Author Interview: Bonnie Ferrante

Fantasy author Bonnie Ferrante pulls you inside her protagonist’s mind and allows you to experience the fears and frustrations along with the joys and successes personally. Her characters are flawed but never hopeless. Please welcome Bonnie to No Wasted Ink.

Author Bonnie FerranteHi. I am Bonnie Ferrante. I’ve been published traditionally for two decades (under other names) and am now pursuing self-publishing. My present focus is on young adult and children’s picture books. I was a grade school teacher for 33 years but am now writing full time. I am a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Lay Leader and a grandmother of three spunky girls. Since developing Parkinson’s Disease, I predominantly use a speech to text program for writing and use Photoshop for illustrating. I seldom use acrylics anymore because I have a tremor in my right hand. I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada which is on the northern shore of Lake Superior. I love the space and proximity to water, forest, and wildlife (although I could do without the rabbits and deer eating my garden).

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always loved books but I never had the confidence to consider a career in writing. My passion into writing curriculum and plays for my drama club is a great school teacher. Just for fun, I entered a newspaper writing contest on my most memorable Thanksgiving and won. It was a humorous piece. I wrote a few more similar pieces and brought them into the newspaper. They hired me to write a weekly humor column. I entered more writing contests and discovered I was better than I thought. While teaching part and then fall time, writing was more of a hobby. Now it’s my focus.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A regional anthology contains two of my short stories. At the launch several people asked me to autograph the book. A number of readers told me they were fans of my newspaper column. Then I started publishing my stories in magazines in Canada and The United States. I think it really clicked that I was a “writer” when I had to create a file folder in my desk drawer entitled “publishing contracts”.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Leya is a young adult fantasy. It is told in first person through the voice of Leya Truelong, a poor peasant girl who has been selected by the Mistresses of the Sphere of Vision to fill the magic potential shown in her eyes. However, Leah has a problem with impulse control especially with regards to her temper. If the Mistresses decide she is a danger to others, they will strip her of her gift leaving her brain-damaged. Leah finds the meditation exercises boring even though they are designed to help her with self-control. As well, there is a bully at the school who knows exactly how to push her buttons.

What inspired you to write this book?

About 20 years ago I wrote a short story that my critique Guild absolutely loved. However, I couldn’t get it published in any magazine. When two different editors told me that too much was happening in the story and it should be a novel instead, I set it aside. When I left teaching in 2009, I took a few more writing classes and decided to transform the short story into a novel. I applied for an Ontario Arts Grant using the manuscript for my submission and was accepted. That’s when I knew this book was going to be something special.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Generally I’d say my style is conversational. I try to keep my writing clear and accessible. I also like to add the occasional poetic element to enrich the text. I write the way I like to read. (Verbosity and pretention bore me.)

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, but I don’t want to tell readers what they should get out of it. It’s about small choices leading to large choices, self-control, fulfilling potential, and facing consequences.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not really. Although some of the training Leya goes through comes from my own experience with Buddhism. The setting for the Sphere of Vision is based on a resort in Punta Cana that I loved. I think it gives the novel and exotic feel.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’m an extremely eclectic person and that goes for my reading too. Shakespeare would be the unequivocal number one influence on my love of words. His writing was brilliant and beautiful yet accessible and influenced by the pop culture of his time. My interest in genres and particular writers varies from year to year but I always go back to Shakespeare.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed the cover of my book. First I had water crashing into fire then I discovered dozens of books with similar covers. Then I tried using Leya’s two different colored eyes. The illustration is a visual representation of the title, the turning point.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Take classes, sign up for courses, read books about writing, follow blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, practice and learn for several years before you attempt to publish anything.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you enjoy my book, please write a review. If you’re not comfortable writing a review, then just rate it. Vote for my book on listopia be a if you want others to enjoy it as well. Mention it on your Facebook page. Tell your friends. Help to spread the word in whatever way makes you comfortable. (Marketing is my bane.)

Book Cover LeyaBonnie Ferrante
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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