Today’s author is a lovely lady who I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with at Musa Publishing. She’s also an awesome fantasy writer. I recently finished her first novel, The Exile of Elindel, and I’m eagerly waiting for the next one.
Of course, I think it’s best if you let the author–and the book–speak for themselves, so please give Carol Browne a warm welcome and enjoy her thoughts on the writing process.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, The Exile of Elindel?
The Exile of Elindel is Book I of my fantasy trilogy The Elwardain Chronicles. It was published by Musa Publishing on 18th April, 2014 and is available on Amazon Kindle or directly from the publisher:
Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?
2. When did you decide you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six or seven when I wrote my first poem. I was always scribbling something or other, starting with poetry and moving on to short stories. Then in 1977 I wrote the first draft of what went on to become The Exile of Elindel.
In 2009, I decided to take writing more seriously as a career and was lucky in getting proofreading clients and finding some of them needed web content and blogs. Even earning very modest amounts of money in this way, I began to get a different perspective on writing; it was no longer a hobby. This was a turning point for me because it gave me more confidence in myself as a writer and I decided to have another stab at getting a publisher for my novel
3. How much planning/research do you do before starting your first draft?
Not doing enough research is where I let myself down with my first book. I just started writing with only a vague idea of where I was going. I had studied the period of history the book is set in, but not thoroughly, and at each successive rewrite I needed to change a fair number of the details. The Anglo-Saxon period isn’t called the dark Ages for nothing. New facts about that era are still being unearthed, while what was once established fact is often disproved. The setting of the book isn’t massively important to the story, however. I hope readers care more about the characters and what happens to them then whether or not they are wearing the right clothing or using the correct tableware. The first draft of the book was completed in 1977 and I would find research so much easier now, thanks to the Internet. I now have no excuse for not doing it properly!
The next two books in the trilogy, written many years later, were planned and plotted chapter by chapter before I ever put pen to paper. They were much easier to write and this has been a major lesson for me as a writer.
4. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
I still keep all my notes, plans and the first draft in hard copy, all in longhand. Once the first draft is finished I read it through and do a first edit. Then I will type it into Word. This process will horrify some authors but it works for me. (I love it when I get to throw yet another empty Biro in the waste-paper bin. Very satisfying!).
5. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
Finding time to write is the hardest thing for me because I have to work as well. Fortunately, I’m very organised and disciplined. I’m not a time-waster and can sort my days into blocks of time to accommodate work, life and writing. I tend to be always busy.
I frequently get an idea for the beginning and end of a story but struggle to flesh it out and I find this exasperating. My current work in progress is an example, having been on the back burner since the 1970s! It’s only recently I had one of those light-bulb moments that has allowed me to finally get to grips with the thing. Often it is when I am doing menial tasks that my best ideas come to me. I wrote a great deal of Book 2 of my trilogy while doing a client’s ironing!
6. What was it like to work with an editor for the first time?
Working with an editor is very illuminating. It taught me a great deal about writing more concise text, text that is punchy and less wordy. The editing process is exhausting too; hours and hours of intensive work. I had no idea how hard it would be, yet it is also immensely enjoyable. It is playing around with words, something I love to do. My editor is so knowledgeable about the English language and the craft of writing and I’ve learnt so much working with her.
7. Have you ever considered self publishing? Why/why not?
I have a self-published anthology of poems and short stories on Kindle: An Elf’s Lament upon Leaving & Other Tales. It’s been up there a few years and I did it originally as an experiment to see if I could do it. I would probably not do it again because I’m not technically competent enough to do the formatting. I found the whole process difficult.
8. What modern author do you admire most and why?
I guess it would have to be J K Rowling, not just because Harry Potter is awesome or even because she made reading cool again, but also because I admire her as a person. She is an excellent role model for young people and an antidote to that celebrity culture of people being famous for being famous. She has real talent and achieved success through sheer hard work and perseverance. She also remains humble and unspoilt by fame and has made huge donations to a number of charities.
9. If you could give an aspiring writer only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get a box file – or better still a box! You’ll need it for all those rejection slips. File them away and don’t take them personally. Rejection is a necessary rite of passage for writers.
10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
Readers who have enjoyed The Exile of Elindel can look forward to Book II (Gateway to Elvendom), to be released in March, 2015, and Book III (Wyrd’s End), to be released in December, 2015. Meanwhile I’m writing something completely different from my usual genre. It’s a paranormal thriller set in the 1980s and is called The Curse of Cankerfret Castle.
Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.
You can purchase a copy of The Exile of Elindel here.