Hello Readers! In this episode, I had an amazing talk with Thea Guanzon. An amazing South-Asian author who shares her insight about her book The Hurricane Wars, published by Harper Voyagers.
This amazing Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel is Thea Guanzon's debut, and I had an amazing time talking to her about it with her.
What We Talked About:
🌀What the Hurricane Wars is about
🌀How Southeast culture inspired her writing
🌀What inspired her magic system
🌀More about her main characters
🌀How Thea approached world-building
🌀Advice Thea gives to aspiring authors
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Check out my book review: A SciFi/Fantasy that Took my Breath Away: The Hurricane Wars
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Thea Author Interview: Thea Guanzon The Hurricane Wars
readers. This is Charity, your host of Booktrovert Reader Podcast? I invited a very special guest with me today. Her name is Thea Guanzon, and she wrote The Hurricane Wars. I fell in love with this book
I had to ask her once I finished this reading it because I was in that hitting that slump and it just took me immediately out of it. So I so glad she got time to be able to talk to me and about her book and just introduce yourself and the Hurricane Wars.
Hi, Charity, Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy that you liked my debut novel. Such an honor to be here on this podcast. So hi, listeners. My name is Thea Guanzon and I'm from the Philippines and I wrote the Hurricane Wars, which is the first book in a romantic trilogy which is coming this October 3rd from Harper Voyager. I
fell in love with this because it's like my first sci fi fantasy that I picked up, and I thought it was a really amazing blend of between the two Jonas and then the, of course, the hurricane wars. I saw some people like, oh, I don't know if it's about the hurricanes, you know, but I'm
you know, that would be a good question to ask. What inspired you to write this
book? Well, it was a combination of many things. I grew up reading fantasy, and it was these books that inspired me to create my own world. And I wanted to write my own spin on my favorite trope, which is enemies to lovers. And I wanted them to start out as like actual knife to the throat. I hate you and I want to kill you enemies and go from there. And then I also drew inspiration from the history of my people are many struggles for freedom in the face of colonization and dictatorship. And yeah, there's not a lot of hurricanes in the first in the first installment, but I hope that you guys will find still exciting and I promise there will be more like Stormy Battles in the next two books. Because one was all about set up and stuff,
and I highly encourage everyone to go ahead, look up this book, read the synopsis of this book. It's basically about two people, one from the Night Empire, and one is actually fighting against Night Empire. And she actually wields light magic, which was killed off a long time ago because of the Shadow Magic users. There's like a lot of mechanics when it comes to like the boats, the ships, the I thought it was very fascinating. And the enemies to lovers was chef's
kiss. 1s Yeah. Thank you. I'm glad you like it was the most important part for me. Like making sure that their relationship was fascinating and compelling and also trying to make sure that it developed in an organic manner. That's I think that's part of the reason that the final draft took such a long time to create, because my editors and I were going every we're going over everything with a fine tooth comb, like making sure that their interactions hit every nuance, every beat, and that it was like capable of producing a satisfying payoff for the readers. It was still like at the end, I'm not
going to talk about it, but
you left me hanging. 1s Sorry.
I mean, I've talked to so many people who read this. I'm like literally hunting people down to talk about this book. And a lot of times it's just such a slow burn and such enemies to love or true enemies to lover. They did not like each other at the very end. That's what I loved so much about it. And then it actually, like you said, organically, came together and I felt every fiber of that being
Okay. What inspired you to write a sci fi fantasy book in the first place? I know I've been following you for a while. You've been doing Star Wars. That's that's amazing. I love that. So tell me about what inspired you to write a sci fi fantasy book.
Well. So when I was conceptualizing this novel, when I was when I was creating this world, I knew that I wanted their main mode of transportation to echo, to echo indigenous Filipino's main mode of transportation, which was basically boats like I wanted them to, to use these vessels that the designs were modeled after the warrior ships, the outrigger canoes of my ancestors, which was what we use to travel between islands because the Philippines is an archipelago and also to sail to other countries to conduct trade and things like that. So I wanted them to use the boats, but I also wanted to cut down on their travel time 1s within the world. So I was like, okay, let's just make let's just make these things fly. And so I basically had to I had to build the magic system around the boats. Like, how can they use magic to make these boats fly? And so that's how you get the airships which were powered by wind magic. And that's how you also get the storm ships, which which are basically the Irish ships that have the storm magic built into them to become weapons of mass destruction. Thus the name, thus the name of the conflict being the Hurricane Warriors.
Not that I'm going back. Would you go into more of the different aspects of magic? Because the first book really goes into the shadow and the light magic. So and there was a lot more and there was dragons introduced. And I'm like,
What? I'm like, okay,
do you have plans on further going into those other areas of your magic system? And the next book, probably A will be expanded a little bit more. But basically the premise of this region, of this world is that the other forms of magic, the people who can cast the other forms of magic, have basically just up and left. And so it's only the it's only the shadow users and the light users who used to or it's only the shadow users and the light users who live in this area of the world before the shadow users wipe the light users out. Basically the magic in this world, it it's divided into different elements. So there's light shadow, fire, storm, water, wind. I wanted to build upon the idea that magic is. It's like a finite resource in a sense, because they they tap, they tap the magic from these Nexus points or these or these locations where the magic can break through from the other dimension. And it's it's a very random thing. It doesn't like, it's not constantly always activated. So just you just have to get lucky and just right. Yes. And the magic is stored in these either crystals, which is what they use to power their technology. And I wanted to I wanted to build upon this idea of like magic being a finite resource, because I think that here in the Philippines, our lives are are intrinsically tied for better or for worse, with our natural resources, with the land. In my hometown, there's this, there's this. There are these few months which are known as dead season because
this is the time after harvest, so you can't plant yet. And the fields are barren and there's no work for the plantation workers. So yeah, so everyone has to sort of tighten their belts and just get through it. So. So I wanted to build this world where people had to take care of the land and they had to respect. I love
how you're incorporating a lot of your culture in this book, and that's why I'm so glad to invite you on, because now it's you get to like put two and two together to experience your your world into a
book. It's actually so funny because the very, very first draft of this book, it was not rooted in Southeast Asian culture at all. Like, I think it just didn't occur to me that I could I could base off of my people's culture because I grew up reading Western style fantasy. So. So I don't know, like I, I just didn't think I was allowed. But, oh, the world building of that very first draft, it felt very dry, very generic. And I was not invested in at all. And it was actually my agent who read the draft. And then she suggested, Why don't you make it Southeast Asian? And and after that I was like, Oh, yeah. Like I didn't know that I was allowed to do this, but let's go. And I think that's how the world really came to life. When I decided to use the stories of my ancestors and the stories of Southeast Asia. Oh, I love that.
Getting into the magic system, what brought that concoction to to your brain about how to create this and bring it to life in your book?
I think that well, I knew that I wanted there to be light and shadow because. Right, that light versus dark is also one of my favorite tropes, aside from enemies to lovers. And I just really like the aesthetic of it, right? And then I decided that, well, it's kind of weird if there are just like two forms of magic in this world in order to make it feel more lived in, in order to make the technology more plausible, I had to create like other elements. So I guess in a sense, I was also inspired by Avatar The Last Airbender. Oh, yes. Okay. 1s Yeah. But I wanted to include I wanted to include a storm, a storm component like lightning, thunder, stuff like that, because I think it's also a daily fact of life here in Southeast Asia dealing with. Dealing with all these devastating storms and helping one another rebuild. So I feel like it wouldn't have been an authentically Southeast Asian story without at least like the threat of oncoming storms because we're in the Pacific Ring of Fire. So, yeah, we got like loads of typhoons, actually, just just last month this August, we had three consecutive typhoons. And so that was, yeah, one after the other. They all came tearing through here.
I for a time I lived in, you know, over ten years in Florida. And we get we get some
of it. Yes, I have heard that about Florida. Yeah.
Yeah, we could we could get it. I wouldn't say it's as bad as the Caribbean and all those areas. Yeah. Yeah. But it's I can imagine that's why I loved it so much because I'm like, I get it. So
tell me about your two main characters. We got Prince Alaric and I'd. I love to say her name. Taliesin. How's houses? Taliesin Yes. Taliesin is. Is the light wielder? And Prince Aldrick is the shadow magic. He is the heir to the night Emperor's throne. And
I love the dynamic of that. Tell me about those two characters, who they are and all the great stuff that.
Okay, so Alaric is, as you mentioned, he's the prince. He's the heir to the Knight empire. He's very ruthless. He's very haughty, like very prim and proper in a sense. And he's also really mean. Like all his life, he only saw he only saw his own value as a weapon. And there wasn't really much space for anything else because he grew up fighting a war. And then there's Starless and who is an orphan soldier. And she stubborn. She's feral, she's. Yeah. And she carries like a lot of anger inside her for, you know, like for everything that happened. And so these two, they clash on the battlefield. And from the moment that they meet, they they loathe each other and they know that the war cannot end without one of them killing the other because because of their because of their respective magic and how these two magic abilities oppose each other. But then something happens, happens that brings them closer together, and then they realize that they have to work together to. Defend their world against this new threat, which is far greater than the Hurricane warriors. And so, yeah, that's where the fun begins.
Yeah, I always I didn't want to mention that twist in the story because that's what really hooked me. And it was so amazing. And I don't even want to talk because I just want people to read it for themselves at this point. I thought that was an interesting twist for that storyline to change like that. And it just instantly like, Oh, that made sense. Why they're gravitated towards each other all of a sudden, and they had to be with each other force proximity as well.
Yes. Also, another favorite trope of mine for proximity. Yeah.
Girl I'm so you'd like you took your favorites and really like honed in on them because I remember reading the whole Enemies to lovers. And sometimes it's instant lust. I call it instant lust. And I didn't get that at all. It was a real enemies to lovers Slow burn romance.
So. Oh, I'm so happy it worked for you. I had a lot of fun writing it, actually. So now I'm working on book two and like, there's way more angst that I'm like, Why did I do this to myself? Why did I do this to these two people?
You are gonna tear
It was hard enough. Get
through it. I did. Even I was on the
edge of my seat the whole time. Like will. They will not. It's really hard to surprise me. So I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and I had to get through the end. And now you left me at the end. And I'm like, okay, what is book two? 2s Okay, so we got to know a little bit of the characters and everything I did will say there's a lot of world building. In the beginning of your book, I would say 35%. There's a lot of worldbuilding. How did you approach your worldbuilding in this in this world?
So it's there was actually more worldbuilding. Oh, my draft and my editors were the one who sort of trimmed it down, like they found more organic ways for it to to be introduced, for elements to be introduced into the story. But yeah, I think it's a bit hard at first because like you have to get a lot of names and concepts straight. But yeah, I kind of approached it like. I wrote the story first. I wrote like the plot first, the interactions between the characters. And I developed that dynamic first. And then I went back and I filled in the world building like like, okay, I started. When I went back, I started answering like, okay, how, how do how do they move through this world? How did they how did they make things happen? So yeah, it was a lot.
So I'm trying to get it because one question sometimes I ask is like, if you're a plotter, a prankster, a, you know, it's a discovery. Like, so you built out your characters first and then you attack the outline of your story. Basically,
I don't outline. I don't know how to outline. I'm I'm actually very 1s I'm actually very impressed with authors who are so organized. Like they write down their characters, they make outlines, and I think that they can. I think that because of this, like they write really tight, tightly plotted and very well contained stories. I don't know how to do that, but I'm probably 2s with a book. Do No, I didn't have time like like with book two. I didn't have energy to make an outline. I just did what I usually did. Like I just dove in and started writing because that's that's what I do. Like, I just go in and it's basically just it's basically just it's basically no thoughts, just vibes for the entirety of the first draft. And then I just let my editors go over it and say, okay, this is what this is what you need to change and stuff like that. This is how you put more thought into it. I
love that. That's the first time I heard it that way, just because it's always good to get that second perspective on your work, Good to kind of go back to it. And what's your 3s what's your favorite part
about writing the story
or fantasy in general?
My favorite part, I would have to say so. Ever since I was a kid, I've always had like an overactive imagination. Like I get lost in my own head. Like I would spend half my time in the real world and half my time in, like, daydreams. Right? 1s So what I love about fantasy is that it's an outlet for my imagination. Yeah. Like, I love creating all these new worlds, all these new concepts. But the genre lets me do all of that while still allowing me to capture and portray the human experience. So I think there's something very magical about that.
What would you say is the hardest part about writing fantasy, and how did you learn to overcome that?
The World building 2s seems like everyone's response. Yeah, because I don't know. Like I'm still learning how to balance the info dump. Hmm. Or rather, I'm still learning to balance how to give information and move the story along without making it seem like one big info dump. I think that's I think that's a constant process that you always have to be working on as a fantasy writer. And I am very much looking forward to the day that I get better at it.
Would you say it got a little easier now that you got a lot of the the world building in the first book done or.
Yeah. Yeah. When I started writing the second book, I was like, Thank God. Everything was everything is out. Like the facts were out of the way. Now I can go back Now I can go back to no thoughts, just vibes,
just to the storytelling. 2s It might be too early to ask this, but do you have other ideas that you're considering on other fantasy books, or are you focusing just on your sci fi Star Wars portion of it?
Oh, do you mean like, do I have ideas for, like a new series? Yeah. Or no? Have I have like, I have this the next project that I want to work on, I want it to be like, I can use the term like urban fantasy. Okay, Yeah. I want it to be in a contemporary setting here in the real world. I want like magic in it. And of course I want to set it in like here in the Philippines,
right? Which is not something you see very often. And that's why I'm looking for the, the, you know, the Southeast Asian inspired ones just because it's not a cultural norm.
I think that Southeast Asia as a whole, it it exists outside of the global perception of what Asia is. I think that people it's normally overlooked when you think about Asia. But it's very unique. This is a very unique, unique region. And we have such diverse cultures and such intriguing folklore and so many interesting stories. And yeah, I hope I hope that we can read more Southeast Asian Fantasy in the future.
You're a debut author, so you you got in with Harper Voyagers. What would your advice be for authors getting into looking into big publishing? Well, I guess my best advice would probably be to just, first of all, just work on your craft. Writing is a constant process. You evolve as a writer the more you write. So just try to write whenever you can and practice, practice, practice so that you can write the best story that you can. You can't underestimate the importance of having community, okay? Like, yeah, forging friendships with other writers. And yeah, it's really been, it's really been amazing. Like that's what's really helped me during this debut year. Like I have a Discord server with, with some other authors and that's been great because, you know, like you have people to vent to who understand what's happening and people who can cheer you on. So yeah, so I would advise like aspiring writers to start looking into building community on social media forums, stuff like that. And then, um, what else? Like. I think that it's also important to not take rejection personally. Right.
Well, like this like I think that you just have to think of it in terms of. It's like when you submit to an agent or an editor and they say that it's not their thing. That's really just it. Like you're not a failure as a person. You're not a failure as an author. It's just that you submitted to someone who did not find your writing to be to their taste and taste is objective. So yeah, just keep looking and never give up. And one of these days your story is going to find its way into the hands of someone who will really champion it and who will really believe in it. You know,
you talked about community who other than like on social media with other authors, would you say that did you talk to anyone in your family or anything that kind of helped you push this book out or approached you or you kept it a secret this whole time?
Yeah. Okay. Well, so I'm from an Asian family and I think that's one Asian. That's one like global Asian norm that there's no money in the arts. 1s Okay. I don't like I actually don't think that my parents thought I was I was having like, I don't think that they thought this was a real job 2s until the announcement started coming in. And then my dad, my dad saw me on on Google search results and he was like, oh, okay, then maybe this is legitimate.
Yeah. I'm so okay. So my in my immediate family, my parents are doctors and my two siblings are also doctors. I'm the only non doctor in the family. Oh, okay. Yeah. And then everyone else, my aunts and my uncles, they're either doctors or lawyers, so. Okay. Yeah, it's been I think they're having a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that What, like that I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer, 2s but they've been. Yeah, they've been supportive and they. They say that they'll order my book and stuff like that although like there is so there's a bit of spice towards the end. Yeah. I, I live in fear of my mom and my dad reading that 2s like I want to intercept the copies that they order and just rip out those pages. They get together, worry 2s it doesn't matter
how. 2s Oh, yeah, that's also that reminds me of another thing that I want to tell aspiring authors. Even if even if your family thinks there's no money in it, just try to do it. Just go for it and do what you love so that you know, so that you can be happy and that so that you can you can pursue your dreams. It's worth it in the end, right?
Right. I totally get that. So you're going full time into this, right into writing now? Yeah, I quit my I was on the pre-med track of many years ago and I wasn't happy with it. Like, I was just going along with what everyone else wanted for me. But yeah, it just really was not my thing. So I quit that and then I switched to a international, to an international studies degree. And I thought for a while that that was going to be my career track. But then the pandemic happened, lockdown happened, and everything I had,
I had this identity crisis about. What do I really want to achieve? Like, what do I want to do with my life? And that was when I realized that life is short. I might as well pursue my passion like what I'm really interested in. And so, yeah, so I we got the book deal, I quit my office job, and I've been a writer ever since.
I love that journey. Is it so important to pursue what you're really passionate about and, you know, and you really took that to a whole new level and. Yeah, but
yeah, but I recognize that there's privilege in it as well. There's privilege in being able to pursue what you really want. Um, I think that there are a lot of aspiring authors who are not able to write as much as they want to, who are not able to work on their books because of their. Of their circumstances in life like they have to. They have to work full time, things like that. So I think that that comes with that's part of like building community. Like we just really have to support each other and help each other any way that we can. We're wrapping
up. Just say where we can find your books, where we can find you on social media. I'll be posting all this on on the show notes. So definitely follow her and follow the updates. By the time with this podcast goes up, the book will be very soon published. So very you can pre-order your book and I miss the special editions and I'm beating myself up on
that. I'm so sorry. No, I think I think the Noble edition is still in stock.
Oh, really? Okay. I've been shopping and lurking on that store, so I'm going to go to it.
Okay. So you can find her in wars. Wherever fine books are sold starting October 3rd in the US and October 12th in the UK. And then you can follow me on my socials. It's all there, right on Instagram. Twitter, sorry, X TikTok X, 2s Yeah. And then my website that has all the information on my books and pre-order links and stuff like that. It's all at Gwen's on. Com. Well thank you for joining me today readers. Definitely go check her out. Follow her. Have
a good rest of the evening. Thank
you so much. You too.