Interview With Sophie Bonaste
Author interview with Sophie Bonaste
Mr A-H: Before I begin asking you about your debut novel, tell us – who is Sophie Bonaste?
Sophie B: Oooh, you make me sound so mysterious and interesting. Sadly, I’m not that interesting. All of the interesting things about me are highlighted in the questions below. I’m just an average person who decided to write a novel one day. I go to work, sleep, eat, watch TV and write novels. I have a shocking lack of a social life and I don’t really like going outdoors, as there are too many bugs in the world. And, that’s about it. (See, boring.)
Mr A-H: As I was browsing your blog today, I noticed that you were enamoured with Broadway when you were younger, and had always wanted to become an actress. Have you ever thought about developing a written piece that could be translated to Broadway?
Sohpie B: In the past, I have written pieces meant directly for the stage. One was even performed at a theatre festival. But I found it very hard to write something for the stage and then hand it over for other people to act in. So when I started to get into writing, I stayed clear of playwriting and wrote novels instead. I think the stories I write could be translated to Broadway, but they weren’t meant for that.
Mr A-H: I also noticed, on your blog, that you are in to writing fanfiction, and it is the reason you chose to write stories of LGBT characters. Was it reading it, or writing it that helped you realise this?
Sohpie B: Fanfiction is what got me into LGBT characters. Most of the genres I read (Star Wars, Numb3rs, House, MD) feature strong male characters and there were lots of M/M stories. I loved reading them. I wrote a few fanfic, but they were all hurt/comfort stories with no romantic aspect. But as I read more and more M/M, I found it was something I wanted to try and write. My problem was I loved the genres too much to mess with canon. So I switched from fanfic to original fiction and here we are.
Mr A-H: I also write, and I often find that the easiest thing to write is the nearest thing to your heart and mind. Others, however, write stories to lose themselves in a world that, for some reason, is different to their own. Do you write stories that reflect the experiences in your life, or do you use writing as a form of fantasy?
Sophie B: I have to say both. This story is one of pure fantasy. I’ve never been to the places mentioned in the book, nor did I have any of the same experiences as Adam. The second book I wrote, which is unpublished as of right now, is closer to my own life and personal experiences. I based the book about something that I love and know a lot about: football. Ultimately, I think it depends on the story for me and what is required at the time.
Mr A-H: Before I do reviews – or even interviews, I have just discovered – I have a ritual, where I must have something to eat or drink with me. Do you have any rituals or habits that you perform whilst you write?
Sophie B: When I write I have to have some sort of background noise. I usually end up watching a TV show or movie that I’ve already seen, but sometimes I listen to music. Just something to break up the silence.
Mr A-H: Before I go into the book, I would like to ask you one last question. Do you have any words of wisdom to anyone out there that is looking to write a story, either in the hopes of getting published or just for fun?
Sophie B: I think the best advice I can give you is to listen to your characters. This book took on a life of its own. I had envisioned an ending for this book that never happened because Adam, my main character, refused to cooperate. And the novel is stronger for it. So don’t try to force a story to come out. Just let it happen.
About The Sacrifices We Make:
Mr A-H: The first thing I noticed when I read The Sacrifices We Make was how the religious aspect took on a multi-faceted role within the book. The deeply ingrained, and somewhat archaic, religious point of view that his parents and his community shared was often put up against Adam’s differing opinions on life – but both their arguments came straight from the Bible. Was highlighting both sides of the religious spectrum crucial to the novel, particularly given the events that unfolded within the book?
Sophie B: I did mean to highlight both sides of the religious spectrum, yes. For most people who read this book, I suspect they are going to find Adam’s parents and their friends to be the “bad guys”. And certainly they do things to back that theory up. But I think it’s important to show where they’re coming from. All people have motivation for what they do and I think it’s important for readers to understand that motivation, whether you agree with it or not.
I also wanted to make their religious views on other things in life very clear to differentiate them from other people of faith. Not everyone who believes in religion believes in the things I write about in the book. Some are in full support of gay rights. So I wanted to make this group of people very conservative so they aren’t confused with mainstream people of faith who may have more liberal views.
Mr A-H: Adam started out a very rigid and almost unhappy young man in the novel, but due to his encounters with the Glenbrook Shelter and Mickey, he developed a very overtly compassionate and caring side to him. Have you ever had experiences that have shaped your life as much as Adam’s did?
Sophie B: I think we’ve all had experiences that have, in some way, shaped our lives. But I’ve never had a single event shape my life so dramatically. Adam leads a much more sheltered life than I ever did, so when he gets out and meets new people, it rocks his world. I was never so sheltered that a single event could change my whole outlook on life.
Mr A-H: The religious community, from the beginning of the novel, all seemed to have very formal, rigid and almost sycophantic natures; in contrast to this, the characters from the shelter was less formal, but more warm and engaging. Why did you portray the characters from the religious community the way you did?
Sophie B: I thought it was important to portray these people in a rigid manner, with dress clothes and proper language. I think it helped set the tone for Adam’s change. Adam has always lived in this climate and has never known any different, so he doesn’t think there is an alternative. But when he meets Mickey and everyone at the shelter he finds people he connects with. It makes him want something different than the life he had when he was a child. If his family were more forgiving then he might not have the epiphany he experiences in the book. And then I wouldn’t have much of a story, now would I?
Mr A-H: I felt that this novel had a very good moral, and that is that – no matter what where we are in life, who we are, or where we come from – we are all human, and we can only be as good as the generosity and kindness we show towards others. Did you set out to have a specific moral within The Sacrifices We Make?
Sophie B: First of all, thank you. And no, I did not set out with a specific moral in mind. I just told the story with the hopes that people would get meaning out of it, much like you have.
Mr A-H: The storyline of Mickey and his plight was a very unique read among the Young Adult LGBT stories, both in publication or in general. Was Mickey just a character you envisioned homeless, or was there a deeper story as to why Mickey is who he is?
Sophie B: Mickey was always homeless, from conception to publication. I thought it was important to make him homeless, not only to highlight the issue of LGBT homelessness, but also to help further Adam’s personal development.
Mr A-H: And lastly, when you wrote this story, and knew that you would have many people read your story from cover to cover, what was the most important thing you hoped to convey to the readers of The Sacrifices We Make?
Sophie B: I have to be honest here. When I first wrote the story, I had no idea it was going to published. I was an unknown wannabe. So many people try and fail to be novelists. But I tried and was lucky enough to get a contract. I still have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that people want to read my book. But despite all of the things that I have happened since I started writing this novel, the story never really changed. So this is a story that was written without an agenda. Readers can take whatever they want out of the book. But if I had to choose, I hope that I’ve highlighted the issue of homelessness and its effects on LGBT youth. This is a real problem that must be addressed and if I helped to do that, then I will consider this novel a great success.
Congratulations to Sophie Bonaste on her debut novel from all at Greedy Bug Book Reviews, and thank you for stopping by today!
Sophie B: Thank you to Mr. Austro-Hungarian and all of the folks at Greedy Bug for having me today!
Mr A-H’s book review can be found here
Sophie Bonaste can be found here