Why do we write? Is it a simple desire to tell a story? Does it keep our burdened minds focused and centered? Or do the fictional worlds we create provide a sort of therapeutic release?
In this installment of “Introducing…”, we speak to author Stefan Ellery, who openly shares what compelled him to begin his writing career.
1) You’ve written several short stories and a novelette but have recently released your first novel, A Burden of Choice. How did you find the experience of writing a full novel in comparison to shorter pieces?
Writing a full length novel I found was much harder for me. Short stories you keep all your content compressed. The time line can be as long as a novel, but you have to forgo certain details to keep your word limit. With a novel your trying to hit that magic mark of a minimum of 50k words and I found that difficult. I had to make sure that I could keep the story flowing without ending it too early. It would have been nice to have doubled my word count, but then the story would have become boring.
2) Tell us about your new book and what inspired you to write it.
This is the fun part, my son and I would have conversations about writing, he took an interest because of my short stories so he wanted to write something of his own. He came up with a scene and kept talking about it. He was twelve at the time. I told him to write it down, but he insisted that I write the story. I wanted to encourage him to do write it himself, however he kept at me for two months until I broke down and wrote it. His scene involved some death and I toned it down.
3) After leaving writing behind for several years, what drove you to “pick up the pen” again?
I had a stressful year at work and I needed an escape, so I started writing again. I started with children stories and then some short stories. It was not enough to keep my mind occupied and eventually I broke down and had to go on stress leave. I still kept on writing to keep some bad thoughts out of my head. Getting sick was a partial blessing. It afforded me the time to write and gain tools to deal with my stress and use the tools to concentrate more on goals. My goal was to get out of the poor state I was in and write a novel. I succeeded and now writing is a big part of my life.
4) How do you find the traditional publishing experience as opposed to self-publishing?
Having a publisher makes things so much easier. My Novelette Unfiltered was self-published. I designed the cover, did the editing converted it to the kindle format. From that experience I learned that I am better off going with a publisher. I am a lousy editor and had many mistakes in the novelette. I had to republish it several times, when mistakes were pointed out to me. Having a publisher makes something’s much easier. They hire an editor who keeps you on track and teaches you things that you did not know. I’m not an English major and I was never taught about things like a hanging participle and info dumps in my scriptwriting courses. Because my publisher is independent I still had to promote my book, though I think even with the big five their authors do a lot of self-promotion. Still my publisher has an audience and a venue to share the work of the authors they publish and this is helpful. I admire authors who do self-publish and do all the work themselves, but I don’t think that is for me. If I do self-publish anything again it will most likely be a children’s story.
5) Do you have a preference on where and when you like to write?
I generally write at home in the evening. Sometimes there are too many distractions so I will pick up my laptop or journal and sit in a coffee shop or the library.
6) What has proven the most effective way to reach new readers, in your experience?
So far the best experience I’ve had is with Facebook, word of mouth and of course interviews like this one. I have still yet to reach enough readers and keep on looking for other methods that will hit my intended audience.
7) If a new writer asked for your advice, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them to keep writing every day, never give up and develop a thick skin.
8) What is the biggest challenge Canadian authors face these days?
I think the hard part about being a Canadian author is that the publisher’s in Canada are looking for culturally tied works. If you write fantasy, paranormal, romance and other popular genres you will have a hard time getting in with a Canadian publisher.
9) You also write children’s books. Can you tell us about them?
I have written at least fourteen, none have been published. I hope they get published someday. I have written about girl who lives in a noisy part of Toronto. She could sleep through all the noise, but when going about to the cottage, she had a hard time falling asleep so she searches for noises that would help her sleep. Another story is of a boy who breaks something and uses his imagination to explain out it had been broken. My favorite is a series of stories about Kalle Rabbit and Pelle Fox. My grandfather used make up stories for my aunt and mother about the two animals. My mom asked if I could write about them. They did not remember much about the stories so it gave me freedom to do my own thing. Because the stories were told in Sweden, I made sure that any lore I added to it would fit with the country they were originally told in. I have Kalle and Pelle encountering trolls, Hill giants and Tomton’s.
10) On a personal note, what frightens you the most?
I worry that I may stop writing and all the good things that I have achieved from it will go away.
11) Where can readers learn more about yourself and your work?
I’d like to thank Stefan again for telling us his story.
See you out there!
If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!
Richard Todd is a novelist, screenplay writer, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.