Author Interview with E.L. Summers

Dragon Soul Press interviewed E.L. Summers, an author in the Organic Ink: Volume 5 anthology.


1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for the last twenty years, but at a young age I only saw my writing as a hobby. I had little confidence in my writing. It wasn’t until college, when I had my first piece of fiction published in the college’s literary magazine, that I contemplated the idea of being a full-time writer. I took more creative writing classes and started a regular writing routine. I wish I had more confidence in my writing at the beginning, but sometimes it takes others taking a chance to make you to help chase away your inner demons.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but as a child I wanted to write the stories for video games. The story behind the games is what I enjoyed the most aside from the characters featured in them. I first wanted to write middle grade but feared my stores were copying the authors I had read, so I created my own worlds. Here, I felt free to use my creativity as an outlet for my depression and social anxiety.

3. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Hmm… titles can be hard to come up, as you want them to be unique while at the same time drawing interest for your readers. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a title, I’ll leave it blank or use something as a placeholder until I finish the first draft of the project. I tend to focus on the themes of the piece and brainstorm ideas. If that doesn’t work or if I’m dissatisfied with the idea, I’ll reach out to my critique partner for advice.

4. How do you develop your plot and characters?

Characters are always the easiest to come up with and I have a templet for creating characters. The template is a series of questions or prompts to ensure the character is well-rounded and not one- dimensional. Most of the time, I’ll be struck with an idea and create the character before creating ideas of what the plot will be. Despite writing several novels and a series I tend to resist using an outline. I’ll have a few ideas of where I want the story to go and write freely around those plot points.

5. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I think aside from grammar and sentence syntax, which arises during the editing phase, I think the most difficult part with writing any project can be creating the world building. I have been told that I am talented in creating a vivid, believable world, but I over think its creation. I tend to stress out and spend too much time on research when keeping my world tied to the real world. I think when you’re creating your own universe, you’re given more creative freedom. Things still must make sense to an extent, if you can justify your creative choices for going outside the norms, then it’s not as restrictive.   

6. On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

Four to six hours, depending on whether it’s a new story or a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’ll spend some time reading what I’ve already written before writing anything new. In the afternoon I’ll take an hour or two to edit any projects I have finished. O tend not to edit as I go while drafting. I find trying to edit while drafting can distract me and lead to procrastinations.

7. Who is your favorite author and why?

What a hard question, I am a mind reader and always looking for new things to read. For poetry it’s a tie between Edgar Allen Poe and Mayla Angelou. They both have different writing styles; Poe’s work can come across as grim and creepy whereas Angelou’s work is flowy and captures emotions and feelings. They both have a way of using words to create vivid imagery. My favorite fiction author is Cassandra Claire and J.K Rowling. They both played a role in getting me into reading and excel at character driven stories focused on a fantasy realm full of diverse characters.

8. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

There’s no surprise that as a writer, I love reading fantasy, poetry, and paranormal romance. I am a child at heart and love going to amusement parks and carnivals. I love attending art museums and musicals. I enjoy sharing my writing journey and connecting with fellow creative people through creating content for YouTube. I love playing video games, coloring, and watching anime, cartoons, comedic sitcoms, and dramas.

9. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am always working on new ideas; hence I have a notebook full of potential ideas, but to answer your question, I am working with my co-author Luna Nyx Frost to finish our Hunted trilogy and began plotting out a fantasy series inspired by Greek mythology. We wanted to showcase how the gods would overcome adversity if forced to live on Earth with a fraction of their power? There are not many stories in fantasy where the main character is disabled and being blind authors, we wanted to help create more representation for the disabled community.

10. Where can readers learn more about you?

On my website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Finding a Home for Your Story: Advice on Publication

Way back when I was about 22-years-old, I took a poetry class that changed my writing forever. I’m by no means a poet. I barely managed to write any decent poetry during the class. And since leaving the class, I’ve hardly ever written a poem – except for the occasional one that is born out of a purely emotional moment. But my lack of poetry skills isn’t what I took away from that class. It was actually quite the opposite. I walked away from that course as a newly-infused writer full of confidence and a sense of hope. As writers, we should always be filled with a sense of hope as we tell our stories. And we should always be hopeful that our work will find its intended audience.

That is probably the biggest take away that I received from my professor. She often spoke about “finding a home for your writing.” At first, we all thought she was talking about publication and finding the right magazine or journal to accept your work. That’s not remotely what she meant.

She told us a story about a series of poems she had written, which subsequently got rejected from every place she submitted to. Discouraged, she put them away in a file cabinet and forgot about them. Then, one day years later, she was going through the file cabinet and found them again. She was experiencing some personal difficulties at the time and her own words ended up being exactly what she needed to hear in that moment.

“Sometimes, you won’t always reach the broad audience base every writer dreams of,” she said bluntly. “Sometimes you’ll find that what you created will only reach a few people or even just one: yourself.”

The silence after she said those words covered the room in an impenetrable cloud of thought. I scanned the pensive faces of my fellow students as they digested what she’d just said.

Sensing many crushed dreams in that moment, my professor smiled as she added, “But you also have to keep in mind that your work serves a higher purpose. Everything you pour onto the page is intended for someone to read – to provide someone with whatever comfort they need in that moment. It will always find its intended audience so don’t be discouraged by your words. Use them. They will always be hope for someone who needs to read them.”

To this day, I still get chills when I think back to that moment in class. Every writer has a moment when they defined themselves as a writer – and that was mine, at the back of the classroom, quietly absorbing this poet’s wise words. Yes, we all want to be discovered as the next J.K. Rowling and have our stories printed for the masses, but those grandiose dreams are really us getting ahead of ourselves.

The journey to finding a home for our story doesn’t begin at the end of the road with a publishing contract and an advance; it begins with ourselves. We are our story’s first home. We are the ones who need to take comfort in our own words – after all, they live within us. Finding the hope within our writing will have a ripple effect. So far, I’ve had a couple short stories published and each one was the most honest version of the story in my mind that I managed to tell on paper.