I am a huge fan of YA fantasy book series. I was at the bookstore the other day trying to find the next series to dive into, when I realized a certain trend. YA book series that focuses on the protagonist finding oneself, courage, and inner growth seem to be going away. All I find now are just a bunch of paranormal series where there is girl in a provocative outfit or a half naked guy-wielding weapons. I miss the YA fantasy series like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I had ended up leaving the store without being able to pick a new book series that day. Just when I thought all hope was lost, I was lucky enough to get an interview with an amazing writer who has allowed me to regain some hope in this genre. P.I. Alltraine, author of the novel “Heartbound,” has captivated me once again in the genre and I think I might have found my next YA book series to pick up!
Michael: Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did your background influence the genre you write in?
P.I.: I live in London, but I was born in the Philippines. I’ve lived in London for most of my adult life, and I love the place and the people and the culture, but I’ll always be proud to be Filipino. I think living in the Philippines, a place where myths and legends are embedded in the culture, really sparked my imagination at a young age.
Michael: My wife is also from the Philippines. It definitely seems to be a place full of wonder. My In-Laws always tell me the strangest stories that peak my curiosity. I have got to visit one day! I can see how your imagination must have sparked at a young age. Where and when did your writing journey begin?
P.I.: Writing is something I always knew I could do. When I was at school, some of my friends could sing, some could draw… I could write. I was the editor in chief of the school paper so I edited and wrote news articles, I wrote many of the school plays I performed in, I entered poetry writing competitions and performed spoken word poetry, I wrote the speeches I delivered in oratorical competitions, declamation, debates, etc. At the time, I thought I was doing so many different things, but looking back, everything I chose to do involved writing. When I was writing ‘Heartbound,’ there were times when I didn’t agree with my characters’ actions, but I couldn’t change anything because it wasn’t my decision anymore. That’s when I realised what being a writer truly means. Everyone can write a story, but to create a world with a life of its own, I think that takes a writer.
Michael: Beautifully said! I know exactly what you are talking about. When I was writing my first novel, I felt myself typing but what my eyes saw was my story playing out in my mind as if I was merely documenting something that was going on in another dimension.
So, knowing you’ve always enjoyed, you must have also been a very avid reader. Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
P.I.: I love writers who make me feel something I can’t explain or challenge my perspective. When I read anything by Virginia Woolf, for example, be it an essay or a novel, I feel baffled and enlightened all at once. ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton, ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe and ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce are some of my favorites because these pieces pulled me into an unfamiliar world and compelled me to change my perspective. For instance, I was raised Roman Catholic so when I read ‘Paradise Lost,’ I found the sublimity and the epic heroism in a figure I grew up seeing as a one-dimensional villain very enlightening. It was empowering to see how Milton took something a lot of people considered sacred, especially at the time, and manipulated it with such grace, such skill.
Michael: Excellent list of authors! So, you’re a Poet, Novelist, and you teach at a collegiate level in the University of London. Seems like you’re a busy woman! What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
P.I.: I’m an English teacher, which is pretty hectic, so I don’t always get to write during term times. I get the bulk of my writing when I’m on my holiday. Otherwise, I take advantage of the silence I find in the early hours of the morning.
Michael: Talking about your writing, how did you come up with the idea for your book, “Heartbound”?
P.I.: The story came to me and demanded to be written. I know, I know. It’s the most clichéd answer ever, but writers keep saying it for a reason. It’s hard to describe the impact of a powerful idea. When it hits a writer, it’s no longer a choice. You have to write it, or it will drive you mad. In my case, I was minding my own business, and all of a sudden, there was this image in my head. It hit me so hard that I had to stop what I was doing. I picked up a pen and paper and started to scribble. My husband walked in and found me on the floor with pieces of papers around me. At that point, the outline of ‘Heartbound’ was completed—chapter by chapter, from beginning to end
Michael: Wow! The story definitely seems to have a life of it’s own! Now that you’ve pour your heart and soul into this piece of work, what do you think sets it apart from all the others fantasy series current on the shelves?
P.I.: It’s unique in a sense that I’ve created a completely new world, new creatures, new myth, etc. But I think what sets it apart is how, through the narrator, Petyr, we can see the world around us in a completely different perspective. We take a lot of our experiences and emotions for granted, and hopefully seeing Petyr go through them for the first time will encourage the readers to realise how incredible it is to be Human.
Michael: I love books that transport me into a completely new world. It pretty much makes every page exciting, as if you were exploring a new world. What make a book complete, though, are characters you fall in love with. Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
P.I.: There are pieces of myself in each character, but I think Petyr is the closest in terms of how pragmatic he is and how he seems to see the most rational solutions but not always the most obvious (most of my friends will definitely recognise that trait). Also, since I moved from the Philippines to England, I was definitely able to draw from my own experiences when writing about Petyr’ s struggle to adapt to his new environment, fit in, and find a sense of belongingness in an unfamiliar world. However, I think Evan is my favorite. He’s so much fun to write.
Michael: Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
P.I.: So many–Petyr’s initial interactions with Scarlett and his attempt understand the humans and to act like one made me laugh whilst I was writing. I also loved writing the scene with Alex, the scene in Evan’s cave… so much more. This is making me realise just how much I actually loved writing the entire book. J
Michael: Yes, I can definitely see that! It’s great to see authors who are so passionate about their work. What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book series?
P.I.: Heartbound’ is a fantasy, so it’s littered with elements that are out of this world (literally). But at its core, it’s about questioning and finding one’s own identity, trying to find a resolution between who you’re meant to be and who you want to be. It’s about finding the bravery and courage to go against the tides, refuse to conform, and fight for something that means everything to you but means nothing to everyone else.
Michael: Sounds like you have a beautiful novel! What are your hopes for this book?
P.I.: I hope that the readers be able to identify with Petyr’s journey, and thus reflect on their own identity, their own bravery to follow their heart, and their own courage to find your place in the world.
Michael: Wow, now I am just dying to read the book! What do you have in store next for your readers?
P.I.: I’m working on three novels at the moment. One of them is the second book in the Heart Series (sequel to ‘Heartbound’). I’m also working on some Poetry (Spoken Word). I’m building a collection that will hopefully be ready for publication by next year. There’s a video performance available for ‘Unmoving,’ and a few more from the collection should be up soon.
Michael: Thank you so much for sharing with us your amazing story.
I’m definitely excited about this book series. If you are too, check out P.I.’s book on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below.
Petyr has never found it
necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior
beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his
realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future leader of a realm
in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must
enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human,
observe and learn.
However, things don’t
exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober
mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that
he can’t quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost
forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it
poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know
him–and his world.