by Jill Hannah Anderson
Some Q & A with Ella~
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
Hi my name is Ella and I’m a reader. That’s how I started writing. I started reading at age four and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in the middle of at least one book (usually more). After my youngest kiddo started first-grade and full-time work loomed in the near future, I suddenly had this desire to write. My husband was amenable to the delay in gainful employment, so I blindly and blissfully started. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect from the process. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I long for those halcyon days.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Reading. Did I already say that? I also love to travel, and plan travel, and dream about traveling. I like to hike with my dogs. I enjoy dinner and drinks al fresco with my husband (and friends). These days I like spending time with my three teens more than they like spending time with me.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
I think most authors draw textural detail and truth from their real lives, even if they write science fiction or fantasy. In WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS, my main character, Emma Hazelton, has a close relationship with her Grandpa Joe. To write many of their scenes, I drew heavily on my relationship with my grandpa, Ralph Reese. Like Emma’s grandpa, mine played hours of Solitaire while on-call. My grandpa was on call for the Union Pacific Railroad and Emma’s was an OB/GYN, but the click of playing cards against the kitchen table was the same. My grandpa was also a smoker who told me daily about the dangers of his addiction. Like my character Grandpa Joe, my grandpa hid the smell with Butter Rum Lifesavers.
What are you working on now?
I’ve been toying with a historical fiction set in Gilded Age New York City. During those prosperous years the American Museum of Natural History was at the forefront of scientific discovery, sending expeditions all around the world in search of unknown truths. The character Indiana Jones was actually based on one such museum employee. I wanted to spend some time in this age of optimism and discovery, but as I was researching I learned that in the quest for naming rights or fame, and especially because of religious conviction, some of the discoveries were forged, changing the course of scientific understanding for decades. Ah, conflict…the basis for a good story.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I recently started teaching a Continuing Education class at the University of Utah called Remaking the Past (how to write historical fiction). I’m teaching how to find primary and secondary sources, about researching just enough to give the story an authentic and historical feel, but not so much that you’re tempted to dump everything you know onto the page. We’re discussing story question, character arc, and dialogue. But in the end, the one thing an aspiring writer must do is write. There’s nothing to analyze, to edit, to fix…unless words are on the page. You can’t tell if your dialogue is clunky until you write a scene or two and read it out loud.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading my work. I’m still amazed that people actually lay eyes on my words. Thank you for contacting me to tell me about scenes that have moved you. And thank you for leaving reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Reviews mean so much to the author.
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