The enigmatic Tom Elias has insisted on doing an interview with me, of all people, in tandem with the release of our book, REAPERS WITH ISSUES. I’ll warn you, this interview is not one of the usual freaktastic Adventures in Bloggerland that I usually like to take. For once I decided to act like a grown-up and answer his questions like a professional. But never fear, because tomorrow my blog returns to its regularly scheduled blog absurdity with an INTERVIEW WITH THE GRIM REAPER.
1. Your first book, Gods of Asphalt, was told in a First Person format. How difficult was it to shift into Third Person to pen Reapers With Issues, and what was your motivation to do this?
Switching gears was extremely difficult, which is the reason why I did it. I attempted to write GODS OF ASPHALT – BOOK TWO in the third person but struggled to make progress since I’d never tackled that POV before. I had also planned on writing REAPERS in the third-person because as much as the story is about the Grim Reaper, I was committed to the idea that it should revolve around the odd cast of characters. I suppose in the end I decided it would be better to write REAPERS first since it is a novella and I could use the practice before tackling the novel that is to be GOA2.
2. You’re a self-described 40-something mother of three. What techniques do you use when crafting your writing day to day that keeps you so well focused on the plot and storyline?
I find it difficult to focus on anything in my day to day life whether I write or not, so I whenever I do I put on my headphones and listen to music. It’s why GODS OF ASPHALT has its own soundtrack written into it. I listened to a lot of Wagner, Mussorgsky and Metallica while I wrote REAPERS.
Another thing I like to do is to carry a Sharpie around with me wherever I go. As soon as I am out and about an idea will hit me that I need to jot down quickly, so I write it on my forearm. I will just misplace scrap paper so I don’t bother bringing any. I’ve tried texting myself, but most of the walks I take are deep into the New Hampshire forests, and I rarely get cell reception there. Not to mention that I am a Gen X’er, so the art of texting is lost on me.
3. Many readers will probably be offended by the Reapers Series. What is your message behind the irreverence?
I never doubted I would write REAPERS, but I did debate over whether or not I would publish it. I was afraid that if people only read snippets or heard what it was about they might think that I set out to slam Christianity, namely Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. I took great care in portraying Jesus as who he was purported to be- kind, compassionate, and tolerant. It’s the rest of the world who uses his good name to lend credence to their own sinning. REAPERS blasts the Hell out of those people, and I couldn’t care less how they feel about it.
Another misgiving I had was that REAPERS WITH ISSUES is as close to a written manifestation of my sense of humor as you could possibly get. Since I don’t take myself too seriously, I am hoping readers don’t find anything remotely serious about my book or the message behind it.
4. You favor using dialogue over exposition to advance your stories. What makes this your favored technique and what do you feel you sacrifice?
I am an extrovert, so I find comfort and familiarity in the voices of others. I do live in my head at times, but when I do I am always eager to share what goes on in there with others, whether they want to know about it or not. Case in point, REAPERS WITH ISSUES.
I suppose what suffers most is either action or plot. Maybe both. The largest obstacle I face when I write is ensuring that my books are more than just a bunch of comedy skits strung together.
5. What is the most challenging aspect of the mechanics of writing for you, and how do you overcome it?
DIALOGUE TAGS!!!! I hate them with every fiber of my being. If I thought for a moment that I could get away with writing a novel that existed as nothing more than an overheard telephone conversation I’d be the happiest little writer in the world.
The other obstacle of mechanics I faced with REAPERS was writing an inverse of what I normally consider my comfort zone. As anyone who has read my blog will tell you; I am a writer who takes something commonplace and mocks it, pointing out the hidden absurd. What I worked to accomplish in REAPERS was to take something fantastic, and transform it into something that resembled the everyday in order to make it absurd. To quote my cohort Tom Elias, “That’s about as natural as a quarterback throwing off his back foot.”
6. There is art and science involved in writing. What is your favorite aspect of writing in the context of its art?
As a writer in the twenty-first century, it is impossible to come up with anything new, plot-wise. That leaves us with the challenge of conceiving of something new. All any writer can do is take a spent storyline and put a new spin on it to make it their own. If a writer can bring their own perspective to their writing they will create something no one has ever read before.
7. Ten years from now, what is H.E. Ellis writing?
Children’s books. I find that the older I get, the more enamored I become with all things innocent. I’m slowly beginning to abandon the angst of teendom while I am fast embracing the playground. Yes, I am a literary Benjamin Button. Although I imagine I will always take time out to write something completely out there like REAPERS WITH ISSUES, because if I have to know about it, then so do all of you.