6 Aug 2012

Author Interview: Ellie James, Author of the Midnight Dragonfly Series

 Author Website -  http://www.elliejames.net/

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

First off, let me thank you for inviting me onto your blog. I love all that your passion for books and all that you’re doing to share that love!  So wish I could be there in person to answer these questions with you!

Okay, what other writer would I want to work with?  Well, he’s not a novelist, per se, but he is a story creator, and his work does routinely rock my world: JJ Abrams, the mastermind behind Alias, Lost and Fringe. I absolutely love the way that man’s mind works, his fascination with mystery and possibility, with the unexplained and the bizarre, with history and prophecy and human interactions. I’d love to brain-meld with him for a day—or get him to hire me to work on one of his shows!!!

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

I love writing. I love creating. I love exploring story-worlds. My mind is always spinning, whether I’m at the computer or not. Typically I’m at my desk 4-5 hours per day, 5 days per week, with “mind work” happening the rest of the time. I’m constantly grabbing my phone and recording voice messages or jotting random notes. I’m not sure why, but my absolute best thoughts come to me at times when it’s hardest to jot them down: in the shower, while driving, and while running.

Most of the time I work from my office space in the upstairs of our house, with a lovely east facing window to my left and a door to the rest of the house to my right. Initially, I had my workspace situated so that my back was to the door, but I HATED that. I just never felt comfortable, kinda like I never feel comfortable in a restaurant if I’m not sitting with my back to a wall. (I think maybe in a former life I was a warrior who met a grim fate through a sneak-attack from behind!)
Anyway, I have to have my back to the wall—and I really, really prefer a neat and tidy workspace: for me, clutter in my office= clutter in my mind.  However, with young kids, I’m constantly tripping over stuffed animals and race cars!!!
Here’s what the floor of my office looked like as I approached the deadline for FRAGILE DARKNESS (book 3 in the Midnight Dragonfly series)!! Sometimes it really helps to sit down and spread everything out!

When planning my workspace, I consulted Feng Shui for paint color and ended up with a blue-green that is supposed to stimulate creativity. I also have an entire wall dedicated to inspirational sayings, such as Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars and Don’t believe everything you think!, as well as a display of my books. 

3. What is the hardest part of the art of writing for you?

That’s a great question. I love playing around in story worlds so much I think the hardest part is letting go. I could fiddle with my stories forever, letting my characters turn left instead of right and exploring what happens next. There are so many possibilities, it’s tough to choose one and run with it. With every book I’ve written, there’s something I’d love to change, all the way from adjusting an existing scene to scrapping it altogether and replacing it with something completely different. In fact, just last night I woke up around 3:30 in the morning with a killer idea for my book which coming out later this year (Fragile Darkness)…but it’s far too late for changes!

4. When and why did you first start writing?

When I think back to what inspired me to start writing, I can’t isolate any specific event or point in time that serves as a trigger. A librarian’s daughter, I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember. I think I wrote my first fan-fic before I was five!  I would fall in love with characters and not want their stories to end, so I’d keep them going. It wasn’t just fan fic, though. I had my own creations, such as Monster Falls In Love and Jacquie and the Swamp. In middle school and high school I was always writing poems (and even songs!) for my friends, usually about something romantic, and something dangerous! Growing up in Louisiana, my stories always took on a mystical feel, featuring ghosts and danger and all sorts of things that couldn’t be explained, and always, always a healthy dose of star-crossed lovers. When it was time for college, my mother and I were discussing majors, and I asked what I could major in that would involve writing. She said journalism, so journalism it was. Of course, writing obituaries for my news-ed class wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but everyone has to start somewhere, you know?

5. How did you come up with the idea for the book ‘Shattered Dreams?’

It was one of those bizarre, unplanned things. A few years ago I wasn’t getting much sleep and woke up one early one morning from one of the most incredibly detailed, vivid dreams I’d ever had. I’d more than just seen a group of teen sneak into an old abandoned mansion—I’d been with them.  I’d gazed into the darkness, and smelled the decay. I’d felt the fear, and the crazy blast of excitement at the prospect of a game of truth or dare.  My heart was still racing when I woke up. The images lingered. I kept thinking about what I’d seen, and from the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad? What if she had a premonition? What if what she saw actually happened?  What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for

As I answered those questions, the Midnight Dragonfly books were born!

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

Yes! I read everything! I read magazines and catalogs, medicine bottles and instruction labels…anything I can get my hands on at a given moment. I always have a few books going at one time, generally one fiction and several non-fiction. (I’m totally in love with books like The Power of Now.)  Presently I am sooo lucky to be reading an advance copy of a book coming out this fall, The Trouble With Fate , by a super talented new author, Leigh Evans. (Mark your calendar for this fall. You’re going to want this one, as well as Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler!)

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Yes! Believe in yourself and never give up. Each of us has stories to tell, and only you can tell them. The writing life can be incredibly hard. You spend tons of time alone, creating, and then you toss your creation out to the rest of the world, to see what they think. Some will love it, some won’t. That can take a toll of your confidence and your dream. But I have a plaque across from my desk that reads, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and I essentially live by those words. You have to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. It’s the only way they can come true.

Deb, thank you so much for sharing my books in your café!

About Ellie James
Most people who know Ellie think she’s your nice, ordinary wife and mom of two young kids. They see someone who does all that normal stuff, like grocery shopping, walking the dogs, going to baseball games, and somehow always forgetting to get the house cleaned and laundry done.
 What they don't know is that more often than not, this LSU J-School alum is somewhere far, far away, in an extraordinary world, deeply embroiled in solving a riddle or puzzle or crime, testing the limits of possibility, exploring the unexplained, and holding her breath while two people fall in love.
Regardless of which world Ellie’s in, she loves rain and wind and thunder and lightning; the first warm kiss of spring and the first cool whisper of fall; family, friends, and animals; dreams and happy endings; Lost and Fringe; Arcade Fire and Dave Matthews, and last but not least…warm gooey chocolate chip cookies.

About the Midnight Dragonfly Series
The firstborn daughter, of the firstborn daughter, of the firstborn daughter, sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour has a connection to the Other Side. She knows secrets and truths she shouldn’t, feels emotions that do not belong to her, and see events that have yet to happen. They come to her as glimpses, shadowy, disjointed snapshots that flicker through her dreams. Some terrify: a girl screaming, a knife lifting, a body in the grass. But others--the dark, tortured eyes and the shattering kiss, the promise of forever--whisper to her soul.
They come without warning. They come without detail.
But they always mean the same thing: The clock is ticking, and only Trinity can stop it.
Find out how in Shattered Dreams, available from QuercusKids!

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