By Billy Thomas
Local author, entrepreneur and community activist Olivia Salazar de Breaux has written a new book that pays homage to family and her hometown of Olympia. She recently sat down with OLY ARTS to talk about her journey along the creative process.
“The idea came to me in an English course a couple of years ago,” Salazar de Breaux said. She was a student at The Evergreen State College, working on her bachelor of arts degree. “I wanted a way to incorporate my love of family, food, music and culture.”
That idea became the prologue for Sisters of Element, the first book in a four-part young adult series that chronicles four Mexican-American sisters from the Pacific Northwest in the fictional town of Percival Falls. It should come as no surprise to readers that Falls is modeled after Olympia. Salazar de Breaux laughed, saying “I talk about this building, or that one, and it’s pretty clear that I’m describing the YMCA or other familiar landmarks in town.” As for the sisters, each have magical abilities related to the four elements. Book one focuses on Lina, who’s special abilities are water and healing.
Writing about four sisters from the Pacific Northwest brought the challenge of separating family from fiction. While the Luna sisters and their accounts are inspired by Salazar de Breaux’s real family, the book is envisaged from her imagination. To help keep these worlds separate, she created idea boards for each character and their path. When her writing started feeling too personal, the author returned to her boards to reset her mind into the world of Percival Falls. “These visual representations of the characters helped remove that personal connection,” she explained.
Although the idea came to Salazar de Breaux easily, finding the time needed to write a full-length novel didn’t. She works full-time as a local government employee and is an established entrepreneur. During the same time she was writing the novel, she also completed her degree from The Evergreen State College, built her an all-natural lip butter company OlyBella and co-founded a local networking group for women entrepreneurs called The Oly Girlboss Collective that quickly grew in popularity. Many might be daunted by such an overwhelming schedule, but Salazar de Breaux was determined. “I knew I needed to be strategic with my time. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I had to.”
Sisters of Element is set to release this August, with a book launch and signing at the Olympia Timberland Regional Library. But that doesn’t mean that Salazar de Breaux is slowing down—while readers are enjoying book one, the author is already planning the second book in the Luna sisters’ story. She says that “something big happens at the beginning of book one, which will lead to a darker story of necessary healing in book two.”
Feature photo credit: One Beautiful Life photography.
Sisters of Element book release and signing
2 p.m. Saturday, August 24
Olympia Timberland Regional Library,
313 8th Ave SE, Olympia
Free, books available for purchase