Another month is almost over and we’re now much closer to next Christmas than last. That’s right I used the C word in July! Speaking of which, have you seen any of the “Christmas in July” bookish events going on around the internet? @SheShedStudios on Twitter is hosting a feature with some fab free books (she included The Fair Queen when it was free a couple of weeks ago), and Jennifer Kropf, author of the Winter Souls series, is throwing a huge book tour across the internet for her festive, family-friendly fantasy series in celebration of book two being out this November and available to preorder now!
OK, that’s enough talk of Christmas, back to the height of summer. Next week is my birthday! I’m hosting a Facebook Hop between 5 and 7 Aug to celebrate, with prizes for both UK and international winners. One UK winner will get a signed hardcover of The Fair Queen and a signed (by both me and my fellow author Alice Ivinya) paperback of Enchanted Waters, and one US/international winner will get a whole bundle of fantasy ebooks and a $10 Amazon giftcard! So head over to the FB group and join to take part next week.
On to the interview! I was so excited to chat to Elena Carter this week and find out all about her debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, which comes out 30 July and is the first book in a new series, The Dream Tamer Chronicles. Read on to find out what we talked about…
Thanks so much for chatting with me, Elena! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Elena. I am originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but in 2013 I moved to Varna, Bulgaria to live by the sea. Growing up in a city surrounded by mountains, I have always been dreaming of big water (which is ironic because I am not much of a swimmer, yet I can’t live without water.)
For the last decade or so I’ve been making gemstone jewelry — after exploring all kinds of career paths, including administering a high school exchange program, working in an embassy as a political and human rights assistant, working as an assistant to an attorney, and many other totally unrelated things too. All while secretly dreaming of being a writer.
I have a husband and two sons, a teenager and a toddler. We also have a cavalier king charles spaniel and possibly the naughtiest cat in the world.
Wow, what a fascinating and varied life you’ve led so far! I bet you’re not short of inspiration when it comes to writing stories, you’ve got so many experiences to draw from. When did you start writing and what inspired you/who encouraged you?
I have always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I never had enough courage and self-belief. Until 2020, when my husband (a professional writer and screenwriter himself) finally convinced me to give it a try, after countless nudges that I used to skillfully dodge. And I’m so grateful for his persistence.
I used to say “If I ever do try, certainly it won’t be in English, because it’s my second language, and I’ll never be good enough.”
But here I am, releasing my debut novel in English, and I am so happy I found the courage to go ahead and do it.
I was 41 when I wrote my first book. It’s never too late to start.
That’s incredible that you’re writing your debut in a language other than you’re native one, I studied Spanish at University but I can’t imagine writing an entire novel in Spanish. You’re so inspiring! Do you have a favourite book or genre?
I have always loved reading. I started reading early, about 4 years old, and when I was 10 or 12, I started consuming everything I could find in our (very extensive) home library. I have always been fascinated by our bookshelves covering the entire walls, from floor to ceiling.
I read pretty much everything, I don’t like to limit myself to a certain genre. But fantasy has always been my favorite. I discovered Tolkien in my early university years I think, and it totally blew my mind.
There are also some Russian fantasy authors that I have always enjoyed reading.
Basically, I like to believe that magic exists, and the world around is not at all what we believe it is.
Excuse me, you had me at “floor to ceiling bookshelves”. I’m so jealous, it sounds like a book lovers’ dream. Tell us about your upcoming debut novel.
My debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, is coming out on July 30, 2021. It’s about a young woman discovering the world of her dreams after she’s been trying to find ways to cope with grief having lost her husband in a car accident. She learns about the existence of multiple different worlds that are ready to open their doors to her, and, most importantly, give her hope and strength to go on.
That’s a really beautiful message, it sounds wonderful. Where did you find the inspiration for your story?
Dreams have always been a very important part of my life. They’ve always been vivid and fascinating, leaving me with a feeling that they are much more than what we think they are.
A lot of the dream sequences in my book have been inspired by the dreams I’ve had, including some I had many years ago. It’s strange, I can easily forget what I’ve been doing last week or month (let alone the names of my former colleagues or high school teachers), but the memories of some of my childhood dreams are bright and clear in my mind.
That’s so cool, I love when story ideas come in dreams! Would you say you’re a plotter, pantser or plantser?
Plantser. When I started working on Follow the Hummingbird, I had a rough outline of the idea that I quickly put down in the notes on my phone. For the rest, the story itself was leading me, new characters were appearing and asking me to write about them, fascinating worlds were revealing themselves to me, and it was a beautiful and exciting journey.
I’m the same, I need a map to follow to where the story is headed, but I like to leave a little room to take the scenic route. So, what are you working on right now?
In the beginning of the year, while still working on edits for my novel, I started writing a collection of short stories. They’re all separate stories and totally unrelated, except the one thing they have in common – they’re all happening in the same town. A very ordinary little town, at first glance. But when you look and listen closer, you might learn that it’s not that ordinary after all. There’s all kinds of wonderful and amazing and magical things happening to its inhabitants and guests.
I am also starting to work on the next book in The Dream Tamer Chronicles, telling a story of one of the characters in Follow the Hummingbird.
I love short story collections! I’m writing one myself at the moment, set in the same world as my main series, The Fair Chronicles. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?
Don’t fear. Don’t doubt yourself. And never — NEVER — give up. There’ll be good days and bad days, there’ll be ups and downs, it’s all a crazy roller coaster sometimes (okay, let’s be honest, most of the time), but just stay consistent and stay on track no matter what.
Also, you have to believe in your writing in the first place. If you don’t, no one else will.
That is such great advice, it’s so important to believe in yourself first, and be your own biggest cheerleader. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, it’s been lovely! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books?
Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/hwgca1
Facebook page/group: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Elena-Carter-112309984416068/
Check out Follow the Hummingbird of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B097F4RYN7/
And add it to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58421874-follow-the-hummingbird
I hope all of you fellow writers listen to Elena’s advice – believe in yourself and never give up! And if you like the sound of Follow the Hummingbird, it comes out on 30 July so there’s not long to wait now.
Happy Christmas in July guys!