Posted on May 9, 2017 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
You could call author Elliott Baker’s résumé his first novel, and you wouldn’t be exaggerating much.
He followed his history degree by working as a swimming instructor in the Catskills, with an import business, on a kibbutz in the Golan Heights during the 1973 war, as an EKG technician, as a retail district manager, as a sandwich shop owner, and as a hypnotherapist, before he started and ran a five-store costume jewelry chain.
So where does noveling come in? After a fateful trip ... to the theater.
“I went to see Gershwin’s ‘Crazy For You’ and, as a last-minute single, got a seat in the first row. As the orchestra began the overture, I realized that the goose bumps on my arms were a signal of excitement. That I was never more excited than when I was seated in a venue waiting for a show to start, and that it didn’t matter if it was the third-grade orchestra or a Broadway show.
“It was like a light going on. I didn’t want to get to the end without doing something I was sure I could do.”
That still begs the question of how Baker wound up in the middle of a historical-fantasy-adventure book series ... which the author answers as follows.
SADYE: What prompted you to move from composing musicals to writing books instead?
ELLIOTT: I drove to NYC from New Hampshire every Monday for four years (except summers) to participate in the BMI musical theater workshop.
Most in the workshop were composer/lyricist teams. But being one of the few out-of-towners, it was hard for me to meet regularly with a lyricist so I began writing my own.
Same with the book writer. Finally, being work averse, I found that I enjoyed writing the story the most.
Next logical step, NaNoWriMo and The Sun God’s Heir Trilogy. Which, by the way, ended up being as much if not more work than the musicals. Who knew.
SADYE: Did you set out to have as varied a career as possible, or is there some urge that you’ve learned to listen to when it strikes?
ELLIOTT: In the artist arena, for me, the joy is in making patterns, taking what exists and recombining it into pleasing forms. We take in energy by way of our senses. What gets in the way of an artist is the belief that form is important. ...
The closer you can keep your activity to play, the greater chance you have for that gratuitous ray of creativity. Then the artist smiles and says, “Yeah, I did that,” knowing all the while that it came through rather than from.
So since I like color as well as sound as well as stories, until someone convinces me that what I’m doing is important, I’ll keep messing with patterns in each.
SADYE: How have your pre-noveling jobs benefited you as a writer?
ELLIOTT: Whether we can recall it or not, I believe we have a recording of every moment, every sound, every angle of light, and every interaction with others. I suppose my varied work background (jobs as well as art) has given me a palette to work from.
I know that writing plays has informed my novels. When you focus on the words other will say out loud, you begin to hear what’s usual and customary. It is my hope that my dialogue feels that way.
SADYE: What is your proudest moment from your creative career?
ELLIOTT: My musicals were written for young people and the moms that bring them to the theater.
The wonderful thing about writing for the young is that they are so honest. They haven’t learned otherwise.
If something is funny, they laugh. If it’s boring, they begin poking their neighbor. And if you should happen to catch them, they're quiet and focused.
For me, the objective in this art thing is to provide a few moments’ transport for anyone. Life is a tough haul, and sometimes a few moments somewhere else is all that’s needed.
Sitting in the audience of my first show and watching the kids lit me up like nothing else.
SADYE: On Facebook, you describe yourself as a “consulting hypnotist” as well as writer/playwright — how did that job come about?
ELLIOTT: Actually, for a space (seven years) I needed an additional revenue stream, and I chose something that had fascinated me forever.
Our consciousness is only the tip of the iceberg. Consciousness appears to be so powerful. What else could possibly be down there?
There’s not enough space here to recount those years and experiences. Some of what I learned and experienced can be found between the pages of my novels.
The Sun God’s Heir: Trilogy is historical fiction that takes place in the seventeenth century, but with a leavening of ancient Egyptian mythology and quantum physics, which I hope makes the story interesting.
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Categories: Author Interview