Interviews With Other Authors
Below, you will find meaningful interviews I've conducted with fellow authors. I highly recommend checking out their books!
Kate Avery Ellison
Author of such titles as
The Frost Chronicles,
The Kingmakers' War, and
The Sworn Saga
Kate Avery Ellison has inspired me as a writer a great deal. I found her by accident, whilst I was heavily reading interactive novels (mainly through Choice of Games, and the first book of her Frost Chronicles series had been made into one). She writes YA fantasy, and what appeals to me most about her writing are her imaginative settings, clever characters, and the interactions between her characters, along with their complex and realistic relationships. I find myself often craving her diction whenever I haven't read one of her books in awhile. If you enjoy fantasy, romance, and compelling and creative worlds, I could not recommend her books more!
Question 1: How did you decide you wanted to go the route of self publishing, and what were the biggest hurdles of that approach and the aspects that you found favorable? Was book promotion difficult? How did you advertise (or were you lucky enough to simply make it without going to all the trouble)?
Kate Answer: I always planned to be traditionally published, and I was querying agents and pursuing that route in 2010 when self-publishing began to make the news as authors like Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking were making millions. I read more about the process, and I was drawn to the independence and creative control. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and the whole thing appealed to me. It was tough going for the first year or two--at the time, self-publishing had a huge stigma, and many book reviewers or blogs had "no self-published books, sorry" in their Q&A for inquiring authors. The process of marketing was completely different back then, and whole books have been written on the subject, but a lot of it had to do with book bloggers, keeping an author blog, being present on Twitter, etc. I labored for many, many hours a week for a year or more before I began to see some good results, and eventually, with my Frost series, my career took off and I became quite successful.
Question 2: Out of all of your books, which of your main characters do you feel you connect with most and is most similar to you?
Kate Answer: Hmmm. I try to deliberately write main characters who are not me. Perhaps Kyra from Spellwood Academy? She likes to read, she's bothered by dishonesty, she has a close relationship with her family, and she is a good problem-solver.
Question 3: How do you approach dialogue and create such natural, yet beautifully-romantic or funny interactions? I would say the character interactions in your books are some of the most memorable, compelling, and can be so drastically different from one character to the next, depending on who is talking to whom (which makes each character feel like their own unique person).
Kate Answer: Thanks! I've always felt dialogue is one of my weaker points, so I've read a lot of craft books dedicated to dialogue, character, etc. Your question delves into "you could write a whole book answering this" territory, but one thing I found helpful is to first making the characters as dynamic and fleshed-out as possible, and then, when it comes to have them say something, it's easy for their voices to come through.
Question 4: How long does it take you to write a book? How many hours a day/week do you write?
Kate Answer: I have a pretty streamlined process at this point, so I usually write, revise/edit, and publish a book in 3-4 months. There is a misconception floating around that a good book must take years to write, but Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 10 days. Writing fast is a skill in and of itself, and I've worked to develop it over the years.
2021 has not been a typical year for me--I've been dealing with some pretty hefty burnout, as have most people, and an important family member passed away. But in a typical year, I will write 6-8 hours on the days I have scheduled for writing, and I try to write 4 days a week. My process has changed quite a bit after I had children, and now, I have to plan writing sessions around the babysitter and school schedules!
Question 5: What books would you say inspired you writing style the most?
Kate Answer: I think I was most impacted by the books I read growing up as a child and teen. Lots of historical fiction, some fantasy. Elizabeth George Speare, Ann Rinaldi, Robin Mckinley all had a huge influence on my style and voice. More recently, I've been inspired by Naomi Novik, Melina Marchetta, Megan Whalen Turner, and Emily Henry.
Question 6: If you could live in the world of one of your books, which book would you choose and why?
Kate Answer: Well, I don't think I'd want to live in the world of the Frost Chronicles or Red Rider, since they are kind of dystopian nightmares! I think the underwater cities of the Secrets of Itlantis series would be fun to explore, and the Spellwood Academy world would be pretty exciting to live in. While I love my Kingmaker's War series and characters dearly, I would rather live in a place with modern technology, as there are medications I need to function!
Question 7: What scenes are the most enjoyable for you to write? What types of scenes are the hardest or least enjoyable?
Kate's Answer: I think I most enjoy writing scenes where side characters are fighting about something petty, like Nath and Crispin in the Kingmaker War series, and I enjoy writing scenes that the story has been building towards that have a quiet intensity to them, if that makes sense. I hate writing fight scenes or action scenes, as I am not great at them and I have to spend a lot of time plotting them or blocking them out, and I haaaaate writing the ending to any book. Ask my husband--I usually require chocolate doughnuts and a lot of cuddles to help me through the final bits of any book, and I moan about it the whole time. It's not that I'm sad to finish them, either. I'm non-neurotypical (ADHD) and one of my quirks is that I hate transitions, and the end of a book is a big transition.
Question 8: Your writing style comes across as clever, intelligent, witty, and crafty. I find myself drawn to your books again and again because of how addicting and artful your writing is. Do you happen to have a degree, and if so, in what? How have you managed to sharpen that brain of yours to write so elegantly?
Kate Answer: Thank you very much! Clever/witty/crafty is my jam, and it's what I am always aiming for. I have a degree in ... let me remember the exact title... "Interdisciplinary Studies in English and Psychology." Sort of a double major with no minor. Additionally, I am the daughter of an attorney, and my father is a witty, clever man who loves to have long discussions about deep things and debates about nonsensical stuff. Growing up, my family and I watched Poirot on Masterpiece Theatre every Thursday night, and we'd try to guess the twist ending before it happened. I love to read books that challenge my perspective, and my husband and I watch TV shows with lots of mysteries and twists.
Question 9: Which love interest for the protagonist out of all your books would you be most attracted to?
Kate's Answer: Oooh, this is an interesting question. It's kind of a three-way tie between Adam from Frost Chronicles, Kael from the Kingmakers' War, and Kassian from Red Rider. I like dark-haired men who are a broody, quiet, and serious, I'm attracted to intelligent, thoughtful, and deeply principled people, and I intensely value someone who has strong convictions that they've deliberated and decided upon. Basically, I'm describing my husband. Kael has my heart the most, but probably those three. I love all the love interests in different ways, though! Also, Jehn from Kingmakers' War isn't a main love interest, but I'd be pretty into him.
Question 10: Do you have certain advice you like to share with aspiring writers or indie authors?
Kate's Answer: Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. Practice is how you shape your skills. Take your favorite books and figure out what it is that makes you love them, and practice doing those things in your writing. Read lots of books about writing, and never stop learning and improving. Also, pay attention to storytelling, character, dialogue, etc in movies and shows and learn from that too. And if you don't like a book, spend time discovering why that book didn't resonate with you, and figure out how it could have been written to make it something you loved. Learn all the bones of story, and you'll find the magic.
Bonus: In the past, on her Facebook page, I had asked Kate how she dealt with criticism and any possible negative feedback about her books. I wasn't yet published and was concerned how that might affect my motivation. She was kind enough to reply.
Well, it's a process. I was very sensitive and thin-skinned when I started, and I've learned and grown with time. I read an article once that talked about how there are people in this world who hate chocolate. There are people who don't like Harry Potter. There are people who don't like kitties and puppies. And there are even people who don't like all of those things! I love those things, but someone who doesn't like them would probably not give them a good review, you know? Just one perspective to keep in mind. So, some people will not like your work, no matter how good it might be. And hey, it isn't for them, perhaps. That's fine, too. Write for your ideal reader, the person who wants and needs that story. If you've pleased them and given them a beautiful story that they love, then you've done your job. Also, I try to avoid ruminating on negative comments or spending much time reading them. Seek out helpful criticism, of course, because that's important, but do your best not to engage with haters--that's just going to discourage you. Don't go looking for a bunch of negative reviews in some kind of twisted fascination. Just focus on being the best you can be for the people you're writing for. Some criticisms will be true, but just keep learning and improving and writing stories with all your heart. <3
Thank you for the kind words. <3 Best of luck to you with your writing and publishing. Putting your work out for the world to see is a deeply vulnerable act, and a brave one. Your feelings are completely normal and valid, but I am confident you'll do well. Feel free to share a link with me when your book is released.