Interview with Eileen Telford

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a very small town: Farmington, Utah. (It is now very large, but it wasn't when I grew up there.) I am one of ten children -- and I spent much of my time watching my younger siblings. I told them stories every night as they went to sleep. The town is nestled against the mountains. I love the mountains and pastoral scenes. My childhood was simple yet rich in experiences.. My mother told us stories as we rode in the car with her. My dad created great outdoor experiences for us -- ropes tied between trees, ropes for climbing, stilts to walk on, high jumps to keep us from jumping over low fences and into my mother's flower beds. I had a great childhood. My family owned a lot of books and we all learned to read well. We'd take trips to the library and a vacation every year to different parts of the West. Families were large in those days and we had a small tight-knit community. We all went to the same church together for years. Twelve girls and six boys my age all became very good friends. I became their entertainment at parties -- telling jokes and stories, often all night long. My community had a big influence on my writing. I write uplifting, wholesome stories that readers aren't embarrassed to read or share with their children. And I believe in happy endings. As I heard recently, "Everything turns out all right in the end. If things aren't all right, it's not the end."
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes. It was Cinderella -- and I hated the artwork. I was six years old, sitting on the library floor in Kaysville, Utah. I told myself, that when I grew up, I would write stories that children loved -- and with pictures they would love as well. I love the story of Cinderella, and that it teaches that good comes from being good. I like happy endings. I don't like the fact that she was so quiet and meek, but that's how women were portrayed in Perault's time. I make my heroes and heroines strong and equal to each other. (My upcoming works "Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy" and "The Stone Princess", along with my short stories "The Doll Princess" and "The Princess on the Glass Hill" are proof of this.) I like to draw and have some talent in it, but I have focused on my writing more than my art. My daughter, Jayleen, is my artist for all of my fairy tales. She does beautiful artwork. We're a great team.
When did you first start writing?
I loved writing as a child. It fascinated me that letters became words and words told stories. I loved writing papers for school and always put a bit of humor or creativity into my papers. I loved English and did well in it. Though I told a lot of stories to siblings, the kids I babysat and then my own kids, I didn't start to write per se until my early twenties.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, a short story called "Religion, Rebellion and Rebecca." I submitted it to the LDS magazine The New Era and they bought it for $25. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I've been writing stories, articles and some books ever since.
What is your writing process?
I get a nugget of an idea, a flash of inspiration, while doing mundane things -- folding laundry, doing dishes, cooking dinner, etc. I write the thought down on whatever is handy -- a sticky note, an index card or a piece of scrap paper. I continue to mull over the idea while I continue my tasks. I decide on the time period and location of the story. I write so many fairy tales that I need to know if it takes place in Germany, France, Ireland or another European location. (My roots grew in England, France, Sweden, Denmark and Scotland, and my husband's much the same, plus Ireland. Perhaps that's why I favor Europe as the background for my stories.) Once I decide on the location and have a basis of a story, I reach for my reference book, Gary Gygax's "Extraordinary Book of Names." For example, in my story "The Doll Princess," I set it in the time period of Medieval Germany. I named the girl who became the doll princess Kirstyn (with a Y), the boy, Gabriel, his friend, Peczold, the wizard, Heinczel, and other characters: Anna, Lucie, Volkmar, Caspar, Jurgen and the wicked king, Balthasar. Choosing names consistent with a country and time period is very important to me. It adds a touch of authenticity to the story, like I've done my homework, which I have. I also look up geography, people and climate. Once all of that is done, I figure out the ending so that all through the story, foreshadowing and characterization will be consistent. If I don't have a good ending in mind, I won't have a good story. Then, and only then, do I sit down and write. I write at my computer in my office. I cannot write freehand on a yellow notepad or on a laptop. I need to sit at my computer in my office looking out my window into my yard. I use the same process for Christmas stories (which I write every year), and other stories as well. Once my sister asked me to work on a story we'd come up with together. I was visiting her in her house a few states away. Surprisingly, once I sat in her office at her computer, I was able to complete the story in a very short period of time (one hour). I think best when my hands are on a keyboard.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Pure and unadulterated frustration. I have not been able to attract the attention of a publisher on my own -- nor have I been able to find a good agent to represent me. When my son started self-publishing e-books, I had my daughter, a computer-savvy girl, look into it for me. It's perfect for me. I have control over my stories -- and I know they won't get changed by a publisher who wants to change my books from G-rated to something sordid. I write for children. There's adventure, evil witches and trolls and fairies who trip up the protagonist, but good wins in the end. I love this mode of publishing.
How do you approach cover design?
I collaborate with my artist, my daughter, Jayleen. We choose a part of the book/story which portrays an action or emotion. For example, in my newest book (coming soon) "Gwendolyn the Emerald Fairy", the cover portrays Gwendolyn in the Forbidden Mountains as she finds the golden heart and the hidden stream. She holds the silver flask which contains the magical waters from the hidden stream.. It is a vital part of the story. Jayleen is a talented artist. We talk in detail as to which scene will make the best cover. I love working with her.
Describe your desk.
Ah. My desk. My office is small, flanked by two windows. I face the east lawn as I look out from my computer desk. I have two lamps on either side of it -- and my printer. I pile notes and information to the right of my computer desk on one of my lamp table. My fabulous laser printer is set on a table to my left, along with another lamp. I need a lot of light around me.)
I sit on a large office chair which swivels. This is important. I turn a complete 180 degrees, still sitting in my chair, and I face my roll-top desk. It is here that I do research for my stories (my "Names" book, dictionary for spelling, Encyclopedias for information and pictures of lands and people. I also pay bills and do real-world things from my roll-top desk. To the south of my office I gaze out at my front yard, large old shade trees and a horse pasture with horses and geese across the street. I also have a rocking chair in my office when I want to sit and rock and think or read. I love my office. I love my two desks.
What do you read for pleasure?
Christmas stories. Children's literature. Stories about people doing good things. I love the series "Chicken Soup for the Soul" because it tells of ordinary people living their lives and learning something from it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1- "Cinderella" by Charles Perrault -- I identified with her. I worked hard as a child, one of the oldest in a large family. I always hoped for Prince Charming to come on his white horse and take me away from it all. I learned that the best thing I could do was to work on me -- and let Prince Charming be who he was, but not rely on him rescuing me. I learned to be a strong character and figure things out. It has strongly influenced my writing.
2- "Don Quixote- Man of La Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes -- Now there's an optimist and a dreamer for you! He saw only good in Aldonza and made a lady out of her, Dulcinea. He battled evil as best he could, and he won. He changed Sancho Panza and Aldonza -- and he changed the world. He changed me. Good overcomes evil. Truth wins out. That book influences all of my writing.
3- "The Mansion" by Henry van Dyke -- It is an old story, written in 1910. It tells of a wealthy man who, though generous to many charities, always has his name attached to them. When he moves on to another existence - whether in death or in a dream - he learns that he was paid on earth for his good deeds. "Would you be paid twice?" his guide asks him. When John Weightman asks, "What is it that counts here?" the answer is given: "Only that which is truly given. Only that which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself." That book touched my heart and has influenced my actions. In my writing, I strive to reach the hearts of my readers and change the way they view life and others. Life is good. People are basically good. Good needs to be rewarded, not greed. In "The Mansion" John Weightman comes back and views his son in a whole different light. He is a changed man.
4- Dual books here: "the Color Code" by Taylor, Hartman Ph D. and "Fabulous You" by Tori Hartman. Both books teach about personality -- which we are born with. I learned a lot from both books and they both greatly influence my writing and the personalities and motives of my characters. For example, from "The Color Code" a Blue personality will care more about others than themselves. They will sacrifice greatly for what they believe in. A Red personality will care about gaining power and taking care of Number One (him/herself). Pitted against one another, the Red personality says, "I want this! I'm taking it!" The good guy, the Blue personality may be a reluctant hero, but he will not let those he loves get hurt by Mr. Red and he finds a way to beat him. From "Fabulous You" I learned that a Dramatic personality wants to be seen and praised and a Classic personality wants to further her career. Think of that in terms of "Cinderella". The Step-mother is a Classic and wants to further her career from a Baroness to that of the mother of the future queen and move into the castle. She pushes her Dramatic daughter to show as the best to the prince to make her his bride. The Prince is a Sporty-Natural and wants someone who loves life and the country as much as he does. Enter Cinderella. They're a great match from the start. Learning about personalities, and giving my characters consistent personalities that work well together or provide good conflict with each other, has helped my writing a lot.
5- "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery- I love this book because it speaks of a child, the Little Prince, and all of his wisdom. I write for children, and hope that their parents will remember that they were children once, and read my books to their children. From the book: "Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life itself. I love life! I never get bored. Stories live all around me -- I just need to pay attention and grab a hold of them. For example, my daughter, Jayleen, came home from work one miserable, cold day in December. As she walked through the door, my two granddaughters cried, "Jay-Jay, the cat is stuck out in the orchard! Come help us rescue her!" Jayleen pulled her red scarf around her neck and walked out to the snow-covered orchard, holding Tynan's and Skye's hands. I thought to myself, "Now, there is an angel in a red scarf!" That became the title of one of my favorite Christmas stories.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the creative process. I love to find a "nugget of gold", so to speak, and turn it into a wonderful story that will entertain, make people laugh or cry or help them have a better day. The entire process feeds my soul.
What are you working on next?
Volume 2 of The Princess Collection, and an original fairy tale called "Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy." Actually, I have several projects in the works, including a twist on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale called "The Stone Princess". Once that's done, I will work on another fairy tale in the fairy kingdom of "Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy." Her father, King Golden, has his own story to tell.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean the world to me. It's my biggest paycheck -- just knowing that people like what I write. It's validating.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work as nurse, at our local hospital to help pay the bills. I am the mother of nine and I have nine grandchildren. I am married to a wonderful man and try to make his life pleasant. I love Christmas and work on Christmas all year long, trying to make it a fabulous experience for all of us. I like to have a clean house, but I like writing and creating more. Thank goodness we're not messy people, so the house stays in good order for the most part.. I dust and vacuum once every six months whether it needs it or not. I do keep up on laundry and dishes, but not deep-cleaning. Writing is funner. :)
Published 2015-03-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,380. Language: English. Published: March 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables
“Oh, intruder. What’s your name?” the dragon asked. “I am known as Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy,” she replied. “Gwendolyn? That’s not a fairy name!” he cried. “Well, that’s my name,” she said. “She’s a most unusual fairy, isn’t she?” he remarked. - Gwendolyn, the Emerald Fairy, is on a quest to rescue the mortal prince Kelvin from the enchantments of the wicked fairy Black Opal. Will she succeed?
The Princess Collection Volume 1: The Princess on the Glass Hill and Other Fairy Tale Retellings
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 59,940. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy Tales & Folklore / Anthologies
New life is breathed into 3 classic fairy tales with fleshed-out characters and heightened suspense. Experience the quest to reach the Princess on the Glass Hill, witness the scheming of Rumpelstiltskin, and feel the dauntless spirit of Cinderella as you’ve never experienced them before. The first volume of The Princess Collection is a must-read for every fan of fairy tales.