Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Hunter

What do you get when you cross old books, sexy vampires and a mystery that takes you around the world?

The Elemental Mysteries written by Elizabeth Hunter.  A great new addition the the paranormal romance genre.  Read below for my insightful interview with Elizabeth Hunter.

I'd like to thank you for giving me and the readers an opportunity to learn more about you through this interview.  We have come to the end of the journey for B and Gio in A Fall of Water.  I'll try not to ask any questions about follow up stories or full lengths for side characters, I don't want a ninja after me. ;)

Are you sad to see this series come to an end?
I am. Not that we'll never see them again, but Giovanni and Beatrice were very fun protagonists and I'll miss them. That said, I never wanted this to be the series that never ended. I think there are other stories to write in this world, and I'm looking forward to that.

You have mentioned before that Giovanni Vecchio was the main inspiration for the series.  How long was it from first conjuring him up, to putting pen to paper and finally the release of A Hidden Fire?
I mulled the character around in my head for a few months. Started pre-writing work (character sketches, timelines, etc.) about three months after that. I started the first draft about a month after that and the rough draft of the first book was written in about four months. Then beta readers, editors, proofing, formatting... it was around a year from the initial thought to the book being published.

Did you imagine Gio as a vampire from the beginning?
Yes. I love vampires! That said, I also wanted to create something unique that animated my own fictional world. The elemental idea came from that, it's a common theme throughout most world mythologies to assign specific traits to the earthly elements. It felt very natural to include it with so many diverse characters from all periods of history. 

When did you first start writing?
Fiction? Just a few years, to be honest. But I worked as a technical writer before I started writing for pleasure. I started out writing just a little fan fiction for fun, but quickly became obsessed with telling my own stories. 

What authors have been the most influential in your progression as a writer?
As a reader, too many to count! In my own genre, I read a lot of Anne Rice. I think the idea of vampires becoming the sexy beasts we know now owes a lot to Ms. Rice and her wonderful Vampire Chronicles. As a writer, I've had influences from Stephen King to Eudora Welty. And more recently, Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse series ignited my imagination and got me back into paranormal fiction. Also, though he's not a novelist, Joss Whedon's storytelling in many forms has been a huge inspiration.

When you first started the series, did you plan out how many books there would be?
I knew by the end of the first draft of A Hidden Fire that Gio and B's story would be four books and how the series arc would progress. It wasn't until reading the phenomenal reaction to the other characters in the series that I decided to expand it. I can say goodbye to Gio and B, but not to everyone just yet. There are at least a couple of stand-alone stories I want to tell and even another short series (4-5 books) featuring two characters that are favorites.

Besides any possible side books related to other character in the Elemental Mysteries, do you have any new characters on the back burner waiting for the spotlight?
I'm actually outlining a new series that's set in the American Southwest and explores shapeshifter legends and myths. There's a long history (particularly in Native American mythology) about shapeshifters, so I'm very excited to explore that. Plus, the series is going to be a bit lighter and include a lot of humor, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

How do you know when you are done writing a story, or do you always consider your stories as unfinished?
Since I plan everything out before I write, I always know how a story will end. That's just how I write, many people work differently, though. There's no formula. Sometimes things take a twist when I'm writing, but I never forget the plot or timeline. That's what keeps me on track. As for the editing? Yes, I'm a fiddler! I will mess around with language until I make myself sick even looking at it. That's one of the reasons I always give myself deadlines to get work to my editor.

In the past you have mentioned that you have people helping you through the drafting and editing process.  Describe the creative force behind a finished story.
I have a wonderful group of friends who are fellow writers. They are the best pre-reading team in the world! (I may be biased.) Some read while I'm drafting (write a chapter, read a chapter); some read only when the first draft is complete and give me feedback on the book as a whole. They're all amazing because they each bring their own perspective, so I love it. Then after I edit the final draft, I send it to my editor, who sends it to the proofreader, then the electronic formatter. (I do my own paperback formatting.) I also work with a cover artist, so there are a lot of people involved with a finished book.

I have yet to read the The Genius and the Muse, however your synopsis leads us to believe the love interests meet at a museum, have you had similar experiences with personal relationships being ignited by a shared appreciation for the arts?
They don't exactly meet in a museum, but they definitely inhabit the art world! And yes, I've had relationships of different kinds that were spurred by a shared artistic interest. There is a special kind of energy when you're sharing the creative process with another person that is very... energizing. 

You have a pattern of strong female characters and strong family bonds, do you draw from your own personal ties?
Definitely. Starting with my mother and grandmothers, I've been surrounded my whole life by very smart, very strong (some might say ornery, but we ignore those people) women who value family while still nurturing their own independence. In my family, it wasn't just accepted that I was smart and independent. It was expected.

 Do you have a ritual or something that sparks the creative process when you sit down to write?
Music. I listen to a lot of music. And a big variety. My tastes are pretty eclectic.

If you were stuck in the Twilight Zone and had to repeat the same day over and over, what album, book and drink would you have everyday?
Ha! I'll give you an answer, but it will probably change by next week.
Album? Maybe Patty Griffin's 1000 Kisses. It's one I've gone back to listen to so many times I've lost count.
Book? The Bible. Spiritual truth, poetry, history, love, action. It has it all. Best cast of characters ever. (I'd probably slip The Captain's Verses by Neruda in there too, though.)
Drink? Pondering... To sound like a lush or to not sound like a lush? That is the question.
Okay, not-a-lush answer would be coffee. Love the stuff. Lush answer? Red wine. Or dark beer. Maybe a good gin and tonic... this is an impossible question. (And obviously, I am a lush.)

I would like to say thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my questions.  It's great learning more about her writing style, inspiration and future works.  I most definitely am excited to hear about the stand-alones and possible short series sprouting from the Elemental Mysteries as well as new series yet to come.


Check back Friday for my review of A Fall of Water.

Want more info on Elizabeth Hunter?
Elizabeth Hunter Writes
Elemental Mysteries website
On Goodreads
On Twitter

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~Emmy @ Sinfully Delicious Book Reviews