Dead Man's Debt, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Dead Man's Debt?
GRACE ELLIOT: A Dead Man’s Debt is my fifth novel, but the first I felt polished enough for the public to read!
A regency romance, it’s an exciting story of blackmail, duty and unexpected love, that has received seven 5 star reviews in a row!
The hero, Lord Ranulf Charing, is a gifted artist but he must deny his calling in order to be a dutiful son. The heroine, Celeste Armitage, is a woman ahead of her time, determined to be independent, she humiliates a lecherous suitor and is sent to the country in disgrace…where she meets the restless Lord Ranulf.
But Ranulf’s past catches up with him when he is blackmailed over his late brother’s debts. Preserving the family honor means sacrificing Celeste…but Ranulf underestimates her determination to clear his name, and in so doing he places the woman he has come to love, in mortal danger.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
GRACE ELLIOT: Just as a parent agonizes over naming their new baby, it’s essential to find the right name for your characters.
The hero, Lord Ranulf Charing’s, name came to me on a car journey when I saw a road sign to ‘Charing.’ I loved the name and it seemed the right blend of formality and authority. I knew the hero was unorthodox and it put me in mind of the British explorer, Ranulf Fiennes and so the Christian name ‘Ranulf’ had the right feel to it.
I heard the name ‘Celeste’ in conversation and couldn’t get it out of my head. It spoke to me of an ethereal beauty, someone independent who wasn’t prepared to follow the crowd. It seemed ideal for our heroine, Celeste Armitage. I must admit her surname ‘Armitage’ is my little joke; in the UK Armitage Shanks make porcelain ware of a very ‘convenient’ nature, and I liked the idea of Celeste being beautiful but practical.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
GRACE ELLIOT: My aim is to write the sort of escapist, page turning story that I love to read. My genre happens to be historical romance but in truth, my ideal reader is anyone who likes to lose themselves for several hours in a ripping good read!
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
GRACE ELLIOT: I started writing as a form of therapy!
I work as a veterinarian by day, and although this is my dream job, it’s also emotionally demanding, not to mention hugely draining at times. I found that after a stressful day, spending 20 minutes typing away on the keyboard, helped me stop carrying sad stuff around in my head.
My first published pieces were non-fiction articles: historical pieces and features on cats, and as my confidence developed, I ventured onto the far harder task of writing short stories. I followed a correspondence course on creative writing, and the most perceptive comment my tutor ever said, was that my talent lay in longer fiction: in having the time to develop plot twists and fully explore character…and so I turned to novels, and specifically the escapism of historical romance.
The rest, as they say, is history….
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
GRACE ELLIOT: Names come first…and then the characters are born. Once the actors are on stage, then they start to tell me their story, what they long for and what they fear… and place them both in a circumstances that will tear them apart…being a writer is fun!
I have a large spiral bound notebook for each new novel, to keep all relevant research together. It’s a joyous moment, purchasing a new notebook, I swear it gives me a high because that notebook and I are going to get very well acquainted over the next few months.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
GRACE ELLIOT: The authors that inspire fall into two groups: the well known, and those writers on the rise that I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter on my own writing adventure.
The latter are people such as Sybil Nelson, Deborah Melanie, Kiss Carson and Rose Gordon, who aren’t necessarily household names, but believe in the magic of being an author and are incredibly generous with what they have learnt along the publishing path. Without doubt, their successes inspire me…they are people like me, who have a dream and are determined to make it happen.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
GRACE ELLIOT: The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George.
This book has everything: a plot to die for, fantastic characters, humour and awesome historical detail. It’s a rare treat to immerse myself within its pages, which thankfully are plentiful, because its one of those books that you never want to end. If I had a fraction of Ms George’s skill as a writer, I’d be a happy woman.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
GRACE ELLIOT: I’m active on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Library Thing and many other social network platforms.
I launched A Dead Man’s Debt by posting on 20 blogs, all on the same day. The idea was to have my name splashed all over the Internet…but with hindsight, I wish I’d spread the posts out, so that I could link each one to multiple yahoo groups and romance forums, but hey, I wanted to be different!
I’ve dabbled with paid advertisements, but have yet to be convinced of their worth. I’ve yet to recoup in sales, what I’ve paid for the ads…but I’m prepared to give them a chance to spread awareness.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
GRACE ELLIOT: The potential to reach your readers via the Kindle is immense!
Take myself for example. I’m a book-a-holic, you can’t see the walls in my house for TBR piles and yet something extraordinary has happened to me. I’ve switched from reading DTB’s to the Kindle.
And the reason?
1) Space – there’s no more room in my house for books (well, maybe I could squeeze one or two more in behind the sofa.)
2) Mobile library—when I go away for the weekend I no longer have to take a hold all just for the books I might want to read. Now they all fit in one beautiful little device that slips into my handbag.
3) Mood—As the mood takes me, so I shop for books…I can even do this in the dentist’s waiting room with a Kindle.
4) Social networks—there is an awesome kindle community out there, new friends that recommend books and authors I’d never have found otherwise.
5)…OK I’d better stop now, before my Kindle love gets out of hand.
What I’m saying is that if an old traditionalist like me can fall in love with a techno-reading gadget for books…then there is no limit to the audience the Kindle can reach. In terms of sales the skies the limit….OK as an author Amazon has its idiosyncrasies…random changes of price, delays in cover uploads…but as a market it just cant be ignored and it’s a gift of an opportunity for the aspiring writer!
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
GRACE ELLIOT: Do it!
BUT only after you have made your manuscript the best you possibly can.
It’s tough out there, getting your book on sale is only the start…reviewers can be brutal over details such as using semi-colons instead of comas, so don’t give them the satisfaction.
Not matter how excited you are to become a published author, hold back and check, then check again for jumps in continuity, sudden lapses of character, consistent eye and hair color. To this end develop a network of fellow writers who can give you an honest critique of grammar, plot line, character continuity et.c.
It’s much better to have someone give you kind constructive criticism before you go public, than be torn apart over the internet.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace believes intelligent people need romantic fiction in their lives as an antidote to the modern world and as an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work. Her debut novel A Dead Man’s Debt is now available from Amazon for $2.99.
To find out more visit http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com and http://www.graceelliot.webs.com/.
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