Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Stolen City by Elisa A. Bonnin @eabwrites @XpressoTours

Stolen City
Elisa A. Bonnin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: September 20th 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Twin thieves attempt to pull off a daring heist in Stolen City, the sophomore fantasy novel from Dauntless author Elisa A. Bonnin.

The city of Leithon is under Imperial occupation and Arian Athensor has made it her playground.

In stealing magical artifacts for the Resistance, bounding over rooftops to evade Imperial soldiers, and establishing herself as the darling thief of the underground, Arian lives a life wrapped in danger and trained towards survival. She’ll steal anything for the right price, and if she runs fast enough, she can almost escape the fact that her mother is dead, her father is missing, and her brother, Liam, is tamping down a wealth of power in a city that has outlawed magic.

But then the mysterious Cavar comes to town with a job for the twins: to steal an artifact capable of ripping the souls from the living–the same artifact that used to hang around the neck of Arian’s mother. Suddenly, her past is no longer buried under adrenaline but intimately tied to the mission at hand, and Arian must face her guilt and pain head-on in order to pull off the heist.

As Arian and Cavar infiltrate the strongest fortress in Leithon and Liam joins the Resistance as their resident mage, the twins find themselves embroiled in court politics and family secrets, and the mission becomes more than just another artifact theft. The target is now the Imperial rule, and Arian will go to any length necessary to steal her city back.

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Interview with Elisa A. Bonnin

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

There are two different things happening in Stolen City, the heist and the revolution. I’ve been a fan of heist stories for a long time, because they tend to have witty banter combined with really clever solutions to impossible odds, and I’ve always wanted to write one. I decided to write Stolen City as a heist because the protagonist of the book, Arian, has been a thief in every iteration I’ve written of her, and I thought she would be the perfect protagonist for a heist.

The heist occurs in a setting that has been colonized. I think about colonization a lot, because I come from a country that has been colonized three times, and because some of my ancestors were Spanish colonizers. I wanted to write this story featuring characters working to reclaim their city, and to show how each character’s lives were affected by the occupation.

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

First and foremost, I wanted to write a fun heist novel, with characters beating impossible odds, and I think I achieved that with this book. The book has four POV characters, each with their own goals and motivations, but those goals kind of crash into each other over the course of the book. The resulting chaos was a ton of fun to write, and I’m hoping that it will be a lot of fun to read.

I had other goals, such as writing autistic representation into the book that would feel believable and authentic. While I am autistic, I know that my experience doesn’t reflect every autistic person’s experience, and I worked hard to create a character that was recognizably autistic without being a stereotype. Since the book isn’t out yet, I can’t say for certain whether I succeeded, but early readers like Liam and I’m hoping that means I achieved this goal.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Definitely writing four POVs! It was important to me that each of the POVs added something to the story and that each character had their own role in the plot but keeping all of those straight and making sure that they were all moving along the same timeline was hard! It was something that took a couple of revisions to get right, but I’m happy with how it turned out in the end.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed writing the character interactions in this book. I’ve known these characters for a very long time—my best friend and I first came up with the basic idea of them in high school—which meant that I knew how each character would react when put in different situations. The characters had a long history of bantering with each other in my friend’s and my stories, so it wasn’t hard figuring out how they would interact in these new roles, and it was a ton of fun to write.

Were there alternate endings you considered?

I wrote the first draft of Stolen City chronologically without an outline, so I didn’t know how the story would end until I got there. That means that I didn’t really consider any alternate endings. I just kept each character’s goals in mind and wrote what I thought would be the most interesting thing to happen at a time. While the opening of the book did get revised heavily from the first draft, the ending is still the same, so you can read Stolen City knowing that where it ended up was where the story was always meant to end.

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

As I mentioned, these are old characters. My high school best friend and I came up with them together. At the time, I was already writing, and my best friend and I were both really into fantasy and gaming. We constructed these characters so that we could tell ourselves stories set in a fantasy world, and we used to chat on the phone for hours every evening, trading back lines of dialogue and discussing what the characters would do next.

A fun bit of trivia is that we actually started with the characters’ parents (Caterina Athensor, Reiva eth’Nivear, Rinu eth’Akari, and Kallan Venari from the book are all altered versions of those original characters). We came up with entire adventures for them and paired them off in the end, and then when we decided they were going to have children, we waited in real time for those kids to be born before planning out their stories. That means that for nine real world months (twelve, I think, because Cavar is slightly older than the twins), we held off on telling stories about the kids and instead put the parents in increasingly improbable shenanigans. But we gave up on real time shortly after that and started being very generous with time skips.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading all kinds of books, but fantasy will always be my favorite genre. It’s the first genre I fell in love with as a kid, and it’s still the genre I reach for when I’m looking for my next read. I just love how fantasy lets us explore worlds so unlike our own. For me, the best fantasy novels are the ones that put ordinary humans in extraordinary situations and show how they react.  

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.

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Sherry said...

I love the cover and think the book sounds interesting.

Giselle said...

Thanks for hosting today! :)