Apr 23, 2015

Interview with J Ellen Ross

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I've always made up stories and worked on them in my head. But I never could imagine actually writing one down. I didn't think I had a whole book. I finally decided that I wanted to publish something and I just started writing!

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen? The best and worst thing about it?
I always thought I would write a book or two, but never put any time into finding out how to do it. I always had other hobbies to keep me busy and writing seemed so intimidating. When I sat down and just did it, it wasn't nearly as hard as I imagined!
Best and worst - Best is definitely reading my own books. I love them! It's this awesome act of creation that I get to share with others.
Worst is probably the fear. I'm sure I worry about the same things all other authors do. "This is terrrible. No one will like it." But it's so hard to look objectively at your own work and know if it's good or not.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
I'm a little embarrasssed to admit that it was Anne McCaffrey fan fiction in high school! But, her books set the stage for A Gift Freel Given. It was the first time I was introduced to psychic phenomena in fiction and I was entralled with the idea of it.

What made you create (your book)? How did it come to you?
I've had the basic plot for A Gift Freely Given in my head since college. I'm a psychologist and I'm terribly interested in how people react to different situations/life events. I also love the idea of psychic abilities. I wanted to write a book about how people deal with being able to know exactly what someone else thinks about them - good or bad.

Who is your literary hero?
I love Peter S. Beagle and his story 'The Last Unicorn'. It had a huge influence on me and pushed me to read fantasy at a very young age. He didn't think it was very good and almost threw it out. But his wife and children were so interested in the story he was forced to finish it. I think it's a lesson for a lot of writers who are afraid to let people see what they're written. You never know who it's going to speak to!

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
I tried to stay away from drawing on people I know for this story. I think my main character is someone I'd like to be though - confident, knows what she wants and isn't afraid to speak her mind.

Describe your main character in six words.
Hmm... Driven, ambitious, confident, prideful, passionate, naive

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Chaotic, harsh, unjust,

What scene was your favorite to write?
My favorite, by far, is a scene where Leisha is attacked on horseback. I had such a fun time researching side-saddle riding, why it was so dangerous for women in dresses, how you know a horse is getting ready to rear, how to handle it when it happens. And, Zaraki gets to be a hero!

What scene was the hardest for you to write?
I'll admit, I don't like torturing my characters. Some writers do, but to me they're my best friends! I didn't like hurting Zaraki even though it had to happen. Leisha didn't know she was hurting him, but still. It sucked.

What are you working on now?
I'm finishing up the sequel! It's called As Dragons from Sleep and takes up two years after the end of the first book. After that I have a YA novel in the works that's currently being called The Artisan.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
My goal currently is to get As Dragons from Sleep wrapped up. I'm so close! I feel like when I can say I have two book published in a series, then maybe I'll feel like an author and not just someone sitting behind a keyboard.
I do think there's always room for improvement. I love my editor and my alpha reader. They both push me and aren't afraid to say, "This makes no sense at all, Jennifer."

What is on your nightstand?
Right now I'm reading The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey. It's great!

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
I just recently finished up The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. It's the sort of series I'd love to write one day. I love fantasy with political intrigue and danger.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
I'm a huge dog lover and spend lots of time with my four dogs. When they're bored of playing with me, I like to draw and paint.