Welcome and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
I’m predominantly inspired by place. Each of my books is anchored in a real location, even Ask Me To Stay’s Hinterdown, which is a fictional name for a town in New South Wales. When I don’t have to imagine the setting, it’s like my imagination is free to see the characters, and all the complexities associated with them. I’ve written about Olinda in the Victorian Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne’s city and bay, Melbourne’s Hamer Hall… the list goes on.
My personal experiences sometimes work their way into my stories, but they get reshaped so much that they often become unrecognisable.
I haven’t been inspired by any people yet. Maybe one day, but for now, I have enough imaginary characters to be getting on with.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
I drove the length of the Great Ocean Road in January. I was the passenger and thoroughly enjoying myself, when a line from a song on the radio prompted an idea. This idea became so all-consuming that I ended up writing an entire outline around the borders of a map, and missing over half an hour of scenery and conversation. I don’t regret a second of it – that idea is likely to be my next book!
3. How did you come up with the idea of Ask Me To Stay?
I was participating in the International 3-Day Novel Contest and I needed a novella-length story which packed an emotional punch. The idea came to me from a single sentence, something intriguing muttered by the main character, Ethan Foster, as he drove home to Hinterdown for the funeral of his late sister-in-law. Everything sort of unfolded from there. I’d had two brothers in the back of my mind for a few weeks, and I knew they were arguing. When I started to write Ask Me To Stay, I was keen to learn why they were at odds.
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
I’ve only researched names once, and that was for a new adult fantasy book where every name had to mean something. In every other book I’ve written, Ask Me To Stay included, I sort of ‘meet’ my characters as one might do on the street. First, I notice their appearance; then I learn their name; then I ‘hear’ how they speak. I develop a basic bio as if I were being introduced to them.
So, as much as I choose my characters’ names, more often than not, I feel like my characters choose them themselves.
5. If you could pick a soundtrack to match your main character’s life, what would it be?
I realised the other day that there are a few songs called Ask Me To Stay. I loved the coincidence and listened to them out of interest, and now the Olly Murs version is stuck on repeat in my mind. This song captures Ethan’s position quite well.
6. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
I’m trying to train myself not to read reviews, but I’m not succeeding so far. It’s hard when people don’t connect with your story, misinterpret it or flat-out don’t like it, but it’s bound to happen. I can’t please everyone. Some of my favourite authors get bad reviews, and this grounds me, but I’ll read a dozen bad reviews if it means I get to read one excellent one. Those wonderful reviews where everything seems to click into place for the reader: they make the tough stuff much easier to bear.
7. Who is your literary hero?
Nora Roberts. She’s talented and prolific, and her stories stay with me long after I’ve finished them. I hope to one day have a backlist as extensive as hers.
8. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
I don’t need to set a mood – I just need a minimum of fifteen minutes. I write on the go; on my commute to and from work, whilst waiting in the car, just before going to bed. But if the words aren’t flowing, I listen to music I’ve come to associate with the story, or put on my slippers. There’s something about those slippers…
9. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
New adult fantasy with romantic elements. I’ve got a number of story ideas which I’ve been messing around with for a few years, and it’s probably high time some of them were finished and submitted for consideration.
10. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Blurbs and summaries. The bane of my passion for writing. How to condense a 110K idea into three paragraphs? If ‘brief’ came easily to me, my books would be short stories! I wrote so many iterations of the Small Town Storm blurb that I’ve lost count. I always get too enthusiastic (read: carried away) about the story, and give too much information.
I recently submitted the blurbs for the second and third Homeland books – it will be very interesting to see how much of my versions make it into the final Destiny blurbs!
11. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
Probably Jordan Hill, the gorgeous cop with a hero complex in Small Town Storm. There’s so much about that character that I esteem in a man. He’s down-to-earth, loyal and brave. He fights for what and who he wants and yet he’s sweet-natured and vulnerable. I spent so much time with that character because it was such a long, complex plot, and sometimes I miss writing about him. He’d certainly be a blast to spend time with if he could exist beyond the page.
12. What are you working on now?
I’m polishing the draft of the third Homeland book, Ask Me For Tomorrow. But I’m mighty distracted by a romantic comedy idea which keeps knocking on the door of my imagination. I feel like there’s a cast of characters waiting - with their arms folded, mind you - for me to start writing their story.
[And you wondered why this blog has the name it does!]
13. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo.
I’m not brave enough to list measurements – I’m a tad heavy-handed when I make cocktails, but the basic ingredients include orange juice, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, blue curacao and lots of vanilla ice cream. You blend it all together until it flows thickly (like semi-melted ice cream), pour it in a martini glass and top it with a white marshmallow. It was my drink of choice in my late teens – we called it a smurf and it goes down very easy.
Ask Me To Stay Blurb:
Genre: Contemporary/rural, with romantic elements
When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn't expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything - and Ethan's was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O'Hara, the girl he left behind.
There's still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back?
This tender tale of love and redemption is the first in a brilliant new series by Elise K. Ackers, author of Small Town Storm and the bestselling The Man Plan.
About the author:
Elise K. Ackers is from Melbourne, Australia. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense and is published with Destiny Romance and Escape Publishing. Elise is an animal foster carer, a magnet for unusual accidents and an enthusiastic couch commentator. Ask Me To Stay: A Homeland Book is her fourth book. The second title in the Homeland series will be available in July 2013.
Destiny Romance: http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781742536118/ask-me-stay-foster-novel