After reading Elle Katharine White’s first fantasy novel, Heartstone, for my book club, I reached out to interview her, and she graciously agreed.
Ella credits childhood insomnia with starting her on her story telling journey. In an effort to aide falling asleep, she would tell herself tales each night, until eventually they became too big and complicated and she had to write them down.
Despite being raised by biography and history loving parents, Elle turned to science fiction, and it was within this genre that she wrote her first novel, with which she procured an agent after a year of cold querying.
However, her first published novel started out as fan fiction in college when the happy concatenation of events conspired for her to be reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at the same time as her roommate was watching How to Train Your Dragon. In a flash of inspiration, Elle imagined Darcy riding a dragon, and she was so taken with the idea, she had to write it down.
After regrettably not getting much interest for her science fiction novel, Elle’s agent suggested she turn the dragon riding fan fiction she’d being serializing for over a year into a novel, and ship it to publishers. What resulted was a major rewrite and revamp to produce the Heartstone that we know today, which was quickly snapped up and published by Harper Voyager.
Elle finds writing an awful, painful process most of the time, but what she likes best about it is those wonderful moments when everything comes together and seems to connect to a higher inspiration not under her control.
What she likes least is every other part of writing apart from these moments of wonder. She likens writing a novel to having a child. Extremely worth while, but also painful, exhausting hard work. She describes submitting a novel as similar to give birth and seeing your child off to college on the same day, which I think is a wonderful analogy.
I appreciate that Elle acknowledges that writing is work, and because of this, she emphasizes how important it is to have a routine and make a schedule when writing and editing. At the time of interview, Elle wrote every morning before work. To set herself up physically and mentally for her creativity, she ran for an hour before writing. I love that she recognizes the importance of the mind/body connection, and how important it is for a writer to look after her health in order to stay inspired and creative.
When it comes to advice for other writers, Elle says don’t give up! She acknowledges that inspiration is a wonderful feeling, but it’s only about 2% of writing, the rest being grueling work. However, she says don’t be discouraged. The first thing you write shouldn’t be published, but keep writing and keep improving. She also credits her alpha and beta readers with giving her wonderful feedback and help, and she encourages all writers to find a team of readers who they can trust to provide honest feedback on their work.
Since interviewing, Elle has published the complete Heartstone trilogy, which I highly recommend to fantasy lovers.
Read my reviews of Elle Katharine White’s Heartstone trilogy: