August 18, 2013

Author Interview with Ellen Ekstrom

Hi Ellen, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I've been writing since I could hold a pencil and that's been a long time.  Presently, I work as a legal secretary to pay the bills and I'm also a clergywoman in the Episcopal Church for the Diocese of California - I serve as the parish deacon in my neighborhood church and undertake a lot of outreach to the community, which is middle-to-poor working class. I'm a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and live in Berkeley. I was influenced to write by an older sister who told me to put my imagination to work and to stop bothering her.  I started writing five-page novels complete with illustrations and sold them for a dime to our neighbors.  Once in a while, I sleep.  Early morning I wake and usually get an idea for a story.

What do you think makes your genre special? 
The genres I write within aren't unique, but what I do to a story might be considered special. I try to not sound like everyone else, but write as if I was watching the story on a movie theater screen, use dialogue that I would want to hear.

What do you think makes a great story? 
Characters that move, speak and act real. Are they people I would meet on a bus if it the setting is contemporary? Are the characters true to the period they are set in? Don't give me a medieval lady who speaks like she's in a board room in the San Francisco Financial District. Are the problems and situations real enough, but also suspend belief and feed the imagination?  

What is your latest book called and could you explain to us in 20 words what it is about?
"Scarborough" is a love story from the boy's point of view, with a fantasy twist - "It's a Wonderful Life" sort of angle.  This is a 'what if' story - what if we could heal old wounds brought by love?  Have a chance to go back and say "I'm sorry?"

Which kind of reader do you think will enjoy your book?
People who like character-driven, emotional stories, but not so saccharine that you want to gag.  Readers who use their minds when they read and not require being spoon fed with the plot and description.  I don't write 'fast-food.'

Is it a Standalone, or part of the series? If it the latter, how long do you think will it go on?
It's book 2 in a series called "Midwinter Sonata," which started with "Tallis' Third Tune."  After I wrote "Tallis" a reader said it would be interesting to hear the story from the boy's point of view and through his life, and I thought that was the best idea, since I didn't think the story was finished.  I wanted to know what happened to Quinn in his time away from Alice, and wanted to know about his relationship with his difficult, brilliant and damaged parents. Originally it was going to be a standalone volume but the publisher thought a series would be even better. 

What influenced or inspired you writing it? 
Sitting with my high school sweetheart at his parents' house after his mother's funeral, three years ago.  It was as if nothing had changed in 38 years - I started thinking, what if we were given the chance to correct the mistakes we make in love? Many of us when we reach a certain age, start thinking about what could have been. Life is never really happily ever after - there are so many roadblocks and cliffs.

Why did you choose especially this title? Was it your first choice? 
Most of the important activity in the story happens in the village of Scarborough in northern England.  In the first book of the series, "Tallis' Third Tune," it's where the protagonists, Alice and Quinn, have a weekend together and sort things out. It's also where Quinn, the protagonist in "Scarborough" sorts out his own life when push comes to shove.

What was the hardest part for you working on your book? 
Staying true to the original story in "Tallis' Third Tune," while using a fresh perspective, a different voice.  Not duplicating the dialogue or characters.  I've been told that this story is darker, more heart-breaking, and Quinn is damaged but intriguing.

Was there a scene that you didn’t want to add or remove in your finished work?
 I didn't want to write the Prologue but it was agreed that a prologue would help readers who didn't read "Tallis' Third Tune," or 'get' the fantasy nature of the story.  I did not want to remove the bathtub scene. Fortunately, no one objected to it.

Do you already know what to do next?
The next book in the Midwinter Sonata series is most definitely on my mind, but I would like to keep working on the prequel to "Armor of Light," my story of St. George & the Dragon. For Midwinter, it's between telling the story as it continues from "Scarborough" or a prequel dealing with Quinn and his fantastic grandmother in York.  The prequel to "Armor of Light," "Ascalon," has been tugging at me.

Where can we find more about you and your books? 
My books are available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Sony, and iTunes iBookstore. My blog page is, and the publisher's site is I'm at Facebook and Twitter, which is @reverendella.  

Any last words?
50 Shades of Whatever, Twilight, Harry Potter, have all been written.  Read or write something else.  Read something that will make you think, laugh, smile and be glad you picked up the book and want to share. Finally, my mother told me to thank peoples' kindnesses when they are given, so Patrick, thank you for this opportunity.

When Quinn Radcliffe shows up in a village somewhere in the Cotswolds or Dorset, he knows he's been there before. It's a place out of a Thomas Hardy novel - or the imagination. There's the Curiosity Shop with The Proprietress and her famous guests, the church at the end of the lane, and unbelievable but necessary journeys that test and affirm. Now the conductor of a world-renowned orchestra, Quinn isn't surprised by his surroundings - the love of his life, Alice Martin, told him all about the village but he has always and secretly thought it was the best part of a dream she shared after her life-threatening illness.
Until now.

There are two sides to every love story. This is the other side of the haunting and poignant romance that began with "Tallis' Third Tune."

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