s proud of the novel she’s produced and hopes her readers can take away a similar feeling after reading her novel.
“I hope [readers]walk away with a sense that it’s okay to just be yourself. Never be ashamed to love what you love, even if it seems goofy to others.”