Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Elise, and congratulations on your latest release, ‘Ask Me To Stay’!
Can you tell us about your new release, the first instalment in the Homeland novella series, ‘Ask Me To Stay?’
Ask Me To Stay introduces almost all of the main characters who will appear throughout the three book series. It is a story about reputation, redemption, loyalty and love; and a man who has more secrets in his life than any one person should be expected to carry. It’s contemporary and rural, with romantic elements.
Ethan Foster fled the small country town of Hinterdown, New South Wales in his late teens, following the terrible tragedy which made him an orphan. He returned as infrequently as possible; a fleeting presence at whatever milestone his brother Dean was celebrating. But now Ethan’s back for the funeral of Dean’s late wife, and this time Ethan’s staying for as long as it takes for his brother to get back on his feet.
The townspeople’s reception is hostile: Ethan is not welcome, and not well liked. Only Ethan knows he’s carrying someone else’s poor reputation.
Two people who are willing to look past the rumours are Caleb, his old best friend, and Sammy, the girl he walked out on all those years ago. With them in his corner, Ethan may get the second chance he has been longing for. And maybe, just maybe, he and Dean can start being brothers again.
Can you give us a hint as to what will happen in the second and third novellas?
The second and third novellas continue the romance arc established in the first. I’ve always loved reading trilogies and the like, because I get to stay with the characters just a little longer, which is definitely what happens in the Homeland books.
Ask Me For More, to be released in July, is mostly about Cal. His journey is all about trust, and learning that the right person won’t find you lacking. Sammy’s childhood best friend, Olivia “Lawless” Law, is coming back to town, and she’s about to rattle every one of Cal’s carefully assembled defences.
Ask Me For Tomorrow is Dean’s book. It’s about giving yourself permission to be happy and not letting the past rule your future. It’s also about a little boy who is desperate to belong, a man who has enough room in his heart to start again, and a woman who is so out of practice with being happy, that it doesn’t come naturally to her anymore. Ask Me For Tomorrow will be released in October.
You wrote the first draft in three days! Was this an idea that had been brewing in your mind for a while or was it one of those wonderful writing moments when the magic takes over?
I took part in the International 3-Day Novel Contest, and those three days were complete madness! All I had at the beginning was an intriguing sentence and a handful of dot points to outline each chapter. Beyond that, I just wanted to reconcile two brothers I’d been thinking about for a few weeks. There were a few magic moments – like little Nina, who just dropped into my imagination, fully formed – but mostly it was hard work and the love of a challenge.
You made a name for yourself in international writing competitions prior to being published. How can competitions help aspiring authors?
We probably all have parents, siblings or friends who think we’re the best writer since Jane Austen. This is very sweet and loyal, but this kind of feedback won’t help aspiring writers improve. Entering competitions was my way of getting impartial, industry-relevant advice from other writers, avid readers of the genre, and past competition winners. My returned score sheets were invaluable.
Competitions are an excellent way for aspiring authors to determine if they’re ready to submit to agents or publishers, or if their manuscript is ready to be self-published. Some judges are agents or publishers who may request a partial or full manuscript, which is an enormous opportunity.
You’ve lived all over the country. How has this helped shape you as a writer?
It’s made me very adaptable. There isn’t much which overwhelms me (says the woman with no kids), so set-backs and challenges are all pretty much taken in stride. I also have an appetite for adventure and change – I love travelling and experiencing the nuances of different places. I reference a lot of the places I’ve lived and visited when I write about different colloquialisms, ways of life, climates and traditions.
Can you tell us a bit about the unusual accidents you attract?
People always seem to be saying to me, “This has never happened before”. I was once standing in front of a shop window when the glass fell out of the frame and landed on me. These sort of one-off things are typical. Whenever I travel, things happen that surprise even the locals. It makes for an interesting life. And I always have travel insurance!
If I wasn’t an author I’d be…
A film critic. I am an avid couch commentator, and I have an eye for inconsistencies.
After all the drafts and re-edits, how do you know when you have truly finished?
Part of me wants to say never, because something can almost always be improved, but once I’ve received peer reviews, incorporated comments and corrections, and given my manuscript a final polish, I tend to sit back and think about letting it go. Otherwise I’ll overwork it.
Once the structural and line editing is done, I keep wondering what I might have missed, or what I could have done better, but hopefully I learn to let go a little more with each book, otherwise I’ll run out of head space!
Do you have a writing room? If so, can you describe it to us?
Almost half of the wall space is floor to ceiling books. The ceiling is criss-crossed with multi-coloured bunting and fairy lights, there’s a thick white rug in the middle of the room, two antique chairs, a recliner passed down to me through the generations, dozens of knick-knacks from my travels around the world, and of course, my writing desk. It’s a pretty magical space for me. I’ve surrounded myself with things I love and things which inspire me. There’s also a lovely stone coaster which is more often than not underneath a mug of hot chocolate.
What’s next for Elise K. Ackers?
This year will be largely taken up by the Homeland books, but when I’m not dancing around the house celebrating their releases, I’ll be writing the romantic suspense and new adult titles which are presently taking up a lot of my imagination real estate.
Elise is giving away one copy of her latest release, ‘Ask Me To Stay’ (e-book). To be in the running to win, simply leave a comment, answering the following question:
Have you ever taken the blame for someone else’s mistake?
This competition is open world-wide and will be drawn by Elise on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013.
You can contact Elise, or learn more about her, via the links below: