Hello, Gentle Reader, today please welcome the truly marvelous Kate Elliott to the blog. Kate has a collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott, that has recently released that I think is a great way to sample her writing style. (Prepare yourselves if you are in the book group for Kate will be back.) If you aren’t one for shorts or can’t get hold of this particular book, I’m thinking my readers might also enjoy her Spiritwalker series and that is widely available.
About you, the Author!
Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
Tea. English Breakfast or Chai, with milk and one teaspoon of sugar.
Describe your personal style for author appearances.
I would like to say sporty chic but I think that is an oxymoron. I aim for neat and presentable in clean, attractive, well-cut clothing that, in the event of a sudden zombie attack or alien invasion, would not impede my mobility.
If I were to observe the writer beast in its native environment, what surprising thing might I see? What does the environment look like?
This was the hardest question to answer. I’m fortunate to have a fabulous office, a small room downstairs with the crucially important big window and French doors, thus giving me the intense amount of LIGHT I need to function best creatively. The French doors look out over the back lanai (deck) and our minuscule back yard (this is Hawaii–lots are tiny).
The surfaces of both my desks are covered with papers, “world-building” notebooks, and large drawing pads covered with post-it notes. Bookshelves take up one entire wall. The closet contains supplies and older world-notebooks in one of those elaborate installed closet systems that was here when we bought the house (organizational heaven). A couple of whiteboards sit propped up against available wall space. Tiny post-it notes circle my computer screen, each with a brief inspiration saying or personal reminder like “We have to press on” and “Every chapter contains a new cat!” and “Make the significant OBVIOUS” and “Let us forget with generosity those who cannot love us (Pablo Neruda).” All my little talismans sit either on one of the desks or on the window sill: a few childhood trinkets and treasured gifts from friends and family, including numerous pigs and schnauzers (not actual pigs and schnauzers–that would be both crowded and noisy).
On the walls (besides the bookshelves): A framed print of the fantastic Julie Dillon illustration that graces the cover of THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, a small framed original sketch by Jody Lee which is an early version of the KING’S DRAGON cover (she did all seven of the Crown of Stars covers for DAW Books), and the piece de resistance: The original Jim Burns painting used as the cover for HIS CONQUERING SWORD.
I’m not sure any of that is surprising though.
If you drive, what do you drive?
The spouse and I have two cars, which we use interchangeably (one isn’t “mine” or “his”): A Toyota Sienna minivan (bought used from a neighbor because they were leaving the island and we needed something to replace our battered and rusting-out Ford Aerostar, the car of our heart), and a Honda Fit Sport, manual transmission, which I love even though it is a boring silver color rather than something awesome like Mystic Yellow or Aegean Blue.
No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
Vanilla on a sugar cone.
(Gail’s analysis: basically sane with some inclinations toward wacky.)
What’s most likely to make you laugh?
Absurdity, dry wit, and affectionate teasing.
Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what’s your poison?
Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She is the author of several epic fantasy series including the Crossroads Trilogy, and most recently, the Spiritwalker series. Forthcoming in 2015 are her novels Court of Fives (Little, Brown) and Black Wolves (Orbit). Elliott lives with her family in Mililani, Hawaii, where she enjoys outrigger canoe paddling.
About your book!
What should readers eat while consuming your book?
Anything they want.
What form does evil take within its pages?
The evil that people do to each other.
Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
This is a particularly interesting question because there is a difference between the “me” who channels a character as I write them (and who therefore wants to kiss all the people the character wants to kiss) and the “me” who is the me right here typing this whose views are rather different from those of my infatuated characters.
Answering it is made doubly difficult because this is a short fiction collection, not a novel. I do think I emphasize love stories in my novels more than in my short fiction. In the case of this story collection I will choose two: A motherly kiss for the traumatized children in “The Memory of Peace,” and a very different sort of kiss for the husband of the main character, Anna, in the story “Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine,” because it is clear he is the kind of man who knows how to expression his appreciation and love.
What’s your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
The reason I write so few short stories and so many multi-volume novels is that I love history to pieces and keep stealing from numerous different eras every time I become infatuated with a new one.
I adore the Silk Road and its multi-century, continent-spanning, culture-hopping glory (my love for Central Asia influences the Jaran novels, the Crossroads trilogy, bits and pieces of Crown of Stars, and the story “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” in this collection).
I love Regency novels and the Napoleonic Wars (a Napoleon-like character appears in Spiritwalker), and I’m very fond of the Regency romance dynamic in love stories, which I have used as an inspiration in the Spiritwalker Trilogy and the Jaran books.
I did intensive research into early medieval Europe (especially Ottonian Germany) for Crown of Stars; it was such a pleasure to dig into that era. I recently read several books on 15th and 16th century South East Asia and Indonesia (inspired by a trip to the Angkor complex ruins in Cambodia), which research heavily influenced the story “The Queen’s Garden” in this collection.
For my forthcoming YA fantasy I am currently reading tons of fascinating material on Ptolemaic Egypt and the Hellenistic Period, aided by my spouse’s archaeological work in the Greco-Roman era Egyptian Delta city of Tell Timai. Court of Fives debuts in August (with the same publisher as Gail’s fabulous Finishing School series!).
(Gail’s note: Court of Fives will be our September book pick this year, it’s bloody genius.)
Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
Andevai from the Spiritwalker Trilogy. Slap, then kiss. Or kiss, then slap. I’m not sure which order works best.
Without spoilers, what’s the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
“To Be A Man,” whose main character is a sabertooth cat from the spirit world who can change into the form of a man and really likes to be petted, is the funniest story in the collection having (as it does) something of a slapstick flavor.
If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
I wish I knew why the term “vanilla” has come to mean “bland” or “plain” because not only is vanilla a derivative of an orchid (how exotic is that!) but vanilla oil is claimed to be an antioxidant that promotes health, an anti-depressant, a relaxant that lifts anxiety and stress, AND an aphrodisiac. Vanilla has a rich and multi-faceted aroma, and I would hope all my stories have a similarly addictive scent.
(Gail’s note: I love to smell of vanilla and usually do. This is quite interesting, as I can tell a lot about people’s backgrounds when they start to name what they think I smell like: ice cream, sugar cookies, cotton candy, flan, Bird’s custard, etc…)
The Very Best of Kate Elliott
A pair of princesses convene in the Queen’s Garden to plot against their scheming father. A mischievous saber-tooth cat from the spirit world uses his shape-shifting magic to right a wrong. The warrior Kereka tries to prove herself as a man, else live in the shadow of the hero to whom she’s betrothed. War-hardened Mai, in self-imposed exile, artfully shields her family from the spies of her jealous former husband, King Anji.
This career retrospective from bestselling author Kate Elliott showcases twenty years of her finest work. Collected here are many of Elliott’s previously unavailable tales, as well as a brand new Crossroads story. With her strong heroines, diverse worlds, and riveting storytelling, Elliott continues to inspire readers and push the boundaries of fantasy and science fiction.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
|1874-1875 The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
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Your Tisane of Smart . . .
|The Ganksin Project FB|
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
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|ottedmelonart- tumblr Fanart- Miss Ivy Hisselpenny and the case of the Taxidermied Octopus|
Quote of the Day:
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”
~ Oscar Wilde