E- Hi, Brenna – hello from Berkeley, California. Thank you for inviting me to your blog!
B- The pleasure is all mine! I'm so glad you could be with us today. Shall we get started?
When and why did you decide to be a writer?
I honestly don’t remember; I can honestly tell you that I’ve always written something. My late sister, Kathy, was my inspiration, though. She used to write stories and read them to me. I wanted to be like her, I guess, and writing has become a part of who Ellen is.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?Nit-picking over small details. I do as much research as I am able with subjects and try my best to be accurate in stories with historical settings, but there is always a reader that will catch something they will think is wrong and judge the story completely on a slip-up or artistic license I’ve taken because I don’t have all the details or facts, or they just don’t exist.
My use of imagery, style of dialogue, character development, and realism have all been praised. It’s taken years of honing the craft to get those love letters!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Enjoy what you write – challenge and excite your readers with something new and different, especially if you’re an independent author and going it alone. You have that freedom.
How many drafts did you have to write for ST. EDMUND WOOD ? Any scenes that were cut from the original that you want to share?Five. It started from a short story that grew. I cut/edited love scenes from the third draft. They were trashy, and just awful. The main characters were making love behind the altar of the church and that was something totally out of character for both; two of the secondary characters were going at it right before a pivotal moment in the story and it was almost rape. There was a lot of heaving, panting and touching, licking, and I realized writing scenes like that were out of character for me! I wanted to see if I could write like that. I can’t. Love scenes can make you swoon and be erotic without the blow-by-blow (sorry!) commentary.
What inspired the idea for ST. EDMUND WOOD ?
A period of loneliness in my own life, a train trip through Italy – I started think of the story years ago, in the Seventies. I was also listening to Vaughan-Williams’ The Lark Ascending. The imagery of the story just came to me and the actual story grew from that: a heartbroken, lonely woman returns home and is the subject of unkind gossip, conjecture, lies. Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native” and Anne Bronte’s “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” inspired me, as did the music. If you listen to that music, you can see a story unfold. I wanted to write a romance like those I’ve enjoyed. Vaughan-Williams' music and English folk songs play a large part in my work and the execution of it.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in ST. EDMUND WOOD and why?
The walk through the abbey ruins. This is a point in the story where Mary feels she can trust Nathaniel and sees him as a kindred spirit. I also enjoyed writing the earlier scene where they walk to the castle and Mary reveals her past connection to the castle, which is another reason why she is an outcast. It is also where they get to know one another better.
What is your favorite snack/treat or drink while writing?
Coffee. If I could eat chocolate or pecans and praline ice cream, I would.
What are you currently reading?
1066, by Mike Bryant – the latest in my stack of books about the fall of Anglo-Saxon England. Darn good reading for the subject matter! And, incidently, the subject matter of a book I’ve got on my list of books to write – that being, the calamitous year of 1066. I've been reading more non-fiction, extant documents, than fiction on the subject, so this is quite refreshing and interesting.
Who is your fictional character crush?
Hmmmm…it would be my own characters, because they are based on real men in my life, past and present: Francesco da Romena from “The Legacy,” George Ascalon from “Armor of Light,” and Quinn Radcliffe from the “Midwinter Sonata” series that started with “Tallis’ Third Tune.”
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Writing and reading is not a competitive sport – I hope you find lots to love in different stories and writers and that you share your discoveries with fellow readers. I will be reading and writing for some time to come!
Thank You so much for gracing us with your presence on our blog, Ellen. I LOVED every single answer and cant wait to see more books from you in the near future! To check out more about Ellen and her books please visit her main media sites listed below.
Book in Interview:
About The Author
Ellen L. Ekstrom writes within the genres of literary fiction, romance and historical fiction. Her ministry in the church and greater world concentrates on social justice issues and historical theology.