I recently interviewed Queensland author, Ellen Read about writing, self-publishing, and what it’s like to undertake research for historical fiction…
NLK: How did you first begin writing fiction?
ER: I began with reading books. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading and living in a story. As a child I made up fictional worlds that I inhabited. I wrote some stories down but a lot stayed in my head. It really was a smooth transition to writing. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen years old.
NLK: What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given? And conversely, what was the worst?
ER: I think the best advice was to look at every word you’ve written and ask yourself if you need it. Unnecessary words should be deleted or erased.
I can’t honestly think of the worst advice I’ve been given, as such. I’ve certainly been criticized and pulled apart, and been given all the wrong comments. I’ve discovered that if you know you’re right, don’t let someone else’s advice destroy your work or you.
NLK: What has been the biggest surprise with self-publishing?
ER: The biggest surprise with self-publishing has been the marketing side of it. How to get your book out there and achieve sales. You’re the writer, not the publisher or the marketing department. At least that’s what you think while you’re writing the book. It’s not easy but you learn on the way. I’ve found tremendous support from a wonderful community of writers on Instagram. Social media is a must to grow your supporters.
NLK: What advice would you give to a writer considering self-publishing?
ER: My advice would be to go ahead and do it. If you have a story to tell, tell it but do your research. Make certain you find a good editor. Have someone design your cover so that it looks professional.
NLK: You write historical fiction, how do you go about undertaking research for your books?
ER: I do use the Internet but I make certain it’s a reliable source. I buy research books and make copious notes. For my next book, for instance, which is the second book in The Thornton Mysteries, I visited the location in which I’m setting the story. I did as much research as I could before I went, so that I had a To Do List. I took hundreds of photos of the area, of the houses, the buildings, the trees and flowers. I think it’s important to know everything you can about your location, including smells and fragrances. I made contact with the local historical society and a friend who lives there escorted me around. I bought books there, because people write about the history of their home. Since I arrived back home, my desk has been cluttered with books and research notes. In The Dragon Sleeps, the Thornton mansion was the backdrop for the book, just as another house will be for the second book. I go as far as drawing floor plans and then the photos I’ve taken brings it all to life.
NLK: What’s on your night stand right now?
ER: I have two books on my nightstand at present. One is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, which I’ve only just started. I’m reading this with an online group. The second book is The Chocolate Tin by Australian author Fiona McIntosh. It’s set in and after WWI in York, England. The chocolate tin was a special King’s Tin that Rowntree Chocolates compiled and sent to the English troops in the trenches for Christmas 1915. I’m enjoying the contrast of style in the two books. Thank you so very much, Nadia, for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s been a pleasure.
An excerpt from The Dragon Sleeps:
Alexandra took a lamp and slowly traversed the room. With each step, a new discovery revealed itself under the soft warm light. Porcelain and bronze urns, marble statuary, plates and bowls, some obviously Ming with their blue and white designs, all resting on wooden shelving that had been built against the walls…vases and other pottery, all slumbering, perhaps waiting for this moment to be woken by the gentle touch of golden radiance. The unfathomable shadows that Alexandra had once so feared now seemed inviting seas of mystery, obscure and unknown, waiting for her to step closer and discover them.
About Ellen Read
Ellen Read is the author of The Dragon Sleeps – an historical murder mystery romance novel, and Love The Gift – an eBook Novella, a time slip romance, a story to heal grief.
Ellen was born in Queensland, Australia.
She loves to read, fiction, non-fiction, poetry. She particularly loves history and stories of ancient myths and legends. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Victoria Holt, the latter of whom wrote gothic mystery/romances, have influenced her own work.
Other interests include photography, music and musical theatre, and dance. Ellen was a ballroom dancing teacher for many years and has also worked in Performing Arts administration.
Connect with Ellen