Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am so pleased to introduce to you Elysa Hendricks, author of futuristic science fiction romances. Elysa helped found the Windy City Chapter and the Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapters of Romance Writers of America and taught workshops on writing at writer’s conferences and at local community colleges. She writes exciting, action-packed stories, and her latest release, Star Raiders, sounds like so much fun! Please enjoy Elysa’s interview as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
There’s not much to tell about me. I’m 5’6″ tall. I have curly hair and brown eyes. I’m an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. Basically my “real” life is beige, bland, and boring, just the way I like it. Though I love writing exciting adventures for my characters, my motto in “real” life is: Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated.
Tell us about your current release.
My latest release is STAR RAIDERS, the second in The Star Chronicles my futuristic sci-fi romance series. STAR RAIDERS is what happens when Star Wars meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
A FIERY ENCOUNTER
Like two ill-aligned stars, Shyanne Kedar and Greyson Dane were destined to collide. She was a smuggler’s daughter, and he, an interstellar lawman. Their affair was scorching, dazzling…and ended like a supernova, in a blaze of betrayal.
A LOVE REKINDLED
Ten years later, the flames haven’t cooled. Shyanne’s lush body, the twist of her lips and the fire in her eyes—all radiate the same magnetism that ensnared Greyson before, and now he’s truly her prisoner. But as much as things have changed, they remain exactly the same. Danger threatens. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance. And though his tempting captor doesn’t know it, if Greyson’s plan succeeds, it will save mankind…and lose him the only woman he ever loved. This time, forever.
STAR RAIDERS was a load of fun to write. When the fate of the universe hangs in the hands of a kick butt, smuggler heroine, and a sexy, intergalactic lawman, what could go wrong?
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
When I started writing over 20 years ago, self-publishing (back in the Dark Ages) wasn’t an option I considered. Back then everybody knew that only “bad or poorly written” books, those books no respectable publisher would consider, were ever self-published. On top of that self-publishing was expensive, so I went the traditional route. I submitted paper copies (that was expensive, too) of my manuscripts to publishers and agents. Then I waited and waited and waited, usually getting a form rejection after months if not years or never hearing at all.
Then in the mid-90’s something new popped up – small press publishing houses and even smaller electronic publishers. In 1999 I submitted via email a western historical romance to a newer electronic publisher – Hard Shell Word Factory – and I made my first sale.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it?
Fast forward a little over ten years, during which I wrote and sold four more books to a small press print publisher and three books to a New York publishing house. At that point I was published with three different traditional publishers, but I wasn’t making any money. Two of my publishers never provided me with royalty statements. One of the publishing houses was sold to a larger house and the other simply ceased to exist in any meaningful way. So I requested my rights back and with some misgivings, I’m basically a techno-idiot, jumped into the self-publishing pond (ocean.) So far I don’t regret the choice. I’ve managed to stay afloat and I’m learning to swim.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?
Plot? What’s that? Just kidding. I know a book needs a strong plot to keep the reader engaged, but I’m basically a pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. If I plot the whole story out ahead of time I either get bored with the story or it turns out so differently when I write it, I wonder why I spent all that time coming up with the original plot in the first place.
Most of my stories start with an idea, a brief vision of something happening or an interesting character in an even more intriguing situation. Then it’s my job as the author/creator to figure out the who, what, why, when, where and how of the story and add my special ingredient the “what if.” My stories seem to grow organically as I write. It may be chapter six or even twenty before I really understand my characters or what it is they’re striving for. That’s what revisions, rewrites and edits are for. To go back and make sure everything in the book hangs together.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book?
No, but I usually know which books will be long (over 75,000 words) and which will be shorter. I tend to write my first drafts short and spare, the bare skeleton of the story, then I go back and flesh them out, adding the meat for the reader to sink their teeth into.
Who do you envision your typical reader to be?
I doubt there’s any such person as a “typical” reader. Each reader is unique. And every book they read changes them yet again. Readers are people who are open and eager for new ideas, new experiences. People who embrace change and grow with every book. I like to think the reader who enjoys my books is someone who isn’t afraid to try something a bit different.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper?
I think I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller. As a child I had an over active imagination. I was the one who came up with the ideas for any role playing games. But it wasn’t until high school that I even thought about being a writer. Sadly, the only courses open that dealt with writing were literature or journalism courses. Neither of these encouraged me. I hated reading the “classics,” and journalism and I just didn’t get along. Writing the “facts” was boring. I wanted to create whole new worlds and realities. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized that real people, not mythical creatures from other worlds, actually wrote books and so could I.
Suddenly the stories and characters that had been growing and living in my mind found an outlet. I sat down and started writing and haven’t stopped since.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read?
I write first and foremost for myself. I figure if I don’t enjoy what I’m writing, how can I expect anyone else to enjoy it. Besides, I don’t need to dislike what I’m writing. I can come up with enough reasons to procrastinate. I write the kind of stories I want to read and hope there are enough readers out there with similar taste.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality?
Each and every character I write, heroes, heroines, and villains all reflect a small part of me, the things I like and admire about myself, as well as those I’m not so proud of, and the bits I wish I had. But if I had to pick a character who most reflects my personality, I’d say Brandon Alexander Davis, the slightly neurotic writer/hero in my contemporary fantasy THE SWORD AND THE PEN. I do wish I was a bit more like Shyanne Kedar in STAR RAIDERS. That woman can kick butt with the best of them.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write?
I rarely have NO idea what to write. My problem usually revolves around how to write it. I have a huge file filled with story ideas, characters, and even titles just waiting for me to figure out how to get them written.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story?
Since my memory is a total sieve I can’t recall the details of the origin of STAR RAIDERS. I do know that the oldest file in my computer for this title is dated 2/11/2007. It’s a character worksheet for Stewart Kedar, a space pirate/smuggler and the heroine’s father. I do think I must have had the idea for and begun this book prior to that date, but I simply don’t remember what sparked it. I guess I really need to start keeping better records. I think I’ll go in and date the ideas in my story file, so the next time I’m asked this question I can go look it up.
Find Elysa online:
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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Good interview, ladies. Elysa, had to laugh at your brain being a sieve. I say that about myself all the time. Much success for Star Raiders. Sci-fi rom–my kind of story.
Thanks Diane. And thanks to Hallee for having me here.
Heads up readers – STAR CRASH is available for FREE from Amazon today 11/2/12!
Oops! Here’s the direct link.