Interviews

Musa Publishing Newsletter: October 2014 Featured Author

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. From a very young age I loved books and decided I wanted to be writer. When I was eighteen I discovered zines and have been making a litzine titled 398 ever since (under the name Elizabeth J. M. W.). I write scripts for a local dance theatre group, where I also occasionally take part as a dancer and a choreographer. Dance has been a part of my life since I was nine and it tends to work its way into my stories, including She Dreamed of Dragons. Over the years I have had several different jobs, including a library page, a daycare assistant, a fish and reptile caretaker/salesperson at a pet store, a puppeteer, a freelance journalist/photojournalist, and a Christmas elf at the mall.

Where did you get the idea for this novel? (She Dreamed of Dragons)

Several years ago I was watching the very first season of American Idol (2002). I thought it’d be interesting if there was a competition to name a new prince/princess, especially if it took place in a magical kingdom. I was also working on a story where the mages inherited their powers from mystical beings – so there could be dragon mages, unicorn mages, fairy mages, and etcetera. I decided to combine the two ideas into one.

How did you come up with the character Trina?

I honestly don’t remember where Trina came from or why I even named her Trina. I originally started working on this book over a decade ago, when I was still in high school. I look through old notebooks or old computer files full of my own writing and barely remember writing it. But there are certain stories, like Trina’s story, that I would keep feeling drawn to. I would often go years without working on She Dreamed of Dragons and then suddenly want to re-open the file and work on it again. The one thing that stayed true to Trina is that I didn’t want her to be a girly-girl, I didn’t want her to be the most beautiful girl in school, I didn’t want her to rely on other people (especially boys) to save her. I wanted her to be slightly awkward, tomboy-ish, and intelligent. I wanted her to be someone who others would find approachable and who readers would want to be friends with in real life. I wanted her to be a heroine that young readers, especially girls, could look up to.

Realms Young Adult Fantasy Literary Magazine Author Interview:

Elizabeth J. M. Walker (February 2015)

Realms Young Adult Fantasy Literary Magazine: Will you give us a brief background about who you are and where you’re from?

Elizabeth J. M. Walker: I live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I currently work as a freelance journalist/photographer for an on-line community newspaper. I grew up being involved in dance and theatre, including writing scripts for dance theatre shows. Dancing often finds its way into my stories, including She Dreamed of Dragons. I’ve always loved books and writing.

Realms: For those who don’t know, can you give a brief synopsis of your debut novel, She Dreamed of Dragons?

 Elizabeth: She Dreamed of Dragons follows a young dragon mage named Trina as she unwillingly attends a competition to find a new prince or princess for the fantasy world of Dorlith. The novel is a YA fantasy adventure, but is also suitable for MG readers.

 Realms: What was it that inspired you to write She Dreamed of Dragons?

 Elizabeth: When I was in high school I remember watching the very first season of American Idol, when “reality TV” was first becoming popular. I thought it’d be fun to write a fantasy story about young people attending a competition to find a new prince/princess.

 Realms: What appealed to you about writing from the point of view of a YA character?

 Elizabeth: I write YA because the teenage years are such an interesting and life-changing part of life for everyone. Things like first romantic relationships, feeling like you’re growing up and changing into a new person, and making choices that will ultimately affect you for the rest of your adult life can all happen while you are a teen. It can be exciting, wonderful, frightening, stressful – or a combination of all of the above and more. For a writer it creates a wealth of material for stories, whether they be contemporary fiction or fantasy.

 Realms: What is about Trina, the protagonist who is a dragon mage, that you think readers will find relatable?

 Elizabeth: Even though Trina has magical powers, I still wanted her to be a very down-to-earth and “normal” character. I think some readers would be able to relate to her feeling awkward and unsure of herself, but her confidence grows throughout the story.

Realms: What would you like your readers to take away from the book?

 Elizabeth: I would like readers to be able to enjoy a fun, fantastical story. However, on a deeper level, a lot of the book is about accepting others’ differences and accepting who you are.

Realms: Do you think adults have something to gain by reading YA stories?

 Elizabeth: I have never stopped reading YA, even though I’m no longer a teenager. I think it’s an important part of life where many interesting stories can be told.

 Realms: Currently, your book is only offered as an eBook and/or PDF. Are there any plans to have it available in paperback or will there be any sequels?

 Elizabeth: I believe Musa Publishing is gradually adding all of their books to a Print-On-Demand option. A few of their books are currently available with this service, but She Dreamed of Dragons has not been added yet. Hopefully within the next year or so it will be available as a paperback.

I have ideas and outlines for sequels, but have some other manuscripts closer to being finished that I would like to work on before fully committing my time to a She Dreamed of Dragons sequel.

 Realms: Since you are also a contributing author in our upcoming issue, we would like to know your opinion about us. Do you think it is important to broaden the YA Fantasy genre and open it up to short stories, poetry, and other writing forms? 

Elizabeth: I think there are a lot of wonderful YA fantasy novels out there, but not too many places that focus on fantasy short fiction for the YA audience. I think it’s great that Realms is around to provide readers with some great fantasy short fiction and poetry. 

Realms: Do you believe there is magic in the world? What kind? 

Elizabeth: If you look in the right places… 

Realms: What is it about YA Fantasy that draws you? 

Elizabeth: Ever since my dad read The Hobbit to me when I was little, I loved reading about fantasy worlds. I enjoy reading to escape, and reading about a fantastical world is the best way to do so. There are all kinds of fun and magical ideas waiting to happen, but at the heart of good fantasy stories there are always great characters that bring everything together.

 Realms: Which author(s) influence you the most?

Elizabeth: When I was a teen the first YA fantasy I fell in love with was the Song of the Lioness Quartet and The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I think she has influenced a lot of current authors who write about strong female heroines in fantasy settings. Some of my other favourite YA/MG fantasy authors that I find inspiring are Kristin Cashore, Maureen Johnson, Eoin Colfer, and J. K. Rowling.

Realms: What is your favorite YA fantasy story?

Elizabeth: I guess I would have to say Harry Potter. I think the first book came out when I first started high school, and the last book came out after I was done high school for quite some time. Like a lot of people, I feel as though I grew up with the books, and Harry and his friends. I have a lot of fond memories of borrowing the books from friends at school, discussing the books while waiting for the bus, going to see the first couple movies together, watching the DVDs and bonding with new friends while living in university dorms, and the final book being delivered in a special box on a Saturday, even though we usually don’t get mail delivered on Saturdays.

Realms: If there was the kind of magic in this world that is in storybooks, what would you want to be or be able to do?

Elizabeth: I think it would be pretty amazing if we had fantastical healers who could heal every disease. And…I’ve always wanted to be able to teleport, so I wouldn’t have to spend time driving everywhere. I could also travel the world for free, and be able to visit family more often.

Book Blurb: She Dreamed of Dragons is a YA fantasy adventure that follows Trina, a struggling dragon mage, as she competes in a competition to find a new prince or princess for the fantastical Kingdom of Dorlith.

Title of Story in Realms: The Sea Rider

Hardcover: A Literary Podcast (July 20, 2015)

Episode 21: Realm of Change (YA Ficition with Elizabeth J. M. Walker) 

(click the above link to be taken to the podcast)

Book Goodies Interview

August 23, 2015

About Elizabeth J. M. Walker:
Elizabeth J. M. Walker has always loved books and writing. She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her other half and their two cats.

What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write is the love of storytelling and seeing the stories in my imagination come to life.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am definitely an outliner. I like to know the beginning, middle, and end before I really start writing. However, if other ideas come up during the process of writing, the beginning/middle/end are not set in stone and I don’t mind going back and changing things.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I usually see scenes as movies playing in my head. I don’t personally interact with my characters.

What advice would you give other writers?
Read a lot. Write what you want to write and not what you think you should write.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Self-publishing seemed very daunting (and expensive), so I really wanted to find a publisher. Being with a publisher also makes you feel less alone during the whole publishing and marketing process. You have the publisher and the fellow authors of the same publisher on your side, which is always nice. I am happy I am with a publisher (Mirror World Publishing) that happens to be in the same city as me, so I can meet in-person and attend local events with them.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I really don’t know…But I honestly don’t think print books will ever be extinct. People will always love actual books.

What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Awesome Gang Interview

August 31, 2015

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Elizabeth J. M. Walker has always loved books and writing. She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her other half and their two cats.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is She Dreamed of Dragons. It was inspired by TV talent competitions! But the book the also about accepting others’ differences and is set in a fun fantasy world.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Unfortunately no…I wish I had something more interesting to write.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
When I was a teen the first YA fantasy I fell in love with was the Song of the Lioness Quartet and The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I think Pierce has influenced a lot of current authors who write about strong female heroines in fantasy settings. Some of my other favourite YA/MG authors that I find inspiring are Kristin Cashore, Maureen Johnson, Sarah J. Maas, Rainbow Rowell, Eoin Colfer, and J. K. Rowling.

What are you working on now?
Many things! I’m working on a teen vampire comedy, a contemporary/dance story, a contemporary teen story about zines and other things, and several more fantasy stories too. I should probably get off the internet and go work on those now…

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I guess I use Facebook the most.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read a lot. Write what you want to write and not what you think you should write.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I went to a Tamora Pierce reading and it’s where I got some of the above advice and have always thought it was one of the best writing tips I had heard. I’m paraphrasing because this was over ten years ago now….But she said you should write what you want to write, to write what you love to write – because you’re going to be the first person who reads it and you’re going to be the person who spends the most time with it – so make sure it’s something you actually love and not just something you think you should be writing.

I was definitely struggling with that at the time, so it really stuck with me.

What are you reading now?
I just finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowel and loved it.

Now I’m reading:
Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo
Songs for the Lost by Alexander Zelenyj

What’s next for you as a writer?
Hopefully more books finding homes.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
A complete collection of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. And…I can’t decide what else to bring. There are too many favourites to choose from! Oh no wait, the smarty-pants answer: a book about how to survive on a desert island and another one about boat building with limited supplies. In between my hunting and foraging for edible food and boat building I will take breaks to read fairy tales.

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