Here is the interview reposted from her web site, Mercedes Fox:
Howdy my lovelies! Welcome back to another episode of Interview FoxSeat presenting author J. Ellyne.
Jini writes erotic epic alternate historical fantasy. She has four novels of a series published as Ebooks at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/… All her books are available on Amazon for Kindle and at all other Ebook retailers worldwide in .all formats.
Jini is 40-something years young. She writes and sings songs as well as books, plays guitar, does yoga daily and loves to play tennis and swim in the ocean at Vero Beach, Florida near where she lives. The local chamber of commerce calls her hometown “Florida’s undiscovered paradise” because few tourists go there and there are no condos on the beach. Near her small city, there are five uncrowded county beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, each only a few miles from the next. She’s not telling the name of her hometown because she prefers it to stay undiscovered. However, if you do happen to discover it you will be welcomed by friendly natives unlike what happens farther south in the Miami area.
She recently published her most recent novel in her epic fantasy series The Elves of Avalon, Book 4 of The Fair and Fey. It’s available on Smashwords and all other Ebook sites now. There are pictures from the book on her web site blog as teasers. See https://jellyneblog.wordpress.com.
Book blurb: About The Elves of Avalon, Book 4 of the Fair and Fey:
What if Arthur Pendragon did not want to be a king and for most of his military career was not a king but only the war leader of the united armies of the kings of Britannia? What if there was no such person as Lancelot? Romanticists added him to the legend as pure fiction almost a thousand years after Arthur’s last battle. What if Guinevere was not a nice person? She stole Arthur from his first wife Anna Pendragon, aka Morganna Le Fey. What if Arthur needed the help of a small band of Elves to accomplish his goals? What if Arthur had a Christian father (Uther Pendragon) but a Pagan, half-Elven mother (Igraine) and was neither Christian nor Pagan? All but one of the preceding things are true facts of historical records discovered in the research done for this book. The fantasy element is the story of the Elves. No one has provided proof that Elves exist but Tolkien convinced me they really did exist at some time in the past and the Celtic people of the Dark Ages knew Elves existed. They called them “the Fey.”
Some people believe Tolkien invented the trope of Elves. This is not true. In the Silmarillion, a book Tolkien wrote about the time before the setting for his LOTR trilogy, he states that the first Elves migrated south from the North Country to Middle Earth. I know Tolkien did tons more research than did I or anyone else and I’m sure he got this idea of Elves first existing in the North Country (the Noldor) from reading Finnish mythology. I know because, by coincidence I happened upon this same mythology in doing the research for my second book of the series, Maahilund.
Finnish mythology is full of tales about Elves called the Maahiset who live in an underground city in ancient Finland and have magical powers. This was a dream later backed up by research revealing the truth in the dream. These Elves later migrated south to Middle Earth. What if Middle Earth later became known as Germania after the Elves left Middle Earth and sailed into the West (Britannia)? These are the background bones for how the Elves and Arthur Pendragon crossed paths. An Elf named Vilya is the main character in both books three and four. She helps Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, in book three and after his death, carries baby Arthur to Avalon at Merlin’s urging, to keep him safe. In book 4, many years later after many battles with Orcs, Demons and Saxons, the Elves return to Avalon but not Arthur, not yet anyway. He still has one more battle to fight in Britannia, the battle of Camlan. This is not a spoiler because everyone knows Arthur must fight again, at Camlan, after 25 years of peace. This will be part of the story in book 5. The Elves of Avalon, Book 4 of The Fair and Fey, is also a romantic and sensual love story between Vilya and another Elf named Narya. This love has spanned millennia, through death and reincarnation, from the time when they met in Maginaugh, Book 1 of the Fair and Fey. Each book from book two on contains enough back-story to stand on its own for the benefit readers who join the tale at that point.
If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? I write under the pen name, J. Ellyne. My books have a lot of adult erotic content. My family and close friends would be shocked to know I write such stuff so I don’t tell them. I include erotic content not for titillation but because I believe sex is an important part of life and I want my stories to have a realistic feel. I always hate it when movies show people making love wearing all their underwear, so unrealistic. If readers want to be able to identify with the main character, they should know how she feels when she is making love.
Why do you write? I write and sing because I was born an entertainer. I have the talent for it. I’m an artist. I’m not bragging because I confess I’m not getting rich from entertaining. My father was a poor music teacher and an orchestra conductor. My mother was a poor pianist with perfect pitch. My grandmother was a poor opera singer and a painter. I learned to read music before I learned to read words. I went to music school to follow the family tradition but, after graduation and a one-year experiment with teaching music in high school, I took a detour into computer programming. It paid more money and, unlike my father, I didn’t care for teaching or being poor. I sing with a local semi-professional group these days and often take the lead. One thing I believe strongly is, no matter how good you think you are as an artist, there is no art without an audience. The purpose of art is to entertain and enlighten the audience. Writing is the same as music to me. I know I have a talent for both. I write and sing to entertain and enlighten my audiences. I wish I had more readers, larger audiences, not for the money, but so the art would be more widely enjoyed.
When did you decide to become a writer? In high school, I was fortunate to have two superb English teachers, one as a sophomore and the other as a senior. As a sophomore, I wrote more than a dozen short stories. My teacher deemed all of them best in class. She made me stand in front of everyone and read my stories to the class. I loved it; it was a performance. As a senior, I took an honors class in English. The school only admitted students in the top 10% of grade point averages. The teacher was very tough. Here was this class of 20 college bound students and she never gave out As because she said an A meant perfection and no mortal could ever do anything perfectly. She gave Bs, Cs, Ds, and even Fs. I got Bs and was proud of them. I learned more from her about writing than from any other teacher or workshop coach. We wrote all kinds of things, not just fiction. In college, I also had a few good teachers. I always loved when a teacher based a course grade mostly on a long essay term paper, whether it was a history course a psychology course, or whatever. I think my psychology term papers were some of the best fiction I ever wrote – ha ha! I was a music teacher for one year and couldn’t stand facing that job every day. It seemed like a combination of babysitting and police work. As a computer programmer, music and writing were hobbies and I never seemed to have enough time for them. In 2004, I quit my programming job and began serious work on my first novel. I am a full time writer now. It says so on my tax return.
What genre are your books? I dislike the word genre. It seems like a classification mechanism to keep new authors in the backwaters of publishing. What genre are Stephen King’s novels? I can tell you they aren’t displayed on the horror, science fiction, or fantasy shelves of bookstores. You will find them in a section called literary fiction, or mainstream. In the same section, you will usually find J.R.R Tolkien and Tom Robbins. Stores only allow best-selling authors to have books in that section and yet it contains books that are clearly works of horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, alternate history, epic adventure, paranormal, young adult, and more. Every one of my books contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, romance, alternate history, epic adventure, and adult sexual scenes (which I don’t classify as erotica). I’m at a loss as to how to classify them. I don’t see the point of narrowing the list to a genre. To do so would only keep some potential readers away.
Okay rant over. I know, I need to put tags on my books, or I’ll end up in the oblivion well. So I label them epic, adult, erotic, historical, romantic fantasy.I’ll settle for the fantasy bookshelf although you won’t find many fantasy novels with as much historical research in them as mine have.
What draws you to this genre? My writing comes from my dreams. I have lucid dreams, which means they are real in some sense. An example of a lucid dream is, I get up out of bed and go in the living room where my husband is still up watching television. I tell him about a dream I just had. It was a bad dream and I’m looking for some comforting but he just smiles. As I tell him about it, I find talking difficult. My words come out slurred. My tongue feels too thick. He tells me to go back to bed and I do but as soon as I lay down, I really do wake up to discover the part that seemed so real, telling my husband about the dream, was actually just a dream. I have many lucid dreams, almost one every night. I talked to a therapist about them and he recommended a book about lucid dreams. It turns out many psychologists believe lucid dreams could actually be real in some alternate reality, perfect for fantasy inspiration! I even have my protagonist have lucid dreams sometimes in my books. We live in other dimensions when we sleep in this one. Sometimes I wake up tired from all the things I’ve done elsewhere in my sleep!
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? My fourth novel is 187,000 + words. In addition to the writing and proofing time, it took the same amount of time and more to do the research for it. The whole project took two years from writing the first word to publication. I’m getting faster. The first book was based on half the research of the fourth and took eight years from first word to publication. I made many mistakes as a new writer and rewrote that first book drastically four times before publishing it. I hope book five will only take a year. It will have about the same number of words as book 4 but I have already finished most of the research.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? As I said, I dabbled at writing since 10th grade high school English with the strong encouragement of one wonderful teacher. Then at some point during my short career as a computer programmer, I started having these lucid dreams. I found that if I didn’t write them down, the same dream would recur night after night. The only way I could move on was to write about the dream. This resulted in my first (very amateur) publication, a short story. Now it’s a cycle. Writing down a dream stops that dream from recurring but soon another dream always follows and I must write that one down too or I will be a participant in the lucid reruns.
Do you write full-time or part-time? Writing has become my full time occupation since 2,005. I write more than eight hours a day if notes taken on research for books counts. In addition, I try to read 4 hours a day, usually books related in some way to the books I’m writing. The line between reading research and taking notes is very blurred in terms of time spent writing.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I’ve recently changed my routine because I’ve learned the hard way that writing for long stretches at a time causes blood clots, a serious occupational hazard for writers of all ages. I used to write in four to six hour stretches starting at 5:00 AM and ending around 8:00 PM. I ended up in the emergency room followed by the OR, then the ICU for two days, then a week in a hospital bed. The vascular surgeon told me I had a pulmonary embolism and was about two days from death. Now I get up at 5:30 AM and write for an hour and a half, sometimes two hours. Then I have breakfast, followed by another hour and a half writing. Much of this writing time is spent doing research, which often involves reading the works of other authors. Sometimes I read non-fiction for historical research. Other times I read fiction closely related to my own to make sure I’m writing something fresh, not something that has been written before by someone else. After my early writing sessions, I do chores around the house until lunch. After lunch, I do another hour and a half or two hours of writing. Then I go to the beach if the weather is nice and I swim in the ocean. If it’s not I will do some yoga and meditation. I do another hour and a half of writing just before dinner. My final writing session is an hour and a half after dinner. I’m writing seven and a half or eight hours a day now in five, one and a half hour sessions.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I never outline and I never improvise. As I said above, I base my books on dreams. I don’t start writing until I have dreamed the whole book. I write the book entirely in my head before I sit down to type it into my computer. This means I could write very fast if not for the research. Sometimes my dreams motivate the research. Other times the research causes dreams. I did an immense amount of research for each of the first four novels in my fantasy series, The Fair and Fey, and I will do an enormous amount more for book 5 which is finished in my head as far as plot goes but which I have only barely started to type into my computer. The research for book two took twice as long as the research for book one and each of the following novels took increasing amounts of research. Books four and five were originally dreamed as a single story but somewhere around a third of the way through the fourth book (as dreamed), I could tell it was going to be too big for a single book, so I picked a place to give it an ending of its own (not a cliff hanger) and left the second half for book 5. The research for book four took five times as many hours as the research for book three did. It’s a research beast because Arthur Pendragon, aka King Arthur, is one of the main characters and it behooves an author to know what she’s talking about when it comes to Arthur, lest she be ridiculed. Steinbeck spent ten years doing the research for his proposed book about King Arthur, ultimately dying before he could finish even half of what he planned to write. Steinbeck’s book has been published as an unfinished work along with his notes on the process of researching it. There will be those who ridicule what I’ve written about Arthur anyway but at least now, I have facts on my side. I gave Arthur his personality from my dreams but historical material gave the facts of his deeds in broad terms. It also gave me enough material that book 4 is another 50% more words than book three and at over 187,000 words, it’s only half of my tale involving Arthur. Book 5 will be the other half.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I am and Indie author but I made a vow to myself pledging I would never indulge in vanity publishing. My definition of vanity publishing is where the author has to pay money to get his or her work published. I am very strict about this. I won’t even pay an editor or a graphic artist as many Indie publishers do. What’s the point in paying out thousands of dollars for publication of a book by a new author when statistics say they have about as much chance of recouping the money as they do of winning the lottery? I’m being honest. These are the facts of breaking into this business. Neither publishers nor readers are much interested in reading new authors, no matter how pretty the book cover, or how elegant the grammar. I spent six years getting rejections of my first novel from traditional print publishers and agents. I could paper the walls of my study with them. I wrote everyone and got back nothing but form letters saying, “Sorry but we are not taking new authors at this time.” They didn’t even bother to read one word of my manuscript. Finally, one agent was kind enough to say, “Try Smashwords.” Smashwords is a brilliant publishing vehicle for Ebooks. They do a lot for the author, act as the publisher, and provide their services free of charge. The only downside is I have to do all the marketing myself and I suck at marketing. I would be happy to have a traditional print publisher take interest in my work and market it. A good thing about Smashwords is I am allowed to retain the intellectual property rights and can move to another publisher if I find one.
How do you market your books? I suck at marketing. It’s no fun either. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, says authors should spend 50% of their work time marketing. Ugh! Stephen King says authors should spend 50% of their work time reading. Mmm! I’m pretty good at math and I make the sum to be 150%. Something has to give so I skimp at marketing, my least favorite part of writing books, and hope my novels will sell themselves by word of mouth.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Fiction writing and publishing is one of the hardest fields to break into. Publishers don’t want to take on new authors, none of them do. Readers don’t want new authors hanging around the social web sites for readers. These things will cause you to wonder if your work is any good. Fight your self-doubt and never give up. Do you enjoy reading what you have written when it’s done? If so, let that be enough for a while, for a long while. Don’t expect to get rich and famous from writing. Don’t expect praise from the masses. You’re an artist. Most artists are poor for most or even all of their careers.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? Vilya is my main character in books 3 and 4 of my series, The Fair and Fey. She is an Elf and the love of her life, Narya, is also a female Elf. Vilya first came to our planet in book one as an alien from the planet Mag. Her name was Sashegh at that time, 9,000 years ago. She met a Native American girl named Nammi and they fell in love. Sashegh sailed with her mother to Finland after parting with Nammi and was turned into an Elf in ancient Finland by the wizard, Vainamoinen. She met another Elf named Alikki who was actually Nammi reincarnated but Nammi didn’t remember Sashegh from her previous life. Sashegh died battling Demons in Finland and was reincarnated in northern Britannia in the Dark Ages as a Water Nymph. There she met Merlin, whose previous name was Gandalf, and before that he was called Vainamoinen. Sashegh was turned into an Elf again by Merlin. This time she was named Vilya, and given one of the three lost rings of the Elves. In Britannia she once again met up with the love of all her lifetimes Narya aka Alikki, aka Nammi, proving that true love transcends even death.
I can always spot the author’s surrogate character in every work of fiction I read. It’s hard to avoid because experience is a big part of the material upon which authors draw. However, I make sure that I’m at least aware I have a surrogate and I limit the extent of me in her to no more than 25%. I feel if the protagonist’s personality is the same as my personality, I know the rest of the characters will suffer as a result. They will become cardboard props by comparison. Therefore, the other 75% of my protagonist’s character and my other main characters comes from traits I wish I had or from things I admire in some of the people I know. The same formula applies to villains. My main villain always has a small part of me in him or her, my dark side. The majority of the rest of his personality I base on bullies I know or knew and bad bosses I had. In other words, no, none of my characters is me but all contain a bit of me. I do work hard however to make every major character be real. They take on a life of their own, to the point where I let them tell the story in my lucid dreams, from their point of view. Then all I have to do is transcribe them when I wake. I admit to readers of this interview that my surrogate in The Elves of Avalon is Vilya but I only wish I was her, I am not actually her (although I do think I was an Elf in a previous life).
Where do your ideas come from? My inspirations come from research as well as my lucid dreams. Sometimes having a lucid dream will motivate me to do research to find out how much of the dream was real. Other times it’s the other way around, the research causes me to have a lucid dream, putting me into the world I’ve been reading about, e.g., Northern America of 9,000 years ago, or Finland 8,500 years ago, or Northern Britannia in the 5th Century, or the legendary realms of Arthannegh and Avalon.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Battling self-doubt.
Which writers inspire you? Stephen King, J.R.R Tolkien, Tom Robbins, Terry Brooks, and Kurt Vonnegut, in that order of worship.
Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? I think most “how to write” books and writing workshops are worse than worthless. Most of them are downright dangerous. They won’t help you. They will only feed your self-doubt. That said, I think there is one precious book revealing trade secrets of the art that every aspiring author ought to have on their bookshelf and refer to repeatedly: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. Bow down to the master! King gives us in On Writingwonderful tips on how to make a story sparkle with wonder, without tearing down our confidence by nagging at us about niggely-piggely things.
What one person from history would you like to meet and why? I would like to meet Merlin and ask him if he would teach me some magic. I believe this could happen because I believe he is still alive somewhere.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? One thing? There are many but foremost, I would eliminate religious fanaticism. Not religion itself, just the part where the fanatics claim to have the only true religion and everyone else is going to hell. So much evil has been done in the name of religions whereas the figures those religions were based on are almost always gentle loving souls, preaching doctrines of love, tolerance, and forgiveness. This is a central theme in my last two books. The war for Britannia started as a fight to repel foreign invaders (the Anglo-Saxons) but ended up being a religious war of Christians against Pagans (let’s kill them to save their souls). The Elves were disgusted and left Britannia. Most wars even today have religion at their core. I don’t think either Jesus or Mohammed would approve.
Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite? My favorite books of my favorite author are all seven of the books in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.
Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? Oh yes, I always do this. I write Ebooks so the first thing I do is download the published book to my tablet from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. First of all I want to see if it looks different on different retailers. Sometimes it does and not in a good way so I must submit a new version to try to fix the problems. Then I read it my favorite way, as an .epub from Smashwords. I read as if I’m a customer who just bought the book. I’m always thrilled. I love reading my books even if it’s the tenth time. I always get swept away into that wonderful world of fantasy and romance. If I’m really honest and not afraid of being called a narcissist, I would say my favorite author is me! I write damn good books if I do say so myself, ha ha ha!
Many thanks Jini for chatting with us! For more about Jini, her work, and to get your copy click the links below: