Friday, August 5, 2011

Author Interview: Elaine Dalton

Hello everyone! I'm sure you all remember Miss Elaine Dalton, keeper of E.J.'s Library blog and the girl whose beautiful story won the Thousand Words Story Contest here on this blog. :) There was rather a kerfuffle getting her prize to her, so in addition to that prize, and as a conciliatory prize it if never does get there, I am doing another author interview! :) I decided to use the same questions I used for Angela Bell's interview, and I intend to keep the same format for the other interviews I'm planning. :) So, dear fellow scribblers, meet Elaine Dalton, a self-published author, and enjoy the interview! :)

So, Miss Elaine Dalton, how do you find yourself on this hot summer day? I hope you haven't melted yet. :)

Haha, no I haven’t melted yet. It’s evening at the moment and the temps are cooling down so it’s comfortable outside. That is, if you can stand the pesky mosquitoes!

Tell us a little about your latest writing project!

I actually have a few on my plate right now since I’m between stories. I recently finished a rather random story on the background of a character I invented at the Fairy Tale Novel Forum and I’m gearing up to write the hilarious but chaotic sequel. I’m also mentally getting ready to typo-check my self-published novel The Cleveland Mysteries Vol.1: The Lost Rubies for re-self-publication {long story} as well as revising my book, Heart of Ice, in the epic six-book six-author series The Letters of Askpen {there is a blog for that series ;)}. I’m supposed to be getting my siblings’ school schedules together but that doesn’t count. ;)

What is your number one, brilliant piece of advice for other aspiring authors?

“Read the best and skip the rest.” Simple as that. Dig up all the classic authors, such as Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Rafael Sabatini, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Louis Joseph Vance, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie, etc. and pay attention to how they introduce their characters, how they personalize their characters, describe the scenes, even their grammar usage. Elizabeth Peters is also a good author to look into as far as description, characters and story flow are concerned. And then start writing; you’ll improve over time with practice. Get a circle of close friends and family members to read your stuff also; it’s good for the author to read their writings aloud, especially to younger siblings who will have fun guessing if they’re in a particular scene or not.

Are you seeking to become a published author yourself, or do you write for fun?

Every writer wants to be published someday and be the next Jane Austen or J.R.R. Tolkien. Basically a bestseller overnight. I myself want that too but that’s not the reason I write. I write because I love to write, I love the whole process. There’s something about putting your own thoughts, feelings, opinions and such onto paper and creating your own people and worlds that is so breathtaking, so indescribable. I also write because people, a lot of people, read books and many of those people who pick up, say fantasy, romance or science fiction, are not necessarily Christians. If I can merely point them to Christ through my writings then I’ve had a good day.

How do you get inspiration for your stories? My siblings are my main inspiration, along with my parents and close friends. {If any of my close friends are reading this I instruct them to remain calm and not panic! ;)} Sometimes I get inspiration from nature or watching movies. A lot of movies have such awful plot-holes in them and so many what-ifs that my brain fairly dances to fix them! Example: one of my lengthy soon-to-be-finished-hopefully epic novels was originally begun to calm my frustration with Eragon and provide a much better story for people to read; however it has blossomed into a much more complicated and wonderfully surprising story all its own and totally original, if I may say so myself.

Are your characters inspired by real-life people, your imagination, or a little of both?

A little of both. The children in The Cleveland Mysteries are inspired by my siblings but with their own little imaginary embellishments; for instance Nova who was based off my energetic Tomboy sister, reads a lot of books on various subjects {mostly mysteries ;)} while my sister doesn’t really read very many books.

Do you have a favorite spot to write? (If you have to sit at the computer desk you might just skip this question! :D)

Haha! Well, my laptop is usually set up on the dining room table where I generally sit so I do a lot of writing there but I also write {via notebook and ink pen} stretched out on my bed, curled up by the woodstove in the wintertime, at our lovely garden in the summertime or in the greenhouse which is usually fairly warm in the winter months. I wish I had an attic like Jo March though since all my various print-outs are scattered everywhere.

Do you work best in peace and quiet or with background noise and action?

If I’m writing poetry I work best in quiet surroundings but if I’m writing something else then I can usually put up with my rambunctious younger siblings. When they get too loud or I need a “theme song” to get the tempo of the story moving along, I plug my headphones in and listen to music. Various soundtracks are my best friends, especially during fight scenes. ;)

Which area would you say you're strongest in as a writer? Plot, dialog, characterization, action, showing vs. telling, description, etc?

Plot, dialog, characterization, and action {especially fight scenes} I’ve got down. I’ve been repeatedly told I’m really good at all those though I think I can do better oftentimes. Showing vs. telling I’ve never really understand; like, I know what the term means but the way I write it’s never been an issue. *shrugs*

Which area is hardest for you? Description and grammar I guess. With the former I have the tendency to describe everything. Sometimes this is all right but sometimes long blocks of description are tedious, especially if I’m describing a room or place {no matter how important it may or may not be} and I tend to describe my characters over more than once at close intervals. *shrugs* Writing just comes naturally to me so I don’t exactly find too much of it hard to write. Now essays, reports and poems are a different story! ;)

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Jane Austen first and foremost since she is my hero and role model, then G.A. Henty, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, John Flanagan, Elizabeth Peters and a few others whose names have escaped my mind at the moment. Basically authors who capture me with their stories and hold my attention till the end are my favorites.

Do you agree with the old adage, "Write what you know"?

Sometimes. Sometimes I don’t. The Cleveland Mysteries is a good example of “write what you know” because it’s all about energetic happy homeschoolers, which is how my siblings and I have been raised. An Absurd Jigsaw, my recently finished Forum story, is a good example of writing what I don’t know since my heroine, Devon, bounces around to all kinds of places like Moscow and Morocco and these parts are necessarily vague since I have neither been to these places nor have I thoroughly researched them yet. At least, not post WW1. ;)

Any tried and true tips as far as technique goes?

Write what comes easy to you, what you’re comfortable with. I like to scribble down a rough general outline of a story and characters, basically whatever thoughts I happen to have on the idea. And then later I go back over those notes and start writing the story, inventing characters and making it up as I go along with a more or less comprehensive conclusion in sight. At some point it becomes necessary to write up character lists and maps just so you, as the author, can keep track of everyone, what they look like, what they’re into, what they’re supposed to be doing and where everything is located. Some people like to do all this list stuff before they start writing the story; I have never been able to do this successfully. ;)

What is your remedy for Writer's Block? :)

Watering the garden. Unless it’s wintertime of course and then I’d suggest some other task that keeps your hands busy and your mind free to wander. Doing sometime else instead of continuing to poke at the story and possibly ruin it while trying to get out of writer’s block is always a good idea. Talking with your critique circle of friends and family {especially if they’re into writing also} about the part of your story in which you’re stuck is always a good move.

And now for your last, and most challenging question: Why is a raven like a writing-desk? :) Haha! Because they’re both black maybe? Inspiring, natural, something you love and hate? I really don’t know. Why is a raven like a writing-desk? Do tell! :D

Thank you Miss Dalton for the privilege of spending a few moments interviewing you! And everyone else, aren't these interviews fun? I'd encourage you to host your own interviews on your blogs. Everyone can stand to learn something from other writers. :) ~Rachel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Good job, Elaine and Rachel!!! :-)