Urban Lit Magazine, ran by Danielle Urban, is a new magazine promoting and helping self-published authors. The issues are available on Amazon, and feature interviews with authors, book reviews, articles on writing, and prompts to get you writing!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have an interview featured in issue five of Urban Lit, the June magazine. Here are the questions and answers, shared here with permission from the magazine.
ULM: Can you briefly tell us, readers, what your debut novel, When the Summer Ends, is about?
When the Summer Ends is about a young girl, Aika, who grows up facing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety due to her dysfunctional, selfish parents and estranged brother. At the time, Aspergers and Autism Spectrum Disorder weren’t commonly diagnosed for those that were very high functioning, at least not as we know it today, so she struggles blindly with friendships and the other things that life throws at her until she meets Carrie Knox, her first friend and love.
ULM: Who were your hardest characters to create and which ones were your easiest?
For me, Aika Rowland was the easiest character to write as we are both on the Autism Spectrum and go through similar challenges; her perks and interests also closely mirror my own, and we have a very similar personality and reactions to certain things. Despite being my polar opposite, Carrie was extremely fun and easy to create, as I imagined her to be my ideal kind of person, a person that I could get along with easily and find myself falling in love with. I just wrote her as I imagined my ‘perfect’, dream best friend to be: fun, outgoing, hilariously awkward and lovably clumsy, as well as a buccaneer adventuress! Celeste – the absent mother – was also rather straightforward to make up, as I could simply go all out and create the harshest, most self-absorbed person I could think of; she may have been a mix-up of film and book characters I had seen before, but I can’t help but love to hate her.
As for the hardest characters to create, these had to be some of the minor characters, such as the brothers Pierre and Buddy, as at this stage I hadn’t explored options or futures for them, and therefore I got a bit of a blank whenever it came to write from their perspectives. In the upcoming book – Mansions of Glass — however, Buddy gets more of a voice.
ULM: What are three words you would use to describe your novel?
Painful, dramatic, and honest. Painful because there is a lot of heartbreak and stomach-churning trepidation in Aika’s world, dramatic because there is always something furtive and wrong going on in Jubilee, and honest seeing as I didn’t want to tone down the themes of social marginalisation, mental illness, and adolescent love. I wanted to tell it as it is, at least in my heavily dramatized imagined town and interpretation of the 1950s.
ULM: What are your three tips that you would give to other writers?
I would say, allow the characters to explore their own avenues after a period of time. No plot is set in stone, and sometimes other, better ideas can come in from the most unexpected sources. For example, the end of When the Summer Ends came to me in a dream, and it taught me to count all ideas as possible outcomes. Usually I hate changing things, but this time it was for the best.
Also, keep a diary, notebook or even an art journal full of all the ideas that pop into your head. Writing things down is always a good idea, as every little thought counts and could contribute to a really interesting future story.
As I mentioned above, an art journal or a sketch book is also an excellent idea, even if you have no skills in drawing. I was once stuck on a certain chapter and didn’t know how to set about typing the beginning, when I sat down to draw a picture of how Aika would look, her expression and how she would hold herself, as well as what she was wearing and where other characters were located in relation to her. This helped me put pen to paper and describe what was going on. Or if you can’t draw, perhaps even pasting down words from newspapers or scribbling colours to set the mood could generate some ideas. Mind-mapping is also a great idea for beginning.
ULM: What are your future plans for novels, if any, that you can share with us readers?
Mansions of Glass is currently in the works, the second novel that takes place from where When the Summer Ends trails off. At the same time, I’m also working on and editing two other books – Carrie’s Valentine, a novel about Carrie’s life written in collaboration with a good friend, and Roses for Margaret, a story about life in an all-girls school and coming to terms with illness and sexuality. Most of my future novels will deal with themes of mental health and LGBT romance, as these are themes that interest me the most.
ULM: Where can readers connect with you and find your work online?
My main, official website is elliemorrisbooks.com. I also use Tumblr: http://elliemorrisbooks.tumblr.com/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elliemorrisbooks/