Interview with M. C. Elam

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh yes! I was probably six at the time. My mother was an excellent writer and the most intelligent woman I have ever known. Writing a story at six years of age meant filling up paper. I first attempted to print large letters, two spaces high. That just didn't work for mom. I told her writing hurt my hand. Being the Mom she was, she told me to tell her the story and she would write it down for me. That would let me use my "vast" vocabulary instead of being limited to the Dick, Jane and Sally mentality some of you may remember. I though this was a fine idea, and we were off and running.

Once upon a time, a girl took a walk. On her walk she came to a road. She walked down the road until she saw a tree at the top of a hill. She walked up the hill and stayed there for a while. Then she walked down the hill and went home. The End

My mother asked me what the girl did while she was by the tree at the top of the hill. My response was to tell her I didn't know because I wasn't there. Enough said. I have learned a lot since that day and now when a character approaches a tree in something I write, that character knows exactly what he's doing there.
What is your writing process?
My process begins with an idea. It might be something I have toyed with for quite a while, as in a short story I once wrote called Gramma's Box. On the other hand, it might be something that just jams into my brain and won't let me go until I put it on paper. Such is the way of The Brick Room, another short story. At any rate, once I have the idea, I begin thinking about where I'd like to take the characters who live in that misty mental world. I spend a while choosing names. For main characters, that takes some time. Setting as well, places and surroundings, I gather all of that about me. Still I haven't written a single word. Somewhere in all that thinking the beginning and ending take hold and I am ready to begin my walk down that road toward the hill with the tree. All of the events are not set in stone. Some will come as the characters travel along.

Of course you may have been asking about my writing day and not how stories form up. If I misconstrued the question, I'll clarify.
Up around 5:00
Shower while the coffee brews
Look outside at the day
Go to my little office
Warm up by reading what I wrote the day before.
Start pounding the keys about 6:30
Knock about noon.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Well let's see. would that be read to me? One specifically made me a life long animal lover. My mother read me Biography of a Grizzly by Ernest Thompson. After that I read so many on my own I could never pick one.
How do you approach cover design?
I recently learned to design eBook covers. I like to do things for myself. The cover for Ascalla's Daughter was done by a graphic designer. She was wonderful to work with and I love the cover, but as we worked back and forth I kept thinking, this is something I can do for myself. So the next one, I'll do on my own. Now, if I was rich and famous, I would hire a graphic artist so that every element was unique.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Jane Eyre - Wonderful love story.
2. The Shining - I like cringing in terror.
3. The Turn of the Screw - I like cringing in terror.
4. The Old Man and the Sea - Poor Santiago touched my heart with his struggle.
5. Anything by Kahlil Gibran - His poetic insight gives one pause to think
What do you read for pleasure?
Horror, Fantasy, Romance
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nook and a Kindle
Describe your desk
A mess at any given moment.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My folks traveled across country and back, eventually settling in Ohio. All the back and forth meant I didn't have many playmates. So I made up my own. Imagination is the gift all of that traveling gave me.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had another fantasy novel in mind when I finished Ascalla's Daughter. Not a sequel exactly, but using some of the same surroundings and struggles of good against evil. I'll write it one day and instead of the good against evil angle so evident in Ascalla's Daughter, this new one will be about prejudice.

I started work on it, the whole plot from beginning to end is in my head, characters, relationships, everything, but then I woke up one morning and Liam Quinn was trudging along behind a low bed wagon pulled by a mule named Persimmon, and lopping dead branches in his apple orchard. And so I am giving birth to a family saga.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's that feeling you get at the end of a session when the day went well, when you look at the pages completed and read through them knowing they say just what you meant to convey.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I want to write. I want to publish. I write what I like. I could submit, submit, submit and never manage to find my way through the right door to the right person. I am confident in my ability, and I like the idea of controlling my own author destiny. When I sit down to write, I am not thinking in terms of money. I am doing what I love to do.
Published 2016-05-05.
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