We’ve all had the experience of reading a good book and not being able to put it down. And maybe we’ve also experienced reading a series of books that keeps getting better and better, stronger and stronger with each book. But it’s been a long while since I’ve become so strongly attached to a series of books as I have to the Elemental Mysteries. Due to that, I hope you’ll pardon my giddy excitement that I had the privilege and pleasure to interview the author, Elizabeth Hunter. She talks writing and traveling in the following interview:
AH: Which character did you have the most fun writing in The Elemental Mysteries?
EH: That’s really hard to answer because I love them all in different ways. (They’re kind of like kids.) For the pure fun of it, probably Carwyn. I love his sense of humor and his heart. For a challenge? Tenzin. She’s very difficult to write because of her age, but that makes her really fun, too. And then Gio and Beatrice are always a joy. They’re like my oldest friends in the series because their characters came first
AH: The world you’ve created in this series is amazing. Can you explain your world building process?
EH: For me, it always goes back to character. The first character in the series was Giovanni. He came first when I imagined an immortal character whose life revolved around books. And then it grew from there. I started asking questions about him: When was he born? How had he lived as a human? Why was he immortal and how did it happen? What is his greatest strength? His weakness? What is he proud of? What does he regret?
And then I research. I do a lot of research to find the answers to all the questions. Books, the internet, music, documentaries. I’ve researched everything from Renaissance printing history to Caucasian geography to Taoist mythology. But that part is fun for me! I love research.
AH: One of the aspects I really enjoyed about the world was the character names–they rang true and authentic. Do you have a naming process or do they just come to you?
EH: It’s a combination. Every now and then a name will come to me; but often, I have a history or a background, and then I search for a name that seems to fit the character and have meaning beyond the obvious. Beatrice’s name (while not the most popular for a young woman these days!) was obvious. Her father was a Dante scholar, and Beatrice was Dante’s muse. But Carwyn’s name, which means “blessed love,” I had to search for.
AH: Where is your favorite place to write?
EH: I write in my office now that my son is in school, which is quiet and lovely and has my lazy dogs keeping me company. And that’s wonderful. But my first four books were written at my kitchen table when I was still juggling the world. I mostly wrote at night when my son was asleep. Or at a coffee shop sometimes. I think it’s important to be flexible. I understand “getting in the writing zone,” but you don’t want to get to a place in your process where you have to have to be creative. Make a habit of being creative in lots of places, and you might find inspiration in unexpected ways.
AH: On your website, you mention that you and your son plan to visit thirteen countries and as a fellow travel lover I have to ask: What country would you visit for the sole purpose of taking a writing vacation?
EH: This is a great question! (And thirteen is really just the beginning.) I’m actually considering a research/writing trip to the Eastern Mediterranean this summer. It will depend on the timing, but I love that area. I’m fairly sure that Istanbul is the setting for a book that’s swirling around my brain, so I really need to go there. Sometimes a city or country will just keep popping up—in books, news, music, reader letters—so I’m following my gut. If I was going somewhere to just write though, I’d probably go to Ireland. I love the West coast of Ireland; it’s very relaxing, and I do like a good pub.
AH: What have been the easiest and hardest parts about being a published author?
EH: The easiest? Being able to make a living doing what I love. This is my dream job, and I’m supporting myself and my family doing it. I’m incredibly blessed. The hardest? When you’re self-published, there are many responsibilities that go with running what is basically a small business. I hire good people, but finding them and juggling everything can be a challenge. Still, it’s a challenge I gladly accept, because I retain creative control over my work. I write what I want, when I want, and I market my work the way I think is best. Nothing is dictated to me by a publisher or an agent. For me, that’s worth the trade-off in time.
Elizabeth Hunter is the author of The Elemental Mysteries Series, THE GENIUS AND THE MUSE, and The Cambio Springs series. SHIFTING DREAMS is the first book in Cambio Springs and recently came out March 5. For more information, please visit her website elizabethhunterwrites.com