March 13th, 2020
I asked Eleanor where she would like to talk:
Imagine… if you will, a pair of chairs on a balcony, old and worn with time, no less comfortable padded with new silk pillows. They sit on cracked stone, damaged with ages, but well-loved in the signs of repair. All overlooks rolling hillsides of olive groves, dappled with afternoon sunlight rendering their twisted limbs into enchanting shadows. Sultry air wafts over the grove, alleviated by sparking water, flavoured with drops of elderflower. During the discussion, we feast on a platter of goat’s cheese, olives, cured meats, and dips with freshly baked sourdough.
Further into the house the evening is punctuated by the noise of distant laughter, but otherwise the only sound is the wind through the grove. A respite from a busy day and time to relax. Later champagne is poured and though the conversation starts formally, nerves slide away under talk of books, reading and above all writing.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
E. J. Dawson: I grew up in a story rich household full of classic literature, but it wasn’t until I reached 5th grade and discovered the world of Goosebumps and horror did I realize the full scope of reading. I’d written fairy stories as a child, moved into the teenage vampire tropes, and only wrote half-hearted stories for a few years until I turned thirty. Doctors told me I may not be able to have children and so in a fit of desperation I turned to the one thing that had given my life enjoyment; fiction. I started on a lengthy series I have since put to one side to work in single book stories, in a few different genres. These days I’m dancing to the muse’s drum and its been quite liberating to just let her call the shots.
L: How long have you been writing for?
E: I’ve been writing on and off my whole life but only seriously the last six years, most of that was spent honing the craft, working with professionals, and coming up with good writing habits.
L: What are you currently working on?
E: At the moment I am polishing a fantasy script for Pitchwars, and will begin querying if it is unsuccessful. I also have a paranormal thriller/romance called “Behind the Veil” contracted with Literary Wanderlust. I am also focusing on edits to a scifi romance trilogy called Queen of Spades I’ll self publish in early 2020.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
E: Terry Pratchett, as while I do not have his nuance with words what I ultimately want to create is the same; an escape for people to lose themselves in, perhaps learn something, but ultimately be entertained.
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
E: Finding purpose. It might seem like a silly thing to say but when you want to write full time and so few of us can get the kind of writing gigs that would allow us to do that it sometimes makes just doing the every day writing tasks a challenge. It does not stop my individual enjoyment of them, even knowing nothing was to come of it, I would still love writing.
L: What is your favorite writing trope? Least favorite?
E: My favourite writing trope would have to be misunderstood betrayal, and after that enemies to lovers. For betrayal, it often seems like the word is one way and it only takes the slightest nudge to push things in a completely different direction, which can be like life itself. Enemies to lovers speaks for itself. As for least favourite, I would have to go with love triangles. Ultimately if someone is torn between two other people it makes sense but the perusal of a person when they clearly love someone else is nothing short of romanticizing harassment.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
E: Sudokus. And reading obviously. At the moment I am jumping into the Big Bang Theory and doing the local paper’s sudokus to practice for when I play against my father during Christmas holidays. We’re mildly competitive.
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
E: The Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. They made me feel connected to my father in a way I didn’t really have before. As a kid I was never into sports or woodworking, but I could talk to my father about the Discworld. It became a tradition that I’d buy him the latest book in the series every Christmas and sneakily read it before I gave it to him. He pretended not to notice the slightly used look, and I love him for it.
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
E: Write now. Maybe you aren’t ready, maybe you don’t have the right story, but I always wanted to be a writer and always believed people who said it wasn’t a career going through school even though it was what I was most passionate about. I wish I’d thought of getting an editing degree or working in journalism, something to do with writing, but I was intimidated and thought I’d never be good enough. That doesn’t actually matter, because you get better with time.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
E: I started self-publishing a fantasy series when I saw no publisher would be interested in a 21 book/novella series, of which there is one book and 2 novellas released. There are other books in that series written and in the process of editing, and I will release in future. I am also releasing a scifi romance trilogy in the next year. I was lucky enough to be offered a publishing contract with Literary Wanderlust for my book “Behind the Veil” a paranormal romance. I am however seeking a traditional publishing contract with a fantasy NA I’ve written recently. I believe that no matter the platform the most important thing a writer can do for their career is write a lot.
L: What element of writing do you enjoy the most?
E: I like it best when the muse just comes along with an idea, and I can smash out a novel in 20 days. It takes a lot out of me, its normally another few weeks before I can write again, but I enjoy being that inspired to write, but also dedicated. There is a lot involved in finishing a book and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
L: What are you currently reading?
E: I have just finished Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight series, and while I pick up the pieces of my heart over the bittersweet ending, I am reading a few indie projects and revisiting the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix.
L: What genre do you read?
E: Fantasy predominately, I do like my paranormal romances, Kresley Cole is my go to comfort fiction. Ultimately my book shelf contains classics, mysteries, romance, murder, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, action, dark fiction and just about anything that tickles your fancy. I am not a big fan of comfort/cozy books, or biographies.
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
E: Get up early. Keep a schedule. Make sure there are snacks. An ideal writing day is a sleep in, until about 7:30, coffee with cream, sharing some Twitter love, before I knuckle down into writing sprints. On a good day I can kick out 15k words, and like to end it curled up on the couch with my husband and a glass of wine.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
E: I can’t write without music. I normally have a specific OST for anything I write but it doesn’t necessarily correspond to the genre I’m writing. For example, I wrote a political thriller in a steampunk setting to the soundtrack to Endgame (scifi). It’s more about the evocative nature of music. I choose wordless music so the singer doesn’t distract me and I can focus on the emotional reaction the music provides.
L: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
E: That romance isn’t a real genre. I have a few unprintable words to say about that, and I treat it the same way as I do when people say that gaming is a waste of time. Except it’s one of the most lucrative industries in the world, and the same goes for romance in the fiction world. Demeaning someone’s enjoyment of an activity isn’t just disrespectful, it steals that joy. They don’t end up resenting the person making the statement, they resent their hobbies and loves for making them feel ostracized by their differences. For being made to feel ashamed. Imagine what kind of a world could be created if we stopped shaming people for the things they love.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
E: Granny Weatherwax. She has an unshakeable philosophy about the world that is solely about her own sense of pride, and as complex and interesting a character she is, there is a brutal honesty within her I identify with. And we both aren’t wrong. Ever. Don’t question me on this.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
E: I once had a friend refer to my inspirational tweets as sounding like I’d swallowed a self-help book and regurgitated it onto my twitter feed. What actually happens is that my anxiety and depression is crippling me to nothing and I say whatever I need to get myself moving, motivated and out of bed. Sometimes I post it to Twitter because I figure if I need to hear it then maybe someone else does too. Writing can take so much of your confidence away, and it’s great not to feel alone when facing those internal demons. The voice inside telling me that I can do that helps me to overcome the voices saying I can’t. In the end we can be our own worst enemies or our greatest allies, and I know who I’d rather have on my side. It sounds very dumb to say, but in the end no one can achieve as much as you can once you learn how to put the doubts and fear aside, and listen to your gut.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
E: Learn to just love writing. There are so many ifs, buts, and maybes out there that you will never predict how far you can go. But you are at your most beautiful when you can concentrate on letting those words fly and nothing else matters but what you can create. No matter where it may end up taking you. Learn to love writing, learn to make it a place you love to be, and whatever happens the results matter a little less than they might have before. What should count is that you are spending time on something that you love, because that is the best way to spend what time we have here.
My mother read LOTR aloud to me twice growing up and it is her that I both credit and blame for my complete absorption with the world of fiction. Growing up in a haunted mansion sandwiched between an abandoned mine and endless pine plantation should have been all the fuel my imagination needed, but then my parents filled my life with stories. About themselves, their lives, and the ones they had found through the pages of books.
Writing all through my early years and completing my first book at sixteen, I let a wonderful past time fall into a vague hobby. When I turned thirty, and doctors told me I might not be able to have children, I had to find meaning again in my life. My sole focus turned to the one thing that made me happy; writing.