GP: Interview with author Ebony Olson

This week’s guest post is my awesome friend and author, Ebony Olson.  Check out her interview below 🙂

Title Image. Guest post: Interview with fantasy writer Ebony Olson

Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and regaled my friends with retellings of my vivid dreams.

I’d tried writing my ideas down a few times before, but it wasn’t until I emailed two of my friends about one of my dreams, and they encouraged me to keep writing it, that my writing happened.

Even then, I was writing purely for my entertainment, and for my friends. I never imagined doing anything else with it until my friends pressured me to try getting published. Once the first book, Best Man, was out there, there was no going back for me.

My writing is cathartic, my version of therapy. It always has been and will always remain, a way for the Muse and I to deal with our demons.

Q02 – Are there any authors who inspire you?

I don’t have any particular author who I would say ‘oh I wish I could write like them’. I learnt a long time ago that I am my own person, and trying to be like other people, or even adhering to other’s expectations doesn’t work for me.

I would say that I have learnt a lot from other authors, both good and bad. For the most part, I think ‘they are so good, and I have no chance of ever being that good’.

This thinking can lead to negativity, so I prefer not to aspire to be like them, but to improve my writing to be the best version of me.

One of the best things I’ve read about writing came from Stephen King. When I started writing, a good friend gave me his semi-autobiography ‘On Writing’. The advice Stephen gave in that book was fantastic, and I’ve taken it on board in my writing.

Q03 – Did you get a lot of support when you told people you wanted to be a writer?

My family and friends have been very supportive of my writing. Most of them read my books and nag me to finish the sequels already for them. I still work full-time, so it’s not like I gave up my career with the dream of becoming the next Stephen King.

I just started sharing my nonreality with those around me, rather than keeping it to myself. Now, my friends and family know where I escape on bad pain days, or how I’ve always dealt with my anxiety when I’m stuck in a crowd of people.

My nonreality is my coping mechanism to deal with reality. I’m just sharing all the gory details now. Using writing as therapy is probably the reason most of my female protagonists are such strong, empowered women.

They embody the confidence of my Muse and the consciousness of the writer.

Q04 – Tell us a bit about what you are working on (or one of your current books)

I’m currently working on sequels to three different series and a few standalone. I never work on one book at a time. My Muse suffers ADHD and jumps between projects. Right now, I’m developing the sequel to Best Man which is the fourth book in my Hotel Series.

The Best Layover is a romance and continues the story of Jess and Ethan. The first trilogy in the series, Henderson, Cassidy, and Holmes, revolved around Holly and her disastrous love life.

The second trilogy in the Hotel Series is all about Jess. Some of the characters from the first three books in the series will feature in the sequels, and of course, Jess hasn’t escaped her messed-up family just yet.

Q05 – How do you stay motivated to write?

For me, it’s not about motivation. Writing is therapy and my coping mechanism. Sometimes I go months without writing a word, but then I will spend months writing every spare minute of the day and night, so it always balances.

Even when I’m not writing, the stories are still happening in my head. Scene after scene is created and played on rote until I do write it down. Sometimes my stories need the stewing period to sort out plot issues, or for character development.

Occasionally, the Muse and I disagree on a scene, and this can cause a stalemate in writing. If I’m to be honest, ninety percent of the time, the muse and I disagreeing will bring the book to a halt. The other ten percent is being exhausted from work.

Q06 – Do you plan your stories or just leap into the writing?

I never sit down and create a plan. I’m a panster to the bone. I’ll have a dream, wake up and write it, and from there, the story flows out of me. When it stops flowing is when the stewing starts to happen, and sometimes that means I walk away from a novel for several years before coming back to it.

My story Halos, I started writing in 2010. I hit a wall because I knew someone had to die for this story to work, and I couldn’t decide on the who or how. Five years later, I pulled the story out again and started working on it, and I finally finished it last year.

Can I say, the last few paragraphs in that book are a real slap in the face for how twisted the entire book is, and it’s probably my favourite part of the story?

So, in summary, Panster to start, and I half-arse the plotting from there on.

Q07 – Do you have a writing routine, if so tell us about it?

Sadly, my writing happens in the hours between my daughter going to sleep, and my falling unconscious.

Occasionally, on the weekend, I’ll wake up and write non-stop, but life usually forces me to put it away for a few hours, and that interruption can be detrimental to my focus on a story. I have no quirky habits or ritual to my writing. It happens when it happens.

Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Fitting writing in between work, life, and motherhood. Then there is the Muse’s ADHD. She genuinely is distracted by the simplest thing. Thank god I don’t live in a country with squirrels, I’d never get anything done.

The next obstacle is translating the story into words. When I write, it’s a movie in my head, so converting that into words that give the images their worth, is quite tricky.

I’m Aspergers, so I struggle with communicating my ideas to other people to start with, but then to try and take a scene I can see, and describe it verbally, I always feel the detail needs more.

I want my readers to laugh when something funny happens, I want them to swoon when the antagonist touches her cheek, I want them to cry when my protagonist has her soul ripped apart.

Struggling to embed these emotions in my writing can cause me to walk away from a project in frustration. This is where the stewing comes in. I walk away, let the description sort itself out, and then, when I’m ready, I sit down and write it.

Other times, I write the scene with the bare detail, and when I come back for the rewrite, I add all that extra detail in as an afterthought.

Q09 – What are your thoughts on Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing?

Anyone who wants to make it as an author has a dream of being traditionally published. The simple fact is, I’ve never looked at who the publisher of a book is when buying a book. I look at the cover, and the blurb and they either capture my attention, or they don’t.

The only way I’ve been able to tell a book was self-published in the past, was when the author skipped getting a professional to edit their work.

In some cases, they might have missed revising the manuscript altogether. Then again, I’ve read some pretty poorly written books by traditional publishers too.

Q10 – What is the best piece of advice you could give to new writers?

If you are going to self-publish, get a professional edit, put some effort into the cover and blurb, and the fact you don’t have a publishing house logo on your spine won’t matter.

For those just starting out, get Grammarly or a similar editing assistant. You will be amazed how much you learn from someone correcting your work. I don’t always agree with the suggestion from Grammarly, but nine times out of ten, I’ll make the change.

I’ve learnt a lot about my writing from people pointing out my mistakes, so don’t take polite feedback negatively. Use it to improve yourself as a writer. That feedback may one day be the reason you end up becoming a best seller.

Also, get some honest beta readers. If your beta readers always come back with praise and no criticism, you are the best writer in the world or they are fans, not beta readers.

People blowing wind up your pants are not going to make you a better writer or improve your manuscript.

Q11 – Are there any authors you would love to meet in person?

Yes. Rachel Vincent tops my list. But honestly, I’d end up standing there not wanting to say something stupid and either resembling a shy mouse or blurting something ridiculous.

Last year, I was at an author event and met Alice Clayton, whose book Wallbanger is a regular favourite of mine.

She was funny and lovely. When she sat down beside me to talk, in order not to fangirl all over the place, I think I spoke about something stupid, like Kangaroos.

So, in the interest of pre-empting my disastrous human interaction skills. Rachel, if we ever meet in person, I apologise in advance. I love your creativity and the worlds you create. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

There, done, I can go back to the dark corner and pretend I’m invisible again now.

Q12 – Tells us why you love writing

Writing is cathartic. It’s the healthiest form of escapism you’ll ever find – as long as you remember to stop for food and sleep. My stories are written for my enjoyment first and foremost.

They are my imaginary worlds, and I quite often reread my stories to get back to those worlds. When other readers contact me to tell me how much they love one of my books, it’s empowering.

I especially like it when someone picks up on some of the small clues I leave, or on the underlying meaning behind an item in my book. Just recently, I read a review of my Black Mark Series, and the reviewer entirely understood the cello, and why it was so crucial in the story.

When I read that, there was a feeling of peace inside me, just knowing that someone out there understood the underlying message of the entire story. It’s those moments that I love writing.

Many of my stories also deal with traumatic events. If the events that unfold in my books resonate with a reader and encourage them to keep living and to understand they can survive, then that’s something else I love about my writing.

About Ebony

Photo of author Ebony OlsonEbony lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and six cats. She loves to read fantasy, thrillers, and paranormal romance, spending most of her free time with her nose in a book or writing.

Having always possessed an over-active imagination she spent her younger years regaling friends with fantastic stories, holding her audience captive with the passion and suspense of her characters plights.

Now in adulthood, she has numerous published works and shows no signs of stopping her imagination from spreading across as many pages as it can find.

Of Shadow and Light

Image: Book cover - Of Shadow and Light by Ebony OlsonShe will be the one to take his coldness,

She will unveil the Unseelie darkness and show them light.

She will unite what should never have broken.

The daughter of the moon will teach him love and the radiance of the sun.

Her inner light will purify the tainted ones,

And she will guide the fey by wisp-light.

~ ‘Prophecy of the Dark Prince’

Messina Doe was just looking for a warm place to spend the night. What she discovers is a place the human race had long ago buried and forgotten. The dark Fey haven’t forgotten humans. The throne room of the Unseelie court is the hottest underground nightclub around, but if you step through the wrong door, there is no going back. No one ever escapes. Never. Once, someone did.

Buy the book on Radish

Connect with Ebony

Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Radish

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A big thanks to Ebony for being today’s guest poster.  I hope you enjoyed her interview as much as I did.  Do check out her links and leave any questions or comments for her below.

I’m sorry there has been a delay on answering your comments.  There has been a lot going on at home that has been stealing my time.  Hopefully, things will start calming down. 

As always, I love hearing from you and I appreciate your comments, faves and follows 🙂

I’ll be back tomorrow, see you then.  If you want to see something specific on this blog, drop me a message.

Happy writing

Ari

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9 thoughts on “GP: Interview with author Ebony Olson

  1. Thank you, Fairytale. People are always going to judge. When I first self-published I was asked a lot by certain friends ‘oh, which publisher?’ When I told them I self-published, the look on their faces was quite obviously distaste. This was despite having paid thousands for editing and a cover to be done.
    Of course, one of the most disappointing things I’ve experienced, is as I improve as a writer, I’ve learned what a crappy job some so called editors have done.

    While there are many good editors out there, there are just as many who will charge you to run your manuscript through Grammarly or spellcheck and return it to you. I’ve had good experiences, and bad experiences with editors. The good editing jobs, I’ve self-published and still had people comment it needed editing. The Bad experiences went back in the drawer. I’ve learned to be more discerning in my choice of editors and look at samples of previous work they’ve done. Looking at who other authors whose work you enjoyed used as an editor is also another way to go.

    I sort of went off on a tangent there, but it’s important.

    Thanks again for reading. 😇

  2. Lovely interview Ebony, a lot of your answers connected with me.
    I love your comments about having honest beta readers to help you grow and not to just praise your work. Everyone can continuously grow their craft. No ones perfect.
    And I’m thinking once more about getting grammerly.

    • Thank you for reading, Lorraine. I am far from perfect but having apps like Grammarly have improved my writing immensely. Still nothing helps more than reader’s critical feedback. It was one of the reasons I liked Wattpad years ago. If only it was still practical for a writer to use it.
      Happy writing.
      Eb

  3. Pingback: GP: Interview with author Ebony Olson – Ebony Olson

  4. A panster!!! I admire you so. I am way to organized but I admire those who can do it.

    I always enjoy author interviews. I enjoyed reading this. You are right, Ebony, hire a professional editor. Speaking from experience that was one of my smartest moves.

    • Thanks for checking out Ebony’s interview. I think it’s awesome she can pantser-write her books. When I was pantsing I wrote loads!… but it was so disjointed and full of plot holes. lol

      Oh yes, by and far the most important investment is professional editor. You can see a non-pro edited book a mile away.

    • Thanks for reading, Bryan. I keep a lot of my stories in my head. You can ask me about any of them and I could talk all about the plot, characters, settings. It’s all very visual for me. One of the benefits of participating in games like #TheMerryWriter and #AuthorConfession is they ask questions which quite often flesh my characters out more.

      I agree with Ari about plot holes, but that’s why stagnant rereads and beta readers are important. 😇

  5. “The simple fact is, I’ve never looked at who the publisher of a book is when buying a book. I look at the cover, and the blurb and they either capture my attention, or they don’t.”

    I particularly liked that answer because there are times I worry about people judging my own work because it’s indie published. Of Shadow and Light looks great!

    • Thanks for checking out this interview. 🙂

      I agree, there is still a stigma with Indie publishing. Sadly there are people who see it as a cheap and fast way to get their work out and fail to try it with the time, money and energy it deserves.

      I have books by awesome Indie authors and I’ve seen ones that are just painful – the difference? Book cover and editing. Every time!

      I don’t notice publishers, it really is the story idea and cover that captures the interest and these can be done awesomely by Indie Authors.

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