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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Author Interview: E. D. Walker


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome E.D. Walker, author of The Beauty's Beast, a finalist in the RWI More Than Magic Contest: First Books .

When E.D. was about twelve, her mom—who had always wanted to be a writer—started writing again and trying to get published. E.D. had always had story ideas and such, always coming up with long involved yarns to amuse her friends that featured E.D. and Indiana Jones crashing through windows or climbing the curtains to avoid a flood ("where this flood was coming from, I have no idea," she told me). Her mom inspired her to start writing these stories down. She finished her first novel that summer.

"It was a convoluted fantasy yarn involving a bunch of teenagers, a centaur and villains called 'toad-coats' with a nasty skin problem. The heroes were, of course, trying to save the world and the villains were trying to destroy it," she said. "It was, shall we say, not my best work."

From that time until she finished high school, she actually wrote five full-length novels, admitting they were highly derivative of whatever she was reading or watching at the time.

While she's been in college (she is working on her BA in English Literature from UC Berkley), she's written two books: The Beauty's Beast, released by Noble Publishing and her YA novel Heir to the Underground has been released by Sapphire Blue Publishing.

I asked her to tell us a little about these books.

"Heir to the Underworld is a YA fantasy-romance about ancient gods, feral fairies, mythological beasts and a bunch of other supernatural shenanigans that my modern day heroine has to deal with," she told me. "My other book, The Beauty's Beast is a sweet romance which tells the story of a cursed werewolf knight trying to reclaim his birthright in order to be with the woman he loves.

"I, like a good mother, of course love all my books equally, but I am going to say I have a very special fondness for Heir to the Underworld. I worked on this book for several years, writing and rewriting and tweaking and rewriting some more. And I really love the world-building I did in this for the lands of the gods. I also finally got to tap into one of my great passions, which is ancient mythology and really got to use that to help enrich the story."

"Where did you get the inspiration for your first book?" I wondered.

"One night way back in 2006, I had the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (one of my very favorite movies, incidentally) on in the background while I was reading for a World Literature class. The homework was Marie de France’s medieval poem “Bisclavret” about a cursed werewolf knight. Something about the combination of the movie and the poem struck a chord in me. I grabbed the nearest notebook and began furiously scribbling, writing a scene about a cursed knight trapped as a wolf–a wolf that finds himself being hunted for sport all unknowing by his friend the king. In a matter of hours I had written the first scene of what would become The Beauty’s Beast."

I also asked her to tell us more about Heir to the Underworld.

"It has been percolating in my back-brain since I was a kid. See, me and my sister spent every Saturday afternoon watching the Hercules and Xena TV shows on what was then the WB network (we even named our pet turtles after the characters). I already had a really good working knowledge of Greek mythology due to a fondness for the Dover illustrated book of Greek myths. Herc and Xena made the myths cool, though. More accessible. And they captured my young imagination. Later, in community college, when I started reading a lot of YA books like Holly Black's stuff and the Harry Potter series I had an idea for a YA novel of my own. And Heir to the Underworld was born.

"Here's the blurb to give you an idea of the plot."

Frederica Fitzgerald is just one day shy of her sweet sixteen when she's nearly run over by a tall, dark dreamboat on a big black horse. Freddy can deal with the running over part- no harm done. The problem is the rider, Mr. Sex Bomb himself: Polydegmon, son of Hades and heir to the Greek Underworld. Freddy’s hooked on Polydegmon from the start (although dude, togas went out of style several thousand years ago), being near him is enough to make her tingle down to her toes. He’s got secrets he isn’t sharing, though, and trouble follows him closer than his own shadow: rabid dogs running around the suburbs, insane crows stalking Freddy’s every moment, and, worst of all, the feral fairies of the Wild Hunt trolling her hometown for their next bit of human game. The closer Freddy gets to Deg, the weirder her life becomes, until Freddy discovers something about her own past that changes everything she ever thought she knew about herself. And her world…
E.D.'s currently working on a story that is very loosely based on the myth of Andromeda and Perseus.

This story has been retold many times in various forms, the most recent being Clash of the Titans with Sam Worthington.

"I think I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to put a new spin on the old yarn," she explained. "At the moment I think it will end up being another YA romance, but it's early days yet so we'll see."

The characters always seem to come first to E.D., then she has to come up with a plot for them.

"This usually means I end up doing a lot of rewriting as I go along trying to figure out just what the plot is. Which I guess makes me a seat-of-the-pantser. My last manuscript started its life as a 12K word short story and then grew and grew in intricacy and detail until it was a 41K novella. My life might be easier if the plot came first but, hey, what can you do?"

Surprisingly, when she was very young she didn't want to be an author—she wanted to be a paleontologist.

"My mom took me to see Jurassic Park when I was in third grade and I just fell in love with dinosaurs," she told me. "I was the only girl in my elementary school who was as crazy about dinosaurs as all the boys were. But eventually I realized since all the dinosaurs were dead I probably didn't want to actually be a paleontologist. Although, all that knowledge has not gone to waste. My nephew is really interested in dinosaurs as well and so I can help him pronounce the names now. Of course, he is thoroughly convinced that "Brontosaurus" was a real dinosaur, no matter how many times I tell him it was actually the skull of a Camarasaurus on the body of an Apatosaurus. He just doesn't believe me!"

On a personal note, E.D. told me that when she was a kid she would ask her mom for a dog all the time…literally.

"When I started asking for a dog several times an hour, my mother actually made a rule that I was only allowed to ask her once a day," she said.

"What is your strangest habit?" I asked.

"I really like reading movie spoilers before I go see something. I don't do this for every movie, just ones where I'm not sure I'll like the ending. For instance, I read movie spoilers about Avatar before I went to see it. I always want to know who's going to die (so I can try not to get too attached) and I want to know if the romance will end well. Although sometimes I check just to see if the plot itself sounds interesting."

Some things you might not know about E.D.:

~her favorite animal is elephants ("which actually seemed to start before I was even born," she said, "because my mother had an elephant rocking 'horse' on the cake at her baby shower for me.")

~she cries all the time at movies ("I'm a total pushover for sentimental stuff. The beginning of Star Trek (2009) made me cry. I was bawling for the last half hour of Return of the King")

~her favorite pizza is Round Table pepperoni pizza when there's not too much cheese and the pepperoni is nice and crunchy.

~she's a night owl who would totally live the vampire lifestyle if real life didn't prevent her from doing so. "I feel more awake and productive when I stay up late, as opposed to cranky and groggy when I get up early," she explained.

~she can unwrap a Starburst with her tongue, admitting it's not very dignified, but she and her friends figured out how to do so in high school.

Finally, I asked her, "Who is your favorite author and why?"

"I am an avid reader so I love lots of authors. Neil Gaiman. Lois McMaster Bujold. Jennifer Crusie. For the purposes of this interview, since I should probably only choose one, I'll say Ellis Peters, who wrote the Brother Cadfael mystery series. Her books are so wonderful. Sweet and engaging and I love the main character, Cadfael, to bits. The Cadfael books sort of influenced the tone of my first book The Beauty's Beast and I think anybody who enjoys The Beauty's Beast might enjoy Cadfael. And vice versa."

You can keep up with E.D. on her blog, http://moth-insertwittytitlehere.blogspot.com/

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