Author Interview: Isabel Ibanez Davis

Isabel Headshot.jpgMeet Isabel Ibanez Davis.

Isabel Ibañez Davis is the author of WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT (Page Street, Fall 2019), an award winning designer, illustrator, wife to Andrew Davis of Portlandia, and mom to a golden-doodle named Piper Bramble Buns. She’s a Pitch Wars class 2015 Alum. She’s also the creator of the new Pitch Wars branding and mascot, Poe Warburton. Isabel is also mentoring for Pitch Wars in the YA category. This is her third year mentoring.

By day, she designs greeting cards for 9th Letter Press, a company she founded and sold in 2017. Her work has been sold in over 350 mom and pop shops around the country, as well as in nationwide brands like Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie (a dream come true),  and Paper Source.

By late, late night she writes YA fantasies featuring amazing food and strong Latina characters who are often running for their lives. Her favorite stories always feature atmospheric settings, far-off places featuring lush landscapes, kissing, and action scenes. When she’s not doodling or writing, Isabel can be found playing board games and talking trash with fellow players, or traveling with her husband to far-off places. She loves to cook, but is a terrible baker despite her best efforts. One day, she’ll learn how to make the best carrot cake on the planet.

In college she majored in Creative Writing and History, but never dreamed that her work might one day be published.

Isabel is represented by the tenacious Mary Moore of Kimberly Cameron & Associates.

Social Media Links:
Twitter + Instagram | @IsabelWriter09

The Interview.

Pitch Wars has begun! Can you share what inspired you to apply to be a mentor and your experience so far as a YA mentor?

I’ve been involved with Pitch Wars since 2015 when I first applied to be a mentee. The community I found within it has been life giving and I learned SO much from my mentor, Megan Lally, and my PW sibling Sheena Boekweg. To this day we remain very good friends. The next year, I became a mentor and I haven’t stopped being one since. I wanted to give back and help writers with their own stories.

How does one become a “giant word nerd?” Frankly I need a t-shirt and design for that immediately!

Oh man, T-Shirts would be great—why haven’t I thought of that before? I became a “Giant Word Nerd” because of my parents. My first language was Spanish and growing up, I pronounced English words like my parents did—phonetically. It’s how one learns Spanish, by sounding out each letter. In English, that doesn’t always work and you may end up saying “Salmon” or “Epitome” wrong. 😉

This is when I really sought to learn English well, constantly reading, sometimes with a dictionary and I learned to looooooove words.

To follow up with my question – tell us your “word nerd story” in five words or less.

How about my favorite words?! Vellichor, Eloquence, flibbertigibbet, hiraeth, effervescence.

What was your first illustration project and how did you find the illustrator in you?

So, I majored in Creative Writing + History, but ended up going back to school for Graphic Design. I really wanted to become a children’s book illustrator, but ended up falling into designing wedding invitations. I love love and this turned out to be a great outlet, which lead to me founding 9th Letter Press, a stationery company that churned out greeting cards, wedding invitations, etc. I’ve since sold the company, but to this day I remain an avid paper lover.

How does your writing process look? Are you a plotter? Do you let your characters take the lead and see what happens?

I am SUCH a plotter. For a long time, I wondered why it was taking me so long to write books. Why some writing sessions took longer than others, and finally I figured out the problem. I am the most effective writer when I know where I’m going. Without direction, I flounder and spend too much time asking myself is this the right way forward. When I plotted and wrote an outline for the first time, I ended up finishing a polished version of WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT, my debut, in three months. This was a game changer!

My outlines are very detailed, and on top of that I actually block out each chapter, writing not only what happens but how my characters are feeling as well. In the moment, if something feels right I let myself go down that path, and that’s allowed for spontaneity. I actually think those moments exist because somewhere in the back of my mind I know if I get lost, that I have a map to find my way.

Name one book in 2018 that has stuck with you.Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

One book!?!?!? That’s the hardest question ever. There have been so many that I’ve loved, loved, loved. The first one that comes to mind is SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik. Her writing is incredibly atmospheric and lush. There’s also this fairytale tone to her work that pulls me right into the story.

I also loved The Cruel Prince and it has everything to do with the main character, Jude. She’s an adorable, scheming, and vulnerable muffin and so well written, I can’t stand it!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I am around twitter (my DMs are open) and I always love to interact with avid readers to talk about favorite books. Don’t hesitate to say hello! 🙂

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