November 9, 2014

Interview with Elaine Calloway. Author of NO GRITS NO GLORY

1) What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?

I’m already doing it on occasion! I’d be a photographer. I love taking unique angled photos of common places. An example is getting photos of a monument’s reflection in a puddle of water, rather than taking the standard postcard photo of the monument itself.
In many ways, photography and writing are related. Both professions require detailed observation, interpretation, and then sharing that unique view with others.  

2) 5 years ago: what were you doing?

I was writing, but in a different genre than paranormal. I didn’t take the indie publishing plunge until early 2013, but I’ve always written. Before I wrote novels, I wrote short stories. Before that, I wrote in journals. Somewhere, deep in a drawer somewhere, every day of my high school life is recorded!

3) Do you have a certain writing ritual?

I’ve modified my rituals over the years, and it depends on where I am. Lately, I tend to get more done if I write at a café somewhere (outside of the house). So my ritual there is to find a place that gives free refills on Diet Coke, I bring my music with me and listen to a ‘soundtrack’ that I put together for each book. This grouping of songs helps spur me forward when writing.

When I’m in the home office, I have a lot of totems--pewter fairies, Irish crosses, wizards, etc.--and I have a specific order that I touch them before I start to write.

The one constant is music. I can write in the quiet, but it goes much more efficiently if I have music. Whether the songs are right for the book’s soundtrack is simply an inherent “feel” and the list gets tweaked as the writing progresses.

4) What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

That’s difficult to narrow down. I try not to dwell on negative book reviews because all authors get them. If one of my books gets a 2-star review filled with insults, I will look at that reader’s other reviews. A majority of the time, that particular reader has also rated some of my favorite bestsellers as 3-stars, so I try to keep it in perspective.

On one of my not-yet-published books, the beta readers, lit agents and others who read it all mentioned the same thing: they hated one of the characters. That stung because the book was very personal to me, and still is. But that feedback has been invaluable because I do need to make that character more approachable before I publish the book next year. A book that is personal for me, whose characters I love despite their flaws, won’t get anywhere with readers if they don’t find reasons to connect with the characters.

5) Ever “fangirled” over another author? Who was it?

Not gone crazy fangirl on the author, but I love Laini Taylor, Dennis Lehane, and Cornelia Funke. All three of them have a way of making the words come to life.

6) Is there an author you'd like to meet?

I’d love to meet Dennis Lehane. He’s a Boston hard-boiled crime novelist and I love every word he puts on paper.

7) Biggest writing pet peeve?

Adverbs! Authors are always told to avoid them like the plague. And that’s good advice, except a few bestselling authors (who shall remain nameless) have tended to put them in every other sentence. That’s distracting, annoying, and lazy writing. I rented an audio book of a huge bestselling author a few months ago. Every other sentence had an “-ly” word in it, which is not only distracting, but annoying!
To say every other sentence, “She dreamt happily about the lovingly beautiful romance she experienced excitedly as she stumbled clumsily along the street.” Ugh! Limit those “-ly” words, even if you’re famous. Especially if you’re famous! 

8) Do you read other's reviews of your books?

Yes. I want to hear both good and bad reviews because I can learn from both. I won’t deny that a one or two star review stings, but all authors get them and it is par for the course. The paranormal/fantasy with romantic elements genre isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.
The only real issue I have with reviews is when I write short stories, labeled “short story” and “five pages long” and “short short” but readers leave 1-star reviews because the story was short. That’s the only thing that annoys me.
Otherwise, I love to hear what readers think!

Fun Five:

Fav Color : Purple

Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with?
Nora Sunderlin (Tiffany Reisz Sinners/Saints series)

Fav food: Crawfish Etouffee (I miss my Cajun roots!)

Fav song and/or singer
I can’t possibly narrow this down! I will say that I like the following Irish bands because their music was on the playlist for No Grits No Glory: Roger Drawdy & The Firestarters, the Dropkick Murphys.

Guilty pleasure I love movies in the middle of the day. And Raisinets!

 Elaine Calloway is the bestselling author of paranormal and fantasy novels with elements of romance and desire. Her “tales of the living, the dead and the eerie in between” include the Elemental Clans Series, the Southern Ghosts Series and several short stories. A New Orleans native, Elaine grew up with a love of all things supernatural and enjoys visiting the “Crescent City.” She currently lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Twitter: @writerscanvas

Brianna fled to Savannah to escape the voices of the dead. Just when she thought she’d left all paranormal things behind, she discovers her house is haunted. Not just haunted, but haunted by Southern ghosts. These persistent beings not only hide her white shoes after Labor Day, but they leave grits-caked dishes in the sink, and swear to wreak havoc on her life – - unless she helps them.

Steven put Savannah in his rearview mirror years ago to follow his passion for music. When his band splits up and he can’t reach his little sister for weeks, he races home—only to learn his whole family died in a mysterious house fire. The house Brianna now lives in.

Together, Brianna and Steven learn who murdered Steven’s family and become caught in a web of intrigue that will risk their careers, their homes–but especially their lives.

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