Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Author interview with Ellen Mae Franklin (revisited)


Back in April 2013, I interviewed author Ellen Mae Franklin for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with epic fantasy author Carol Bond aka Ellen Mae Franklin
. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Carol.
Carol Feb 08Carol: Thank you for this invitation, it is a delight to meet you Morgen and to be a part of your interviewing process.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Carol. It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Carol: I was born in Adelaide, Australia, where I live with my husband. As for being a writer, I have come to understand that there is a lot more to writing than just that – putting words to paper. I am what we call an Indie Writer, responsible for my own social media platform and marketing. Writing for me is the easy part, it is familiar and most welcomed.
Morgen: Most authors these days have to do their own publicity. In fact out of nearly 800 interviewees, I’ve only had two authors say their publishers do their marketing, although those authors are still active on Twitter and Facebook. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Carol: My passion is for Fantasy. I lean towards Epic Fantasy, which allows me to follow larger, more complex storylines. If I had to choose something outside of my genre it would be historical.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
The Unseen Promise CoverCarol: On March the 25th The Unseen Promise, my first book was released for sale. I chose to write under pseudonym – Ellen Mae Franklin. The name is derived from the middle names of my three children.
Morgen: Ah, sweet. You’re an indie writer – have you self-published at all?
Carol: I very nearly self-published, but in the end, I was accepted by a small Indie Publishing Company, GMTA Publishing.
Morgen: Is your book available as an eBook? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Carol: Yes! My book is available on Amazon and Smashwords as eBooks. No, my publisher has handled this part of the process. I avoid eBooks. It is not that I have anything against electronica formats, but it is incredibly important for me to keep paper and literature alive.
Morgen: Most authors prefer paper, although many (myself included) appreciate having the choice. I do think though that I have enough books in my house to last my lifetime! Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If your book were to be made into a film, whom would you have as the leading actor/s?
Carol: Unknown actors. So, my story would be fresh in the eyes of cinema goers.
Morgen: That’s a good idea. Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Carol: I have kept all of my Enid Blyton books. My children have read them all, and my new grandchild is soon to inherit them.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Carol: I am a merchandiser by trade. I work with the philosophy that all humans are visual creatures and this has been proven many times over. Therefore, the cover of my book was important. I engaged Cristian Popa, a graphic artist to complete the artwork for me.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Carol: I am currently working on subsequent manuscripts and am involved in various writing and creative communities. I am a co-founder of Terra Australis, a group of Australian writers, as we work towards publishing two anthologies of Australian themed short stories. Just to top it off I am also, working with a UK Author on a new fantasy series – titled Un-named.
Morgen: How exciting. Feel free to send him / her in my direction as I’m looking for my authors for http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/author-spotlights. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Carol: I try and most days I do write, but only if I am not interrupted. Social media chews up a lot of time when you are required to drive the sales bus for your book.
Morgen: It certainly does. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Carol: I do a mixture. I begin with an idea and from there is expands as I write. As it become more complex, I turn to creating a framework. When you are working with 5 separate story threads and 40+ characters, it does become necessary to plot out bits and pieces.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Carol: I write as I see it, a visual movie in my mind, so I don’t really plan characters. They usually arrive on the scene that I am working on, with a name and personality. With fantasy boundaries can sometimes be non-existent, but characters still need to be created within the realm of real time, for a better word. They need to have personalities, habits and beliefs that the reader can relate to. Also, dialogue is crucial to all characters.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully formed?
Carol: I go back and forth all the time. I write for a while and then stop to read back through what I have written. I do this many times through out the writing process. In the end, a good editor is as valuable as the story you have written.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Carol: I will research on factual concepts that are needed in fantasy. For instance, if I am writing a scene about a tropical rainforest basin, then I will do as much research as I can to make sure that the flora and fauna are true.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Carol: I tend to work in the third person, particularly with The Unseen Promise. I can see why second person would be tricky. I am working in first person on a short story and I find that I must remain mindful throughout this story to keep a focus on which POV I am using.
Morgen: Second person can be complex, maybe I’m just a masochist. :) Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Carol: Out of the three choices above, I have recently begun to write short stories. A couple for a competition I am in and also, for a writing group on Australian bases themes. I have, also found short story writing interesting in the fact, that they are a good discipline in having to tell a story in a limited space of words.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Carol: No. Everything I write finds itself into the light eventually.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Carol: I have only every submitted The Unseen Promise to a couple of the big traditional publishing groups. They were not interested, so I naturally moved on. It is important to believe in what you are doing. I maintain that ‘Literature is a form of art and as such is relative to each individual.’ We cannot all like the same thing.
Morgen: That’s very true. I’ve had one lady on Goodreads love and hate my writing – the latter (Feeding the Father) unfortunately putting her off me for life! Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Carol: I have entered a few, nothing to remark upon for they are closed. It can be important to enter contest for different reasons: To win! For feedback if it is being offered. To gain confidence and to develop your writing skills as you continue working on any story you may be doing.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Carol: No, I do not. I am unsure about this answer because the industry is flooded with self-publishing authors and the view on what it used to be is no longer current.
Morgen: Agents are certainly being kept on their toes and some are retiring or becoming publishers / writers! Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Carol: Yes, I am marketing like a fiend. Whether or not it is working, it is early days. I would like to think of myself as a brand and in particular for the moment – The Unseen Promise.
Morgen: I think you just have to try everything and see what happens. What’s your favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Carol: My favourite is finding a full day were I can devote myself to writing and having that feeling of flow. Actually, when I read back on what I have written after leaving it for a short time, I am sometimes surprised that I may have written something funny or clever.
Morgen: I love it when that happens, and I sit clapping (my dog is quite used to it by now). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Carol: I have learnt, that it is very important to listen to the voice inside your head. To build a social media platform six months before you release your book and to ask questions and learn as much as you can from those more experienced.
Morgen: It’s interesting that you say to build your platform before you release your book. It’s what I’ve done. Although I have one book out, I’m not marketing it until I have another ready (I’m about to start my seventh for Camp NaNoWriMo) and my blogs have certainly helped get my name out there. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Carol: I interview authors on a regular basis on my website, all in the aim of doing my bit to promote the industry and those who like me are struggling in it. I administrate two groups on Facebook. One for promoting and the other is for offering and exchanging services to help each of us move forward in the writing world.
Morgen: Interviewing’s fun. :) Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Carol: I am on a site called ‘Booksie’. I do not know how helpful it is. http://www.booksie.com/users/beta.html
Morgen: I have heard of it but not explored it. I should. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Carol: Just the use – I am so busy writing and networking, Facebook and my own websites.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Carol: I actually feel very sad in relations to the future of writing. Not in a doom and gloom sense, but a sadness that relates to the slow disappearance of paperbacks on a whole. Technology has allowed us all to make our writing available globally and without it my book would be under my bed with so many other writers. It has though, given a down side to the fact that the industry is flooded with self-published writers, good and bad, making it possible to buy books in electronic forms. I love my books on a shelf. The feel and covers of them and the fact, that I can hold something physical.
Morgen: I don’t think they’ll disappear, we’ll just get them from more online outlets than ‘real’ shops. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Carol: I will post up my links and I hope that your readers will go crazy and chase me down. I believe I have a great book and a story that will take the reader on a fabulous journey.
Morgen: Let’s hope they do. Thank you, Carol.
*
I then invited Carol to include an example of her writing and this is an excerpt from chapter 1…
Blame, guilt and a warm fire
The sound of steel on stone shook the narrow laneway where the two brothers lay in hiding. Voices, dark growls threatening death and a most certain bloody end, roared in Roedanth’s ears. The hand clamped over Peetra’s mouth trembled, partly in fear, but mostly in worry. There would be no going anywhere now, not with half the city guard after them.
“Peetra, why did you do it?” It was a shaken whisper into the still ear of his only brother. “We had it all, a roof over our heads, two meals a day, and I was learning a trade. Why, Peetra?”
Blood stained his hands; it had soaked through to his under garments and the sticky feeling of Peetra’s life on his skin made him feel sick. Roedanth shifted, the damp, coarse stone against his back a chafing reminder that they were up to their necks in shit. Peetra groaned, the sound escaping from in between Roedanth’s fingers. Startled, Roedanth wriggled again, pulling his brother in closer and the bolt in Peetra’s breast thrummed.
“By the stars, I’m sorry, Peetra. I didn’t mean it.” More whispering, but this time Roedanth stroked and smoothed out his brother’s sweat-soaked hair. “You’re burning up.”
The voices were closer now; two in particular set his heart racing.
“I told you Sam, the old woman pointed down this-a-ways.” A Tolerian slur marked the man as a mercenary; half the city guards were mercenaries, paid for by the taxes collected by the current King of Crow’s Nest.
“So you’ll take the word of an old woman instead of a warm fire and a mug of beer,” grumbled the other.
Roedanth could almost hear the sulk in the man’s voice. It was cruel, and he once again felt the pang of guilt. The Tolerian grunted, but whether it was in agreement with his companion’s remark or from the veracity of his own duty the boy didn’t know. What he did know was that Mr. Bicky lay dead and Peetra dying. Who would believe him? Those two men with their hard eyes and hungry swords? Not likely. There were no friends in the city guard. The lengthening shadows were a friend though - they created deeper, darker corners to hide in.
The guards were almost upon them now. The sulky one, obviously bored with the chase whistled out to a woman, her large tits strained against the cheap cloth of her garish, far too small dress. She called back, a drunken invitation that promised more than just a passing fondle.
“Now, what I wouldn’t give to spend five minutes with the likes of that,” crooned the sulky one.
Again the Tolerian grunted. “Listen, the quicker we find these murdering bastards, the more time you’ll have in wetting that wick you so fondly talk about all the time.”
Harlots and thieves occupied the lower levels of  Crow’s Nest, gracing The Seed with their filthy company. It was a dangerous place to those not guilded. The setting of the sun usually sorted out the fools from the foolhardy. The two guards were almost on top of them. The damp air didn’t disguise the rank smell of unwashed bodies, stale spirits and for the most alarming part, irritation. The Tolerian hawked a large glob of phlegm; it arced over the barrels the lads were hiding behind. Startled, Roedanth moved his hand higher, covering Peetra’s mouth and nose. The terrified young man squeezed tighter. It would be the Seven Hells for them both after what his brother had done; there could be no forgiveness to murder.
“One of them took a bolt. I saw Skinny Nose loose one into the smaller youngling. He never misses.” In after-thought, the Tolerian hawked again. “The bastard.”
More noise, steady footsteps, unhurried and oddly familiar, were coming their way. Both guards turned; the scraping of their heavy steel boots clunked on the stone laneway as they met the new stranger.
“Who’s this then?” Not too friendly, but friendly enough to stop the approaching man. An eerie yellow light crept closer, dispelling some of the surrounding shadows that harboured the pair.
An old voice cracked with age called out. “Just the Bearer. I light the way for the souls who need the light at night. I carry the fire. I am its keeper.”
“Well and good, old man. Maybe a bit of light might help us catch the murdering pair,” spoke the local.
**
And a synopsis…
Set on the world Tarkeenia, the story marks the struggle between God and man, magic and indefinable evil.
Roedanth wants his brother back, it doesn’t matter that the boy is dead; the young copper apprentice can’t seem to stop wishing. Tainted by the magic of the Dark God – Drakite, tragedy and pain follows Roedanth, from Crows Nest to the Halls of Coowic, where the Magi live.
Tarkeenia is awash with life - man and beast live side by side. Monsters hunt the shadows looking for a bite to eat. The tip of balance between dark and light, good and evil is tenuous, even on a good day. Flesh eating Specks turn the living into dust, and the world is no longer safe. Murrdocks, are a child’s story, woven tales told to enchant and incite fear. Their King lays dying, and Prince Pec having no choice, must turn myth into reality.
Strangers become friends, out of necessity more than compatibility for survival takes on the order of the day. Uneasy alliances are tainted by betrayal and self gain, and unlikely heroes emerge to salvage what they can from a world on the brink of chaos.
Everyone strives to make do in a world bubbling with wild magic, working to remain true to their Calling, as the lives of man and monster hang in the balance, subject to the whims of Gods. Can Tarkeenia survive the tug and pull of the very spoilt, and the very wicked? Can those lost to the dark find a way back to the light? Is it possible to forget, or to forgive and begin again? All these questions and more are answered as the reader walks Tarkeenia’s many paths.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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