From fantasy to reality

Clyde North author Violeta M. Bagia has a surprise for the community with her new title scheduled for April 2025. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 375252_04

by Violet Li

It’s been five years since Clyde North author Violeta M. Bagia last talked to the paper. The interval has nurtured a leap from YA fantasy novels to literary fiction, with a new title scheduled for April 2025.

Set in Melbourne in the early 2000s, her new coming-of-age novel captures a notorious overachiever’s final year in high school, a year of dreams, trauma, self-realisation, and reconciliation.

The story weaves through tough themes of sexual assault, bullying, immigrant integration, and tough family life, where the main character tried to resolve what had happened and struggle through the tragedies great and small.

As a long-time master of fantasy and science fiction, Violeta admitted it was a completely new challenge for her to write in a literary style.

“I’ve never done that before. The biggest challenge was you can’t resolve things with something magical happened to this character, and all their problems have gone away,” she said.

“You have to live with the problems, seek therapy, talk to parents and reach out to their friends.

“You have to be your own hero. You don’t really get any magic pills or magic potions. You have to actually live through the problems and the issues and try and survive a normal human would.”

Escaping from the paranormal world was a decision made after the birth of her child, Violeta said.

“Having a child really shifted my perspective in life. It’s great to get lost in fantasy world and read a lot of fiction. But I also want her to have a book where she can look to for answers and help and guidance from other relatable people, people who have gone through real things.

“I grew up reading incredible books like Looking for Alibrandi that dealt with a young woman who was in in school and having to deal with bullying because she was an immigrant and didn’t really fit in either.

“I guess I wanted to write my own version of that.”

Writers always write what they know to some degree and there are also some elements that touch on her own life, according to Violeta.

Starting out in Australia and learning how to speak English as an immigrant around the age of seven was an isolating experience.

“I did encounter a lot of bullying. So, I want to have somewhere I could read and see how people endured and survived that,” she said.

“I didn’t really have any friends, so my learning was diving into books and reading and practising writing, and I found that I really enjoyed writing.

“I reached out to my teachers in primary school and high school and told them that it’s something that I dreamt of doing, if I was good enough someday to be a writer.

“And turns out it was something that I was good at, which is great.”

One thing about Violeta’s creation is it will never shift no matter where she forages ahead.

“In all of my stories, whether they’re set in completely fictional worlds or fantastical elements, every single character goes through something life-altering or changing or difficult, but they always have a way of coming out on top,” she said.

“I want to provide that hope to people reading it.

“It doesn’t matter how difficult something maybe in your life, everything can be overcome if you stick your mind to it.”

Violeta’s new novel will be published by Dragonfly publishing in April 2025.

She is the author of the Hart of Darkness series and The Reaper’s Descent.