Author Interview - Kate Ellison (Fairy Tale Fridays) (Indie In Summer)

As mentioned in my previous post, Fairy Tale Fridays and Indie in Summer have merged together this week with my review of The Curse Girl and today's interview of the book's lovely author!  Please join me in welcoming Kate Ellison!

Kate Ellison's "Portrait of a Writer"
*applause, applause*

Hi Kate! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started as a writer?

I've always been addicted to telling stories, even before I knew how to read and write. I wrote fan fiction mostly as a teenager, and I dabbled in terrible poetry. When I was in college, I decided I would write a novel and get it published, but I knew almost nothing about how to do that, and I got discouraged and quit after a few months. After several years of no writing and a lot of creative stewing, I was inspired by some things I'd read, and I started writing again in earnest. I wrote a few books and began submitting short stories to various markets to build up some publishing credits. Then I read about the changes in self-publishing and the rise of the indie author, and I decided to give that a try. Now I have one novel out and more on the way. It's been an exciting journey and I'm absolutely thrilled to be where I am now.

Your book The Curse Girl is a modern adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast", do you have a favorite version (besides The Curse Girl) of the story?

Hmmm. It's hard to say--I think maybe Robin McKinley's Rose Daughter. But I also always loved the Disney version too.

Was it difficult to choose how much or how little to vary your story from the source material?

With a retelling, I like to use the original tale as a jumping off point and then see where the story takes me as it unfolds. When you set up certain constraints from the beginning, they shape the way the story plays out, but beyond that I wasn't devoted to a strict adherence to the source material. I did, however, want to preserve some of the original themes, and I think I did that.

Have you always been a fan of fairy tales? Besides "Beauty and the Beast", which one(s) is/are your favorite(s)?

I have always adored fairy tales. When I was a little girl, I had 3 or 4 big collections of them that I read them over and over. I liked seeing how different versions told the stories differently.

My favorite fairy tale might be Cinderella, not really for the story itself, but for all the lovely retellings it has inspired (Ella Enchanted is my favorite, followed by Ever After. Plus I have a Cinderella retelling that I'm itching to write!)

The Curse Girl begins at the moment Beauty, also known as Bee, is arriving at the house of "The Beast". Though I wanted to know more about her family and the reason she was there, I loved that you thrust the reader immediately into the story. How did you choose to begin the tale at that scene?

I probably could have started earlier, like the original tale does, but I felt it was unnecessary. I wanted to jump in right to the moment of action--since we all know the story, I felt like I could trim the extras without confusing anybody.

What are your thoughts on "happily ever after" endings - great conclusion or overdone cliche?

I like them. Some of my favorite book endings ever include the epilogue in Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and the ending of Pride and Prejudice, which are both pretty happy. You don't always get them in real life, and they might seem a little naive to some people, but I enjoy having them in literature. On the other hand, I also love dark, realistic stories that don't quite resolve, like Margaret Atwood's stuff, so I equally appreciate that sort of ending as well. I guess it depends on the story and what fits it.

Zombies vs. Unicorns: Zombiecorns
Your website features some pretty funny stick-figure cartoons, what prompted you to start expressing yourself with these drawings?

Well, probably two things. I was raised on a steady diet of Calvin and Hobbes comics (not stick figures, but humorous and definitely an influence on what I find funny) and I always loved Calvin's hilarious expressions. I'm also an avid follower of the blog Hyperbole and a Half, so her style influenced me. Plus I like expressing myself with humor. It's a nice change of pace from writing, and it's a great creative outlet when I'm frustrated with a book that isn't coming together the way I'd like.

What would you say are the biggest challenges and rewards to being an independent author?

The biggest challenge is probably being taken seriously/getting treated badly within the industry. The traditional/self-publishing debate is almost as polarizing as politics. A lot of people are awesome and very supportive of indies, but unfortunately, some writers look down on people who self-pub and either 1) dismiss their work as terrible or 2) dismiss the authors themselves as simply impatient hacks who were unable to get a traditional deal (although this mindset is thankfully changing). I hadn't expected to encounter this attitude and I was speechless the first time I did. It was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I never tried to get The Curse Girl published traditionally because I really wanted to try being an indie author. I wanted to do it out because it sounded awesome, not because I was impatient or incapable of doing anything else. These attitudes aren't fun to encounter, but I think the solution is to continue to behave professionally and treat other writers with support and graciousness no matter what path to publication they choose.

The biggest reward of independent authorship is total creative freedom. I love designing my covers, I love choosing my release date, and I love writing my own book blurbs. These are the reasons I wanted to be an indie! The only thing I don't love is paying for my own advertising (ha!) and doing my own copy editing (hopefully I'll be able to outsource that one soon ...)

What projects are you currently working on?

Several very exciting things are in the works! I have three books I'm working on right now--a dystopian novel about a group of people living underground who have never seen the sun, a fantasy about a human and a fairy who fall in love, and a paranormal monster story that takes place in wintery Maine. I also have a zombie book that keeps getting put on the back burner.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can find out more about me by visiting my blog: or following me on Twitter: @KEllisonWrites I love meeting new people!

Thanks for joining me Kate!

3 Response to "Author Interview - Kate Ellison (Fairy Tale Fridays) (Indie In Summer)"

  1. Lesa says:
    August 7, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    I rarely read author interviews but this one is very entertaining. Kate is indeed lovely (love the hair) and her work in progress books sound like my sort of reads. And Curse Girl too since I always enjoy fairy tale retellings.

    I haven't dabbled in indie books but I do read lots of debut books that I spot at the library and I like just about all of them-- I'll give an indie a try sometime.

  2. SweetMarie83 says:
    August 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Like Lesa, I must admit that I rarely read author interviews, but I loved this. Kate sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to read The Curse Girl. I love fairy tales (my favorite retellings of Cinderella are Ella Enchanted and Ever After, too!) and I've been hoping someone would do a really great retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so I'm anxious to read this. I was glad to read some of her experience with self-publishing, since that's the route I plan to take too, and not because I don't think I could cut it in traditional publishing, I just want control of my work. Really great post!

    BTW Lisa, the reason I stopped by was to tell you that I was nominated for a blog award and had to pick 5 of my favorite bloggers to shine the spotlight on and you were one of them! I hope you'll drop by to check it out. :-)

  3. lisa :) says:
    August 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Thanks so much! I put a lot of thought into the questions I ask authors and whether it's online or in person I always rack my brain to come up with questions I hope they haven't been asked before - or at least the ones they don't get asked ALL the time.

    Thanks for taking the time to read the interview!

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