Interview with Ellisa Barr

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Idaho where potato farming was pretty much the biggest deal ever. My high school mascot was a Russet potato. I placed in a beauty pageant called The Miss Russet Pageant, and got to ride on a float in the Spud Day parade. In the fall, schools closed for two weeks so everyone could participate in "spud harvest."
Who are your favorite authors?
Some of my favorite authors are Guy Gavriel Kay, Robin McKinley, Maggie Stiefvater, Tamora Pierce and Shannon Hale. And when I say "favorite author" what I actually mean is I've read every book they've published.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My 6-year-old, asking me to make him a bowl of cereal. Every morning, like clockwork.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think there are a lot of readers out there who are like me - they love the end-of-the-world genre so much that they're willing to read whatever they can get their hands on. I want to add a quality story to the genre, but I don't think there are many publishers out there willing to take a chance on a book like Powerless. So I'm putting it out there myself.
What is your writing process?
So far what works for me is to write an outline and then completely ignore it. Don't get me wrong, I want to follow it, but my characters have their own ideas. I actually do really like the principle of 3 act storytelling, so I've got a spreadsheet that helps me figure out how to divide everything up and I stuck to that quite closely in Powerless. This is probably a good topic for a blog post at some point.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Right now mornings are dedicated to homeschooling my two kids. In the afternoons the kids play and procrastinate doing their chores. That's what I do too. Once chores are finished we all get some screen-time and that's when I like to check email and Facebook, and work on edits. Maybe play a little Candy Crush, shhh. Night-time is usually when I write. It seems like I do a lot more than that, but the truth is most of my time is spent running kids around, grocery shopping, trying to figure out what to make for dinner, putting the same things away over and over... nothing you really want to hear about. I do like watercolor painting and road trips, but I don't get to spend much time on those. :)
What are you working on next?
When I wrote Powerless I didn't know if I wanted to commit to a multiple book project. That's one reason you'll find Powerless doesn't end with a cliff-hanger. Right up to the end I thought it might just be a stand-alone book. As I was nearing the end though, I realized I wanted to know what would happen next to the characters. The only way I'll find out is if I keep writing about them, so my next project is a sequel to Powerless.
Are you a prepper?
Not really. In fact, I got part-way through writing Powerless and had a mini-freak out about how unprepared we were for a major disaster. I always imagined we'd hop in the car and drive up to Idaho, but when I looked at a map and did the gas mileage map I realized we'd probably end up stranded in the middle of the Nevada desert. Thanks to my brother and his wife we have a super compact 72-hour supply of food. We've got water and a way to boil it - I bought a solar oven a few months ago. I'll be trying it out this summer and blogging about it.
Do you think an EMP could really happen?
I do. It's the EOTWAWKI (translation: end of the world as we know it) scenario that I think is the most likely. That's why I wrote about it. It's a credible threat and most people don't know about it. In fact, until they read my book, even my mom and sister hadn't heard of an EMP. Understand - I think it's more likely I'll experience an earthquake here in southern California. Or my mother-in-law in Pennsylvania will lose power next winter because of ice storms. We need to get prepared for these kind of things, and then if TSHTF (translation: if things get really bad) we will have a better chance of surviving.
What do you listen to while you're writing?
I actually can't listen to anything - it's too distracting. But while I'm brainstorming and editing I like Collective Soul, Vertical Horizon, Imagine Dragons, Live, Ben Folds Five and a little Foo Fighters and Safety Suit. A few songs from a couple of these artists even inspired scenes in Powerless. I love music!
Published 2014-04-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.