Thursday, March 13, 2014

Author Spotlight: Ellie Di Julio—Complete with Interview (A Bearded Scribe Blog Tour)

About the Author:
Ellie Di Julio is a nomadic writer currently living in Hamilton, Ontario with her Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike husband and their three cats. Between nerd activities like playing Dungeons & Dragons or watching Top Gear, she enthusiastically destroys the kitchen and tries to figure out what it's all about, when you really get down to it. She also writes urban fantasy novels riddled with pop culture references and sexy secret agents.

Her first novel, Inkchanger, could easily be considered Forgotten Relics #0, and as such, rewards readers of the rest of the series, sort of like watching Thor before The Avengers. Her second novel, Time & Again with Kyeli Smith, has nothing to do with super powers or secret agents but is very cool nonetheless.

Connect with Ellie Di Julio

The Interview:
Joshua Allen Mercier: Which book introduced you to speculative fiction?
Ellie Di Julio: I actually didn’t know what it was until I’d published one and drafted another. The definition seemed so vague, and everyone talking about it seemed to already know. I felt a little left out. Reaching back, though, knowing that it’s basically any fantastical fiction and includes SFF, I’d have to tap Goosebumps as my first spec-fic. RL Stine 4 lyfe.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
Ellie Di Julio: *groans* I’m so bad at this question! And once you start writing books, people ask it all the time. If I’m defining “favorite” as the book I’ve re-read the most often, then let’s go with Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. I cry every time, and Vimes is my spirit animal.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
Ellie Di Julio: Hard to pin down. I grew up with a librarian dad and English teacher mom, so literacy was always important in our house; I have a rare distinct memory from childhood of “writing” my own books in blank ones Mom would bring home from school. As an adult, though, I will always point to Francesca Lia Block (fairytale magical realism) and Terry Pratchett (humorous worldbuilding). They’re the two authors that consistently inspire me to keep writing, if only so I can meet them in person one day.

Joshua Allen Mercier: What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?
Ellie Di Julio: Get it out. You can edit a shitty page, but you can’t edit a blank one, you know? I get so many folks telling me they “want to write a book” and then follow it up with excuses. The best thing you can do for your writing—and your sanity—is to wordvomit it all out, then start cleaning it up. Butt in seat.

Joshua Allen Mercier: As an aspiring Fantasy author trying to shop his first manuscript, could you tell me what made you choose to self publish?
Ellie Di Julio: Impatience and control issues? Well, that’s certainly part of it, but I do legitimately believe in self-pub as the next expansion of the industry, and I want to be part of it. It’s not that I’m too proud/cowardly to shop a manuscript (though fear is in there somewhere); it’s much more that I love the idea that authors can put out the story they want to tell without a lot of gatekeepers and naysayers. The caveat, of course, is a lot of dreck is self-pubbed, but I’ve read some incredible work (like that of LeighAnn Kopans and Johnny B. Truant) from this new avenue, which bolsters my faith in the medium.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Of the entire publishing process, what would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
Ellie Di Julio: I’m getting better at taking critiques, which is almost always the top of any writer’s list. You should’ve seen me when I got the beta reads for Inkchanger, oh god. Now that I’ve built up a (somewhat) thicker skin, though, the number one most difficult thing I have to endure is cash shortage. There isn’t much money in self-pub at my stage of the game, and things like artwork, editing, and promotion have price tags. I’m much more likely to have a meltdown because I can’t afford pay someone to work their magic than I am to lose it about a bad review. Having to constantly make concessions and half-ass or forego aspects of professional publishing is heartbreaking.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Was there a specific place (or combination of places) that inspired the description of Cora's dream house?
Ellie Di Julio: It’s essentially an amalgamation of the houses I lived in during my college years, plus the little comforts I’d want in my own someday-house. Who doesn’t want a slick kitchen, a book-lined living room, and a dedicated art space?

Joshua Allen Mercier: Do you have a favorite character (to write) from your series? If so, what sets them apart the others?
Ellie Di Julio: While Cora is lots of fun and is drawn heavily from myself, Jack is my secret favorite child. He’s broken but trying to heal, which gives him a lot of depth. At the same time, he has a wild-child past and a white-knight complex. There’s a lot to dig into.

Joshua Allen Mercier: What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
Ellie Di Julio: I’m eyeball-deep in wrapping the first (incredibly awful) draft of Forgotten Relics #2, as well as working on the monthly flash fiction for the newsletter crew. I’ve had a few collaborations floated out to me, but I’d rather not speculate on that until there’s something to actually say. Also, I’m toying with writing a serial based on the adventures of my parents in high school. There’s wedding-dress-wearing teens in graveyards with skulls, y’all.

Joshua Allen Mercier: You've collaborated on another title with Kyeli Smith. How did the two of you meet, and what was the collaboration process like for you?
Ellie Di Julio: Oh, geez. So, Kyeli and I met when we were both still working as life coaches (I know, I know). I was stalking her all over the internet, and vice versa, and we got to be online friends, then I made the trip down to Austin to hang out in person in 2011. We instantly bonded. Calls every other week, SXSW visits, inside jokes – the lot. Then after I’d published Inkchanger in 2012, she came to me to ask if I’d help her finish a NaNoWriMo book from three years before. A car accident had ruined her shoulders, arms, and hands, so she couldn’t type; she had basically a 30 page outline, but she needed someone to collaborate with to get the book done. I love Kyeli, and the story was fascinating to me, so of course I said yes.

Collaboration isn’t something that comes naturally to me, especially in creative projects, because I have an overdeveloped sense of control. But because Kyeli and I have such good communication skills, it went much smoother than I anticipated. We had a few back and forth conversations to annotate the outline and discuss creative direction, then I wrote the entire draft myself. She got a pass at changes, I took another, she got the final, then viola! It took us about three months. The entire experience changed my perspective of collaborating with other authors, and Kyeli is over the moon to have Time & Again whole and out in the world.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I'm not sure of the topic or in what capacity, but would you consider writing a guest post on The Bearded Scribe at some point?
Ellie Di Julio: But of course!

Joshua Allen Mercier: How do you take your coffee?
Ellie Di Julio: Ice cold (but no ice), full of cream and sugar. I realize this is coffee blasphemy, and I care not.

Joshua Allen Mercier: As a coffee addict, the fact that you drink coffee—regardless of how bastardized—is a plus in my book. (Makes it seem as though I keep a book of coffee drinkers, no? Perhaps I do, perhaps I don't. Mwahahaha!) Anywho...What's your favorite color?
Ellie Di Julio: Blue. No, green! *is flung off the bridge*

Joshua Allen Mercier: Is there anything else that you would like to share with The Bearded Scribe's readers that I did not ask you (and you wished I had)?
Ellie Di Julio: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you—I’ve been flung off the bridge.

The Interviewer:
Joshua Allen Mercier is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Bearded Scribe, a blog dedicated to the broad genre of speculative fiction. He is a writer, a coffee addict, a self-confessed linguaphile and philologist, a proud bibliophile, and an unrepentant Grammar Nazi. He is also a professional mixologist (a darn good one, thank you very much!) with over twelve years of cocktail-slinging experience.

Joshua is currently working on two manuscripts simultaneously: half his time is spent doing the re-edits of his first manuscript, The Assassin of Aldarhaij (The Aesiranyn Saga), and the other half is spent dabbling with an untitled book of a new Urban Fantasy series.

When he is not working on the blog or writing, he enjoys singing, cooking, and spending time with his family. Joshua lives in the Atlanta area with his partner, Jeremiah, and their two chihuahuas, Bailey and Chanel.

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