Elle shared on Summon Fantasy a little bit of what inspires her work, her writing process, and fun bits she likes to hide in her novels.
Summon Fantasy: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Elle Lewis: Immediately after reading The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. I grew up in a very volatile household, filled with domestic violence. Reading books was my escape. Books really and truly saved me. The voices of authors were like lights in the darkness. To me, being a writer is about giving back. I would love to inspire others to not give up and provide a bit of hope to those who need it.
Summon Fantasy: How long did it take to finish writing your first book?
Elle Lewis: I wrote Dark Touch and Genesis Rising together. Originally, they were one volume. But the story kept growing, and so I chose to split it and write it as a trilogy. Collectively I would say 8 to 10 years, but that also includes breaks during college/getting married and having a child.
Summon Fantasy: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Elle Lewis: I suppose I’m a little bit of both… I like to outline a story (act 1, act 2, and act 3) … I usually do character outlines, as well as the general direction of the plot/ending. But I also like to go with the flow once I sit down to write. I let my creativity or character arc guide me and give the story room to take on a life of its own.
Summon Fantasy: Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
Elle Lewis: I love the creative process with each book. But I would say that writing the sequel was challenging! Because it’s part of a trilogy, it’s tough to keep the entire storyline in mind. It’s a balance between letting creative juices flow while at the same time staying within the planned story arch. The Glass Star Trilogy contains new supernatural creatures and original lore. I always have to be mindful that I am operating within the laws of the world.
Releasing a sequel is a little nerve-wracking! As an author, you hope that fans of the first book will like the direction of the story.
Summon Fantasy: What inspired the Glass Star Trilogy?
Elle Lewis: My imagination is always on overdrive. The initial idea came to me as I was sitting in traffic, waiting at a stoplight. I saw a homeless man on the corner, with a sign. My weird brain thought “What if I hand him money but he isn’t human?”
As I sat and waited, I pictured his eyes turning black as I handed him cash. Was he a demon? Or something else? Something totally new?
As I began to write Dark Touch, I felt strongly that I wanted to create new supernatural beings. I love traditional monsters- demons, angels, vampires etc. But, as much as I adore the traditional monsters, I did not want to draw from previously published lore.
I decided to create my own creatures and try my hand at world building. I’m so glad I did! The Warriors of The Guild and Dark Ones have been graciously accepted by readers and reviewers and I can’t wait to share the continuation of the story.
Summon Fantasy: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Elle Lewis: It has definitely made me more aware of the impending editing process! As I write, I try to really watch my punctuation and grammar, so that I have less work to do during the editing process. I also consider reviews and critique, both positive and negative. I plan to write many books and I want to hone my craft. I like to take what people say into consideration so that I can improve my writing.
Summon Fantasy: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Elle Lewis: Don’t give up. Trust your creative talent. Believe in your story, in your characters. And grow some thick skin, because rejection and bad reviews will happen and somehow you have to find a way to let it roll off your back and stay focused.
Summon Fantasy: Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your books that you only find when you reread the book?
Elle Lewis: Yes, I do! My husband and I have a cameo in book one. And then my son, my husband and I have a cameo in book two. I’m sure we will make an appearance in book three as well!
Also- Sloan’s dreams foreshadow future events. Everything in them has meaning, even down to the crown molding on the ceiling, or the velvety red flower.
Colors are important too. I assign different colors to different characters. The way they appear or connect has meaning and can tip a reader to where the story is headed.
Summon Fantasy: How much world-building takes place before you start writing?
Elle Lewis: A lot! I really like to outline and meticulously build the world before I start writing. Once I set that foundation, I can let my creativity and imagination soar. But I need that path, I need the confines of the world first, so that I can expand on it as I’m writing and really draw in the reader.
It is very important to me for things to line up and make sense. For ideas to be fleshed out. To have a solid plot. If I create something, especially something new, it needs to work from all angles. Events or character actions require believable explanations (even in the world of SF/F).
I try to examine the story from the viewpoint of a reader. I ask myself, “Why? How would that work?” Or “What is the character’s motivation? What do they want?”
Creating new worlds is difficult. My goal is that it feels effortless to the reader. That is something I’m always striving to accomplish.
Summon Fantasy: When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood?
Elle Lewis: I have a busy schedule, so I plan when I’m going to write and set goals. I typically know what chapter I need to work on before I sit down to do it. If it’s something very emotionally draining or challenging (like a fight scene, or a long conversation with important information) I’m usually mentally prepared before I begin. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write, mulling it over, getting a general sense of how I want it to feel.
Sloan’s past holds similarities to my own. Her story, specifically the relationship with her mother, is drawn from my own personal experiences.
I always mentally brace myself for those passages, because they are very emotional for me. I pour myself into them, at times crying as I write. It’s very raw, but at the same time, cathartic.
Afterward, I feel drained and usually take a break in between writing sessions. But it’s worth it. My hope is that someone that has had similar struggles will read it and feel like they are not alone. I want people to draw hope from it and know that they can overcome challenging and painful circumstances.
Summon Fantasy: Does your family support your career as a writer? How?
Elle Lewis: Yes! My husband is such a big support. He helps me with our son whenever I have a lot of work to do, or long writing sessions that I need to get done. He will take him out for the day so that I can have a quiet house to work in.
My husband is also my editor. He provides a strong outside voice that pushes my stories to their full potential. He has excellent creative instincts. It’s easy to get carried away and lose direction amid a trilogy. Just talking things out with him, going back and forth on questions or ideas, is so helpful.
Summon Fantasy: What did you do with your first advance?
Elle Lewis: I got a manicure and pedicure! I don’t normally treat myself to those, but its just so fun and relaxing!
Summon Fantasy: Are you on social media, and can your readers interact with you?
Elle Lewis: Yes! I’m active on Twitter and Facebook, those are probably the best ways to interact with me. Twitter: Elle_Lewis2, FB: Elle Lewis@glass.star.trilogy. I am on IG but I don’t check in as often there. IG: Ellelewis5.
Summon Fantasy: Are you a full-time writer or do you have a day job?
Elle Lewis: I’m a nurse. Much of my career has been in Cardiology, specifically electrophysiology and cardiac procedures. Recently, I transitioned into the main operating room, which I love!
Summon Fantasy: Writing can be very time consuming so when do you find time to write?
Elle Lewis: I write whenever I can. Usually on my days off, which works well with a nursing schedule.
Summon Fantasy: Finally, what’s the next project we can look forward to?
Elle Lewis: So many projects so little time! Of course, I will be writing the final book in the Glass Star Trilogy. I am starting book three this week in fact!
After that, I plan to cross genres into horror.
I would like to combine my medical knowledge with my creative side and write a horror novel set in the operating room. Dark Touch is technically an Urban Fantasy, but it has a lot of dark elements. I want to explore that side of my writing and unleash the full extent of my twisted brain!
Following the horror book, I have another Urban Fantasy planned. It will be set in a dystopian future and incorporate some of my favorite monsters. I actually write a lot of short stories and post them on my blog – authorellelewis.blogspot.com. There are two stories currently on my blog that tie into the futuristic urban fantasy that will be entitled- King of the Ghouls. If you see any short stories on my blog that says “A King of The Ghouls chronicle” it will directly tie in with this future project!
And then finally- a high fantasy. I want to create a different world with new Gods. It will be one epic volume, a Grimdark Fantasy, with an antihero character as the lead protagonist. I think about this story a lot. It’s something that I am very excited about, but I also acknowledge what a huge undertaking it will be.
My plan is to create a multi-verse within these writing projects. All of my books will have tie ins- either with a character or a storyline detail- each book will have elements that interlink somehow!
Thank you, Elle, for sharing so much about your craft and future plans. I look forward to reading the third book in the series and I am thrilled to hear about your other plans. I find the horror novel set in the operating room particularly enticing.