Hello and Happy New Year! Come Tuesday, Isabel Ibañez's beauty Woven in Moonlight will be released into the reader-dom, and I'm so thrilled to announce that I was able to work as a part of her Street Team to help her celebrate its release! I interviewed her back in November, and I'm so happy to finally be able to share it.
But first, a summary!
Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight. When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic.
If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place. She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.
And now, the questions:
On Woven in Moonlight
1. Can you describe Woven in Moonlight in 140 characters or less?
A decoy Condesa infiltrates a corrupt government and sends coded messages back to the rebels woven throughout her magical tapestries.
2. Can you give us a snippet or a favorite sentence that you think sets the tone for the book (spoiler-free!)?
Because words empowered by justice can never be silenced.
3. How much of this book (especially the aspects of Bolivian culture) was influenced by your childhood?
I grew up going to Bolivia, and up until I was 18, I spent three months out of the year living there since birth. As a little girl, I was always crafty, so I was constantly fascinated by the beautiful tapestries and blankets and bags created by the weavers in Bolivia. I quickly learned and found a love of weaving and so when I first thought of Ximena, I wanted her to have a skill that was both artistic and honoring of the artisans in Bolivia.
4. What was your favorite part about writing Woven in Moonlight?
From the beginning, I wanted to write about people on different sides of a big question, clutching very different answers. How does anyone cross an impassable divide? What does that look like? That was what I wanted to write about, to wrestle with that bridging between people because I think we are all governed by answers and opinions that we embrace, and yet we meet people who change our minds, convince us of another way. I’ve always found that fascinating.
5. What was the most difficult part of writing this book, and what would you recommend writers do to help solve any similar issues?
The most difficult part of writing Woven in Moonlight was tackling the beginning. It took me several tries before finding the right way into the story. Honestly, I think I must have rewritten the first three chapters at least a dozen times! In terms of advice, I’d say finding that balance of when and where to start your story takes time and practice. I tend to think starting the story on the cusp of the inciting incident is the way to go. The inciting incident is that moment, that bomb that goes off in the middle of your character’s life and changes the entire landscape of their life.
6. How long were you working on this book before you felt confident enough to share it with others and when did you reach a point where you were willing to call yourself an author, not just a hopeful writer?
I actually love to draft with another writing buddy! We swap chapters as we go along and I find the process of writing moves much faster with encouragement and accountability. You know, I think labels are funny. I’m still uncomfortable trying to distinguish that fuzzy line between a writer and an author, if there even is a line.
On Bolivian Culture and General Inspiration
7. Are there any nods to Bolivia in your cover that you are willing to share with us?
Yes! Bolivia is known for its whimsical, luscious and bright art. When I was choosing the color scheme, I wanted to pick the colors I think of when I think of Bolivia: lush greens, corals, and striking orange, the stars are so visible in the countryside and I wanted to somehow capture it. Finally, Ximena’s clothing reminds me of the intricate patterns found in Bolivian blankets.
8. When did you realize that this book would be heavily inspired by Bolivia?
From day one. Woven in Moonlight was always going to be a love story set and
inspired by Bolivia. I wanted to recognize the food, the clothing and some of the
landmarks. From there, I layered in its history and current politics.
9. What unique parts of Bolivian culture would you like to highlight that play a role in Ximena’s world?
So much! Bolivia has a rich relationship with food, wares, and clothing. The clothes
Ximena wears in Woven in Moonlight are a nod to the ensembles worn by the
indigenous women, the food she eats are dishes I grew up eating and her weaving is a
traditional cornerstone of Bolivian culture.
Thank you so much, Isabel, and congrats on your book being published! You can still preorder her book to receive some fun merch. Make sure you go and check it out!