Happy Monday, everyone! I’m so excited! UtopYA Con 2014 is right around the corner (seventeen days away) and I get to go to Nashville and meet all the lovely ladies I’ve interviewed here on the blog. Eep! I hope you’ve enjoyed the interviews and guest posts so far! If you missed any, check them out here. I’ve had so much fun getting to know these authors, and I feel a little like I’m going to meet long-time friends. Anyway, keeping with those Monday posts you’ve loved so much, I bring you an awesome interview with author Elizabeth Kirke! Make some noise and give her a proper welcome! Let’s get to it!
Jo: Welcome to the blog, Elizabeth! I hope you’re ready for what lies in wait with your interview. I do a lot of research on my guests, and try to ask the difficult questions you may not have been asked before. Are ya good to go?
Elizabeth: I knew I kept getting that eerie feeling that someone was watching me. Now I know who it was! I’m ready when you are!
Jo: *grins and rubs hands together* Let’s jump right in, shall we? First off, I have to ask because I know you love History (I do, too!): Which era is your favorite and why?
Elizabeth: 18th Century, hands down! I worked for three years at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, so I became quite the 18th century buff! I was one of those crazy people in costume. My job included farming, wool dying, milling, whiskey distilling, cooking … Pretty much anything you can think of that people did in the 18th Century. I also tried my hand at blacksmithing!
Jo: Love that answer! Kinda seems like acting is something that's IN you (that'll be answered here shortly, people, be patient!). I just interviewed Eva Pohler and had a little squee about the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios. I know you’re a big fan of the series. Are you planning to visit the attraction once it’s open?
Elizabeth: I am SO going!!! I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t been there at all. I’m a different country sort of traveler, so my travel budget always goes to cruises, not theme parks.
Jo: I wanna go, too. I'm asking for a trip there for my birthday. *bats eyelashes* Now, can we see your HP tattoo? When and where did you get it and why?
Elizabeth: Whoa, you HAVE been stalking me!!! I got my first tattoo right around when the 7th book came out. In fact, I was reading it for the first time while being inked, because I couldn’t put it down! Pretty much as soon as I was done with the book (and the weird ink-scab thing), I wanted another tattoo. They’re like potato chips, really. You can’t have just one. The Dark Mark just hit me and I knew that was the tattoo I had to have. Fans may notice a lot of my characters are inked. See, I’ve always wanted to get a book tattoo. But, I realized that there are almost no books (at least not in 2007), where characters have notable tattoos. The Dark Mark is unique in that it’s a canon tattoo on main characters. It’s described in detail, right down to exactly where it’s located on the body. I think that’s awesome.
On a deeper level – boy this answer is more than you bargained for, isn’t it? – I wanted a Harry Potter tattoo. Harry Potter is the last book I can remember my parents reading out loud to me as a kid. After the 7th book came out, I returned the favor. I read all 7 books, out loud, to my parents. We’d read a chapter or two every night after dinner. It took several months, but we did it. It was an amazing throwback, away from TV or everyone going their separate ways. I was in my final year of college, so it was an amazing final hurrah as a family before I “grew up.” So, the tattoo has both meaning and fond memories attached to it. Plus, I wanted to be an author at the time, so a book tattoo of my favorite series made sense.
I told myself that I would wait a year. If I still wanted it, I would get it. I think the picture speaks for itself.
Jo: WOW! I loves it. I have three tattoos myself. I may show them at the con, I may not. Maybe we'll play a "guess where Jo's tattoos are to win a book" kind of game LOL! So, how does acting your scenes out as you write them help? What are some of your favorite scenes to do this with?
Elizabeth: I keep thinking I’ve seen the depth of your stalking, but then you go deeper! Jo-ception! It helps me describe what’s going on, for one thing. I’m very visual, so if I can see how my body is and I can write a better description of the pose or action I’m writing about. But, I think the biggest benefit is my dialogue. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about how “real” my dialogue is and how it flows. I think it stems from how picky I am as a reader. Clunky dialogue can really turn me off of a book, even if I’m enjoying the story. When I have conversations with “myself” as the characters, I write exactly what I’m saying and it feels much more realistic to me. I figure, if I can actually say it out loud, then a reader can read it aloud too and have it sound normal.
I love doing arguments or really emotional scenes. I get totally into it, tears and all sometimes. Similar to the reading out loud part, I like to think that if I’m writing it and crying, then the reader will feel the emotion too.
Jo: That's actually a brilliant way to get the emotional impact into the scene. I sat and played a super emo scene from I, Zombie through my head with my eyes closed about ten times before I wrote it (with the tears still streaming down my face). Now, you outline like I do: Chapter numbers with a brief blurb about what you intend to write in each one. High fives to pantsers! What’s been the biggest challenge this style has presented? How have you overcome it?
Elizabeth: I think the worst part is when I fail to meet it and have to update/alter it. My second book, Snow Bound, was originally outlined to be something like 16 chapters. It ended up 24, plus an epilogue. When I originally plotted it out I thought, “Okay, if I can write a chapter every week, I’ll be done in about 4 months.” Every time I had to sit down and add another chapter to my outline and shift things back, I felt a little disappointed; both because it was taking longer to write, and because I had failed to stick with my outline. As those of you who were eagerly waiting for it know, it took over 6 months, so much for the original 4!
I’m afraid I really haven’t overcome it. The only thing I really do it to try and remind myself that it’s okay if I don’t stick to my outline. It’s just a guide, not set in stone. I don’t have to feel disappointed in myself if I don’t follow it to the letter.
Jo: Bingo! Nothing is set in stone. *grin* Tell my readers about BookChart. How did you find it, what has it shown you, and what does it do?
Elizabeth: Ah, BookChart!! I was Googling for myself (be honest, who doesn’t?) and just stumbled onto it. Having just checked it, I’m devastated to say it looks like they lost ALL of their data prior to January 2014. But, according to their site: Since 29 April 2014, BookChart.info has tracked 46,059 books by 24,886 authors. These books have appeared on the iTunes charts about 770,000 times across 54 genres in 6 countries.
Basically, this site pulls data from iTunes book sales and complies it. If your book makes the top 100, it marks the position, the date, and the genre. According to this, both Semester Aboard and Snow Bound have been in the Top 100 of iTunes UK in the Fantasy genre. It’s pretty awesome.
Jo: You'd be surprised how many authors I interview who never Google themselves. I'm always like: Really? Why not? LOL! On to much more awesome things. You worked in a blacksmith shop? How cool is that! What did you learn while you were there and what kind of work did you do?
Elizabeth: I did! I started working in George Washington’s Blacksmith Shop in 2009. They finished rebuilding it (barely) that year. It was the first time since Washington that the shop was operational. I had the privilege of working with Eric Zieg, the Master Blacksmith, for 3 years. Yes, he’s an honest-to-god, started as an apprentice, blacksmith. And he’s freaking amazing at his craft!
Anyway, I wore a costume and my job was mainly to field the questions from the 2000+ visitors every day. Since the smith was actually physically working all day, I had to learn the answers so that I could talk when he was working or, at the busiest times, so we could both talk. I learned a TON about blacksmithing, both now and in the 18th century. If anyone ever needs to bounce questions off of me for a blacksmithing scene in a book, just let me know!
On slow days, I was allowed to grab the hammer and try my hand at making nails and hooks!
Jo: Oh man. I'd love to try something like that. Even if just for the experience/knowledge of it. I'm an information hound. haha! I found your blog when I did my search for you. Seems you began posting in 2011, and had a sporadic flow, then 2012 saw you posting your heart out, and then your blogging dropped off again. Any reason why and do you intend to pick the pace back up?
Elizabeth: More creepy! Let’s see if I remember how that all went down. I published my first book in 2011 and didn’t really “get” the whole blogging thing and how important it can be to have one. I had a fairly slow paced job and a lot of free time in 2012 (other than wedding planning), so I did a lot of blogging. I also had a 5 minute commute, so I had a ton of free time. I believe there were more random posts and guest posts and reviews at that time. I moved in the end of 2012 and my commute increased to almost an hour. 2013 was when my work-load picked up too. I’m hoping that 2014 will see my return to lots of posts but, as you can see … I haven’t been very good so far this year.
Jo: By all means, pick it back up! Wedding is done, no more excuses. Time for the alien question of the interview! In your best writer-ly voice, tell us how you think aliens look and what it would be like inside a spaceship.
Elizabeth: Oh goodness a pop-writing quiz. What we have to remember is that aliens probably don’t look human. They come from different worlds with different environments, right down to different levels of gravity. Every alien, from every world, is bound to be as different looking as we are from animals here on Earth. Pointy ears are one thing, but some aliens may not have ears at all! They’ll have skin, scales, fur, and different ideas of what should be kept covered! A mouth, a nose, and two eyes are just our perception of normal. They may have flippers instead of feet and ships full of whatever passes for water on their planet. They could have wings and ships with vast hallways they can fly up and down. Aliens from a planet with low gravity will be bigger and heavier than we are, they may even have trouble getting around on our world.
The aliens who arrive here first and have perfected long-distance space travel will have ships built for long journeys, like giant flying aircraft carriers. They’ll have food, living quarters, and places to hang out. Some may even have launch bays for small scout ships.
As my lead-in to this next image, I’ll say that one of my favorite series growing up was Animorphs. That author did aliens like no other, because her aliens weren’t just humans with different ears or different colored skin. She planned out those worlds and the aliens who lived there, and made each one as unique as it gets!
Jo: I'm not only an awesome stalker, I also love pop-quizes. But check this out: Rapid fire question time! Who’s your favorite character from Twilight? OMG I’m kidding (I’m also rolling on the floor laughing)! I know better! *wicked grin* Real rapid fire question: Who’s your favorite character from Lord of the Rings?
Elizabeth: LOL! That’s a tough question. I can tell you without hesitation that my LEAST favorite is Tom Bombadil. Leaving him out of the movies was the best decision ever. I’m afraid I have too many favorites. So, instead, I’ll just tell you that my cat is named Thorin Oakenshield.
Jo: Favorite cheesy movie?
Elizabeth: Company Man! Nobody has ever seen it/heard of it, and it’s absolutely hilarious. It is, hands down, the BEST cheesy movie ever. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0177650/
Jo: I know you haven’t been married long. Is married life everything you thought it would be? What’s the best and worst part?
Elizabeth: It’s been great! We bought a house and adopted a dog. It’s quite a bit like when we were dating, which is why I married the guy! I don’t know how to choose a best and worst part without sounding cheesy! I guess the best part is that I come home every night to a person that I love and that as my future unfolds, it’s with him. The worst part doesn’t have anything to do with being married, but my only struggle right now is time. I work a full-time job outside of the house, and it’s hard to juggle that with spending time with my husband, and trying to find time to write. Wait, I changed my mind, the worst part is when he leans over my shoulder and reads what I’m writing in a melodramatic TV announcer voice. Gah!
Jo: I'm with you. I love being married to my guy. How funny is the melodramatic voice thing? OMG I'm laughing hard! Okay, getting back to serious. Willing to share with us why you signed on with Anchor Group Publishing? I read in an interview you did a long time ago that you’d never sign with a publishing house. What changed your mind?
Elizabeth: Okay, I don’t even remember ever saying that!!! This is a new level of stalkerdom! 100% serious, do you remember where you found that? LOL. Better go eat my words.
I may have been referring to the Big Six publishing houses, but I’m not sure. So, there was I was, August 2011, a brand-spanking-new self-published author. I totally loved the control I had over my books and the pricing and all of that good stuff. But, I started learning some stuff along the way. I made my cover, which I was totally happy with, but as I went I picked up marketing tips and tricks, and the importance of editors, professional cover designers, marketing, blog tours, etc. etc. The costs for self-publishing really start adding up. I just didn’t have a big enough brand to start with. Moment of Honesty: I made more the month I self-published Danio’s Prelude, just from that book, than I made the entire 9 months between August 2011 and May 2012 when I signed with Anchor Group Publishing. That was because I had time to build my brand and readers. People actually knew my books existed and were waiting to buy the next one.
Anyway, so, after a few months dipping my toes into the publishing world, I started to learn more and more about small publishers, like AG. I started to see the benefit of having someone else foot the bill for covers and edits (side note, a good, honest publisher will NEVER charge you upfront costs for your book. Your sales are their profit. If a publisher asks you to pay them before they publish your book, run) and to help with marketing. I was actually asked to do a short story for AG’s first anthology. They loved it so much they asked if I would want to publish my book with them too.
Then, it all just sort of fell into place. They hooked me up with another round of edits, an amazing cover, and all sorts of resources and support I could never have gotten on my own.
It’s been an amazing ride. My third novel with them was released yesterday and I couldn’t be happier!
Jo: Blame my awesome stalkerness on my army of super ninja spies. They are at my beck and call. Be afraid; be very afraid. *bats eyelashes* Any super secrets I didn’t ask you about that you’d like to divulge to my hungry readers?
Elizabeth: Well, I do have the official blurb, which only a few people have seen, for the 3rd book in the More than Magic Series. This seems like a good place for it!
Forget everything you know about magic …
Jen doesn’t know who people keep mistaking her for, but one thing is clear: her mystery double is not popular. When Jen is kidnapped by a group bent on revenge for something she never did, it’s up to her friends to rescue her. Little do they know, Jen’s captors are ready for them.
Thomas, TS, Charlie, Dani, and Mariana become the latest victims of a malicious experiment, one which could spell doom for magic-kind. Now their lives, and maybe their entire world, are in Jen’s hands. Unfortunately, escaping the facility is the least of their problems. The experiment is dangerous; one in three test subjects dies. And considering five of them are affected, the odds don’t look good.
Time is running out and Jen and her friends are faced with the hardest decisions they’ve ever had to make; how do you know who to trust, when your own mother isn’t who you thought she was? Just how much will you sacrifice for a friend, even if it’s your life?
And how can you make a choice when the wrong one means death?
Jo: Now that was awesomeness. You rock! Thanks so much for your time, Elizabeth. I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA!
Elizabeth: You’re so welcome!!! I can’t wait to tackle hug you!
Now it’s time to tell you about the featured book of the week!
Title: Carved in Cherry (Curse Collectors #1)
Author: Elizabeth Kirke
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Length (print): 206 Pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $0.99 ~ Smashwords $0.99
One thing set Lydia Shaw and her store apart from the other antique shops in town…
Lydia’s collection was plagued by curses, and it was her duty to break them.
Rachel, Angie, and Jo knew nothing about their aunt’s secret life. In fact, they didn’t even know she owned an antique shop, until they inherited it. Unfortunately for them, Lydia passed down more than just her store. The sisters are the proud new owners of countless deadly curses, buried under centuries of dust.
Lydia also left behind her apprentice, Peter. He does everything he can to protect the girls, as they explore their new store, unaware of the dangers it hides. In spite of his efforts, Rachel finds herself obsessed with opening a strange trunk, Angie has vivid dreams, haunted by a man who claims he needs her help, and Jo’s imagination starts to run wild.
When one of them falls victim to a curse, it’s up to Peter and her sisters to save her. But, if Peter can’t teach them to wield a magic, that he barely understands himself, she’ll be the first one to die.
While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Kirke a follow on social media?
Facebook: More Than Magic
Blog: Elizabeth Kirke
If you have questions for Elizabeth, pop them into the comments section below.
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!