Author Ellie Ann On Fighting Feelings Of Inferiority + Writing Strong Female Characters

Ellie AnnName: Ellie Ann
Author’s Website
Hometown: Grinnell, IA
Currently Based In: Joplin, MO
Education: I was homeschooled, which gives me major nerd points. I’m a licensed nurse practitioner, and I attended a couple semesters of Bible college. That’s right, I can totally name all the Judges in the Old Testament.
Briefly: I’ve published three books, with three more coming out this year. I write comics for Motionworks Entertainment—the first series I worked on, Tale of Frida, is coming out late this year. I’m the Director of Publishing for Noble Beast, an interactive book publisher, because I’m totally crazy about this new storytelling format.
Favorite Read: The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle
Pet Peeves: Lame excuses. Just…don’t say anything at all if you don’t have an excellent excuse. Suggestions for excellent excuses: getting attacked by jaguars, a rock slide blocking the road, it’s your Grandma’s 120th birthday, you got lost in a cave, you just had a baby yesterday, or you have to finish defeating a Temple in Legend of Zelda.
If You Weren’t In the Book Industry, You’d Be…I’d probably be a cowgirl.
What You Have Lined Up Next: Editing my next book, Girls and Boys: A Post Apocalyptic Fairy Tale. Finishing the comic series, Tale of Frida.

Were you a huge fan of urban fantasy when you were little?

Yes! Any fantasy, really. I adore Tamora Pierce, CS Lewis, Francis Hodgsen Burnett…I lived for those books.

Did the inspiration for The Silver Sickle come easily?

Nope, not at all. I went through several drafts of every character and plot outline. My first ideas are always uncreative and crappy…it’s only when I start to reject idea after idea and really dig deep that I get to the raw, creative material.

Born in Thailand, raised in Iowa…do you feel that this unique background has lent itself to your writing somehow?

Of course. Having being raised as a minority really sinks into the psyche. It changed me. Now I’m both not afraid of being different, and very aware of it at the same time.

ellie  ann -silver sickle

Aaron Patterson has been your writing partner for two books. When you team up with another author to write a book, how does it work? Like, for instance, if you want the story to go one way…

It didn’t start out this way, but we’ve figure out a pretty nifty, organized way to streamline the writing process. I write a detailed outline and character profiles, he writes the first draft, and I write the second draft, and he writes the third one, and so on until we’re happy with the product.

As with any collaborations, you really have to leave your ego at the door. When Aaron and I don’t agree, we’ll either reach a compromise, or we’ll fall back on the original idea—since it fits in the outline. But I’d never argue about anything—it’s not worth it. We’re both doing our best, and of course everything is not going to be the way I would write it—that’s what having a partner means!

You worked as an editor for the Naturals series.

Ah, that’s a fun project. The writers really hit it out of the park. I love the intensity of each chapter—because they only had a few thousands words to say so much they really crammed a lot of character/plot/tension into each chapter.

It was very challenging, though, keeping all the facts straight. Making sure the best friend’s hair stayed the same color in all their versions, and that the character’s cars weren’t switched. That’s also hard for me because I’m not detailed oriented—it took me lots of concentration.

Do you think it’s important for an author to be active in the digital space?

Nope. I’ll definitely say that an author could miss out on a lot of great opportunities, and sales, and chances to interact with readers…but it’s not as important as writing. For me, I really enjoy social media and blogging and marketing, so I want to be in the digital space. But for a writer who doesn’t enjoy that, and just enjoys writing…I’d say just write. Your work will stand on its own two feet.

Have you ever had to fight feelings of inferiority as a writer?

When I write my first draft, and the creative juices are flying everywhere and I’ve bound and gagged my internal editor, then I think that I’m the most brilliant writer on the planet and I’ll get all the awards. Then when I’m editing that first draft and my internal editor is free to use her hacksaw, reality starts to sink in and I realize that half of what I’ve written is crap and must be re-written and that I don’t even know how to describe a sunset very well.

Both of these feelings are harmful. When I’m thinking healthy thoughts, I don’t think I’m the best or worst—I just do my best and stay true to the spirit of it.

Do you feel a certain responsibility to write strong female characters?

I like to write real characters—some women are strong, some women are weak. I want to write about both. The thing that I think is most important is that they are truly rounded, real characters—that they just aren’t cut out characters or a pawn for men to save, or use.

What do you wish you had known before you became a published author?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was that success is so subjective. I urge every new writer to strictly define what they consider success—or else they may get lost.

Say my definition of success is to become a NY Times bestselling author, and I pursue that…but it comes at the cost of my relationship with my husband and kids. To me, that success cost too much. So then, I redefine my definition of success.

Currently, my definition of success is this: I want each one of my books to be better than the last. And, I want to make people laugh. If I accomplish those things, then my career is a success!

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