The Picky Bookworm

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." –Stephen King

I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful authors in the Writing Community on Twitter, and Elana is no exception! She accepted a fairly new (and not a little intimidated) book blogger into the fold, and treated me like a friend from day one. I’ll never forget her kindness! I wanted Elana to be my first “meet the author” of the new year, because her books sound so interesting (and she used to be a teacher)!

Coming from this “teacher’s pet,” I couldn’t resist getting to speak to her about her books, and her writing process. If you’re interested, then read on! I hope you have as good a time as I did!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently revising Scorched Earth Magic, the sequel to my first book Hidden Magic. Both are part of a series called The Eldritch of Hallows. Julia, a fire mage, returns to Hallows, the sanctuary village for supernatural peoples or eldritch in North Carolina, after 5 years of self-exile. Her mother’s illness might be why she’s back but her former lover Sebastian also awaits. He’s an arrogant and sexy earth mage. She’s fiery-tempered and stubborn. They might be furious with each other but sparks still fly. And when he learns about the child she has hidden from him….

Can you give a synopsis for your most popular book?

In Hidden Magic, Sasha is on the run from a murderous ex. She finds herself strangely lured to a mysterious village in the North Carolina mountains. Hallows with its odd lack of modern technology provides a perfect refuge. She might wish to keep a low profile but she can’t help falling for “Sheriff Sexy” Jake, who has magical secrets of his own. Soon she begins to notice strange things about her new home and its citizens and realizes Hallows is also influencing her. When she is threatened, Sasha turns to Jake to protect her and discovers the true supernatural nature of Hallows and her own paranormal heritage.

Have you ever wanted to trade places with one of your characters?

Sasha in Hidden Magic has had a tragic life. She overcame the deaths of her parents and a childhood spent in foster care to become strong and resilient. I love her sense of humor and her kindness to others, particularly her blind landlady. I would like to be her when I grow up, especially when she discovers her magical powers. There are days…..

Which characters would you like to hang out with, or avoid?

Gwen Highgarten, a secondary character, would be a hoot to hang out with. She’s funny and irreverent, always ready with an off-colour joke. She’d be the life of any party she attended and the sort you’d definitely want to have a drink with. Plus, as an earth mage, she’d automatically revive all the half-dying plants I have in my house.

What are you most proud of professionally?

This is an interesting question. Can I combine it with #6? This year was horrible, yet it was also the year I self-published Hidden Magic. And when I realized that people actually bought and liked my story…. My heart was full.

What are you most proud of personally?

I could finally say I was an author. I have friends who want to know when my next story is coming out because they can’t wait. It is overwhelming and humbling. I wrote the first one to say I could. Now, I write for others. I am an author. It is mind blowing to type that. A lifetime dream come true.

What was the inspiration for your characters?

Again this is a question with many parts. I originally started writing the great epic LOTR fantasy, all orcs and swords and heroic characters. The aftermath of a civil war in a magical world where some rebels escaped to our world and lived hidden away in a mountain village. I may yet write it. But I became more interested in that village and its people. So the civil war became the witch hunts of Europe. And I got to investigate the impact of magic and suffering on a village. Who needs doors if you can teleport into your home. Statues would absorb magic and heckle and gossip.

As a village founded as a sanctuary, there would be inter-generational trauma caused by the atrocities inflicted on their ancestors by humans: The burning of mages. The killing of Trolls for their bones and misshapen skulls. The few humans living among them would suffer an inherited guilt. The supernatural peoples themselves would carry their own prejudices and jealousies. The fae are in their minds the superior clan. They are the true eldritch, not like the shapeshifting Kin with their human and animal souls and mages who could pass as humans during the Spanish Inquisition. The troll leader Chloe bears the last name Redcap to remind humans that trolls battled wearing bonnets dipped in human blood. The conflicts and stresses of living in Hallows hidden from the Outside in many ways mirrors issues in our own world.

What gave you the idea for your latest book?

I created Sasha at first as a catalyst. What if a human found Hallows? How has it stayed hidden so long? What magical protections are in place and how would she be able to elude them? How would the citizens react? Why couldn’t they kill her? And why wouldn’t she immediately tell her family and friends of this picturesque little village? That led to the idea of a woman running from danger. Sasha developed organically. Strong. Fierce. Then I realized that the only way she could have found a magical village if it actually called her, and that she herself must have magical talents. And it changed everything.

Who is your favorite writer and why?

My favourite author is Guy Gavriel Kay. He describes his prose as operatic. It is lyrical and beautiful. I love all his writing. Each novel is multi-layered, intricate. His The Fionavar Tapestry was a revelation. All the elements of an epic fantasy: dwarves, evil elves, a ruthless villain and captivating heroes. So well plotted, that in the end of the second book, I realized I was reading something he had hinted at in the beginning of his first book. And then, a surprise retelling of the King Arthur saga. My favourite book is the last The Darkest Road. I wept non-stop through the last three chapters of his climax as characters sacrificed themselves.

What’s your favorite book?

In my author bio, I write I was probably born reading. I have always loved books and words. As a child, I would make up stories to tell myself when I went to bed. I re-read entire sections of novels just for the beauty of the words. My TBR stack is deep. And I read across genres. I’m currently reading three books and yes, I can keep them separate in my head, a skill left over from when I was a teacher: Louise Penny’s All the Devil Are Here, Ian Rankin’s Even Dogs in the Wild, and Sharon Shinn’s Troubled Waters. 2 mysteries and a fantasy.

Did you do any special research for your books?

I love writing fantasy for the world building. I can design my own fantastic environment and people it with creatures of my own imagining or with archetypes from mythology. But Sasha is a chef so I loved hunting for exquisite dishes she’d serve at The Watchtower restaurant. In my second book, Julia is a glass artist, a suitable craft for a fire mage. I took a hot glass workshop to get a feel for what she would experience and created a pretty purple paperweight. Sebastian owns the Saint-Remy vineyard so that meant investigating winemaking. And drinking lots of wine, purely for research purposes, of course.

What comes naturally to you as a writer? What is the most difficult thing?

Writing is both very easy and extremely difficult. I love when ideas suddenly pop up, sometimes at odd moments. An entire scene where Sheriff Jake chases a thief through the mountains came during a yoga class. My current novel became with an image of three sisters on a porch eating ice cream after a climax I hadn’t even plotted out yet. But right now, revising, I sweat every word, question every scene. I have rewritten entire chapters three, four times. I am currently struggling with a confrontation scene between Sebastian and Julia. I’m tempted to just let Julia blast him with her fire magic.

Who has been the biggest support to you as a writer?

I wrote my first book in secret, had it edited in secret and published it in secret. It took me a few weeks to get up the courage to tell the sister I had dedicated it to that I had actually written a book. Now, I send her sections of my WIP for her advice. And those friends I’ve told and who love my book, ask about the second. One wants to know how I do my research for the sexy scenes!

You can find Elana’s book below (just click on the image): FYI, the link is an affiliate link, so I’ll get a small commission from your purchase. If you’re interested in finding Elana on social media, you can definitely find her on Twitter, which is where I met her. She’s super cool and fun to talk to, so I highly recommend that you look her up if you haven’t already!

I hope everyone is prepared for a wonderful 2021, and I hope you are all staying safe! Until next time, bookworms!

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