Elizabeth Ogle: Blog http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog en-us (C) Elizabeth Ogle elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) Thu, 15 Sep 2016 21:54:00 GMT Thu, 15 Sep 2016 21:54:00 GMT http://www.elizabethogle.com/img/s/v-5/u656560772-o141027760-50.jpg Elizabeth Ogle: Blog http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog 120 81 Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sean Beaudoin http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/9/seanbeaudoin Sean Beaudoin is the author of novels such as Wise Young Fool, Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue, and his newest novel, Welcome Thieves. I first met Sean at the opening of Third Place Books in Seward Park this past summer and a few months later we were setting up the place and time to get him in on my Author project. In Sean's interview he talks about his genre, physical books over e-readers, and not taking himself too seriously. 

How did you choose Young Adult genre for your niche or did it choose you? What do you want to communicate and make your readers feel that they can relate to your characters?
YA definitely chose me. At least in the respect that I was trying to sell an adult novel without much success, and then sold two YA novels without really trying. As Mother Theresa once said, "A paycheck is a powerful motivator." But I came to really respect and enjoy working in the genre, because in some ways you never really feel things as intensely as you did when you were fifteen. Fear, love, crushes, confusion, despair. All about things that probably seem a little foolish now. It's an interesting dynamic to explore. My YA tends to run on the older end of the spectrum, but I get letters from 12 yr olds all the time who claim to love them. Oddly, over fifty percent of people who buy/read YA are adults. So go figure.

You seem to prefer physical books over e-books (me too), can you talk about why that is? E-books have made a huge impact on the publishing industry and local bookshops, what are your thoughts on that?
I like to hold something in my hand. Just the tactile sense of it. The solidity. I know a Kindle counts as "holding something", but I mean one not mainly comprised of silicone. Also, I stare at my laptop screen while writing all day, so I try to cut out other screen time whenever possible. My favorite rooms in our house are filled with bookshelves, which are filled with books. Being surrounded by them makes me happy.

Can you talk about you book covers. They look to have a consistency of design and theme, do you work with a graphic artist on your book covers?
Well, they come from three different publishing houses and six different designers, so it's interesting you would say that. In almost all cases, the publisher chooses the designer, either in-house or freelance. Authors rarely have a lot of say in the matter, aside from making comments about comp designs, which may or may not be heeded. Steven King can demand a certain cover, or major changes, but most of us get what we get.

 

You market yourself with funny, homemade videos of why people should go out and buy not one, not two but three copies of your books! You show a side of yourself that doesn't take yourself too seriously. Can you talk about that aspect of yourself and how it may play a part into your writing process or finished books?
Well, I try not to take myself too seriously in any respect because, you know, we're all going to die soon. What's there to be self-important about in the meantime? The notion of the Very Serious Author is pretty much a cliche in my mind, something that went out with Norman Mailer and Phillip Roth. Both of whom, as it turned out, weren't all that serious anyway. I like comic writing in general, particularly as it comes from tragedy. For instance, I think Beckett is hilarious. Beckett would have made excellent Vines and pretty much ruled Snapchat.

Sean BeaudoinSean Beaudoin

When you interviewed Daniel Kraus back in late 2015, you talked with him about the "emotional costs" between an artist and their art and the exposure of receiving criticism. How do you deal with negative or positive reviews on your work and how would you rate your own criticism during your process?
Being a writer is essentially a perpetual experiment in being told you're not very good. From agents, publishers, readers, reviewers, other writers, sales figures, and Twitter. And when people are complimentary, you tend not to believe them. Or at least I don't. I believe taking criticism, and using it to get better, is a true talent. Something you have to work at, and practice, just like playing a guitar. Taking things personally is a doomed game.

What are you working on next?
I have an adult novel called Cornelius Wrathbone that I hope will be out next year. I'm also working on a new YA called Maximum City Blues, and another adult novel to follow. Also, all the usual essays, rants, political statements, and various mercenary projects.

To find more about Sean Beaudoin and his work, you can check him out on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Don't forget to pick up a copy, or two or three, of his new novel, Welcome Thieves.

Website: http://www.seanbeaudoin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seanbeaudoin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeanBeaudoin?ref=ts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Thieves-Stories-Sean-Beaudoin/dp/1616204575/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442273343&sr=8-1&keywords=welcome+thieves

Thank you to the management and staff at the Stone Way Cafe for letting me photograph in their space and, of course, thank you to Sean for being a part of my project.

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/9/seanbeaudoin Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Andrea Dunlop http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/andreadunlop This week I am featuring Andrea Dunlop, author of the novel Losing the Light. Andrea's 2016 debut novel is the story of a woman, Brooke, who unexpectedly has a piece of her past catch up with her and Dunlop's readers are transported to France where it all started. Her book is heavy with adult themes and major topics for a coming-of-age character that we can all relate to either on a small or big level. Typically it is our early twenties that we try new things, make mistakes, and experience unforgettable moments can help shape our lives when we are trying to figure ourselves out. 

In her interview, Andrea talks about the length of time it took write Losing the Light, Brooke's character development, and what is next. 

Losing the Light is your first novel and it took you quite a bit of time to write. Can you talk about the process of when the story first developed to seeing it in print?

I began writing it when I was still in college, so the book was in my life all throughout my twenties and into my thirties (I was thirty-three when it was published). I went through a similar shift that my main character Brooke goes through as the novel's plot encompasses that same time period in her life. That gave me a great perspective on how her ideas and memories of her relationships would change over time. Finally having this book in print is tremendously gratifying because I worked on it for so long and it was very close to my heart. I wrote lots of other things during those thirteen (!!) years, but certainly none as close to my heart. 

In an interview you made it clear that your main character's experiences are not based on real events from your own life. However, were there parts of the novel that you felt you couldn't write about until you had experienced them during the course of your 13 years writing it?I don't know that I consciously thought that, but I think the time it took to write the novel was absolutely to the story's benefit. I feel in some ways as though this novel holds within it my own coming of age. And certainly, my perspective on love, friendship, and envy--the book's major themes--was quite different at thirty than it was at twenty.  

At what points in the story did you feel you had to take a break, put it down, and return? Any specific chapters or character moments that you were not ready to write or you got blocked on writing?

Not specifically. I worked on the book during three major periods--the first in college, the second once I'd move back to Seattle, and the third after I'd tried unsuccessfully to publish two different novels. It was more that the book just kept calling me back. There have been other novels that I put down and never went back to, but this one I couldn't stay away from. 

During your 13 years of writing, did you ever feel any personal pressure to get it done, did you originally have a goal set for yourself on a timeline? Or did you believe that the novel will present itself overtime? 

I thought it WAS done several times. But it turned out it wasn't. I always give myself deadlines to finish a manuscript, but the industry doesn't care whether YOU think you're ready, it will decide if your work is ready. I'd already shopped this once before, which made it easier to walk away for awhile and then come back to it with new eyes--this by the way, is sometimes crucial to do with one's work, but if you're goal-oriented (as I am) this is the hardest thing to do unless your hand is forced. 

Why did you choose to start the novel at Brooke being 30? How do you feel the structure of the book would have been different if you started it at introducing Brooke at 22?

Well, again, life looks very different at thirty than it does in your early twenties. I wanted Brooke to be able to really have some perspective on the choices she'd made all those years ago, and on Sophie and Alex. Meeting someone you knew in your youth later on in adulthood can be really surreal, and I wanted to capture that. Also, there are those things that happen to us when we're young that just change us. It wouldn't be as meaningful to know that it still affected her two years later, but ten years? That's different. 

Who are your influences for this story or your work? 

I love Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, and really anything that deals with young Americans abroad who get in over their heads: Ian McEwan's The Innocent and the cult classic The Dud Avocado. 

You talked about rejection and the personal hardships that authors go through working to get their books published. Who was there for you when you went through that? How important is it to have a support team for those moments?

It's so important to have friends. Certainly the professionals in your life (agent, editors, publicist) can be a supportive team once you get going, but it's important to also have people to cry to who have no professional stake in the whole thing and will just say "Screw them, you're brilliant and wonderful!" I have lots of great friends, lovely parents, and wonderful partner, so I'm very well set up. My mentor, Pat Geary, was also crucial to me, especially in my early writing life. But at the end of the day, no one can want it for you. If you do give up, you were probably just meant to do something else. 

What are you working on next? 

My next novel, She Regrets Nothing, is scheduled for 2018, so I'm working on the edits for that currently. It's the story of a woman who reunites with estranged family members after her mother's death and ends up wreaking havoc on their lives. I'm also working on a novella about a group of women who go to an island for a bachelorette weekend, and the bride-to-be goes missing. 

You can find Andrea's debut novel, Losing the Light, on her website, Amazon, and major bookstores. http://www.andreadunlop.net/

In addition, Andrea is a Social Media Consultant. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram... 

https://twitter.com/Andrea_Dunlop

https://www.facebook.com/AndreaDunlopauthor

https://www.instagram.com/andreadunlop/

Thank you Andrea for being a part of this project! 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/andreadunlop Mon, 22 Aug 2016 18:55:42 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sanae Ishida http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/sanaeishida My Author project continues to go strong and the support as been tremendous. However, I am starting the next stage of the project and that is display. Before I close this project temporarily, I do have a couple more Authors to share with you. I hope you all have been enjoying the Authors that I am spotlighting, they have been some of the nicest, interesting, funny, and creative people I have come in contact with other this past year. For this post I photographed Sanae Ishida (pronounced '"Sun-Eye"). Sanae is an author in two genres, children's and crafts-sewing specifically. Below Sanae talks about her influences, her love for both illustration and sewing and how it helped her get on a more stable path for her life. 

You have written books for two different genres, children's and craft. Which one came first for you?  I wrote the children's book, Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl, first. While I was working on that book, I signed the contract for Sewing Happiness, which is the craft book/memoir.

When we chatted on the phone, you initially talked about how your mom was a great influence to you. How so?
My mom is a prolific artist and I can't remember a time when she wasn't painting or knitting or experimenting with sculpture, etc. She sewed all of my and my two brothers' clothes and could build a stellar playhouse out of whatever she had on hand. She's also a phenomenal cook. She basically did all of this while working as the breadwinner for our family, first as a waitress and then as a silk screen color technician for Disney and other fine artist reproductions. I believed (and still believe) that she was a hybrid of Wonder Woman and a magician and seeing that constant flow of creativity made it normal for my siblings and me to try various "artistic" endeavors too. I don't think it's an accident that both my brothers are comic artists and that I'm writing and illustrating books. 
 
You had to go through some really difficult times to eventually rediscover your passion for sewing (and painting?). Can you talk about that part of your life and what did you learn most from it? 
Now that it's been over four years since I went through the "debacle" as I think of it, when I was fired and sick and in bad shape all around, the specifics surrounding the time have faded in my mind. I'm so glad I've recorded them in the book to remind myself! The lessons are still front and center however: the importance of the basics. And by basics, I really just mean taking care of myself first and not in a self-indulgent way. I learned how vital it is to figure out what my body and mind need to stay healthy, to cultivate positive relationships, to make time to use my hands to create things I find beautiful. I didn't actually want the book to be solely about sewing, but about finding meaningful aspects of life and wholeheartedly pursuing them.
 
What skill level can one expect from Sewing Happiness? Any general advice for someone who is thinking about taking up sewing? 
It's a book targeted for beginners, but the projects have enough customizability for more seasoned sewing enthusiasts to add their own flair. At least that was my hope. If you're thinking of taking up sewing, I would recommend first borrowing a sewing machine, or purchasing an inexpensive one, or trying out a class at a local fabric shop. Like any craft, your pocketbook could easily be emptied out with all the various equipments available and you want to make sure that you enjoy it. My first sewing machine was a $50 Singer from Target and I made so many tiny baby dresses and fell head over heels in love with sewing. I eventually upgraded to a nicer machine but still have that Singer!
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl has beautiful, vibrant colors to help illustrate the story of Little Kunoichi. How fun was the process to work with different color palettes and sketching out the ideas to create her world? 
So much fun! I often talk about how the story of Little Kunoichi pretty much rolled into my mind like a silent movie reel. I mentally saw all the illustrations first and then added text. The whole process was immensely enjoyable.
 
Is it true you based Little Kunoichi off of your own daughter? What characteristics does she share with Little Kunoichi?
Yes. My daughter's name starts with the letter "K" so there's that connection, but she's also a very persistent and hard-working little girl. And hilarious. I suppose you can never force humor, but I really tried to infuse the book with the sweet funniness that seems to naturally be part of kids.
 
What else is in the works for you? Any follow-ups to Little Kunoichi or Sewing Happiness? 
I'm currently working on the quasi-sequel to Little Kunoichi, which will be released Fall of 2017, and then the third book in the series will be released Fall of 2018. I just turned in the rough art for the next book and am deeply in watercolor painting mode for the final art at the moment. I'm loving it!

 

To learn more about Sanae Ishida, find her books, and follow her great creative projects, go to: http://www.sanaeishida.com/

Thank you Sanae for being a part of this project. 

  

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/sanaeishida Mon, 08 Aug 2016 19:33:01 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Kate Lebo http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/7/katelebo I am very excited to share the next Author for my project. I was very fortunate to work with Kate for this project because of her fun style and her passion to work with delicious, natural ingredients. In addition to being a culinary author, Kate splits her time teaching at the Atrium Kitchen located inside the iconic Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. With Kate's help I was able to get in touch with the Events and Programs Manager at the market to schedule a photo session at the kitchen. The result turned out to be as sweet as pie! 

What came first, the writing or the cooking?
The writing. I didn’t learn to cook until I had to. 
 
What was your dinner table like growing up as a child? Did you have a lot of experience cooking with your parents? 
Well, I can tell you that the actual table is still in my parents’ dining room, that it still has the protective covering on it to keep the wood nice, which means this piece of furniture my family has gathered around for three and half decades still has the most pristine top you could imagine—not that you’ll ever see it—and handsomely scarred legs. My dad is a woodworker, so anything in the house that’s made of wood has to be solid and beautiful, even if he didn’t make it.
 
I don’t remember cooking much when I lived at home. My parents let me off the hook as long as I helped clean up the table afterward. Then I did that thing where you move into your first apartment and realize, “Shit! I don’t know how to feed myself!” A realization that was fortunately followed up by,  “Wow, cooking makes me feel like a badass!” I would call home a lot to ask my dad for recipes, and I discovered that food was a language we could share. He and my brother had football. Now he and I had barbecue chicken and grilled salmon and mushroom soup. 
 
My mom has always been interested in nutrition and healthy eating. She makes amazing salads. That sounds banal, but trust me, it’s not. It’s easy to make salad but hard to make people care about salad. For a long time I wasn’t interested in any recipe unless it had all four food groups in it. That’s her influence. I eat my vegetables. Then I eat my pie.
 
You have this unapologetic yet charming way of expressing yourself through cooking, essays, and poems. Was that something that just came natural or did you develop this confidence overtime?
Thanks! You know, this is a hard question for me to answer because it’s asking me to break down the person I construct when it’s time to perform. She’s the person who teaches, talks to a camera, says something in a microphone. The person on the page is different, but related. They’re both me, of course. I know that the in-person person is made in part by my hearing problems. I have a tendency to look people directly in the eye and smile a lot to try to relieve the intensity of that gaze. Looking directly at people helps me hear what they’re saying. Maybe that’s what feels unapologetic. 
 
Unapologetic is an interesting description. What should I be not-apologizing for?
 
You briefly talked about how you are making a transition in your work and you don't want to focus on pie. Can you elaborate on that?
Not yet! But I can tell you something that contradicts what I said—in fall 2017, Sasquatch Books is going to release an anthology of pieces from the Pie & Whiskey reading I host with Sam Ligon. Pie’s not quite through with me yet.
 
In addition writing culinary cookbooks, you write essays and poetry that are have a lot of self reflection and pop culture observance . Do you write these more for yourself? 
I’m writing these like I’d write anything—because there’s something bugging me about something I’m attracted to.
 
Are you a writer who works better in isolation or in the company of others? 
I work alone and prefer to trade work with one person rather than belong to a writing group or workshop. But I need to feel connected to a community or I get pretty miserable, so it’s a balance of hiding and participating, writing on my own and collaborating with a group to make an event or program happen.
My last question is, what do you love about teaching at the Atrium Kitchen in the Pike Place Market? 
The Pike Place Market is amazing for all the reasons you’d expect, but are still surprised by when you visit. It’s full of people—so many people from so many places doing so many things!  One Sunday when I was loading in my baking equipment, I saw a couple get engaged in the plaza. Every Saturday when I teach a guy with a parrot hangs out in the Atrium, and the parrot makes these beautiful spooky sounds all afternoon. People come in during the middle of class to ask what we’re doing, can they have some pie, and I love that too, how this is a place where so much is happening, people don’t think to be shy about interrupting. Though please—not too many interruptions. To be able to make food with enthusiastic, cool people in a place that’s this alive is incredibly awesome. Even though I’m only there once a quarter, I still feel like I’m participating in the culinary history of the city.
 
To learn more about Kate Lebo and Pie School: https://katelebo.com/
You can also find Kate on tumbler, twitter: @mizkatelebo and Goodreads! 
To find out more information about the Atrium Kitchen at the Pike Place Market: http://pikeplacemarket.org/atrium-kitchen
 
I really want to thank Debra Benn, Event Program Manager at the Pike Place Market for allowing me to shoot in the Atrium Kitchen. Thank you to my good friend and assistant for this shoot, April Staso and last but not least, Kate Lebo for her wonderful participation.  
 
Extra bonus: Behind the scene shots of my shoot with Kate Lebo...(photos by April Staso)
 
 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/7/katelebo Thu, 07 Jul 2016 05:47:13 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, J.L. Spohr http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/jlsphor Today is the first day of Summer! It is that time of year that is great for reading. There is nothing better than laying out on a blanket in the cool shade on a hot summer day reading a good book. It is absolutely one of my favorite things to do this time of year when I need to just slow down, take a break, rest my mind, relax. I have recently marked my one year that I started the Author Project and I want to celebrate on the first day of summer by sharing my shoot with J.L. Spohr. J.L. Spohr is a romantic, historical fiction writer who sets her stories in the 1500s, a time of lavish kings and queens, even though her characters go through less than lavish times. J.L. Spohr talks about her royal inspiration, the balancing act process of writing, and what is next for her. 

Stories of kings and queens, giant battles, and royal back-stabbings, were these the stories you read as young reader? Who or what did you read specifically? 

As a child I read everything from science fiction like L’Engle and Sleator to non-fiction about the African rain forests. I was the kid after bedtime reading with a flashlight under my sheets until my eyes couldn’t stay open. But as far as royal intrigue, I was at a very impressionable age when I watched Princess Diana marry, cementing the fantasy that some day, some prince could whisk me away from all my problems and I could have awesome outfits, live in a castle, and ride horses all day. And people would have to do what I say and not the other way around. Which sounds pretty darn fantastic to an eight year old. 

As I grew up, I still loved the outfits and the castles, but the history behind it all was the real fascination for me. Why the Tudor era and the early Renaissance, I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it was because Diana was British, perhaps because I studied in London for a time in college, perhaps it was because Henry VIII is morbidly fascinating and his daughter to this day remains one of the most successful rulers of all time. Ok, it’s just the outfits.

What kind of research do you go through (or one does) to write in a time period over 500 years old? How do you stick to traditions of the time? 

Sticking to the time is a fine line. The first draft of Heirs & Spares was so authentic it was unreadable with all the old English, the accenting. So, I had to make the dialogue readable for a modern audience. The funniest things to me are when, if people take issue with accuracy, they often take issue with something that was pulled straight from the pages of record from the 1500’s. So while it needs to be accurate, it also needs to be readable and believable. Human nature, human motivations, never change, lust, greed, love, loyalty, pride, jealousy, sacrifice, bravery, these all move us to sometimes unspeakable and sometimes beautiful acts and they always have. Many of my plots and characters are based on actual historical people and events. For example, the queen from Heirs & Spares is an amalgamation of Henry VIII’s six wives.

As far as the amount of research, for these it was much less than I’ll have to do for a book I’ll be writing set in the fifties and sixties, simply because I studied the European reformation extensively in graduate school. That doesn’t mean I still didn’t do quite a bit, just that I know the era quite well.

An example of what goes into the research: I needed a character to have an illness that often kills, but when it doesn’t it lingers in the body for years. So, not only did I need to find that illness, I needed to make sure it existed in 1569 and find out what they called it then. Then I needed to find out what herbs or remedies they would have used to try and treat it and whether or not they associated the years-long effects to the original illness. That alone could take half a day.

Heirs and Spares and God and King, take place in a very historic time period for art and discovery. Did any particular event or year influence you for your story? Inspiration?

The series is indeed set in an exciting time in history and I use as much as I can of that to inform the stories, mostly leaning on the chaos of the reformation as my country (which is fake, by the way, but set within a real Europe) is Catholic and surrounded by the Low Countries who are turning to Protestantism and France, which was fighting its own wars of religion. My country is too small to be of any influence, but big enough to be a trophy for either the Catholics or the Protestants, with even Spain and England trying to get a piece of it.

There were events, such as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris, that play important plot parts in the books, but I wouldn’t say anything in particular drove or inspired the story. I tend to be a character-focused writer, so for me, it’s the characters and how they react that matters, not so much the events themselves.

Can you talk about the process of getting your book published? 

I’m what has been coined a “hybrid” author, in that I have an agent, but have also published independently. Truth be told, I wanted to publish the Realm series (Heirs & Spares etc.) the old fashioned way, but when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, became pregnant, I figured the best time to market a book about royal heirs might be when the future royal of England was born. So I pulled all my queries and got to work publishing independently, hiring a great group of editors, designers and formatters at The Editorial Department. I was able to launch the book two weeks before Prince George was born and leveraged that into media appearances and articles. Start to finish, my first book took four years to be published. The editing and writing process are shorter for me now, so each book takes about nine months to write and maybe four more to edit, design and publish.

On the traditional side, my current book has taken two years: one to write and one to pitch to my agent, then revise and now she is pitching to publishers. Once it’s sold (fingers crossed) that’s probably another year until it’s on the shelves. So no matter which route you go, publishing is neither easy nor quick, and both have their pluses and minuses. For now, I’m content with both.

Writing comes with all kinds of difficulties to create a exciting plot and interesting characters. With Historical Fiction, is there a certain type of roadblock you overcome in this genre?

One of the roadblocks is trying to take away our modern sensibility of right and wrong. The religious persecution of that era was horrific and merciless. And, even though we had Queen Elizabeth, and for all intents and purposes Catherine Medici in France, misogyny was ordinary and expected. For a woman to speak her mind could mean death (just ask Anne Boleyn). And yet, there were men who treated their wives and daughters with deep love and respect, and there were women who owned successful businesses and controlled nations. Add to that, the story and characters have to be appealing to the modern reader, so, while the king in my story is a pretty affable guy, he makes some cringe-worthy comments that would be commonplace in that era. So I work hard at balancing the era and the reader, as well as the story I want to tell.

What are you working on now? 

Too many things! I’m currently writing the prequel to the Realm series called Sword & Shield, about when the future king was exiled and the future queen grew up in the country. I’m also finishing up the editing of Crown & Thorns, the final book in the series. I’m also researching the next two books I have slated to write, one, about Queen Jezebel and the prophet Elijah from the Bible, called Thrown to the Dogs will be sort of a Poisonwood Bible meets The Red Tent novel, and another about a group of five women friends in the fifties and sixties called Round Robin.

And of course, the book my agent is selling, with the working title Ghost of a Woman, is about a modern day mother who dies in her house and is doomed to haunt the inhabitants. It weaves family trauma, self-discovery, and fractious female relationships into a story about the bonds of love and sacrifice that run deeper than death. And oddly, it’s funny.

J.L. Spohr's work can be found online at her website, amazon.com, and your local bookstore. You can find more of J.L. Spohr's work and follow her on what she is workingon next...

Website: www.jlspohr.com     
Facebook: facebook.com/jlspohr
Twitter & Instagram: @jlspohr 
 
J.L. Spohr, thank you for being a part of my project. 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/jlsphor Mon, 20 Jun 2016 19:20:43 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sheila Kelly http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/sheilakelly "I am a accidental historian," Sheila Kelly told me in her interview for the Author project. Sheila Kelly is a Washington native but has family ties to Treadwell, Alaska, the historical gold mining town on Douglas Island, not too far from Juneau. Sheila has spent over two decades researching her family's history and the people of Treadwell for her book, Treadwell Gold, An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. It became important to her that she she learn where her family and the native people of Alaska came from, what goals did they accomplish in their life and how it help shape that particular corner of the United States. 

Describe your relationship with Treadwell. How did your interest of the town start? 
In the early 1900s, my father and four aunts were born and raised in Treadwell, Alaska, a hard rock gold mining town on Douglas Island across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau. For a moment in time, Treadwell was world famous, the largest gold mining operation in the world creating far more wealth than the flash in the pan Klondike Gold Rush. An unusual company town, complete with a country club, grew up around the mines. As I reached middle age, I was hungry for family history.  My father had already died. I sorely regret not having listened as a child when he tried to tell us about how things were “in the old days” when he was growing up in Treadwell where his father was a machinist for the mining company. But my aunts regaled me with stories about living a gracious life in a mining town up on the Alaska frontier. That is where my interest started.

Author, Sheila Kelly

What was the extent of your research when interviewing locals? 
I started out trying to write about my family, the Kellys of Treadwell who had lived there from 1899 to 1925.  But most of their contemporaries had died and the town no longer exists. I did track down, interview and share photo albums with a few friends, the son of the Swedish hoist operator, and two sons and one daughter of three superintendents. I became interested in their stories too. I scoured the files of the local newspapers and the archives of the Alaska State Library.  As I immersed myself in the treasure trove of historical photos of Treadwell, the town became a compelling character, not just the backdrop. Several historians in the Juneau area assisted me and gave me access to their files.

Did you have any difficult moments or roadblocks when you were researching Treadwell and/or what were some surprising moments for you? 
My goal in writing the book was to bring Treadwell to life through the true stories of those who lived there. With passing time, it became impossible to interview the people and I had to turn to books and articles for personal accounts from underground miners, and workers’ stories of struggle for better pay and working conditions. I also needed to know more about southeast Alaska’s indigenous population, the Tlingit. 
I started out focused on the human interest aspect of the good life in this company town on top of a gold mine on the Alaska frontier.  In the end I decided that the town itself should be given a leading role. Treadwell deserved to be recognized as the original catalyst for Alaska development. Just over a decade after the 1867 Alaska Purchase, the Treadwell mines began producing enormous wealth that preceded and outlasted the fevered Klondike Gold Rush. Treadwell created a base of jobs and commerce and drew thousands of adventuresome tourists, even in the late 1800s. Treadwell put Juneau on the map. I felt a growing sense of pride that my family had been a part of this bit of history. 

According to your biography, you have been studying Treadwell for the past twenty years, how have you seen it grow or change in that span of time? 
The mines of Treadwell caved in, flooded and closed in 1917.  The town gradually became deserted and in 1926 the remaining buildings burned. The first time I visited there was 1982. Today all that is left are remnants of buildings along the Treadwell Mine Historic Trail in a public park that skirts Gastineau Channel.  The local efforts to preserve the site have gained support because 2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Treadwell cave in as well as the  150th Anniversary of the Purchase of Alaska.  I plan to be part of both.

You have been in the process of turning your book into a theatrical production. How do you begin to turn Treadwell Gold into a theatrical production? Picking out the protagonist, writing conflicts, how do you go about writing dialogue to bring your book to life? 

As part of these two Anniversary events mentioned before, I envisioned a play that captured the drama of the story of Treadwell. Transforming an extensively researched (20 years!) non-fiction book Treadwell Gold, an Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin (University of Alaska Press, 2010) into as 90-minute theater production required a different way of telling the story and a different set of writing skills. Everything has to be in dialogue, not my long and carefully-crafted pieces of exposition. Characters are conflated, or invented. The timeline is adjusted to increase the drama.  It is a challenge that activates other parts of my creative brain.  I am a non-fiction writer not a playwright. I am working with a playwright Rachel Atkins who will develop a script to adapt my book to the stage.  (..then maybe we’ll move on to Treadwell the Musical!)

What do you want readers to take away from your story as well as the stores from the people of Treadwell, Alaska? 

I encourage people to explore their own family background and the historical context in which it happened. I say “My family made history….and so did yours.”  It is the weaving together of personal stories that make up the fabric of history and tell the whole story, more so than dates of battles and events. A caveat.  Beware the seduction of historical research—aka the Rapture of Research. I became enthralled with archives and primary sources and was easily hijacked by intriguing side stories.  Yes, it all contributed to making my book more than a family memoir, but it also explains why it took 20 years to get it published. I am an accidental historian.  

Sheila Kelly's book, Treadwell Gold, An Alaska Sage of Riches and Ruin can be found on Amazon.com for purchase as well as your local book store. You can find more about Sheila Kelly and Treadwell, Alaska at http://www.treadwellgold.com/

Sheila, thank you for being a part of my project. 
 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/sheilakelly Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:13:18 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Brian Dickinson http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/briandickinson I had first heard about Brian Dickinson while listening to The Mens Room on 99.9 KISW. After hearing Brian tell his story, I knew I had to include him in this project. His book is called Blind Descent, his story of how he summited Mt. Everest alone and his difficult journey back down. Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, located in Nepal standing near 30,000ft above sea level. In his interview below, Brian talks about his preparation and how it certainly was not easy. 

How long did you have your goal set on to climb Mt. Everest?

I’m not sure exactly since I’ve always been a big goal-setter and adventurous. I think the seed was really planted when I saw the Everest IMAX movie in ’98. I made a goal to climb the 7 Summits in ’08, which started making Everest more of a reality.

Can you talk about the window of time for climbing Everest? What time and how long is that window?

Everest is typically climbed in April and May, but some people have climbed it in the Fall.  Since there’s only 1/3 of the air above 26,000’ (Everest’s summit is 29,035’), it takes 2 months to climb. The first month is acclimating to the higher altitudes so that your body is prepared to make a summit attempt.  Once you’re fully acclimated you wait down at base camp for a 5 day weather window to make an attempt.  There are only a couple days during the year that allow climbers to reach the top since the summit sits up in the jet stream and creates it’s own harsh weather patterns.

How do you choose the right Sherpa to summit with you and why did you only choose to summit with one Sherpa and not a group?

There are a few options when preparing an expedition. A western guided trip will handle all of the logistics and is the more popular method.  I climbed independent, meaning I wasn’t part of a large team. I coordinated my Sherpa support and permits through a resource I know back in Seattle.  I chose this route because I’ve had a lot of experience on other mountains and didn’t want to be a part of a larger team. It was a very intimate experience to have that much solitude on Everest.

Did you think about turning back when your Sherpa became ill?

Absolutely. Pasang and I had a conversation at 28,000’. We weighed out everything we knew at the time.  We discussed the weather (good), how I was feeling (good) and most importantly how he was doing.  He assured me he was fine and could get down.  If I would have known what was going to happen I would not have continued, but in the mountains you live and die by decision.  Fortunately I lived to tell.

When you started to descend down the mountain you had one life threatening occurrence after another, you lost your vision and you were low on oxygen to name a couple. During these moments, did you feel a spiritual force or a presence that could be challenging you at that time or helping you along the way?

I definitely felt a presence around me, but not one that was challenging me. There were definitely life-threatening challenges, but I feel the presence was keeping me at peace to overcome the obstacles. Then at 27,000’ I ran out of oxygen and when I dropped to my knees to pray I truly witnessed a miracle that ended up saving my life.

When you finally reached the base camp and you were able to get medical aid, what was the process like to get your eyesight back? Are their any long term effects of being snow-blind?

My eyesight didn’t completely return for over a month. It was a very painful and frustrating process, but eventually I could see again.  I do have long-term damage in my left eye but it’s not too bad.  It could be a lot worse.

Would you ever want to summit Mt. Everest again or what is next after climbing the tallest mountain in the world?

One of the best parts of climbing is the descent. That’s when you get to see everything you endured on the way up since you typically climb thru the night and summit in the morning. I didn’t get to see anything on the way down.  It would be nice to see that amazing view on an uneventful descent, but I have no plans to return to Everest. There are no shortages of adventures on this earth and my kids are old enough now to explore the world with me.

How long did it take you before you decided that you wanted to share your story or what made you want to share your story?

As soon as I returned I was bombard with media coverage so the story quickly got out there. I was then introduced to my agent, Working Title Agency, and they got a contract with Tyndale House publishing.  It all kind of happened quickly. I was just trying to climb a mountain and the next thing I’m sharing my story of survival with the world. Life is certainly interesting.

 

To read more about Brian Dickinson and see/hear interviews about him, you can see all on his website at http://www.briandickinson.net/  You can also follow Brian on Twitter: @briancdickinson  His book, Blind Descent can be found on Amazon.com and your local book store. 

Brian, thank you so much for being a part of this project. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/briandickinson Mon, 25 Apr 2016 16:00:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Boyd Morrison http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/boydmorrison As I continue this project I have been very fortunate to have met authors of different genres. The next Author I am happy to include in my project is Boyd Morrison.

 

You have an incredible amount of work published. How do you keep the ideas rolling? 

I really wish I knew how my brain worked (so does my wife). It would make things so much easier. But it works in a very haphazard way. It just throws story ideas at me whenever it wants, which is a lot of the time. When I read a news story or watch a TV show or when I'm simply walking around, my mind says, Hey! What would happen if...? Sometimes it becomes a story, but most of the time it just rattles around in there. 
Ideas are not my problem. I've got tons of those. Ask any writer, and he or she will tell you that it's getting an idea formed into a 400-page sensible plot with interesting characters and exciting events that is the hard part.

 

Can you talk about your collaboration with Clive Cussler. How did that creative relationship develop?

Clive has been incredible to work with. I’ve been a fan of his books for decades, and I’ve often said that Raise The Titanic! is the book that first got me interested in thriller novels. So it’s a real honor and privilege to be collaborating with him now. When he was looking for a new co-author on his Oregon Files series, he went to his local mystery bookstore and bought a couple of my books on the owner’s recommendation. He loved them and called my agent to ask if I’d be interested in writing with him. When she relayed the message to me, I was stunned to know he’d enjoyed my books and of course I jumped at the chance to work with him. Two weeks later we got together to plot out our first novel, Piranha.

 

Was there any one of your novels in particular you found difficult to write? You mentioned you have a tendency to be self-critical. Was that a factor?

I don’t know a single author who isn’t self-critical, so I can’t say I’m unusual. My wife will vehemently concur that about halfway through each book I write, I’ll come to her and say the story isn’t working and I don’t know how to fix it. She always talks me down from the ledge and I eventually figure it out, but it’s so painful at the time. When I wrote Rogue Wave, I had originally written much of the book in the first-person point of view, but when I finished the book, it just wasn’t working. So I had to go through the entire book and change every page to the third-person point of view. The end result was definitely worth it, but it was a real chore.

In 2011 you wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the timeline of eBooks and the unforeseeable future of print. If you were to write that article today, how do you think it would be different? What is your prediction in 2016?

That’s funny. I completely forgot I wrote that article! I agree with my 2011 self that it’s difficult to make predictions, so I don’t think I’d write it much differently except to note the major changes to the industry in the last five years. Since then Borders has gone out of business, ebooks are a large part of the market now but in no danger of decimating publishers or consigning hardcovers to the dustbin of history, and Fifty Shades of Grey and The Martian became massive hits after starting off as self-published books. I will say that it seems as if the huge technological and business changes to publishing have abated a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Amazon brick and mortar bookstores in the coming year.

Speaking of that article, eBooks to pBooks, the rejection paragraph compares you to Dan Brown and your literary partner, Clive Cussler. Did this part in particular shock you? Were you offended or surprisingly flattered?

I’m very flattered to be compared to successful and beloved authors! Many of my online reviews from readers do exactly that, and I always appreciate it when I’m compared favorably. Given how readers find books, by getting recommendations from Amazon or their friends ("if you liked that, you’ll love this"), I can’t be too surprised when they make the explicit comparison. In fact, I think that’s why I'm such a good fit with Clive; many readers have said that if you like Clive Cussler, then you like my books, so writing with him seems like a natural progression.

You said after frustrations, you picked yourself up and started writing another story. Did you worry though about how to stand out from those authors or did you not worry?

I think all writers should spend some time thinking about why their story needs to be told. What makes this story different from the others out there? If it’s a slavish stylistic copy of a Clive Cussler or James Rollins novel, what’s the point? Those authors have scores of novels to read, so what are you adding to the genre? For my part, I hadn’t seen a story with an engineer who was an action-adventure hero, so as an engineer myself, I wanted to read that. And because I’m a scientist as well, I wanted my explanations to famous legends (Noah’s Ark, the Midas touch, the Loch Ness monster, the Roswell incident) to have a scientific, non-supernatural rationale while still retaining the air of mystery, which I thought would be unusual. But what I really think about now is that I want to write stories that only I can tell. If I do that, then I think I’ll be on the right track.

 
 
You can read more about Boyd Morrison and find his books at http://www.boydmorrison.com/   His books can also be found on store shelves at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. You can also follow Boyd on Twitter: @BoydMorrison
 
Thank you Boyd for being a part of this project! 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/boydmorrison Tue, 19 Apr 2016 03:36:14 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Kevin O'Brien http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/kevinobrien After meeting Seattle Author, Kevin O'Brien, I had to ask the cliche question of, "How can someone so nice and friendly as you write menacing thriller novels?". To which he laughed and said, "I just enjoy it." To be honest I shouldn't have been surprised or stunned by his answer. I consider myself to be a generally friendly, happy-go-lucky gal with an excitement for a good scare just as Kevin writes. We both share a love for Hitchcock films and cat-n-mouse story lines that send audiences on adrenaline rides all for a good scare. So to recap, I still feel silly for having to ask. Kevin O'Brien gives a great interview about his influences, his near non existent sleep schedule, and a detailed explanation of how one of his books almost made it to the big screen.

Let’s start with my cliché question…In person, you are very welcoming, friendly and upbeat; so what made you choose Thrillers as your writing niche?  I guess I am leaning towards when we talked briefly about everyone having a dark side, but how is it fun to make these cat-and-mouse plot lines?

People who read my thrillers are always surprised that I’m not like Hannibal Lecter.  “You’re such a nice guy!” they say in amazement.  But even as a kid, I was interested in Alfred Hitchcock movies, The Twilight Zone, and things that scared me.  I’m still a huge Hitchcock fan.   My first two novels weren’t thrillers.  The second one, ONLY SON, was a tough sell, but once it sold, it did really well—with a film option and a deal with Readers Digest in several countries.  My agent advised me to try writing a thriller, because genre books are easier to sell.  “Plus, you love Hitchcock!”  So—I kind of tapped into that part of me that likes a good scare, and I used it in my writing.  I really had to tap into some dark places sometimes—and ended up scaring myself.  But that’s when I knew I was onto something—when I made those little hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  I wrote THE NEXT TO DIE (1999), which it became a USA Today Bestseller, and that sealed the deal. I’d found my niche.   

When you explain to a new audience of what you write about, do you get a weird look? 

Usually, it’s when I tell someone the plot of one of my books that I get the strange look.  For example, someone recently asked me about the storyline for DISTURBED (2011), and I started to describe it: “Well, the police are trying to catch this guy they call the Cul de Sac Killer, because he murders people in houses that are on cul de sacs and dead ends. He puts their bodies in closets throughout the house, and he steals the ‘No Outlet’ sign at the beginning of the block…” That’s when I got the wary look, and the guy backed away a bit.

Who or what is your inspiration for your storylines, characters, and themes?

A good author is always observing and imagining.   Often, I get a plotline after connecting a couple of totally unrelated stories I’ve read or heard (fiction or non-fiction).  My editor often throws ideas at me that same way: “I was on the subway, and thought it would be interesting to combine Black Widow and The Stepfather.”  So—I came up with this notion of a woman who keeps marrying widowers, and then ends up killing them and their kids.  From there, I had to start thinking about how she’ll pull it off, how this killing pattern fails to get the attention of the police, what her motivation is, and who will be my hero or heroine—the one to stop her.  That plotline became my 2014 thriller, TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY.

When do you do most of your writing?  What is your schedule like as a full time writer?

I’m a night owl and write mostly late at night.   This is ideal for me as a thriller author.  It’s easier to imagine creepy situations and plot developments when I’m writing at one in the morning.  Plus it’s a lot quieter—and there are fewer distractions.  During the day, I work on administrative stuff—answering emails, arranging author appearances, and self-promotion on Facebook.  As I get closer to my book delivery deadline, I write day and night to get the damn thing finished—by then, that’s what it becomes known as, “the damn book.”

You mentioned to me that one of your books was close to getting a movie deal, which I am sure is very exciting! Can you elaborate on that experience?

ONLY SON was a hard sell, and my agent decided to switch strategies. She'd been shopping it to publishers, but began to pitch it to producers, stars, and production companies, too.  We had a few nibbles and then finally, a solid bite from producer/director and writer (THE OMEN), David Seltzer.  He told us he needed to show the book to a leading man he had in mind--and if the leading man came aboard, he'd make us an offer.  He wouldn't say who the leading man was.  But apparently, the guy became interested, because Seltzer took it to MGM, and they agreed to produce the movie. 

It was then that Seltzer told us the leading man who wanted to be in ONLY SON was Tom Hanks.  This was right after PHILADELPHIA--with FORREST GUMP about to be released.  Hanks was the hottest thing around at the time.  I was ecstatic.  I never talked directly to Mr. Seltzer or Tom Hanks.  But I did get a very nice email from John Pielmeier (AGNES OF GOD) who was writing the screenplay. I had nothing to do with it.  But I did get a sizable check, which allowed me to put a nice down-payment on my condo.

Meanwhile, the movie deal got publishers (who had been uninterested for over a year) to notice ONLY SON.  Kensington bought it, and really gave me the first class treatment (I'm still with them...they're fantastic).  Meanwhile, Holly Hunter (like Hanks, she'd just won the Oscar that year) was "interested" in playing the female lead.  In interviews, Tom was referring to his next film project as very "unusual" for him--and he even told a funny story from the book on The Tonight Show. I was in heaven.  

Then it all started to unravel.  They said the screenplay needed work.  Tom Hanks decided to write and direct THAT THING THAT YOU DO.  They started going from one "interested" leading man to another, and they all eventually lost interest.  MGM had a change in hierarchy, and the project was officially dropped.

At least I got to keep the money.  It's set up so that they "option" the book--so no one else can get it--for a year to 18 months.  If principal photography had started on the movie within those 18 months, I would have gotten A LOT more money. But they let the option expire, and no one else picked it up.

I never got to see the screenplay. It's my understanding that the book writer is always the low man on the totem pole in these movie deals--unless the book is a mega-hit.  

Over what span of time did it take you to write 15 thrillers? Are you a fast writer or do you go back and forth a lot?

I wrote my first two books (one published in 1986 and the next in 1996) while working full time as a railroad inspector. I started writing full time in 1998. So—I’ve churned out a thriller practically every year since 1999. I start out slow every time I begin a book, but as the delivery deadline looms closer, I write faster and faster. There’s lot of sleep depravity close to finishing up.

How do you feel when you are due with a story and how much time do you give yourself between books?  Is it like you have to shake the previous one out of your system?

Well, I delivered my next book, YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, in early-December.  When I turned it in, my editor emailed and asked, “Have you given some thought to your next book?”   So—I pretty much started jotting down ideas around Christmas time (Ho-Ho-Ho!).  I’m now writing an extensive outline—which is more like a condensed version of the book I’m proposing (with dialogue and description).  It usually comes in at around 90 pages.  I want to get it to my editor by the third week in March.  And of course, it’ll be tough to shake off the last book, because this week, I’ll also be going over the copyedited version of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, and then I’ll be writing stuff about it to promote it on my website.  No rest for the wicked!

 

Do you tour much around the country or mostly local?

My book tours are mostly local, here in Seattle.  I’ll also travel to different spots in Washington and Oregon.  Every year, I’ll promote a new book in Chicago, where I grew up—and I do that on my own dime.  Occasionally my publisher will pay for me to go to some big event in another part of the country—and that’s always fun.  This August, I’ll be a keynote speaker at the Killer Nashville book festival.

Anything else I forgot to mention or anything else you would like to add?

Yes, be sure to check out YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE at your local bookstore or favorite eBook venue on July 26, 2016.

 

To find more of Kevin O'Brien's work, please visit his website at http://www.kevinobrienbooks.com/

You can find Kevin's books available for sale at Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Pioneer Square, Queen Anne Book Company on Queen Anne Hill, The Elliot Bay Book Company in Capitol Hill and last but not least, on Amazon.com.

I also want to thank my friends and professional peers for supporting me in this project as I continue along.

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/kevinobrien Tue, 15 Mar 2016 19:47:56 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Elissa Washuta http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/elissawashuta My next Author I would like to present is Elissa Washuta. Elissa is the author of two memoirs, My Body is a Book of Rules, Starvation Mode, and various articles published in Third Coast, Salon, and Buzzfeed. In her memoirs, Elissa presents herself whole heartedly to the reader and doesn't hold back on discussing difficult topics such as rape, mental health, the pressure to fit in, and her ethnic identity. In her short essays, Elissa focus's on writing pieces based on her Native identity and experiences of being a member of the Cowlitz tribe. She challenges the representation of how Indigenous people are written in pop culture and how the movies get it so wrong. 

How did you begin to write My Body...? It is a brave thing to do to outline your personal history for an audience. What challenges did you face? 

It started with a single essay that I wrote during my first quarter of grad school. It wasn't meant to go anywhere, at first--it was just an aside to the fiction I was writing in the program. The writing process was draining--I was writing about rape, bipolar mood swings, Native identity issues--but it was exciting work because I was working on crafting my experience into art that I was intensely proud of. My biggest challenge was in finding a publisher. For a while, I thought the book might never come out.

Elissa WashutaElissa Washuta

What made you want to tell your story? 

I began writing My Body Is a Book of Rules after a few years as a fiction writer. Once I attempted nonfiction, it became clear to me that my fiction was flat and kind of bored me, and that was because the subject matter and the explorations of character didn't feel true. I was trying to write about subjects and characters that I thought would be interesting to readers, and I sort of lost sight of what was actually interesting to me. I realized that my life was good subject matter because I could use the things that I had done and experienced as vehicles to build myself as a complicated character. And I really wanted to find a way to depict the ways in which I had struggled. I don't really like to talk about those things, because I can only get the words right when I work hard to chisel them out as precisely as possible. 

Can you talk about the cover of, My Body is a Book of Rules? What is the symbolism and design behind the cover?  
Red Hen Press gave me the opportunity to send along images to give them a sense of my visual aesthetic as they were working on the cover. I didn't even know how to begin, so I Googled "art" and soon enough found Elle Hanley's amazing work. I sent the press a few of her photographs, and soon, they were able to license the image for use on the cover. The piece is called "Ondine's Choice," and I believe it is based on a Greek myth. For me, it resonates on a visceral level--the many wrapping arms, the weird fish.

For those who have not read Starvation Mode: A Memoir of Food, Consumption, and Control, how does it differ from your first? 
It's short--maybe a quarter of the length of My Body Is a Book of Rules. And while the first book is an interweaving of so many of my core concerns and conflicts, Starvation Mode is really focused upon my lifelong disordered eating. It's still structurally weird, but the focus is narrow.
 
 
After you write a essay or a next chapter, how many times do you look over it? Are you set on the words you put down or do you go through multiple drafts?
 
It varies. I always go through at least three drafts, sometimes dozens and dozens, sometimes fewer. My writing process is incredibly slow. I am painstaking in editing as I go. For that reason, a first draft is sometimes not too far off from the final. I sometimes write and discard entire essays, only to return to the subject matter later with a completely different approach. That feels like creating multiple drafts, even when none of the words are the same.
 
 
You have written essays about Native Americans being depicted in pop culture incorrectly. Would you change this?
Certainly, I would like to see representations of Native people as complex humans with our own trajectories, differences, and value independent of settler lives and aims. Movies with Native characters usually take place at least 150 years ago, and Native characters appear in support of (or as a threat to) a white character's goals. In most Hollywood depictions, Native characters get to be brave, noble, savage, lusty, doomed, unintelligent, or bloodthirsty, but they don't get to have complexity. Most representations of Natives in books and movies are created by non-Natives. I wish that were different. I wish the book-buying and movie-watching public had more interest in Native stories--the ones we tell about ourselves.
 
What are you working on now? 
I'm working on a new book. All I really know right now is that it will be nonfiction, and it involves a ridiculous amount of research. I don't really know what it's about--I never do until I'm done. I know that might seem like an evasive answer, but I've decided to stop talking about what the book is about and then changing everything.
 
You can find more about Elissa Washuta, appearances, and future publications can be found at http://washuta.net/
 
Thank you Elissa for being a part of this project. 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/elissawashuta Thu, 10 Mar 2016 05:50:17 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Carol Levin http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/carollevin I am so excited to have Carol Levin a part of the Author project. Carol Levin is a poet, a genre that I had yet to add to the project. When I arrived at her home I was in awe of it. She toured me around her charming home, most of it handcrafted by her husband. Bedrooms reconfigured with beautiful bay windows that overlooked Puget Sound. When I saw her office, I was in double awe of the bookshelves that surrounded her while she writes. But I couldn't resist getting a portrait in her living room with that beautiful PNW view. Below, Carol gives a very wonderful interview and talks about how life lead her to this path. 

Where do you find inspiration for your poetry?

One of the first jewels of instruction I had about poetry was that “anything can be a poem” (the more interests and experiences you have the more material is available to you) Often my poem begins with what I call a —riff-  words I have thought, or overheard, or read or dreamt. Then I can play with them developing content, music, surprise, narrative, etc. I never know where this fooling around will take me, it can continue for years. Sometimes the process is excruciating, sometimes exhilarating.

Poetry may not be written as linear as a full novel of character development with plot-twists. Do you have a timeline for writing or how do you know when a collection is done and you feel good about?

First, In my wildest dreams I can’t envision how a person can write a novel!!!! It is a totally different process.

When working on each of my four poetry collections I have been lucky enough to have had published, I had composed many more poems than were included in the final book. So creating the volume becomes an exercise of exclusion. Also I invite others to read my manuscript and offer suggestions. I have learned that the writer doesn’t see a lot of potential possibilities, blatant obstructions, repetitions, or cliches no matter how long, or how close the attention he or she addresses to it. Fresh eyes are important. I am grateful for the response I have been given, the comments always lead me to something I hadn’t noticed or thought of. Another other part of the process is time. I heard Tess Galllgaher say she and her husband Raymond Carver, “put their manuscripts in a drawer for two years, when they took them out, time had done all the work for them.” For me the sense of completion is a click. (Don’t ask me how to explain that, it is a sensation based on experience)

Have you always written poetry? When did you start being published?

The first poem of mine to be published was accepted in a journal in 1996. Many years ago I could have never imagined the occupations that now are the passions of my life. No I have not always written poetry. Even though I lived in books I never wrote. I couldn’t spell, (computers solved that.) However in high school I did learn to write a great business letter. As I say I couldn’t have imagined— it is so true you never know where life may take you. I love that.

You mentioned how you prefer a quiet room as opposed to "white noise" or background noise, can you talk about that for your process of writing? Why is that important to you?

I am an auditory reader, which makes me a slow reader. When I am writing poetry I hear  it. I’m usually saying it aloud, it is akin to composing music. Any other sound—any noise—any music in my space intrudes or shuts down this process. I can’t hear myself think.

Has there ever been a time where you thought of a idea that you had to get down on paper and thought, "I'll use that one day"?--kind of tuck it away for later.

constantly. Listening and watching for possibilities is like a hum that is my friend. I always have pen and paper, and at my reading chair I have a blank notebook that I jot down this or that. I usually transfer these to my file on my computer. I have two files I call Compost I have been adding to for years. Each has over a hundred pages. When I am stuck on a line in a poem I am writing, I just scroll through until something catches my attention. Often this will shift or expand the direction I had been thinking of. It is a kind of improvisation. Also works for prompts to start writing new poems. 

Who do you gather inspiration from? 

The answer to this question moves the way the sea moves and depends on the moment I am answering relative to what came immediately before.

I can explain that after I was introduced to haiku in an acting class and began writing haiku I also met Denise Levertov. We had lively conversations several times not about poetry and one day I said to myself I cannot see this woman again without having read her poetry. I began book after book. As I read I began to ask, how does she do this? By then I was writing, and reading everything in anthologies. Anthologies are wonderful sources because you encounter many voices and can begin to explore the differences and keep track of what appeals. I found a mentor/tutor, Patricia Fargnoli who lives in New Hampshire (she later became Poet Laureate of N.H.) We worked vigorously together online and by mail for several years. At one point she told me to start submitting my poems, and she told me to go to writing conferences. I said “Who Me!!!!!” but I did, I got published and accelerated my education. I say I am “grass roots educated” 

Who are your favorite authors/writers/poets? 

My favorite poets today: Pat Fargnoli, Edward Hirsch, Gertrude Stein, Shakespeare, Robert Wrigley, Naomi Shihab Nye, Wislawa Szymborska, Patricia Smith (Blood Dazzler) David Young. Of course Levertov. That is a small sample just at this moment. Although I am thinking of some others also now. Ilya Kaminsky (Dancing in Odessa), Shirley Kaufman, Evan Boland . . . But wait there are more— Stegner, Virginia Woolf, Ann Patchett, Robert Caro, Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, Beth Alvarado (Anthropologies—Memoir) Philip Larkin, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Carol Shields, Stephanie Kallos—(Seattle novelist—http://stephaniekallos.com

What are you working on next? 

Since my most recent book, “Confident Music Would Fly Us to Paradise” was released I have been just writing poems willy-nilly getting a few published here and there in journals. However within the last month I have been experimenting with, and researching history, for poems relating to the subject of weddings and marriage. 

Receiving responses and discussions of my poems always reminds me how once a poem has flown into the world it belongs to the person who reads it, however they interpret it. 

 

Carol Levin is part of the Ballard Writers Collective. You can find her and more local writers and their works at http://ballardwriters.org/about/carol-levin/

In addition, Carol is a teacher for The Breathing Lab: http://www.the-breathing-lab.com/

Thank you Carol Levin for being a part of this project. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/carollevin Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:04:59 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Tiffany Pitts http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/tiffanypitts Tiffany Pitts is the twelfth author added to my series, Authors: Stories Behind the Books. Tiffany whole heartedly greeted me into her home where I took a portrait of her sitting at her desk, which also overlooks her neighborhood and garden. Tiffany Pitts is the Author of Double Blind and Wizzy Wig, the first two installments of the Thanatos Rising Series where in her story, the cat is the real hero.

What exactly is "Thanatos Rising" mean? Can you explain what the origin is and why you chose to name your series after this? 
 
Thanatos is the Greek personification of death. Toesy's full name is Thanatos. Delilah Pelham named him Thanatos when she first adopted him but it was quickly shortened to Toesy owing to his polydactylism. When he undergoes his..uh...transformation in Double Blind, he becomes this dichotomous figure that you want to cuddle but he's also really deadly. So depending on what side you're on, it's possible he could be a personification (felinification?) of death. He is, by far, the most popular character so I decided to name the series after him. After all, he transforms from cat to demi-god so it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, he likes fancy titles.

Double Blind is your first book in the Thanatos Rising Series. Can you talk about the origin of your characters and how you developed them? Why did you choose the point of view of a cat?

Toesy is my favorite character to write. He is the only character I have based on an actual living being. All the other people in my books came after him. Many sprang to life because of him. Toesy is based on this big, bruiser of a cat we used to have named Katzuhiro (Katzu for short). He was this huge black and white monster—like a furry land-orca or something. Wherever he sat, the room sort of arranged itself around him so that he was always the first thing you saw. He had this joyous distain for everyone and everything, unless he loved you—and then he loved you endlessly. He was the most loyal cat I have ever met. And after he died, he never quite left. 

In college you didn't study writing, you studied Botany at the University of Washington. Did you write in college at the time or when did your develop an interest? 

Yes and no. Yes, I wrote things. I wrote papers and tests and reports and labs but none of that counted as writing because it was scientific. And scientific writing has to be passive. “Things happened. They were measured. These are the results.” And of course, I knew (because I knew everything back then) that it couldn’t be real writing because real writing wasn’t supposed to be passive like that. I also kept a journal – several journals, actually—but those weren’t real writing either because those were all just snippets of ideas and things that made me laugh. It took me 35 years to realize how ignorant I was. I can’t remember exactly when I realized I wanted to write, maybe (32? 33?) but I remember my exact thought. I had just finished reading a wildly popular book series and I was thinking about how ridiculous it was. I thought, “Pft, I could write a better book than that….HEY, WAIT A MINUTE…”

You grew up in Seattle, so naturally it is where your story takes place. Are there certain parts of Seattle that you find inspirational or that give you a plot move?

I love the details of this city that make it unique. There are strange little alcoves and occurrences all over the city that are pretty amazing. For example, everyone knows about the famous Seattle Gum Wall but did you know about there’s a Mysterious soda machine on Capitol Hill? Or that less than 2 miles down the road, you can visit the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee? How about the view from the women’s rest room at the Columbia Tower Club? It’s locally known for having one of the best views of the city. It’s so famous that the staff put up a little sign outside the women’s room door warning that No, men are not allowed to go in the women’s room, for realsies, don’t even think about it. (I may be paraphrasing). That little sign is a story in itself. I’m sure every city has these little pieces of history that make it real but Seattle’s history is my favorite. 

What about taking the audience for a ride with twists and turns in the story do you enjoy most? 

I love showing a reader something amazing or heartbreaking through the lens of a character that does not understand all the nuances of what’s going on within the scene. The character experiences one thing but the reader understands that same thing on so many different levels. I love writing animals for this reason. Cats don’t really understand the complexities of human relationships but they do understand that when someone yells and slams a door bad things are happening. They also understand that if someone smells like tuna fish, you should probably follow them. This can lead to humorous situations.

Who do you write for? Is this a book series for the whole family can enjoy?

That’s easy, I write for my friend Candy.

Of course I write for other people too but coming as I was from years of scientific thinking and writing, I had to teach myself the art of writing (and finishing) a novel. My friend Candy has always been a writer so I’d ask her questions – does this work? Is this stupid? Stuff like that. I’d write all these things and send them off to her at work. She would proof them in the afternoons when she was bored. She always enjoyed the funny bits so I did my best to make her laugh. If I could do that, I was doing something correctly. 

As for Family Friendly, it never once occurred to me that a kid would want to read anything I wrote. I don’t know why I thought this. It just wasn’t on my radar. So the first time I heard of a kid reading one of my books I was terrified. Were they appropriate? Have I been setting bad examples? I wasn’t even sure what it meant to be Family Friendly. Was that like, no sex scenes? Because the Fault in Our Stars has sex. Does it mean no swearing? Because Holden Caulfield swore, a lot. So I read each book again and I can honestly say they are no worse than much of the YA out there. Still, every time a student tells me “Oh I’m reading your book!” I have a little panic attack.

 

What are you working on next? Does the story continue?

Currently, I am writing the third book in the Thanatos Rising series, Parallax. The second book left some characters irrevocably changed and I really wanted to see how everyone lived and dealt with that. So yes, the story does continue, but only so far as the character development. The plot is still developing. I thought it would go one way but so far the story is coalescing into something I didn’t know I was going to write.

 

Thank you so much Tiffany Pitts for being a part of this project! To read more about Tiffany or find her books, you can find her at http://www.snickerpants.com

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/tiffanypitts Tue, 23 Feb 2016 22:23:03 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Suzanne Kelman http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/suzannekelman Over the past several months I have been so happy with the progress of my Author project. Each Author has shared some insightful details about their writing careers, short personal anecdotes, and there are some laughs for sure. My next Author is Suzanne Kelman, Author, Screenwriter, Playwright, AND Podcaster. That is quite a lot of titles for one person but Suzanne is able to balance it all in her charming studio that sits just off her house in Western Washington. With 23 noted Hollywood awards to her so far, Suzanne stays humble about her successes and enjoys sharing her positivity to others. Her interview is below...

Author, Screenwriter,and Playwright, AND Podcaster that is quite a job title...er job titles. How did you fall into all three of these categories?  Did you always have a strong passion for story telling? 

 
"Fall in" is a great way to describe my career twists and turns, because there never was a real plan, one thing in my life has always led to another. My background is in theatre, and I became a screenwriter because I was writing a stage-play that wouldn't lie down and be staged, I kept visualizing it on the screen. Eventually, I gave in as the story knew the direction it wanted to go in and I learned how to be a screenwriter in order to write it. I, in turn, fell in love with this form of writing and started writing for the screen. But alas, it can be a long time waiting for films to get produced. I then became an author to sustain my screenwriting "habit." Then, I became a podcaster in order to get more attention for my book, so I could continue writing for the screen and on and on it goes, it's a little bit like the song "I knew an old woman who swallowed a fly."  
 
 
You are based in Washington, which thanks to modern technology, you can easily communicate back and forth with colleagues and people you work with, but why not be in Los Angeles where screenwriters probably dream of being? How is balancing work with being two states away from Hollywood? 
 
I live and work in a studio in the middle of the woods on our beautiful property in the prettiest state. The place I live really feeds into my writing. My environment inspires me. Yes, there are some disadvantages to not being on the doorstep of the industry I work for, but I think the payoffs easily weigh out the disadvantages. I go to L.A. two or three times a year to meet with producers and industry professionals. I try and book a lot of meetings during that time. In between I do all of my meetings via Skype and through email. I am on Skype with producers around ten to fifteen hours a week depending on where we are in the process of the project.
 
 
When a new character or a plot of a new screenplay or play jumps in your mind, how long does it take you to get it roped down on paper and into a position that fits? This is speaking more about process. Do you see plots and characters crystal clear or do you have to write down and come back? 
 

This is a great question, and the real answer is there is no rhyme or reason to how story and characters find me, and it often happens that way round. I often will get a flash of a story, usually  at a most unexpected moment, a sudden picture gets my wheels whirrring. When I was writing my screenplay Illusion I had a picture flash into my mind from nowhere of a very eccentric person sat in a ramshackle room watching 30 clocks ticking on the wall as fire poured under the door of his apartment. I had no idea who he was, why he wasn't running for his life, or why the clocks were so important, but I started to ask questions until the story began to form in my head. This is very common for me. I see a scene and as if a have just arrived as a detective in an Agatha Christie mystery, I have to figure out the reason for everything that is happening. Once the idea is starting to form out of the fog, I start writing. I don't do much plotting because I don't know who the characters are until I start writing them, and it's their character traits that plot their journey. Once I start writing I'm a Pantser. I try to write between 1000-1500 words a day. 

 
We talked about your book, The Rejected Writer's Book Club, which has been reviewed as a very funny and delightful adventure but the title poke at the rejection letters artists of any medium get when we submit work. What was your motive for this? What is your experience with rejection letters and what do you think we can learn from them? 
 
I wrote the book because I wanted to turn something that is often painful or embarrassing for writers on it's head. I saw a shame as people discussed their rejection letters and I always think a writer should be very proud of them, they are stepping stones on your journey. They say I was brave enough to send my work out into the world. So, I created a club that celebrated rejection in style. 
 
We can't forget that you host a podcast, Blondie and the Brit - Writing, Publishing and Beyond. What is your podcast about? 
 
I started the podcast with my co-presenter and business partner K.J. Waters. We met on twitter about four years ago and enjoyed hanging out together on social media. One day K.J. who is also an author, approached me with an idea of creating a podcast to support authors and writers in their process and thought we might get a little exposure for our books along the way. So, each week we interview an author or someone in the publishing industry and learn all about what is working for them and their writing process. It has been really fun and we learned so much. It has been very successful with over 50'000 people visiting the home site and we get an average of 1000 listeners a week and at this time about 70 people signed up to hear our weekly show. 
 
 
You have 23 Hollywood award nods to you, including a People's Choice Award and winner for Best Script Overall at the L.A. Script-A-Thon. What was your first award and what was it for? How did that feel to win for work that you created? 
 
My first award was for my first screenplay, "Maggie the Brave" I won Best Comedy Feature at the L.A. International Film Festival. I was so shocked that I had won that I forgot my best friends name who had travel to the event with me. The most memorable accolade I had in the Fall of 2015 which I received from The Academy of Motion Picture, Art and Sciences. A script I co-wrote placed in the top ten scripts in the Academy's Nicoll Fellowship Awards, it beat 7500 other scripts to get there. I received a beautiful award certificate signed by Robin Swicord (screenwriter of Memoirs of a Geisha) who also happens to be my mentor, and also the Academy president Cheryl Booth Isaacs. I have it framed on my wall, and I remind myself every day that people at the Academy know my name and have read my work. I always feel blown away by that thought. 
 
Has a screenwriter/storyteller, do you watch TV much? Why/Why not?  Do you think television scripts are more or less being successful for modern audiences? (This is a lot of questions but I really liked when we talked about Netflix and streaming television shows verses cable television and how the two are competing in this day and age). 
 
I hardly watch any TV or cable. I prefer to binge watch shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. This is because I often need to be truly submerged in a show to really understand it. So if a producer asks me to write something in the vein of a modern show, I will watch as much as I can so I can truly absorb the beats of the story and voice of the storyteller. But, I don't watch regular T.V. because there is too much on and I would easily get distracted. 
 
What is next in the works for you?
 
In my screenwriting career, I am working with a producer on a very exciting new T.V. show and pilot. It is still in development right which is my favorite stage; I love to create. In my author career, I am also working on book two of my Rejected Writers Book Club series. Then I'm preparing to do a big market push for promote my the first book in the series which is being published by Lake Union Publishing in March this year.  
 

To view Suzanne Kelman's work and every aspect of her writing career, you can visit:

Suzanne Kelman: http://www.suzannekelmanauthor.com/

Goody2Productions: http://www.goody2productions.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rejected-Writers-Book-Club-Southlea/dp/1484940113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454542765&sr=8-1&keywords=Suzanne%20Kelman

IMDB Profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5882992/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

Thank you so much to Suzanne Kelman for welcoming me into her home, studio, and being a part of this project.

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/suzannekelman Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:54:17 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Hillel Cooperman http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/hillelcooperman In the fall, when the weather was still decent for an outdoor shoot, I had the chance to photograph local author, Hillel Cooperman. He is the author of the young reader series, The Madrona Heroes Register. As a kid, Hillel fantasized about dawning a red cape or a shiny utility belt of tricks to fool the bad guys. He always wanted to be a super hero. Fast forward to today, Hillel may not have the red cape or the shiny utility belt but he is a super hero in his own way that he is a dad and dads have their own brand of super powers. For Hillel, his super power is that he takes the real-life, everyday anecdotes of being a father of three and turning them into novels that kids and parents of all ages can enjoy.

 
The main characters, Zach, Binny and Cassie Jordan, are based off your own children but where did the Madrona Heroes come from? Did you kids act in a certain ways or do certain activities that planted the seed of the story?
 
I always wished I had super powers when I was a kid, or more accurately, I wished I was a superhero. Batman, to be exact. So really it was transplanting my ""childhood" fantasies onto my own kids and seeing what would happen if they came true. 
 
From your public talks, websites, and books it is very clear you are a fan of superhero and illustration. Did you alway have such a vivid imagination as a kid? Did you happen to write superhero stories when you were young?
 
I'm really a very visual person and musical person. So if anything, i spent my childhood doing a lot of drawing, and my teens years and adulthood playing a lot of music. Writing was always something that seemed mysterious and impenetrable. Writing a book seemed like climbing Mount Everest to me. But I started writing non-fiction (food blogging, writing for work) and just did a ton of it. Once I'd done it for years, I knew I could actually put together a coherent English sentence, so that last hurdle was moving from non-fiction to fiction. The vivid imagination though, that's a curse I bear to this day. 
 
Author: Hillel Cooperman
 
Zach, Binny, and Cassie have some comical and serious moments with their father, Jay. Do Some of these interactions some from actual moments with your own kids?  
 
Once my middle daughter read an argument in the first book between Binny (the middle daughter in the book) and Zach (the older brother in the book). She said, "Oh you copied that exactly from our argument last night." I explained, "You would think, except I wrote that chapter last week." She was floored. I didn't have the heart to tell her how predictable they are. Instead I just explained that I know them very very well. 
 
The Madrona Heroes are not just for children, are they? Do you get a lot of adults who are "young at heart" reading your stories? If so, why do you think that is?  
 
The story is really for all ages, though it's wrapped in some of the trappings of young adult literature. I do get just as many adults as kids reading my books. I think it's because these stories really appeal to all ages, even if the subject matter is PG or PG-13. Key in that is adding sophistication by adults, while the kids can enjoy the main notes to the story. The kids don't have to appreciate the harmonies in order for them to enjoy the books, but the adults are drawn to them. 
 
What does it mean to you when you meet young fans of your books? What has been a memorable moment for you during your neighborhood tour? 
 
It's an absolute treat to meet fans of any age. The fact that people would take the time to read something I created blows my mind. When they get invested in the story, nothing make me happier. I remember, one young boy started reading the book for an hour on the grass right next to our booth at one of the neighborhood fairs. I was so excited to watch him react to the story as it went on. 
Hillel and his Madrona Heroes
 
The Madrona Heroes keeps on going! You have promised readers more exciting stories for the next year. What's coming up? 
 
There are plans for seven books. The third book in the series comes out no later than May 2016. I actually just finished it, but it needs to be edited and have the illustrations finished. It's hard to think about books beyond that. I think there's an audience for it, that would factor into the decision in a big way.  
 
Talk about the book covers. They are beautiful illustrations. Who designed them? 
 
I knew when I started the series that I wanted to work with Caroline Hadilaksono. She made the incredible Harry Potter and Star Wars travel posters that the internet fell in love with, and she has made the Madrona Heroes books look as distinctive as they do. I'm so honored to have her illustrations grace the books. 
 
Last words to add? 
People should not be shy about getting in touch with me. I love hearing feedback from readers and fielding questions and comments they have on the books. Writing is a bot of a lonely task, so interacting with folks who enjoy the work is always incredibly motivating. 
 
 
You can get in touch with Hillel Cooperman and see more of his talks, writings and a lot more work at http://hillelcooperman.com/
You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
And of course, you can purchase The Madrona Heroes Register online and in stores. http://madronaheroes.com/
 
To see more work of Caroline Hadilaksono, visit: http://www.hadilaksono.com/
 
Thank you Hillel for being a part of this project. 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/hillelcooperman Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:15:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books-Bernadette Pajer http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/bernadettepajer Starting off 2016 blog post with a new author added to my project. I had the pleasure of photographing Bernadette Pajer, author of the Benjamin Bradshaw Mystery series. Bernadette wonderfully pairs her passions of writing and engineering together in a exciting murder mystery series that is based on early 20th century discoveries and the inventions that everyday play a role in our lives today. Read her interview below.

Your books are set in the early 1900's in Seattle and they feature the history of electrical invention. How did you come to write this series?

Sometimes characters come to writers fully-formed, like gifts. Professor Bradshaw showed up one day, and I just knew him. I tried to convince him to be something other than an electrical engineer--because I am not one--but he could not be budged from his passion. Luckily, it turns out I have a passion for electrical invention too, and I love to research. I find it fascinating to explore the people and inventions that laid the foundations of the world we live in today. 

We talked about your educational history, can you talk about how it influenced your writing?

My first two years of college were right out of high school. I studied pre-engineering at the UW, aiming myself towards being a civil engineer with the idea that I would help develop modern transportation systems that would end congestion and pollution. Ha! Life and love intervened, I left school, got married, began to write, and twenty years later returned to the UW Bothell campus of UW to finish my degree, this time studying disciplinary Arts and Science. It turns out I'm a much better science writer than scientist. With the Professor Bradshaw series, I'm able to marry my two passions. 

Mysteries can be fun to write because you develop the plot, the clues, and the twists to entertain the audience, but what is hard about writing mysteries? Does the murder ever "stump" you in a sense when you write the story? 

Every writer finds different aspects of writing difficult. For me, detail is hard! I'm a "big picture" thinker. I love plotting stories, figuring out motivations, deciding whodunit and why they did it. It's challenging to weave all the layers together. You have the actual mystery and its clues, then you have the false clues pointing to the wrong people, then you have personal story-arcs that impact and alter the story and the character reactions. It's a balancing act, trying to keep the reader entertained and engaged whole not giving them quite enough to figure it out. All of these elements dance around in my brain and are brilliant in there--before they're written--but then I have to find the exact right words to put on the page to transfer my ideas to the reader's brain--and that's hard. There ought to be an app for that. The historical detail, the electrical detail, even the physical detail that reveal emotions in characters. For all of that I surround myself with research and spend much time at the revision and editing stages finding the right words.   

How many hours of research do you put into this series? What is your method of research? 

I don't know how many hours, but from start to finish, each book takes me about a year to research and write. I do most research at home using online sources like the UW Digital Archives and Google Docs Advanced Search to find primary sources and photographs. I visit the UW Special Collections and other in-person sources as needed, and I consult with experts who generously share their knowledge , and read my drafts, giving advice and feedback.

You also wrote a time travel-romance, The First Time, which stepped away from the historical mystery category. Do you plan on writing more in that genre or was it a creative break from the Bradshaw series?

That was actually a manuscript I wrote many years ago, before I wrote the Bradshaw series. Every so often, I'll peek at my older works to see if they have any life in them. When I looked again recently at The First Time, I still enjoyed the story and characters, so on a whim, I updated it and self-published. It was fun creating the cover, I hired a brilliant editor, did the layout myself (tedious!), and sent it out into the world. I have a couple other time-travel manuscripts I could follow up with one day, but have no immediate plans. 

What are you working on next? 

The fifth Professor Bradshaw is percolating. The story will jump to 1907, when they began to prepare the grounds of the UW for the 1909 AYP (Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo), but right now I'm writing a contemporary mystery which I hope will be the first in a new series. I'm also working on a mainstream novel that has been evolving for twenty years. Not sure when it will be done, but it's one of those sort of stories I feel good about letting develop at its own pace. 

Thank you so much for your answers!

My pleasure! 

 

Thank you so much to Bernadette Pajer for being a part of this project and being so generous with your time. You can find the Professor Bradshaw Series and more at Bernadette's website: http://www.bernadettepajer.com

You can find copies of her work on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and wherever else books are sold. 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/bernadettepajer Mon, 04 Jan 2016 18:03:46 GMT
Liz Donehue http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/lizdonehue I had a fun shoot with stand-up comedian and my good friend, Liz Donehue! Liz called me up saying she needed new head shots for her stand-up bills. Throughout our set there was no short of jokes. Liz wasn't shy to take a bite out of a doughnut or show her 12th Man pride! All for the camera. 


 

How sweet victory is. SEA...HAWKS!


Can't no-doughnut hold me down, oh no! 

 

Thank Liz for a awesome shoot! You can find Liz Donehue yelling in a standup mic in Tacoma Comedy Club and the Comedy Underground in Seattle.

 

If you are interested in booking a head shot session, feel free to contact me on my Contact page. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/lizdonehue Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:18:04 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Peter Mountford http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/petermountford Peter Mountford is the author of The Dismal Science, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism and numerous short essays and short stories. His work has been praised by New York Times as having a "fierce imagination" and the Seattle Times has described his debut novel, A Dismal Science, very savy and entertaining. Peter is very much involved in the local writing community and I am very happy to add Peter Mountford to my Author project.

When you decided to work as a full-time writer, were there any specific risks/sacrifices you were taking to reach that goal?

The possibility of financial ruin and long-term humiliation were the main risks, I think. The sacrifices were related, like a feeling of security. That said, it's an enormously privileged choice, or the fact that I was able to make the choice, that it even occurred to me as an option, underscores the fact that I grew up within a community and culture of tremendous privilege. I'm definitely a white man who is very well-educated, went to a fancy private school, and so on. I didn't grow up rich, and I've never been rich, per se, I've never made more than $100,000 in a year, but privilege isn't that simple, of course.

It probably goes without saying that every writer knows the pain of a rejection letters. Do you think those rejection letters helped shaped your writing for the future or was it noise that you blocked out? Is there any specific remark that you remember or have that kept you going?

It's not attractive to say, but the truth is that the rejection made me angry, and that anger was in part what gave me the fuel to put all that energy into writing. The "I'll show them" thing was, for better or worse, quite a useful propellant. I remember an editor that jotted a hand-written note on a form rejection pointing out that there were one or two spelling errors in the first page of the story I'd sent. Oops! I remember the many encouraging rejections I got from the Paris Review. All carefully written personal letters, which was amazing -- I kept getting them for 10 years, or so. But they've still never accepted anything. 
 
Peter Mountford, author of A Dismal Science
 
In 2012 you won the Washington State Book Award in fiction for your first novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism. How did you feel after receiving that award?
 
I saw this email from the Seattle Public Library, and I thought it was spam. The award was announced long after the book was published, like a year and a half later. I opened the message, I was tired after a long day of teaching, and I thought it was an announcement about the award, like I was part of a mass mailing. And then it occurred to me that no, it was actually for me, and it was saying that I had won. Although I was exhausted, I got up and went for a long walk.
 
In an interview you talked about needing to "put on a performance" for your readers. What do you mean by that? Do you have a "test audience" for your work or do you trust your gut most of the time?
 
I do have a test audience, in a sense. I tend not to do a great deal of research before I start writing, because storytelling is hard enough for me without having to contend with all these facts, but once I have a draft I spend a lot of time talking to experts who know about my subject. It's big undertaking. And then I re-write. So that's one audience, and then there are friends who are writers or editors, and I'm trying to include some booksellers in that group, too, but it's a lot to ask. So, although my gut has certainly become a more reliable gauge, I do definitely get numerous people's feedback before I send it out. In terms of performance, I think what I meant was that people show up hoping to be moved, or delighted, or heartbroken. As a writer, you need to aim high, in terms of what you hope to do to your reader. Or else why would they care? It's a big undertaking, reading a novel. You spend $15-25 on this object, and then you stare at it for 15 hours or more. That object needs to be pretty special.
 
 
You are a staff member at the Hugo House in Seattle, a place where writers of all ages and backgrounds can come and work with other new and established writers to help them with their voice. Is there any other place like Hugo House?

Other cities have similar organizations, namely Grub Street in Boston, The Loft in Minneapolis, Lighthouse in Denver.

What is next on your agenda?

I'm excited to be on faculty at Sierra Nevada College's low-res MFA. People can learn about it here:
http://www.sierranevada.edu/academics/humanities-social-sciences/mfa-in-creative-writing/
And I'm also honored to have an essay in this new anthology called "Extraordinary Rendition," which you can learn about here: http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/extraordinary-rendition/
You can learn more Peter Mountford and his work, listen and read countless interviews and reviews at his website:
http://www.petermountford.com/
Also, check out the Hugo House for upcoming writer events and classes. https://hugohouse.org/
 
 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/petermountford Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:22:50 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sarah Alisabeth Fox http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/sarahalisabethfox Sarah Alisabeth Fox is an over-educated waitress. She is also a  author of the new book, Downwind: A People's History of the Nuclear West. Since 2005Sarah has made it her mission to educate and tell the stories of individuals and families of the western United States who have been exposed and affected by radiation contamination from the Cold War nuclear testing. During the mid twentieth century, possible nuclear war was on the horizon and families across America were being told to prepare for the worst. But while testing for these nuclear weapons were being conducted, populations living near the sites had no idea to prepare for the type of health wars and battles they were going to have to fight for the rest of their lives. 

For this portrait, I photographed Sarah at her home surrounded by her research on the table and her inspiration hanging on the wall. 

You refer to yourself as an "over-educated waitress", which I think perfectly describes how you manage to carry a server job while dedicating time to be an author, mother, and teacher on this dramatic subject. Can you talk about how you came up with that term and how you balance between the two?

People love to ask their server what they "really do" and I've answered that question thousands of times. My go-to for years was "I'm an historian and a writer, which is why I'll be taking care of you tonight. Who needs a drink to get started?" People always loved that one, but inwardly I raged a little. There's this implicit judgement in the question, that "just waitressing" isn't real work, that we've got to have something better going on with the rest of our time. Part of the rage was probably also the punchline of the joke, that waitressing pays better than doing work in environmental research or the humanities.

 

To be fair, people don't mean any harm when they ask servers what they "really do," and sometimes the answers are pretty interesting. A lot of folks are in the restaurant industry because it can be made to fit around other priorities like going to school, traveling, raising families, or pursuing less lucrative work like the arts. I've used it for all of those things. You ask about balance- for years I parented during the day, waited tables in the evenings, and wrote late at night when the house was quiet. That's shifting now that my son is in kindergarten. I get to write during the day, which is bizarre and wonderful.  I'm not unusual in this industry. Its packed with fascinating and talented people. Many of them are simply trying to pay their bills, and have no interest in selling a story about themselves to the dining public in hopes of a better tip. That's honorable, and it should be enough. The first few times I dropped "overeducated waitress" tableside it was thinly veiled code for "none of your business." But over time the term has become deeply meaningful to me, because I see expertise and education at every socioeconomic strata of society.  The world is full of overeducated truck drivers, philosopher janitors, and ditch diggers who are poets and mathematical geniuses. I've worked with cooks who were absolute masters of chemistry, taking care of their families on 11.00 an hour. We are all of us engaged in something else besides what we do for money, but at the end of the day, there is tremendous honor in labor, and I'd like to see society treat its laborers with more respect.

This question of the expertise of ordinary people doing ordinary jobs is actually a big theme of my book, which examines the way citizens without formal training discerned the presence of toxic radiological contamination in their food and communities while doing work like sheep ranching, mining, parenting, and raising food.

 

Sarah Alisabeth Fox, Author and Over-educated Waitress. Painting: Dear Downwinder by Edward Singer

When and what was the seed that got planted into your brain that started your research about radiation contamination?

In 2004 I moved to Logan, Utah to pursue a master's degree in history. I had gotten a really amazing fellowship that was going to give me two years off of waitressing to focus on my craft as a writer and a researcher, and I moved there interested in looking at an issue related to community environmental politics. I stumbled onto the stories of the downwinders pretty much by accident. I started to read these stories in the newspapers about Utah residents who remembered seeing mushroom clouds as kids in the 1950s, and subsequently observed terrible health problems in their communities, and I just had to know more. When I found out we spent 40 years testing full-scale nuclear weapons in the Nevada desert I was shocked that no one had ever told me about this chapter in history, which I learned has ramifications for absolutely everyone.  Ten years later the book came out, and eleven years later, I'm still researching the topic.

Can you talk about the individuals and families you interviewed? Is there a person or particular story that stands out in your mind the most?

I have interviewed dozens and dozens of people about this topic in the last ten years: mothers, ranchers, miners, doctors, farmers, parents, LDS bishops, social workers, indigenous rights activists. What stands out the most about these people is their courage and their eloquence. They have experienced tremendous losses and betrayals and their willingness to tell their story over and over again has helped keep this massive historical and environmental event from being forgotten in the dusty corners of history.  Its impossible to choose the story that stands out the most, but I think about Bethany Peterson a lot. She was born in 1981, the same as me, and she died from leukemia as a child in the mid 1980s. Nuclear testing in Nevada had gone underground by then, which contained a lot of the contamination, but ten years of atmospheric nuclear testing during Bethany's parents' childhood had already sowed seeds for radiation-related disease in future generations. Childhood leukemia rates jumped in Utah after nuclear testing began, and we'd probably find increases in other areas as well if we dedicated the research to it. The contamination from nuclear testing made it all the way to the east coast, and pervaded our environment and our food system at points around the country. Its really easy to become disillusioned studying this, to throw up one's hands and say its just too big a mess to solve, but thinking about it in terms of individuals who have been affected counters that impulse for me. The Atomic Energy Commission knew health problems would arise in the populations downwind of their nuclear experiments, but they pushed ahead anyway, often deliberately obscuring the contamination of the environment and the food supply. The excuse was national security, that building and testing the bombs was going to keep the entire nation safe, a greater good than protecting the health of the people who lived in the path of the contamination.  We have been asked as a nation to feel comfortable with the concept of collateral damage and necessary sacrifices, but I believe we have a moral responsibility to examine these concepts for human faces. I got to grow up. Bethany didn't.   What happened was wrong, and we need to talk about the damage that's been done.  I reject a notion of national security that involves this kind of sacrifice.  It certainly doesn't make me feel safer.

The cover art is a painting called, Dear Downwinder by Navajo artist, Edward Singer. What or how does it symbolize or represent the people affected by the exposure? Why did you choose this painting for your book cover?

Ed's painting communicates something about Cold War nuclear contamination that my words can't begin to express. Its the only imagery I've ever seen that represents both nuclear testing (mushroom cloud in the top left corner) and the toxic threat of the uranium industry (symbolized by the yellow orb beneath the mushroom cloud.)  What's more, it puts the human observer in the forefront of the image, setting us up to think about how we've been affected by these dangerous forces we've unleashed (the slashes of paint that have been drawn from the contaminating forces across the man's body). Ed Singer is an incredibly talented artist, and his skill with color and composition brings this emotional content alive in a specific landscape: his family homeland on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, near Grey Mountain and the Little Colorado River.  I was thrilled Ed agreed to let his art grace the cover of my book, and even more thrilled when my parents gifted me the original painting after the book was published. I stare at it every day. I'd urge folks to check out more of his work at http://edsinger.weebly.com/.

Did you happen to find or interview an individual was on the other side of this issue, such as a person who was in the testing process during that time? Was it helpful, frustrating, or have good/bad impact to your research?  
 

There are plenty of people out there, many of them well-established and reputable scholars, who argue there is no connection between radiation exposure from nuclear testing/uranium industry and environmental damage and health problems. I've had a few scholars make that argument to me directly. Its frustrating, because I'm convinced by the data I've seen, but I've also learned that you can get a lot of intelligent people together to look at the same research materials, and they will come to different conclusions. I think the doubters on this topic have gotten plenty of their analysis out there, and so I'll continue to dedicate myself to building a platform for the stories of the downwinders and the uranium affected people.  There's a huge need for further medical and environmental research on the implications of the toxic exposure created by the Cold War nuclear industry, and that research won't happen if we skip right over addressing these stories because of concerns about whether or not they're statistically significant.  


After speaking to college and university students and the general public about this subject, what do you want or hope that they take away from your research and recorded stories from the population that has been affected? 

Awareness, first of all, since the story of nuclear testing and uranium mining in the West was all new material to me as a college student. This is a big part of American history that's almost never discussed, and we need to reframe our conversations about the Cold War, nuclearism, and national security to include this knowledge.  I write in the book that "all wars happen in actual places, where actual people live, grow food, and raise children," and this is something I hope resonates with students.  The other thing I really hope people come away with is a respect for the notion that people are experts on their own lives. The downwinders and uranium-affected people I interviewed became aware of contamination reaching them because they were attentive to their surroundings, the production of their food, the way environmental forces like wind and water moved through their regions, the patterns of health issues that began to arise in their communities. We're all capable of exercising this kind of awareness and I believe that its really fundamental to participatory democracy. These people who have borne the dreadful consequences of life downwind have become powerhouse organizers, activists, and incredibly effective speakers, and they've achieved huge goals, like the moratorium on nuclear testing and the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act legislation.  
 

What is after Downwind? Do you think there might be a follow-up?

   Oh, I'd love to know what's next. For now, marketing and touring this book is a full-time project.  I'm going to be teaching at University of Puget Sound next semester as a guest faculty in Environmental Studies, so I'm looking forward to that. I would be honored if I had a chance to do a second edition of Downwind someday and include some more of the material I've gathered, but I'm also looking forward to diving into new topics. There are so many different issues and narratives that arise when communities confront issues of injustice and environment, and these stories are fascinating to me, and critically important in this day and age.  No matter what I do next, I will always continue to advocate for the downwinder stories.

Thank you to Sarah Fox for letting me to include her in this project. Thank you to Edward Singer for allowing me to include your painting in the photos. 

To find Sarah's book and to hear more interviews about her research, please visit her website and blog at: http://www.downwindhistory.com/

You can also follow Sarah Fox about upcoming information and speaking on Facebook and Twitter. 

To find more of Edward Singer's work, please visit: http://www.edsinger.weebly.com/

 

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/sarahalisabethfox Thu, 05 Nov 2015 22:10:37 GMT
Pulse Fitness http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/9/pulsefitness A few weeks ago, I had the fun time and pleasure to photograph the strong and awesome staff at Pulse Fitness in Seattle. Yogi, the owner loves making exercise fun and she sure does challenge her clients! I got winded just watching the workouts. Check out the head shots of the staff that work at Pulse Fitness! 

Yogi Johnson, Pulse Fitness Owner and Bogi the pup. 

Does your business need to spruce up your staff's head shots or you need to update yours? Feel free to contact me to inquiry about a head shots session! 

Special thank you to Yogi Johnson, the Pulse Fitness staff, and Amanda O'Neill for her assistance on the shoot. 

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/9/pulsefitness Thu, 01 Oct 2015 05:51:43 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, A.J. Downey http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/ajdowney Ok, now I am going to introduce you to the author who I first pitched this project idea to, A.J. Downey. After having this project idea roll around in my brain for a week I finally was ready to get it out and ask the ultimate question: "So, does this sound like a good idea or am I fooling myself?" Apparently not because A.J. was completely supportive of the idea and volunteered right there to be a part of it. She was very excited to be a part of it and I was very happy to have her be a part of it.

How did you fall into writing in your genre? 

I was actually a big fantasy and mixed genre reader and I started reading some fantasy/paranormal based romance. I liked a good love story, and the next thing I knew I decided to dust off my old writing skills. Mostly because I was spending my paychecks like water buying books. At four to five bucks a pop, reading two to three books a day, it was killing me. So, I figured that if I started writing one, not only would it keep me occupied it would save me some money. I didn’t really care if I sold any of my writing or not. I thought it’d be fun if someone got to read them and if they liked them then all the better, but it was more for me and keeping myself entertained. I just kind of started with romance because it was easy and what I liked to read and I wanted to put more feel good stuff out into the world. A.J. DowneyA.J. Downey How many books have you written and in what span of time? With how fast you write, do you ever have doubt that maybe you are not writing your best? Do you feel you should take a moment before continuing? 

Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a lengthy response, because what I’ve written versus what I’ve published are two different stories. I’m going to list them out with their publication status then I will get into how long it takes etc.

Lyrical Hearts – Published February of 2014 – No longer in print.

Heaven, Hell, and the Love In Between – Published February of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.

Hunter’s Choice – Published March of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.

Shattered & Scarred (SHMC Book 1) – Published June of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Broken & Burned (SHMC Book 2) – Published September of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Cracked & Crushed (SHMC Book 3) – Published December of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Masked & Miserable (SHMC Book 3.5) – Published February of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

Tattered & Torn (SHMC Book 4) – Published March of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

Fractured & Formidable (SHMC Book 5) – Published July of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

The following titles are written but have yet to be published:

I Am The Alpha with Ryan Kells – To be published August of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Damaged & Dangerous (SHMC Book 6) To be published September of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Airs & Graces with Jeffrey Cook – To be published October of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Cutters Hope – The Virtues Trilogy Book 1 – To be published Winter of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

These titles are currently being written:

Omega’s Run with Ryan Kells

There But For The Grace with Jeffrey Cook

Marlin’s Faith – The Virtues Book 2

Okay. So all that being said, how fast do I write them? Well, I Am The Alpha was written in 19 days with Ryan Kells and tops out at 92,000 words – around 291 printed pages in a 6x9 paperback book which is the indie publishing norm but that isn’t my record. My record is for Cracked & Crushed which I wrote in 14 days and tops out at 110,000 words… I don’t know what that translates to in pages off the top of my head. Still, at any rate, you can see I write pretty damned quick if I am given the time to do it. What I mean by that, is when I was writing all of those titles I was writing an average of ten to twelve hours a day five to six days a week. I could crank out 10,000 words a day plus if I was having a really good day. My daily record for word count came in at around 16,000 in a day.

To answer the next part of your question, yes, absolutely there are times when I feel like I am not writing my absolute best, but usually that gets ironed out in the re-reads and re-writes later down the line. When I am in a hardcore groove like that and writing as fast as I can as hard as I can to get the story on the page, all those hours, all those days in a row, I make myself take a day or two off. I go see a movie, or sleep a lot or go out and about, just to make sure I recharge. There are totally times I feel like I run out of creativity, and like my well has run dry. I don’t want to call it writer’s block because that’s not it. I just feel tapped out and need to take a break and once that’s accomplished I’m back at it fast and furious all over again.

Do you get writer's block and how do you overcome it? 

I have never had writer’s block, or if I have, I didn’t know what it was. I always have ideas and they always come through. The extent of my writer’s block usually is how do I make the jump between point A and point B in a plot and keep the story moving smoothly? I’ll get stuck in the in between phases of a story between big key scenes, but usually I muddle through okay. It’s more like writer’s squeeze than block, like I’m trucking along this maze and come to a particularly narrow opening and have to squeeze through it to keep going. Not like running smack into a wall.

You go by A.J. verses Andrea, why, especially in your genre? 

When I first started writing in junior high, it was more fantasy type stuff than romance. Back then, it was a sad reality that if you wanted to sell you needed to be a dude. Or at least, that was the widely held popular belief. My first and middle initial and last name were pretty masculine and had a nice ring to it as a pen name. I wanted a name that sounded like a real name. Something that didn’t sound contrived. So when I went to hit the self-publish button all these years later, I figured I was going to be getting married soon. That the last name I have now wasn’t going to stay my last name, so why not? It looked good, sounded good and was pretty unisex, so I stuck with A.J. Downey.

What do you have next in the works for books?

I sort of answered this back there in the ‘what have you written’ question with the upcoming titles and such, but never one to waste an opportunity, please allow me to expand a little:

The Sacred Hearts MC series – Hot, alpha male bikers, a few damsels in distress, some really steamy love stories… In this series, the good guys wear black and the white knights’ armor is leather rather than metal. The series is wrapping up with Damaged & Dangerous, out in September, but that won’t be the last of these guys. Just the end of this particular story arc.

I Am The Alpha – The hero of this one puts the damsel in distress. Not only that, he turns furry once a month. Can William Reese, son of the murdered Alpha of the Pacific Northwest Territory make things right? He’s going to try, by kidnapping the daughter of the Pack’s sworn enemy… It was the perfect plan until it wasn’t. He never counted on falling in love with her.

Airs & Graces – This is not a romance. Addy’s having a record bad morning which goes from bad to worse when she walks into work to find her boss dying on the floor. Now she’s entrenched in the mother of all supernatural power struggles… What do you do when both Heaven & Hell want you dead and the only being on your side is The Angel of Free Will, who, by all accounts, just finds you to be a nuisance?

Lastly, Cutter’s Hope is the first book of The Virtue’s Trilogy which is a spin off from the SHMC series. In book three of the SHMC series, Cracked & Crushed, you met Cutter the president of The Kraken MC in the fictional town of Ft. Royal, FL. This trilogy centers on him and some of his crew. I don’t want to say much more than that because it might give away plot points to the final SHMC novel but for the fans of the SHMC series, Cutter’s story has been a long time in coming and I know for a fact people are super excited for it.

Who are your author idols? 

Laurell K. Hamilton and Tamora Pierce. I first stumbled onto Tamora Pierce in the 3rd grade. She’s a young adult fantasy author who writes strong female characters that I can relate to. Specifically, Alanna from The Song of the Lioness Quartet. I’ve read and reread all of The Song of the Lioness Quartet and still have those battered paperbacks from oh so long ago kept in a very safe place in my house. In late junior high, eighth or ninth grade, I found Laurell K. Hamilton when all she had published was her first, second and third Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books. I loved Anita from the word go. Tough, savvy, sassy and able to stand up to anyone and anything she was one of the hardest core female characters I had ever read and spoke to me like no other. I’ve loved following her evolution and have been reading her pushing twenty years now through over twenty novels. I still fangirl and freak out every time new Anita is set to be released.

As a reader, do you always finish a book you start?

For the most part, yes, but not always. Some are just so poorly written that I can't continue and some, the characters just get to me so badly that I can't go on. Obviously the former is a bummer but the latter is awesome! Mostly, because even though it probably wasn't the author’s intention to write it to the point the reader stopped reading, they should still chalk it up to a total win for evoking that strong of an emotion in a reader. I always leave those books four and five star reviews, even though I don't finish them.

 

Thank you to A.J. Downey for your initial an continuing support with the project.

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) http://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/ajdowney Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:08:00 GMT