Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Blog Tour: Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin @eabwrites @XpressoTours

Elisa A. Bonnin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 2nd 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.

“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

Dauntless captures the best parts of every action-packed fantasy—breathtaking scenes of power and victory that push the limits of human tenacity. This is a triumphant tale of courage and self discovery that will make you believe in your own strength.” —Kyllie Lee Baker, author of The Keeper of Night

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Interview with Elisa A. Bonnin

    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

    Dauntless is a sapphic, Filipino-inspired fantasy about exploration, discovery and what happens when two cultures meet each other for the first time, so there’s a lot of different subjects involved there. The Filipino part is the easiest to explain, as I’m Filipino and grew up in the Philippines. Growing up, I had never read a fantasy novel set in an environment I could relate to, and when I wrote Dauntless, I wanted to create something that was set in the tropics, so that I could write parts of my own lived experience into the setting.

    I’m also bi, and have been grappling with that part of my identity for a while before writing Dauntless. Writing this book (which has a side M/F relationship and a central F/F relationship), helped me to explore my identity and become more open about who I am.

    But one of the themes most central to Dauntless is that it is a book about exploration and adventure. I wrote Dauntless while I was working on my PhD in oceanography. I was finishing up my thesis, and I was reflecting on why I started studying oceanography in the first place. I originally started studying oceanography out of a sense of wonder about the ocean and curiosity of the unknown, feelings which then inspired the valiants’ desire to explore the world around them.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    I wanted to write a fantasy and adventure book, like the ones I had grown up reading and loving, but with Filipino characters in an environment similar to the one I’d actually lived in. Ultimately, I think that I achieved that goal. Dauntless is, at its heart, an epic fantasy, with heroes and action scenes and overall themes of adventure and discovery. But along the way, I ended up writing something else too.

    The characters of Dauntless are still learning about their world. They’re branching out, discovering new places, and settling in them. And along the way, they have to learn for themselves how to live with the people who are already there. I wanted to show that first meeting between the People and another culture, and present a solution for their meeting that would be different from (as it is so often in our history), colonization or war.

    What was the hardest part of writing this book?

    The hardest part was definitely having to balance Seri and Tsana’s different cultures and the information that each of them had about the other. Although both of these cultures existed in the same tropical environment, I needed to make sure that they were sufficiently different from each other that their first meeting would be a shock, and that the tension between them would be enough to carry the entire book.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    This is the first book I’ve ever written in a tropical world, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the worldbuilding came to me. I loved imagining what else the characters would find as they explored this world, and I loved writing in the little details of the world–the food the characters would eat, the materials they’d build their houses with, even they way they protected themselves from mosquitos and other insects. I also loved writing about the valiants and the culture of the People, and I had a lot of fun with Eshai and Seri’s POV.

    Where there alternate endings you considered?

    Yes, but to talk about them, I’ll have to get into spoiler territory. I’ll try to stay light on the details so that you can still experience them yourself, but if you want to go into Dauntless completely blind, I suggest you skip the answer to this question.



    In the current ending of Dauntless, Seri goes with Tsana back to her home to learn more about her culture. But in the original ending I had planned, it was Tsana who would stay with Seri in the world of the People. I realized while writing the book that I had made that plan because I was so used to seeing the story from the People’s perspective, but that actually, the People had a lot to gain from learning more about Tsana’s culture, and that Seri herself had more reasons to leave than to stay.

    That’s not the only part of the ending that changed, but it’s definitely the most significant one, because Seri deciding to leave with Tsana represents a lot of growth from her character, and I love what it does both for Seri’s character arc and for their relationship development as a whole.

    Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

    Researching this book was a bit of a solitary endeavor, but I don’t think I could have written the entire thing without my friends from graduate school. This includes the ones in my cohort who helped keep me from stressing too much as I finished up my thesis, and other graduate students who inspired me to keep writing Dauntless, even when I felt like I wanted to quit. I don’t have any specific stories, but I will say that no matter how solitary writing gets, I feel like I can’t write in a vacuum. The people around me, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off of them, or even who do some chores or prepare food when I’m on deadline, are all responsible for helping me get where I am today, and I am so grateful for them.

    What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

    I love reading fantasy, and most of the books that I read and love are fantasy or science fiction. But I like books across all genres, and will read just about anything!

Author Bio:

Elisa A. Bonnin was born and raised in the Philippines, after which she moved to the United States to study chemistry and later oceanography. After completing her doctorate, she moved to Germany to work as a postdoctoral scientist. A lifelong learner, Elisa is always convinced that she should “maybe take a class in something” and as a result, has amassed an eclectic collection of hobbies. But writing will always be her true love. Publishing a book has been her dream since she was eight years old, and she is thrilled to finally be able to share her stories. Dauntless is her first novel.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:



Sherry said...

Sounds like a good book.

Giselle said...

Thanks for hosting, Nancy!