CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.
Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.
..The Mini Interview..
I think I was fourteen. Pretty sure. It all started with a historical romance, inspired by Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. The book was too ambitious for my knowledge and skill level. I never did finish it. But long before that, I was plotting out stories and characters with my sister and our three cousins, which we would then enact. So it was a toss-up between writing and acting. Writing won out because there are no spotlights involved. Or almost none.
2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?
The first fantasy novel I ever purchased was A Breach in the Watershed by Douglas Niles, an okay novel, nothing stellar, but it had a gorgeous dragon on the cover. (I wasn’t supposed to read fantasy, because it led to irresponsible, even dangerous, lifestyles. So I had to buy the book behind my mother’s back. I love you, Mother). But in truth it wasn’t a book that introduced me to the genre. It was Walt Disney and Rankin and Bass, of course. (Watching fantasy was permissible, reading it was not.) One does not escape childhood these days without becoming enthralled with animated Sleeping Beauties, Snow Whites, and King Arthurs, with a Frodo tossed in here and there.
3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
I am particularly affectionate toward 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye. It’s a book of poems, all about relationships and tensions in the Middle East, but its scope is so much deeper than place. It’s about human beings, and Nye’s insights are remarkable, heartbreaking, heartwarming, illuminating. It’s a small book, so I often take it with me when I travel. I think this book more than any other, outside of Holy Scripture, has caused me to be a more compassionate, open-minded person.
4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
Probably Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince. The complex interplay between dozens of characters made the novels become so real in my head. I had to try writing something just as epic. “I can do this,” I remember thinking. Whether or not I have succeeded, I haven’t stopped trying.
5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?
How to network. Writing can be a lonely business. Find a critique group to learn from, a support group outside of friends and family to give you an objective eye, but also who will encourage you when the rejections start rolling in and nudge you to keep submitting.
6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
It’s a toss-up between marketing and submitting. Finding potential venues for my stories is an intimidating and exhausting process. Visiting several websites, crossing out magazines that clearly won’t work, weighing the others, hoping they’ll be a fit, choosing one, waiting weeks, if not months, receiving the rejection and starting all over again. All kinds of doubts set in during this part of the process. It’s the most necessary of the necessary evils, however.
The second is the self-promotion. *shudder* It’s a mystery to me. It means that I must actually stop writing for a few hours, surface from my story worlds, and talk about my story worlds … outside my office, to strangers who may or may not care. It means getting creative in advertising and being pushy while smiling and trying not to sound pushy and scared to death. It’s an art all in itself. Luckily I have several writers to learn from, but I still have a long way to go, and I fear I’ll never be comfortable with it. How’s that for transparency?
7. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?
The Bone Harp centers on Angharad, the jealous older sister who murders one of her younger sisters. I loved diving into Angharad’s inner torment, her attempts at hiding her dark secret, her helplessness when it all comes spilling out. She may be the most tortured soul I’ve written to date.
8. On what projects are you currently working?
The Falcons Saga. The first three volumes are currently available on Amazon. The series just keeps growing. At the moment, I’m somewhere near the middle of Book 4: Cry of the Falcon. The series contains all the classic elements of epic high fantasy: elves, ogres, mages summoning lightning, battles that shake the earth, forbidden love. I’ve even got pirates and sea monsters tucked away in there somewhere. The one thing it doesn’t have is a Dark Lord Somebody, thank goodness. But, other than this, name it and it’s probably included. When I say “epic” I do mean Epic.
But the series is certainly not all about adventure and saving the world from evil forces. Not at all. One of the themes is accepting one’s destiny and walking that path well—or poorly. It’s about rising above one’s own desires for the greater good. My characters succeed at this better than I do.
..About the Author..
Court Ellyn defines herself as a dreamer, a cynic, a klutz who loves cats, a homebody who roams. She started writing historical fiction when she was fourteen but slowly gravitated toward the fantastical. Now, somewhere between dragon dens, haunted bogs and battlefields strewn with otherworldly foes, she moderates the LegendFire Critique Community.
Her fiction has appeared in Kaleidotrope, Silver Blade, A Fly In Amber, Explorers: Beyond the Horizon, an anthology by Dead Robots’ Society, and a number of other publications. Her novels, The Falcons Saga, are available at Amazon. You can also learn more at her website.