Author Interview with Elaine White

Posted on October 10, 2013

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Before we get started, here is a little background on our featured author:

Elaine White was born and raised in the small town of Haddington, Scotland. She began writing from an early age when she thought that she would have written differently passages from the books she was reading.

At the age of 14, she tweaked existing stories to experiment with various writing styles. Eventually, this led to her taking a Creative Writing course and writing her own stories from scratch. Now, she finds inspiration everywhere, which has lead to numerous novels and series ranging from college romance and crime to the supernatural world of witches and vampires.

Elaine currently lives at home in Scotland with her parents and boisterous poodle. She is a full time student and full time writer.

Do you write under any other names? 

No.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a few projects right now. I’m doing basic edits for my next release, Book 2 of the Secrets of Avelina Chronicles, which is a vampire, paranormal romance series. I’m also working on putting together the last book of a ten part crime series and a few smaller projects for my Wattpad account.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?

I’ve published one book so far, Runaway Girl, Book 1 in the Secrets of Avelina Chronicles. However, I have also had a short story, relating to this book published in a Valentine’s Anthology called Novel Hearts.

What inspired you to write your first book?

It was really a combination of things. I first started with a 2 page fan fiction I wrote when I was about 13 years old. It was based on the character Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then I realised that by doing a fan fiction, I was limiting the possibilities of the character and story growth. It sat there for a long time, while I figured out what to do with it.

Then I had a group of stories that I wrote as a teenager that I couldn’t find endings for. It was frustrating and I thought of giving up on them altogether, until I realised that if I combined them together, with a new vampire twist, and added my fan fiction, I could actually make a pretty good story. So I removed the ‘fan fiction’ parts, created a new vampire world and let the story speak for itself.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?

Not really. I don’t stick to a single genre, I don’t stick to a specific age range, I just end up writing what comes to me. If it’s vampire, fine, if it’s high school romance, then that’s good too.

When it comes to the actual writing, I don’t have a system either. I just tend to write my initial thoughts on what the story should be, even if it’s disjointed, few word sentences and all I have when I’m done if a one page brief of what the outline is. It’s when I start writing the first chapter that things really come together. Then by chapter 5 I usually have a pretty good idea where it’s going.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?

I like to think of something relevant to the story. So instead of just using any old genetic title, keeping things mysterious or whatever, I like to use one that epitomises the main aspect of the story. So, for example, my first book is called Runaway Girl, and the story is about a vampire princess who has to be found. I’ve got another story, available on Wattpad, that’s called Unconditional, because the whole plot revolves around unconditional love.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. It differs with each story. Mostly, what I want me readers to gain from my work, is a sense of acceptance, loyalty, love in both the friendship and relationship aspect, and how no matter what goes wrong, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel that helps clear things up.

How much of the book is realistic/true?

None of it. I very rarely use any real life events/conversations or incidences in my work. I have only done so twice, when I wrote two college romance stories, each about cancer. I used my own knowledge of the illness to make their experiences more realistic.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Just the books about Cancer. I was diagnosed a week before my 16th birthday, so I was just a teenager and there wasn’t a lot of information back then (2002-2003) aimed at teenagers. I thought they would be more likely to pick up a high school/college romance book than some kind of information guide about what to expect during their treatment.

Everyone reacts differently, but I wanted to write a story that showed what happens with cancer, what really happens, and maybe someone can pick up my book during their treatment and not feel so alone. Maybe my characters, and my experiences, can help someone feel like there is another person with them, who understands what they’re going through.

What books have most influenced your life most?

That’s hard to say. I’d guess it was the history books I read when I was younger. I really wanted to be an archaeologist, so anything historical, true life etc, was what I read. I really didn’t start reading fiction books regularly until I was in my late teens. I was a complete information hog.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?

Ooh. So I’d probably say that I don’t really have a ‘mentor’ but inspiration-wise, I would have to choose the fabulous Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz/Barbara Michaels. I first discovered her through her Amelia Peabody series, under the name Elizabeth Peters and then I was even more in love with her work when I realised that she was a real archaeologist, putting her interest into her novels.

I was really inspired to use my own interests : archaeology, forensics, true crime, history : in my own stories. So that’s what I did. And so far, it’s turned out well.

What book are you reading now?

I’ve just started a new book called Vampire World, by Rich Douglas. It was one he offered on Goodreads, in return for reviews. Since I have a blog, I thought I’d accept the offer and it turned out to be a good choice. It’s a really great book so far. I read half of it in one sitting – it kept me up most of the night. LOL.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Outside of family members, I’d have to say my writing community on social media. I joined a few groups on Goodreads when my book first came out, who were really fantastic at doing reviews, giving honest feedback and being supportive about how to work social media and how to get your name out there. I also opened up a Facebook Author Page. It’s got some really lovely regular visitors and they’ve been really supportive of my work so far. Wattpad is another great place to be. I found the community there so positive and kind; they only want to help. Their voting system, for individual chapters and book shelves, are a great way to see who and how much everyone likes your stories. Their commenting system is good too, for readers to comment on what they like, what they want or hope to happen etc.

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?

Definitely a career. It’s always been that in my head, but it was only when my book was accepted by my publisher than I admitted it out loud. I didn’t want to jinx it. It’s hard to make money out of writing in the first few years, as you build up an audience and people get to hear about you. But to me, it’s not the money that’s the most important part, it’s getting your words out there and having people interested in what you write.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Probably. I’ve had some reviews come back with some positive constructive criticism on how it could be improved and I can see their point. I’m not sure how it would work out, but I’d definitely like to sit down one day and try it out, even if it didn’t work in the end.

As a typical writer, there’s always something else you think you can do. I think that’s the hardest part about publishing – letting it go out into the ether and having those niggling thoughts over what you could have changed.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Not really. I think it just happened. I started writing in notebooks and on my computer during my spare time. I’d imagine that it was my English class in high school that first inspired me. We used to get asked to write a lot of essays and I got some great feedback and encouragement, so I’m pretty sure that’s where it all began.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Ooh, which one to pick 🙂 This is a little bit from my current WIP. It’s a snippet of Book 2 in the Secrets of Avelina Chronicles.

The sound of the wooden shutters banging against the bedroom window was barely audible over the sound of the rain battering down on that late mid-October night. It was a less than pleasant night and even though the wedding party was raging on into the early hours of the night in the barn across from the main house, Catalina was finding it difficult to sleep. Because she was only seventeen and technically not of age to be drinking alcohol though she had never felt inclined to, she had been sent home from the wedding party early, despite the fact that it was her own sister that had been married. She wasn’t sure whether it was the sound of the rain or the fact that she knew what she was missing out on, that kept her awake. Whichever it was, it felt like an intolerable cruelty when she was as unexplainably tired as she was, though she had barely done anything all day.

Every time she found herself drifting off to sleep or her eyes became heavy, the window shutters woke her with a start once more and she cursed the fact that she knew no matter how many times she shut them again, they would always blow open, just because her father had been too busy fawning over her sisters new husband to bother fixing the broken latch. No matter how badly she tried to block out the sound and no matter how often it happened throughout the night, it always startled her aware again, almost as if it knew just the right time to strike so it would wake her and she began to wonder if God was punishing her for some sin that she had unknowingly committed between her waking hours and those that kept her company in her sleeplessness. It was then that she heard an almighty cry in the dark.

Catalina was so caught off guard that she couldn’t help but slip out of bed and into her shoes, that were sitting beneath her window. There was no-one in the house other than herself so she didn’t bother being quiet about running down the stairs and out into the forest behind the house. The crying went on as if someone was in so much pain that it just couldn’t be contained and so Catalina used it to guide her through the trees and the fallen leaves, until she came upon the forest clearing at the far end of the forest. She wasn’t sure how she had got so far so quickly but it felt as thought she had just stepped out of her house and right onto the clearing. She could still hear the anguished cry in her head but when she found herself in the clearing and saw a man on his knees, cradling a woman, she could clearly see that he was no longer calling out.

“Hello…is everything alright?” Catalina wondered, hanging back a little in case she had to run back to the house for help. When he finally spoke, it was in sharp gasps and an angry tone that said he didn’t appreciate her being there. She felt a little angry at being shouted at but she decided to stay calm and try to help as best as she could.

“Who are you? Don’t come any closer!” The man shouted at her, hoping she would leave. When he didn’t hear footsteps he looked round, surprised by the flowing blonde hair that hung over her shoulders, the bare feet and pyjama set that greeted his eyes. When she asked if he was hurt, he almost wanted to laugh. “No. Not me.” He sighed, turning to glare at her when she took a step forward and asked if it was ‘his friend’ who was hurt instead. He didn’t understand what she was doing, she kept taking a step forward as if she had no idea of the danger she was in. “Get away from me!”

“I’m only trying to help.” Catalina admitted gently, so close now that she could see that the woman in his arms was bleeding from her shoulder. She was so still and pale that somehow she knew she was already dead. She was careful as she moved forward, the leaves rustling under her bare feet until she placed a hand on the man’s shoulder, her constant advance making him turn to her in anger, his face turned from the human side she had just glimpsed to a vampire face she hadn’t expected. But as surprised as she was, she didn’t step back or recoil her touch and it was the fact that all she did was crouch down beside him that made him calm down again.

“Please…let me help you. I think I know what happened…all you have to do is trust me. I won’t hurt you.” She promised, realising that he was afraid and worried for her safety more than anything. That was why he kept telling her to leave and not touch him. He was worried he was going to hurt her. And for a few minutes, she had to talk him round to letting the girl go and explaining what had happened to him. His name took almost ten minutes to get out of him as it was but once she knew his name was Clarke, he started opening up a little more.

He had been attacked that night, after getting drunk, outside a bar when after losing the fight, he was turned by his attacker. He had then been left for dead in the alleyway only to wake two hours later and find himself fighting an irresistible hunger. He had run from the people who felt a temptation to him only to hide in the woods and find a female hill walker approaching him for directions. Catalina felt sorry for him as he admitted to how difficult it was to resist feeding from her. And it was then that she knew what exactly she was going to do with him. She was able to explain the ruling system of the vampire clans and how the ruler, Damian, would help him come to terms with who he now was.

p.6 – Reckless Abandon – Book 2 of the Secrets of Avelina Chronicles

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Always coming up with new stories. I don’t know how it happens, it’s usually just one of those things where an idea pops into my head and I have to run with it. Even if it doesn’t pan out, I have to see where it might go. Then if it’s not going anywhere, I store what I’ve got so far for another time. I never know when it might come in useful.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’d probably go for Agatha Christie. She makes it look so easy. Not just the characterisation and the balance between description and dialogue, but the way she can put a story together, with such mystery and intrigue and then reveal everything in a way that makes you feel positively stupid for never having seen it before. I think it’s amazing how her mind much have worked during the writing of her books.

Who designed the covers of you books?

I didn’t have a designed. My publisher and I took a look on some istock photo sites and gathered together about a dozen picture that we thought best represented the book. Then it was a back and forth as to which one we liked best and how they would look laid out on a cover.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?

Probably distraction. Plain and simple. I am far too easily distracted. I can be halfway through writing a story that it at the top of my interest and if a new story pops into my head, I have to run with it, while I’m interested in it and get it all done on the laptop. Which usually means that the first story gets abandoned for a while. It doesn’t help that I actually have memory and concentration problems because of my treatment years ago. It’s really hard for me to be interrupted and then suddenly pick up the pace again.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just keep at it. I know that it can seem hard, when you know your work is good and that other people would like it, but you can’t get published. But as long as you hold on to your belief in yourself, someone else will see that eventually. You can’t ever give up.

And if you are about to be published or already published, keep at it. Keep building your audience, keep in contact with other writers, keep a constant presence in your readers lives.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just that they enjoy reading. As long as you can do that, all us Indie authors have a chance.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?

Creating something different. The vampire genre has been going hard for years. I had never read or watched any of the classic/contemporary vampire works available, since it wasn’t something I’d ever really been that concerned about. I write what I have ideas for and I just happened to have the idea for a few vampire stories.

But since I didn’t have any personal knowledge of what was out there (Sookie Stackhouse, Vampire Diaries, Dracula, Let the Right One In) I decided not to bother. I didn’t want my ideas to be tainted by what other people had done. I never read the Twilight books but I couldn’t avoid the films and I liked them but my characters and vampires were already established by then so I didn’t have to worry. So I waited until my series was written, before reading Vampire Diaries and Dracula, and I’m currently reading a vampire novel, but I don’t really think that my vampires and anyone else’s have anything in common, so I’m quite pleased.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?

That’s a good question. I’d have to say it’s probably Vairi, who is the main character in the third book of the series – Vairi’s Revenge. She’s emotionally damaged with a heartbreaking back story that I cried while writing, and yet she’s a kick-ass vampire who does the most amazing things. Her story is a tragic one but it also has a message.

 

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