Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!
Today, I’m introducing Chantel Pereira onto the blog, and I’m so excited to share her story!
#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?
I feel like there has never been a time in my life where I wasn’t secretly obsessed with creating, telling, and hearing stories. However, I’d say the definite moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer was in the fifth grade when our class was assigned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Before then, I’d never read anything as fantastical and magical as that, and I recall it being a significant time in my life. But I didn’t start taking writing seriously until the sixth grade when I stumbled upon my first novel idea during a class camping trip.
#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?
While I find most of my ideas when I’m around nature (I sort of have a knack for thinking up my best stories while in forests), I find ideas everywhere – Pinterest, music, scents, myths and folklore, reinventing classic tropes. I also shape many of my ideas around my personal life. How I felt during certain moments in my life and how can I take that mood and root it in a fantasy or horror setting?
#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?
I am currently working on a handful of projects, but the two I’m closest to firing out into the world are my two MG Fantasy novels. The first is the rewrite of my book titled, The Irretrievable Ones. It’s the first book in The Yawning Graves series, which is a Harry Potter, Hocus Pocus, and Stranger Things-inspired MG about witchy cursed forests, secret libraries, disappearing girls, Halloween, and abandoned witch cities.
The inspiration for this project came from my years growing up in northern Canada (where it is set). I grew up in a town steeped in negative stigma surrounding mental illness, and as a result, a high suicide rate amongst its youths (especially amongst Indigenous children). The Yawning Graves came to me not simply out of my desire for a Canadian Harry Potter-type story with strong-hearted girls and soft boys, but out of my wish to pull that veil off themes of lgbtq and mental health in small northern towns. To talk about these scary realities in the safety of a fantastical, hopeful story.
Also, fun fact – this is the novel I first wrote/thought up on that sixth-grade camping trip.
The second book I’m working on is called The Phantom Imaginarium which is a story about Manuela Hierro, a ten-year-old inventor who stumbles into a carnival for ghosts, and discovers she has only one night to defeat a tyrannical puppet master who has stolen the sun and sunk the carnival into one endless night.
#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?
Traditional. I want nothing more than to see my books in Indigo and for them to reach as many readers as they possibly can. I also have a secret bucket list of milestones I hope to achieve, and following the traditional route would be my best way of ticking off this list.
#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?
The best tip I received was from Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. And I’m horribly paraphrasing it right now, but it’s, “Be honest and brave in your writing”. When writing, we’re crafting a series of lies into something believable. The greatest way to do this is by pulling from the truths of our lives – whether that be feelings we felt and/or the lessons we’ve learned the hard way. And sometimes, while it can be scary to figuratively put pieces of our soul onto the page and turn our stories into horcruxes, it becomes that much more of a powerful story. For both the reader and for you.
#6: When are you most creative?
I’m most creative at night. I’m the quintessential night owl. I truly admire all those writers who wake at the crack of dawn and dive straight into their stories, but I can’t do it. I’ve desperately tried. I also always find that my best ideas come during the colder months – it must have something to do with all that autumn and winter magic in the air.
#7: What authors inspire you the most?
C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling were the authors that inspired me to start writing, but I’m also inspired by Stephen King, Maggie Stiefvater, Emily Brontë, Shea Ernshaw, and Claire Legrand.
#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?
WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and A SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson.
#9: What are you currently reading?
I’m actually just about to crack into A Sorcery of Thorns. In the meantime, I’m diving into the manuscripts of two of my writing friends: SECRETS WITHIN THE GRAVES by Elora Cook, and AT THE LAKE’S EDGE by Lyndall Clipstone.
#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?
Without a doubt, my two favourite book series are The Raven Cycle and Harry Potter. Namely, The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Order of the Phoenix, and The Deathly Hallows. As for standalone books, I devoured Sawkill Girls, The Devouring Gray, and The Wicked Deep.
#11: Favorite childhood book?
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I recently received a new copy for Christmas since my original fell apart. I was also a massive fan of the Redwall Series.
#12: Biggest book pet peeve?
I detest when what could be an interesting scene takes place off page.
#13: What book has made you cry?
I cried recently with Sawkill Girls! Without delving into too much spoiler territory for those who many not have read it, I adore gray characters– and this one is full of deep motives and high stakes.
#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?
Blueberries, Peanut M&Ms, and tea – lots and lots of tea.
#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!
On top of a constant fear of failure, I always fear that I’ve missed my moment or lost my chance. Strangely enough, I also fear that if I do make it, that I will lose significant time with my cat, Hagrid, and with my loved ones. I know it’s a ridiculous thought, but it is unfortunately there.
#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I’m a huge lover of the outdoors. I love camping, hiking, and BONFIRES. I am also extremely passionate about the paranormal and horror. Outside of this, I attempt to act – emphasis on the attempt. I was part of a geeky musical theater group that also did improv, sketch comedy shows, and I’ve been able to test the waters with voice acting. (If any of you ever meet me, I do a mean Hamtaro). Most recently, I also got the chance to act as an extra in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?
People who diminish the seriousness of disorders like ‘OCD’ by using it as a quirky word for liking things to be neat.
#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?
Failure is a gift. This took me so many years of heartache to realize this, but failure is such a gift. Yes, it can break you. Yes, it can make you question whether you should throw in the towel. But the moment you can silence it, learn from it, and get past your tears, failure always rebuilds you into the strongest version of yourself yet.
All About Chantel
Chantel grew up surrounded by water and woods in a small northern Canadian town where there were more deer than people. A proud daughter of two hardworking immigrants, she now lives in Toronto with her fiancé, Eddy, and her hell-raising cat, Hagrid. Originally, she intended to pursue a career in music. However, after a physical setback led to some serious soul-searching, she decided to risk it all to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author since her other childhood dream of becoming Elton John was already taken.
Through many all-nighters and early mornings trudging for her finals through the snow, she acquired her Honours Bachelor in Literature with a minor in Classics from Lakehead University under the mentorship of Michael Christie. She then moved to Toronto to acquire her Certificate in Book Publishing from Ryerson University and is presently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing.
When she is not writing, she is wishing that she was…or obsessing over Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, black tea, musicals, and Halloween. An avid horror movie buff, amateur ghost expert, and hobbit, Chantel aspires to write the type of stories Guillermo Del Toro would want to direct.
Elora Cook: @eloraflora13
Lyndall Clipstone: @writerlyndall