Marissa Bañez’s Debut Book: Hope and Fortune

by Renelaine Bontol Pfister

Marissa Bañez’s children’s book titled Hope and Fortune, which came out on Feb. 2, is a message of positivity and empowerment.

The first-time author is a lawyer with nearly 40 years of experience as a litigator. She graduated from Princeton University in 1980 with a degree in Politics and a teaching certificate. She attended the University of California, Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, where she graduated in 1983.

Hope and Fortune is a re-write of another story Marissa wrote years ago for her daughter Angelica’s 7th birthday party titled The Lost Foal.

The stories she started writing were for Angelica and her friends when they were young. Now, Angelica is a graduate school student at the City University of New York.

“The premise is the same (someone is lost and helped with life advice given by fairies), but The Lost Foal was one of my stories that did not expressly promote diversity and inclusion. I wrote and finished Hope and Fortune during a period of great racial, cultural, and political division in this country, with a raging pandemic that widened, instead of narrowing, those rifts,” Marissa explained.

“Like many people, I felt helpless and hopeless. I needed something in my life that not only gave me a reason to smile but also some sense that I could contribute to the betterment of society.”

Instead of a foal, Hope and Fortune feature a little girl named Esperanza who gets lost in the Fabled Fairy Forest. She encounters twelve fairies who give her life advice and guide her on the right path out of the forest.

The first fairy, the Fortune fairy of Hope, is striking to us Filipinos as we immediately identify the traditional Filipino attire: her top features bell-like puff sleeves and her skirt is the black and red wrap of the native people from Baguio, where the author is from.

This fairy is inspired by Marissa’s late mother, who migrated to the U.S. with Marissa’s father with the hope of giving their children a better life. Marissa and her other siblings migrated to the U.S. in 1968.

The twelve fairies are all diverse and unique. Marissa said: “I expressly curated the illustrations by making the characters multiracial, multicultural, multigender and multigenerational in different shapes and sizes.”

Each fairy has a spirit animal and every color and detail on every picture symbolizes something. Marissa collaborated closely with Enroc Illustrations for the drawings and was very much involved with the details.

Marissa’s alma mater, Princeton University’s shield logo is featured in the Fortune Fairy of Wisdom and Intelligence’s clothing.

Meanwhile, The Fortune Fairy of Beauty is not in human form, highlighting the fact that beauty is fluid and all-encompassing.

There are familiar images reimagined by the author such as the Statue of Liberty/Lady Justice hybrid, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Rosie the Riveter, which inspire certain concepts in the reader.

Writing is just another facet of Marissa’s creativity. When Angelica was young, Marissa used items from the dollar store to create puppets and crafts for her.

Surrounded by accomplished siblings, Marissa wanted to keep up with them so she taught herself to sew, play a little guitar, compete in speech/oratory contests, and cook.

She parked her stories as she raised her daughter and focused on her legal career. When the pandemic erupted and she found herself bored and watching a lot of Netflix, she dug out her stories, polished them, and sent them off to publishers.

Marissa says, “There’s nothing sacrosanct about being a lawyer and there’s nothing in lawyering that’s inherently inconsistent with writing a children’s book. Indeed, my favorite thing about lawyering is the writing. And it’s a way for this almost 65-year-old Boomer to enjoy speaking to and connecting with young children.”

Marissa had a heartwarming experience when she held a reading of her book at a New York City library in December. A 7-year-old Asian boy expressed how much he loved the book and that he hoped to write a book someday too.

Marissa is currently Of Counsel in the New York office of the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

However, Marissa said: “Nothing in the law will give me the same euphoric feeling because it’s real and it’s personal. With any successes that I had in my legal career, it was always on behalf of someone else – the client, my firm, another organization, etc.”

“Despite my age, I feel I still have a little bit more fuel in the tank, and I want to keep going… just in a different direction,” she added.

Marissa is just beginning. “I already have several stories essentially completed and simply waiting for publication.”

Black Rose Writing is Marissa’s publisher, and the book is also available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Barong Warehouse at

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