Posted on 11/09/2018 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
A frequent recommendation for writers to hone their craft is to read as much as they can from other authors.
We might amend that, after learning about fantasy author Elise Kova’s journey, to suggest absorbing as much art, period, as possible.
Kova — the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens series, the Loom Saga, and the Wish Quartet — credits music and movies with helping reawaken the urge to write that had been buried years before.
She shared Air Awakens as she wrote it on FictionPress, and the warm response eventually set her to querying agents.
Like one of her literary idols, Kova received a slew of trad-pub rejections (over a hundred); like that writer, she didn’t give up. Instead, she put her business background to good use in the self-publishing world.
Here’s what she had to say about her successful journey.
SADYE: Can you tell us more about your return to writing in the first place?
ELISE: It was a combination of factors that all came together at the same time.
Foremost, I was living in Japan and had a two-hour commute every day with a wonderful woman who was an aspiring author herself.
The long talks with her about craft and the process of being an author had me itching to write again.
When I was younger, I read a lot of fan fiction (still do sometimes), so my first inclination was to write a fanfic — specifically, a Thor (the movie) fanfic. I confess I was a little obsessed with Tom Hiddleston's Loki!
But I also knew, again from my younger years, that I really did love writing and with this spark ignited in me, I'd write a novel-length fanfic and be angry I couldn't do anything with it.
The final factor in the mix was ZEDD's song "Clarity." It had recently dropped and was dominating both the airwaves and my brainwaves.
As I listened to it, I had this vision of a young woman in the center of a magical storm and a man struggling to get to her.
Song lyrics became questions, "Why was their love insanity? Clarity?" With all this, the original draft of Air Awakens was born.
I developed a writing habit by posting on FictionPress with a chapter each day, and in eight months the whole five-book series was drafted.
Needless to say, I haven't put down the pen since.
SADYE: How do you think your previous, more traditional jobs have influenced your writing?
ELISE: Travel in general has always been an important part of my life.
Seeing new places, experiencing new things, as much as I can, helps me build richer worlds of my own.
Other aspects of my past help a lot more on the business side of the relationship.
As an author who is hybrid — both independently and traditionally published — I am a small-business owner for all my independent books. My MBA has helped me navigate entrepreneurship.
My years working as a graphic designer give me insights on and the ability to create covers and promotional materials. My work managing social media at a large company helped me learn best practices in marketing.
I truly believe that life itself is what enriches fictional stories. Fact is often stranger than fiction, after all.
I try to draw from my background in as many ways as I can and continue to seek out new experiences whenever I'm able.
SADYE: What authors do you think have influenced you?
ELISE: I had the fortune of growing up in a home where books were prevalent and reading was encouraged.
C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia were the first chapter books I'd ever read. I was surrounded by Robin Hobb, Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan — I knew their names and their work from an early age.
As a product of the Harry Potter generation, I also have to say J.K. Rowling.
Additionally, I was exposed to the works of Dave Duncan in my high school years at a very formative time, and his A Man Of His Word series truly changed the way I viewed fantasy.
SADYE: What are the best and most challenging parts of writing fantasy?
ELISE: Everything comes down to the world building. It is the most exciting part, the most rewarding element, and one of the hardest to manage.
It's exciting because you get to craft a world from the ground up. Everything is possible if you can imagine it. ...
But it's also very challenging because once you make rules you must follow them, even if it would be easier for the plot to break them at times. Additionally, they must make sense within the world.
The final challenge is, after developing this rich world, scaling back to what the reader sees, because you can't put everything in the book without taking away from the pacing and characters.
It's one of the hardest parts, but it also is my favorite part.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
ELISE: This is a hard question because I do some horrible things to my characters!
That being said, I think I would like to be Raylynn from the Air Awakens series and Golden Guard Trilogy.
She's a wandering swordswoman who lives by her own rules and comes into service of the prince.
She's strong, but fair. Caring, but not coddling. Stern, but has a sense of humor to her.
Plus, she's really good with a sword. And that's always a plus.
SADYE: What prompted you to co-write a book, and what was the experience like?
ELISE: I think the first thing that made me think of co-writing was proximity.
I've known Lynn for nearly a decade now — we've been friends since college — so I knew that we could work together well and got along with each other.
I also knew that with such a solid foundation we could navigate any storms that appeared in the partnership.
Another reason was that I wanted to experiment with a new genre. The Wish Quartet, which is my co-authored series, is a new adult paranormal romance.
It still fits into my personal brand of writing books with magic and romance, but is very different from my more epic fantasies. It's a lot more urban fantasy.
So I thought Lynn would offer a fresh voice and perspective.
The final prompting was curiosity, if I'm being honest. I wanted to see what co-authoring was like.
And it was honestly a very rewarding process. I think I could do it again if it was the right project, with the right person, and we had the right contract between us.
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Categories: Author Interview