Featured Author Interview: Heather M Elliott

Author Interviews

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.I grew up in a conservative Christian family and was homeshooled most of my education. I attribute my love of reading to the fact we always had lots of books around and was encouraged to read. My interests have always been with history, writing, stories, foreign language, music, film making, and art. I live near much of my family in upstate New York.

What first inspired you to start writing?A collision of interests, really. For some English assignments in elementary school, my mom had me take a fable and rewrite it different ways. I was hooked on storytelling. I also fell desperately in love with American military history and obsessively read up on the Civil War, WWI and WWII. My first attempt at a full novel was a truly terrible trilogy of WWII. After I graduated high school, I was in the right place at the right time to write audio drama scripts for a radio station – scripts that were exclusively adaptations of public domain books. All of that culminated in 2011 with the inspiration for an epic kingdom fantasy series...that still isn’t published (but soon!)

Author Interviews

Your book Of Ice and Roses was chosen for our Fellowship Of Fantasy book club in March! What is it about?Of Ice and Roses is the story of a young woman whose life gets turned upside down after marrying a prince, learning she was adopted, and discovering her childhood best friend might hold the answers to protecting her new husband’s kingdom from a war.

What inspired you to write this book?I joined the Shattered Mirrors Collection – Snow Queen retellings- somewhat on a whim. I’d also recently beta read my friend’s middle grade retelling of the same fairytale. With the story fresh on my mind, I let my imagination go wild in the world I’m building for a series I’m working on, and two days later I had an outline that was pretty close to what I ended up writing. I’ve also loved the little-known fairytale called Legend of the Bleeding Heart, and decided to weave that into the story.

What is the main theme of your book? What message do you want the readers to getfrom it?Themes can be hard to pin down! I knew I wanted a solid marriage at the center of the drama, as well as loyalty, forgiveness, unconditional love, and trust. There is more to strength than physical ability. Gemma is unapologetically feminine and her strength is in not in physical fighting but in a gentle, nurturing spirit.

What is the most fun part about writing this book? The most difficult?The characters are always the most fun part of any of my stories. Deadlines and I don’t get along, so almost all of the difficulties I had on this project were directly related my creative mind shutting down under pressure.

Are you more of a planner or a discovery writer? Do you write an outline before you start or do you like to see where the ideas lead you?

I’m a delightful mix of both. I always start with characters – who they are at the beginning, what external plot things happen, and how they’ve changed at the end. Next, I plot out the big picture logic and timeline of the plot. Once I have all the “highway signs” and destination in hand, I set my characters loose and see what happens. I’m still completely in control of them, so if I see them start down a path I don’t want to write or glorify, I reroute them back to the plot. Sometimes that means a character’s motivation completely changes between drafts or they hit an obstacle that forces them to rethink what they’re doing.

Imagine your book is being made into a movie. Who would you choose for the main cast?Author InterviewsWho are your favorite authors? Who are you inspired by?There are some favorite authors who have directly influenced my writing, such as G. A. Henty, Jules Verne, Louisa Alcott, Alistair MacLean, R. Austin Freeman, and Walter Lord, while other authors are favorites to read but don’t influence my writing like Robert Ludlum, Eva Ibbotson, Dianna Wynn Jones, Gertrude Chandler Warner, L. M. Montgomery, L. T. Meade, and Mary Roberts Rhinehart.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?Find a group of other writers of varying skill level and experience, and learn from them. Justwrite – it doesn’t have to have meaning or be good when you’re first starting. Read many, many books in and out of the genres you hope to write. Be humble, teachable, challenge yourself to continually grow, and never lose the spark of joy that drives you to write.

What is your next book coming out? What is it about?I have three series in the works right now – an epic WWII urban fantasy with a police detective noir feel; an epic kingdom fantasy inspired by ancient Rus and the Roman empire that chronicles the conflict that sets one kingdom on the path to becoming a world power; and a fan fiction-style portal fantasy that will be released as a web series on a to-be-determined platform.

This web series will center on an ensemble cast thrown together when a portal opening goeswrong:

  • Nathaini: imprisoned for refusing to renounce her faith in God, she becomes queen when she is discovered to be the sole survivor of the royal family after a portal explosion.
  • Mog: a disgraced member of the palace guard who is on the run after realizing she put her loyalty in the wrong people.
  • Prosper: injured by a collapsing high-tech time portal, he’s yanked through a completely different portal into a world of magic.
  • Ax: younger half-brother to Prosper, he is also pulled into the world of magic where he becomes a bounty hunter in the hopes of finding someone who can help he get home.