Last week I shared my review of the YA fantasy Seraphim Falling, and this week I am thrilled to be sharing an interview with the wonderful author Stephanie Bwabwa! Residing in Maryland, Bwabwa is the CEO and founder of Bwabs Collective LLC, a YA fantasy author, creator of the fantasy world: Elledelle, podcaster, and a web/graphic designer. An avid Disney lover, Bwabwa loves museums, national parks, and hiking. Fun fact about Bwabwa: she loves monkeys and hopes to one day have one in her life!
Learn more about Bwabwa and her writing in our full interview below!
Q) How long have you been writing?
A) My entire life, but my journey to writing for publishing began in January of 2013.
Q) Why do you write?
A) Whew, for so many reasons. I write to think, to pray, to process, to understand, to influence, to impact, to give hope, to inspire, to disrupt, to usher in change.
Q) What are your top three favorite books and why?
A) These questions are always difficult for me to answer. Because every season in my life, sometimes this shifts. For right now, I’ll say:
The Bible by too many authors. Ha! Specifically: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Revelation. They’re bread, life, and all sustaining. I can always find hope, purpose, and new life from these particular books.
Beauty by Robin McKinley because I will NEVER not be in awe of her writing, her prose, the skill and finesse with which she intertwines words with emotion and transcends the story from literature to life.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer because the main character is inherently good. No ill motives, no selfishness, no greed, and her willingness to be everything but self-serving is refreshing, heart-warming, and breaks my heart. Every time I read this novel, I finish it with tears in my eyes. It is just beautiful!
Q) Who is someone that inspires you?
A) My mom! But honestly, black women, period. Black women are intelligent, beautiful, relentless, determined, nurturing, loving, and world dominators. I watch as they build businesses, create legacies, and impact millions of lives and I stand in awe with wonder. I look at them and think to myself, “May I one day be just as influential and great as these women before me.”
Q) What inspired Seraphim Falling, the first book of the Seraphim Resistance prequels?
A) Wow – SO many things. A very long story short, Seraphim Falling begins the journey of answering the question: “What happened after Lucifer was kicked out of heaven before he and his fallen angels reached the earth?”
I literally created all of Elledelle out of asking this one question.
From there, I saw a girl with my favorite magical power (fire). I got many ideals from the Bible. After playing around with everything unfolding in my head, the world was born.
Now, I had begun writing book 1 of The Seraphim Resistance Series, but a few friends who read the manuscript couldn’t connect to Titaia. So, I decided to write prequel books solely focused on her, to help readers who read the main series understand who she is, her background, and what will to do the character she’ll become once book 1 of the actual series rolls around.
That’s how I got to Seraphim Falling. It’s all with the intention of readers falling in love with Titaia and Cinder before all of the other books come to being.
Q) Cinder was one of my favorite characters with his protective nature. How did you create his character?
A) Honestly, I got sick and tired of YA fantasy MC’s falling for the “sexy guy” with a bunch of issues in a toxic manner. Young adults are being exposed to relationships in books rooted in toxicity, and thinking it’s normal. It affects what they seek out in a relationship in real life, and causes them to grow into adults with relationship and trust issues.
I wanted my MC to be in love with her best friend. Someone she talks to, playfully fights with, adores and knows will always give up the entire world for her.
I wanted to write a beautiful, healthy, friendship, loving relationship. And I can’t wait to display how their love grows, how it was birthed, and how it will forever solidify as more books are written.
Q) Can you give readers a preview of what to expect in books 2 and 3?
A) So, book 2 centers around the aftermath of the decision Titaia makes at the end of book 1. Book 2 follows her in a world where she doesn’t remember who she is, is heavily restricted, caged, and kept from all traces of who she once was.
Book 3 will follow her as she begins finding that in this state of forced amnesia, everything she believes is real isn’t. She’ll begin to uncover plots that will affect angels from different realms, she’ll be exposed to darkness she never imagined, and she’ll be forced to make a radical choice that will change everything for her… again.
Q) What will come after the prequels?
A) The main series! We’ll be exposed to more characters, the different worlds, all of the different kinds of magic, the legacy of the Saerels, the real agenda of the Raven, and everything in between. Angels, magic, adventures galore!
Q) Are you willing to tell us about your personal faith journey?
A) The main thing is I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the cross of Calvary. I believe in baptism. I believe in eternal life. And everything I do is interwoven with those beliefs.
I do my best to love the Lord, love myself, love people, and leave everything I touch better than I found it.
Q) Can you explain how your religion influences your writing?
A) Storytelling is my mission, and my mission is my ministry.
I don’t take what I do lightly. Every single thing has meaning. How I write my stories, who I know will read them, the generational impact they will have… All of it.
I pray over my craft everyday. I pray for the impact it will have everyday. I have long term visions and make sure to keep my partnership with Heaven at the forefront.
My stories are meant to share many themes: faith in a supernatural being who is always a step ahead guiding us along at each turn. They’re meant to inspire readers of color everywhere, especially those who are black and brown.
There’s purpose in me creating loving family units, wealth and royalty, powerful angels that have brown faces, black skin. To remind an entire people group, and make a statement for generations who will outlive me that they’re also part of the eternal family that is cherished and loved.
I pray my stories deliver hope, and joy, and allow readers to imagine so much more for themselves.
Q) What goals do you have for the world of Elledelle?
A) Hmm… So what I can say is, I take a lot of inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
You can expect there will be ample stories, from multiple realms, all with crossovers. And, hey, maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll see them as blockbuster films, and on streaming platforms like Disney+ and Netflix one day soon. Who knows? God likes to prove our limitations wrong. 🙂
Q) Can you give readers more information about the Scripters Collective/Writer’s Readiness found on your website?
A) The Scripters Collective is my community which can only be joined by being on my email list. I love to share in-depth writing insights for novel writing that I wouldn’t share elsewhere.
Also, Writer Readiness is a self-paced, virtual program, teaching writers how to conquer their mindset so they can actually complete their novels.
Q) You are an indie published author – can you tell readers about your experience?
A) Whew! This is a very long story. However, in 2013 I started writing and wanted to have it in a physical book. I was lucky enough to know an editor in my former church who was in the indie realm and knew many self-published authors.
My journey includes so much trial and error. Mistakes and setbacks. But I’ve learned a ton and never gave up on desires to publish and change the lives of people through YA fantasy stories.
I learned to read a lot. I learned to test things out. I learned to try, try again…try again.
I learned many days would be filled with tears, but they would also fortify my passion and persistence to succeed. It’s a lifelong journey that’ll never end. And I’ve signed up for life.
Publishing isn’t easy, but with community, resources, and the willingness to not quit, I’m still making it and any readers who wish to be self-published, can make it, too.
Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
A) Get started. There’s a story inside of you that needs to be told. Stop sitting on it. Imposter syndrome will not serve you. Giving in to fear will not serve you. Shying away from the gift inside of you will not serve you. Write the story! Put a word down, then another, and another, until you’re done. There’s a reader in this world, waiting right now, for your book to be published. Their salvation is interwoven between the pages of your book. Get writing! The world needs your story.
Be sure to follow Stephanie Bwabwa on Instagram here!
Order your own copy of Seraphim Falling and enter the world of Elledelle here!