Hello, and welcome back! This week, I have the first of two author interviews I'm going to share with you this month.
It will hopefully become a once-a-month feature (providing I can get enough people interested - hint hint, if you're an author) BUT, as I have something fun and Halloween-themed planned for the whole of October, I'm doubling up this month with two wonderful mystery writers.
Elle has just released not one but TWO mysteries recently, with the third due for release in a few weeks time, and they're simply charming.
However, it'll be much better if she tells you all about herself and her books in her own words, so over to Elle...
Hello! Please introduce yourself, and tell us a little about your books.
Hi, thank you so much for having me! My name’s Elle, and I write fairy tale-inspired cosy mystery books about an alchemist named Red.
You could also call it cosy fantasy or even paranormal cosy, though my characters live in a fairy tale world rather than our own world! Right now I’m releasing the first three books in the series (called The Alchemical Tales). Books one and two are out already, and book three is coming in October!
Why did you start writing?
I started writing as a kid because my head was full of stories, and I felt I ought to write them down, haha. Truthfully, writing has always helped me sort out my thoughts and explore new topics. Plus, it’s fun to spend time with my fictional friends.
Which is your favourite of the books you’ve written so far, and why?
This is such a hard question . . . I’ll stick to published books, because otherwise it’d be unfair to tease you by talking about books I haven’t shared! I love Red and her mysteries very much, but I think my absolute favourite book I’ve published is actually a free novella for my newsletter subscribers–it’s a romance with one of the side characters from Red’s books. I’m a total hopeless romantic at heart.
Where do you get your ideas?
I find inspiration in all kinds of places–from podcasts, from fairy tales and mythology, even from my favourite video game (I even created characters that look like Red and her friends, haha). But I find I get my best ideas while out walking. I’m not sure exactly where they come from, but they usually connect several things I’ve been mulling over together!
What’s your favourite thing about writing?
Hands down, my favourite thing about writing is learning new things. In writing The Alchemical Tales, I get to learn about alchemy and fairy tales, and how to make a mystery. But also, writing about Red and her friends teaches me how to be a better friend, too.
What’s your least favourite thing about writing?
Hmm, my least favourite thing about writing at the moment is probably how tough it can be on my hands and wrists! I’ve been really hard at work writing and editing lately, and I can feel the effects. I’m still working on figuring out the ideal desk setup!
You’re an indie author. Why did you choose that route?
I thought about what publishing route to take long and hard, actually. Like most people, I had assumed that to be a real “author” I had to be traditionally published.
But the more I researched traditional publishing, and the more I queried my novel, the more I realised how much control I would be required to give up. Traditional publishing is a pretty bad deal for the author–unless they become super famous and have some bargaining power! And on a personal level, I found that the constantly looking to other people–agents, buyers, publishers–for approval was just not helping me grow. I’m at a point in my life where I have to give myself approval and permission.
Of course, I still seek editors’ and writing friends’ advice, but at least my career doesn’t have to hinge on trends or what particular agents like! I don’t mean to bash traditional publishing–I still think I may try it one day with another series. But for this project, especially because it blends genres (cosy and fantasy), I decided after lots of soul-searching that it was important to me to maintain a little more control of my work and how the series turns out. Hence the indie publishing. :)
How can readers and friends support indie authors?
Good question! Aside from buying books, of course, I hear lots of indie authors sharing the benefit of reviews, and I think that’s definitely true. Once an indie book has a certain number of reviews, more marketing options open up–so more always helps.
Engaging with the author on social media is helpful, too, but I think one of the biggest ways to support an author would be to join their email newsletter list–and actually open their emails and interact with them. :) Lots of indie authors do fun things like quizzes, Q & A, and giveaways in their newsletters. We’re always looking for ways to give back, and it’s nice when we hear that those things are appreciated!
What are you working on at the moment?
Right this moment, I’m wrapping up edits on the third Alchemical Tales novel, Mermaid for Danger. It’ll be ready to read on October 7! I also have a secret project I’m working on for later that month. ;)
What are your favourite writing resources?
I use Google Docs and Google Drive for absolutely everything, because I find it’s more streamlined and accessible than Word or other writing apps.
I also have gotten a ton of benefit from Reedsy.com, which is a site for writers that features lessons on everything from grammar to publishing as well as video sessions with experts, a marketplace for editors, a book formatting service, and weekly writing prompts. (I feel like I’m writing their advertising copy, haha, but they really are a helpful resource!)
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
My advice would be twofold: believe in yourself, and also find an editor you can believe in. That means that they respect you and you respect them, without being totally terrified by their opinions and thinking you must go along with everything. ;) I get a lot of peace from knowing that my editor has helped me make my books much stronger, but I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have without self-confidence, too. (Which has been tough, because when I started, I didn’t have much confidence at all–I’ve had to make it up as I go along! So for those of you out there in the same situation, I completely get it. Just know that you don’t have to wait to feel confident before you go out and create confidence.)
What real-life references have made it into your books?
Lots! I find that real-life inspirations tend to get all mixed up and reflected in my writing, like I’ve taken a bunch of colored glass plates and smashed them up to make a stained glass picture. I know that may sound funny to say, since I write cosy fantasy, but many of my characters are reflections of different pieces of myself or people I love. Plus, real-life conundrums like equality, prejudice, and just growing up often become background themes in my stories, too. I’m a firm believer that fantasy and fairy tales exist to help us think through our own beliefs and how we see the world.
Which of your books would you recommend people start with?
Beauty and the Alchemist is the first Alchemical Tales novel–in it, we find Red helping her friends solve a mystery reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast.
If you’re a serious completionist, though, you’ll want to start with The Carousel Capers, which is a collection of short stories set just before Beauty. You can get Carousel for free by signing up for my newsletter, or you can buy a deluxe print edition if you like!
Note from Saffron: I've recently finished reading Carousel Capers and it's lovely, would defintiely recommend. Plus, Elle's newsletter is always a good read!
Where can people find you online?
My website is ellehartford.com, where you’ll find my books, my weekly blog, and links for my newsletter, which I send out twice a month. I’m also pretty active on Instagram and occasionally on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. :)
Any last thoughts?
Thank you so much for giving me this chance to ramble! I hope some of the thoughts and advice here are helpful to others. :) And I look forward to sharing more stories in the future!
Thank you so much for joining me on the blog, Elle! It's been great hearing about your writing and publishing experiences, and I wish you lots of luck for your upcoming release :)
Next week, I'll be joined by the wonderful Robin Castle, who will be telling you about her murder mystery novels, so I hope you'll join us then :)