Below is an interview conducted with Elayne Griffith, author of Sapphire from The Shielded Realms series.
Name: Elayne Griffith
Book: Sapphire - Book One of The Shielded Realms Trilogy
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure
1. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?
I grew up in a small cow-tipping town outside of Yosemite, climbing trees, riding horses, and spending a lot of time writing and drawing in my room. I went to L.A. for 7 years, got my art degree, but got sick of freeway driving and came back home to cow-tipping. Besides writing, I paint murals, Illustrate, do pyrography (wood burning. Yeah, read that word again), graphic design, and just recently started working on an organic farm promoting sustainability. Life is pretty darn good.
2. Tell us about your book. What is it about?
Sapphire is a young adult (13+) fantasy adventure story with a dark twist on unicorns. I've always loved horses/unicorns and wanted a more adult story about unicorns, not the sparkly fluffy Rainbow Brite kind, so by golly I wrote it.
3. What inspired you to write it?
Being laid off and unemployed actually. I was completely broke and bored so I started writing a story to keep hold of my sanity, and it turned into a passion. Best thing that ever happened to me. Twilight also inspired it. I read it to see what the hype was all about and couldn't stand the emotionally co-dependent, drama-inducing, self-absorbed, pathetic character Bella. Disgusted that this was what young girls were reading and emulating, I wanted to write an anti-typical romance story with a strong, independent, dynamic female character that wasn't going to put up with emotional-abuse or drama. My character, Shawna/Ava, is still growing in the 1st book, but by the third she'll be a mature young woman who will understand what actual love is, which includes loving herself.
4. What do you think is the greatest challenge about being an independent author?
The marketing and getting yourself out there. I drew a cartoon about getting published (see attached cartoon) and that pretty much sums it up ;-) But if it's your passion, and you love it, don't give up! Ever!
5. What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
Teeka Teeka. Which, in Sri Lankan, means "little by little." Do something, anything, everyday that pushes your writing goals forward: write just a sentence, a plot twist, a character profile, read something inspiring, contact another author, research commas, have a crazy/fun experience, read a book, blog, even just meditate, etc. But most of all, don't listen to that discouraging voice and just keep writing.
6. What have you done to promote your book?
I don't do nearly enough, but maybe every author says that. Marketing is very time consuming. So as much as I can I post on facebook, twitter, my blog, go to vendor events, do local book signings, research marketing strategies, yaddayadda. What I believe is more important is being prolific. The more you have out there the more you'll be seen. It's like throwing 12 hooks with little marketing-worms on them into the ocean instead of just one hook with a ton of fat-marketing-worms on it. With 12 you're bound to catch something.
7. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Getting lost. Getting lost in another world, another time, another mind. I love the act of creating something that never existed before. My happiest days are sitting in a quiet beautiful place with a cup of hot coffee (with whip cream and cinnamon), listening to the rain, and writing down the visions in my head. Now to just make a living doing that. That's the goal.
8. What do you enjoy least about writing?
The marketing. The struggle to make my voice heard in the slush pile of millions of other self-published books. Hello? Helloooo? Fun, quirky, magical story over here. Aloha?
9. What authors have inspired your writing?
J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. In a way, I'd have to say especially Hugh because we've actually been in contact. To be treated with the humble respect and kindness that Hugh gives, to get that from someone you admire and look up to, is the most inspiring thing someone can receive. Which in turn, inspires one to do the same for others. I hope to be a successful and known-ish author one day so that I too can also inspire others.
10. Anything specific you want the readers to know about you and/or your book?
You know, I'm 30, I have a college degree, my car's held together with zip-ties and duct tape, everything I own is second-hand, I don't own a cell phone or I-anything, and I've never been happier in my life. By American societal standards I live at poverty level, but by universal human standards I'm rich with family, friends, love, health, and happiness. Life is short and most people regret the things they didn't do. The pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of purpose. Find something to live for, to love, and be grateful for the circumstances that allowed you to pursue your dreams and passion. Very few in this world have the luxury of dreams. Do that and you'll have lived a blessed life unlike many.