Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Kate Avery Ellison: Author of The Curse Girl

Starting my own Twitter account was not high on my things-to-do list. With a book in revision, a SCBWI conference to help run, and agents to query, time is my most valued commodity. But I'm glad I did. I've met some wonderful and interesting new friends there, including Kate Ellison, author of The Curse Girl

I put a call out for interviews and she was the first to respond. I am so delighted she did. Right from the start her main character, Bee, draws you in. You want to know, you demand to know more! The writing is crisp, to the point, yet Kate weaves deep description all around you. 

I am only a few chapters in, but I can't stop reading and I love that about a book!!! Thank you Kate. You are the reason I read. You are the reason I write. 

Summary of The Curse Girl:
When Bee is imprisoned in a magical, cursed house because of her father's selfish choices, she has just one plan... escape! But in order to leave, she must solve a riddle and help her fellow prisoners break the curse that binds them all. And thanks to Will, the bitter young master of the house, the whole curse-breaking thing is proving difficult.

Will wants nothing to do with Bee or her help, and he certainly isn't planning on falling in love with her. But he might have underestimated just how determined, clever, and irresistible this Curse Girl can be.

Below are the questions I asked this talented young writer:

1.    We met through Twitter. How have you used it to promote your work?

I mostly use Twitter to interact with friends/writers/readers, although I do occasionally tweet about my books. I've definitely found some great promotional opportunities (like book bloggers) through it, and I always tweet about new releases, sales, and other news. It's a great tool for any author and a great way to spread information quickly.

2.    The Curse Girl is dedicated to Nikki. Who is she? 

Nikki is one of my best friends, and she is my "ideal reader." Essentially, I write my books with her in mind. If she likes the book, I know I've succeeded.

3.    The line, "I sat silent and immobile, a statue, a paper doll, a frozen thing of stone" is very powerful. What made you write it? 

I really wanted to convey the idea of numbness as that place beyond fear--she's on this horrible drive to the house of the beast, and there's no turning back, and she's being pushed to the very edge of her emotional limits.

4.    What made you write about this daughter and father?

Parent-child relationships fascinate me. They are so rich with nuances of both love and hurt. I'm especially interested in betrayal, and exploring that.

I do feel like I should add that I have an incredibly good relationship with my own father (who likes to joke that I was expressing some deep-seated rage at him for casting the father in such a terrible light!)

5.    The imagery you create in the first paragraphs really grips the reader. How did you write those scenes? Did you walk on gravel? Stand in front of a ghastly house? 

Sometimes I find a bunch of pictures to help my imagination while I'm writing, and sometimes I make an effort to experience a setting firsthand, but with this story it was just all in my head.

6.    Describe your book in 5 words.

If I can use five unconnected words, then "intrigue, magic, romance, enchantment, and forgiveness." If they have to be a sentence, then "Can Bee break the curse?" :)

7. How are you choosing to promote sales? Internet? Facebook? Book signings? And which one is working the best?

I mainly use the Internet, and I've seen the most success there. I don't use Facebook much personally, although I have had my book featured by a few Kindle-related Facebook accounts, like Kindle Lovers and Kindle on the Cheap, and I've seen some fantastic results with those promotional opportunities.

I participate on KindleBoards, in internet blogfests, giveaways on LibraryThing, and I've sent review copies to book blogs and written guest posts. I probably see the best results from being featured on websites, whether it's a popular book blogger or a book recommendation site like the Frugal E-Reader. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get the word out, too.

8. What made you believe in yourself as a writer?

The first time I wrote something that made someone cry.

9. How many revisions did this novel go through? 

Only two (which is a very low number for me). Usually I do between 3-4 revisions.

10. Did you ever want to give up?

Many times, and some days I still want to give up. Writing can be lonely, and I think everyone has those days where they feel like a hack. I keep a file of writer quotes by the greats, from Hemingway to Mark Twain to Anne Lamott--quotes where they're talking about how terrible their first drafts are or how many times they had to rewrite something. Stuff like that really encourages me, because it shows me I'm not alone.

11. Do you have a preferred place to write? Coffee shop? Office? Car?

I have a hard time writing in public places like coffee shops because I tend to pay attention to the people around me instead of the page in front of me, so I usually write at home. My favorite writing place at home is on the couch in my living room. It's beautiful in there. I have a ceiling-to-floor bookcase and big windows that let in tons of light.

12. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

If they read my book and like it, add it to your Goodreads page or recommend it to friends! Word-of-mouth is the best way for a book to catch fire.

13. If someone said, "Your book changed my life." What would they be referring to?

Maybe the central theme, which is about love, hate, and forgiveness. I tried to convey the idea of how hatred can fester inside like a wound and cause more pain for both the hater and the person they hate. Love is a difficult choice, but it brings healing.

14. What author would you most recommend to your audience?

Two, actually. Robin McKinley is a huge influence on me personally, and she's one of my favorite fantasy writers. I'm also a huge fan of Maureen Johnson. She always has the perfect blend of humor and intensity.

15. What word best describes you?

Quirky . . . but that's mostly just a euphemism for "weird."

16. If your book became a movie, what actors would play the main roles?

I love casting my books! For The Curse Girl, I always pictured Caterina Scorscene (SyFy's Alice) as Bee... she has a strong, understated beauty to her. Will would be played by Blake Lee (Parks and Rec), and Rose would be played by Molly Quinn (Castle). They're all kind of lesser-known actors, and I like that.

17. Who is the most proud of you?

My husband, parents and siblings! They are always bragging about me in ways I don't deserve.

18. Where do your cats hang out when you are writing?

My silly kitties hang out wherever I do, because they are both little furballs of clingy neediness. If I'm in the living room, they sit on the couch with me or on the chairs beside it. If I'm in my office, they sit in the other office chairs or climb in my lap. They are very concerned about being left out of the action.

19. What are your next projects? Current release dates? Titles?

Right now I'm working on several things. I am writing a companion novel to The Curse Girl that's set in the same modern alternate universe/fairy tale world, starring different characters. It's kind of a loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but I really go off-script with it. It's more the story about Sleeping Beauty's sister and her attempts to break the sleeping curse. 

I'm in the process of revising a paranormal/mystery story (titled Nocturne) as well, and I'm working on a zombie novel. Hopefully both the companion novel (no title yet) and Nocturne will be available early next year.

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