Blood Is Heavier – released May, 5, 2012
I thought you may have had too much of me by now, but apparently there were a few more questions that needed answers. Michael Phoenix is asking most of them.
Ella Medler was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to give this interview.
Ella is the author of Martin Little, Resurrected and Blood is Heavier. Both books received a 10 on my reviews. I want to ask a few questions about your books first. To give potential readers an idea about what makes them unique.
Michael: At points, especially in Martin Little, It appears parts of the story come from life or personal experience. Has any part of your life experience or personality become part of either book?
Ella: Michael, there is a small piece of an author in every one of their books. I would be a fool to deny it. I was blessed with a full and varied life, which means I could indulge my habit of people-watching almost daily. As a consequence, I’m never short of strong characters. All I need to create is a good plot and then let my characters loose.
Martin Little himself is a character that brings together the best and worst of a few people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I think the whole book was born from my wish to understand them and give them a helping hand in conquering their fears and becoming better individuals. The book is written in the first person, from a male point of view, which I suppose is quite unusual for a female author.
Blood Is Heavier is at complete opposite ends of my writing spectrum – a thriller with a strong male lead, a man who’d been tested by life and found a way out of his nightmare, only to be haunted by his old demons again. He is a damaged person, and I have written his story in a way that allows each reader to use their own set of values, tolerance and understanding when judging his actions. But being an ex-contract killer, Nick does not see himself as a victim. I have a lot in store for him in his next book, so be prepared to re-evaluate your ethics.
Michael: The book covers are a perfect match for the books. Did you design them or have a major role in their design?
Ella: Both covers were designed based on my ideas. I believe that only the author knows exactly what goes on in their book and therefore they should have a say in how much the cover should reveal, and in what way. I was lucky, in both cases, to achieve a stunning end product. That is where a good artist shows their hand. I may have ideas, but I am no good at putting them in practice, cover-wise. An experienced artist will take one word or one scene or one picture and turn it into pure gold.
The cover for Martin Little, Resurrected was designed by Andrews UK, and the one for Blood Is Heavier by Patti Roberts from Paradox Book Trailer Productions.
Michael: In both books, you keep your reader off guard with the story and they have several surprises. Was this intentional?
Ella: Ha, ha. Of course. What’s the point in simply following a map? A treasure hunt is much more fun.
Michael: Did, at any point, you feel like the writing was forced or did the books just evolve on their own?
Ella: Like every new writer, I spent ages agonizing over the best way to start. I read everything I could find on writing, the pitfalls and best practice, advice from authors, requirements from agents and publishers, suggestions by people whom I admired, I read and read until my head felt like it was about to burst. Eventually, I decided to try every method in turn.
With Martin Little, I started off with a few clear characters and pretty much let them do what they wanted. I had a vague outline and just gave them a nudge in the right direction when I thought they might lose their way. It was an incredibly free, liberating book to write. Even finished, it carried on feeling that way. One reader called it ‘pure escapism’ – I loved that.
By the time I wrote Blood Is Heavier, I had a much more complex plot in mind, but again, my characters demanded that more be told about them here and there, so I allowed them to grow. Rather than end up with an epic-size novel, I made the decision to relax and split the original book in as many parts as necessary to tell the story in full. To keep it all in one book would have been forced. This way, each of the books in the series is a complete, full novel which can be read standalone or as part of the whole.
Michael: How long did it take you to write and publish each book?
Ella: I write pretty fast, though I do have good days and bad days, like most people. I can write six thousand words one day and only two hundred the next. I took about six weeks to write each book. With Martin Little, I took three weeks to write the first three chapters, and another three to write the rest of the book. That was in the times when I thought traditional publishing was the only way. Those first three chapters saw about forty edits. Blood Is Heavier evolved in pretty much the same fashion. I kept changing and improving things until the day before publishing.
Michael: Any favorites from either book?
Ella: I very much enjoyed writing the ‘fall-out’ scene in Martin Little, the point at which he finally understands he needs to change. I also loved playing with the acronyms and showing up the idiocy of extremes in otherwise useful concepts such as Health and Safety. The tearing down of myths and legends was a riot, from Adam, the angel with ‘connections’ to the uniforms of the heroes.
In Blood Is Heavier I took a lot of pleasure in writing the heavy action scenes. And I am quite partial to the Turks and Caicos and also the light banter involving Tequila – both with Nick and Maxi.
Michael: Why did you decide to go the independent (indie) route?
Ella: Ah, well. I suppose because I am a very impatient person. I’m working on that, but I cannot say I’ve made considerable progress yet.
I did start the traditional way, as you know. Of all the agents I sent queries to, just one saw the potential in Martin Little, only it wasn’t something they felt they could promote. Knowing the state of the UK book market, that is fully understandable – I am not what you would call a ‘household name’. I know there must be new authors out there, being signed, of course there must be. But guess what the adverts on TV push? What we see and hear of every day? Not the new blood. I can interpret that message all by myself.
I never did try the US market. It is worth mentioning, though, that of the three publishers I approached once I gave up on agents, all there offered me contracts. One fell by the wayside as soon as it became obvious they expected me to pay for ‘additional’ services. Of the other two, one seemed fair and the other offered to look at Blood Is Heavier again if I didn’t publish it by the end of the year.
I just couldn’t wait, and besides, it doesn’t hurt to have the experience. I’d rather try something new than spend my life wondering ‘what if’?
Michael: What are or were the hardest challenges you face in writing? How about publishing, marketing and promoting?
Ella: Publishing, I don’t see as a problem. With the way publishing is changing, as an industry, there will always be options. In fact, there will probably be something new developed every year.
Marketing and promoting are hard work, but they are not insurmountable obstacles by any means.
My hardest challenge, by far, is to ‘let it go’. You know, a lot of people feel like they’ve accomplished a life’s ambition by writing a novel. I admit, that is a good feeling, but I wouldn’t call it a challenge. My challenge, the scariest thing in the world, to me, is ‘letting it go’. Those last few minutes, hours, even days before I push the dreaded ‘Publish’ button are absolute torture. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, my insides are churning. It’s like a bad case of stage-fright. That novel is me, in a way, and I don’t know how the people in the audience are going to react when they see ‘me’.
Michael: I have to ask this: Just because they are my favorite characters. Any chance for a quick word from Martin and Tequila?
Ella: I’ll give you a taste of things to come, from their perspectives.
Martin has to face a huge challenge in his next adventure: he has to die. There is no way around it. The problem is, he won’t be allowed to. Here’s what he says:
“I’m not going to just lie down and wait for death to find me, Archie. I won’t let them do that to us. To Vee.” Archie swallowed loudly when he heard his daughter’s name. “I won’t ask you to come with me, though I’ll be the first to admit: I’ll need all the help I can get, with my track record.”
“And you? What are you going to do?” he asked quietly, almost a whisper.
“I… I am going to die.”
Tequila has a hard job on her hands, looking after Nick’s family. At the same time, she is trying to help Detective Newton find who is trying to set up Nick, and also why. Here’s a conversation between the two:
“That’s abduction, and theft. Campbell’s wife and children were on that cruiser. Now the whole lot of them are missing, boat included. He’s still a suspect in the murder of Miriam Janice Whitbourne-Philips, and then there’s a large number of bodies scattered all over his parents’ estate, and damage caused by the fire – it looks like he might get lumbered with arson for that one. And now it seems they’re trying to hook the disappearance of a good-for-nothing, Nathan Hicks, on him, too, though I’ve seen the witness statement for that one and I don’t know how they can ever pin it on him.”
“Ah. I can testify that it wasn’t him, the Nathan Hicks one,” Tequila smiled at Newton, looking guilty. “From a distance, preferably via phone or video link.”
“I’m not gonna ask.”
“Wise man,” Tequila muttered.
Michael: Now, the obvious questions, for anyone checking out your books or blog for the first time. What would you like your readers / potential readers to know about the personal side?
Ella: I enjoy writing. I am a minimalist, or would be, if my husband and kids would ever allow it. I love to cook, too, though I rarely get the chance to do that nowadays. I smile a lot. I live every day as if it’s my last.
Michael: Why did you start writing?
Ella: If you’re referring to my publishing what I wrote – because it was time. I had put it off for long enough.
Michael: How long have you been writing?
Ella: Since I was about five – I started off with little comedy sketches, which my friends and I were going to perform to amuse our parents. So, we’ll call that thirty plus years.
Michael: What inspires you and your writing?
Ella: I find inspiration everywhere I look. I also have a very strong sense of justice, so if I see an unfairness, prejudice, inequality, discrimination, I will automatically try to make it right. No, it doesn’t always work. Life is not fair, I know that. It won’t stop me from trying, though.
Michael: Any favorite authors or writers?
Ella: I read a lot of Isaac Asimov and Agatha Christie in my youth. Later on, I discovered Edward Rutherfurd, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. My carefree alter ego loved Tom Holt.
Of the authors I have read in the last six months, I have been impressed by Kym Grosso, Patti Roberts, James A. West, Alan McDermott, K. S. Haighwood and quite a few others. I found I stretched into genres I would not have considered previously, and I am enjoying them all.
Michael: Why did you decide to price your books at free?
Ella: I have no control over the pricing structure of Martin Little, Resurrected – the publisher sets that one. Blood is Heavier is free to download for a limited time from Smashwords (I guess I’m just ecstatic to be in control). Its price is set at $3.99. It is free for now for promotional purposes. I do intend to publish a series of Authors’ Resources books, and they will be free – I do not want to put any obstacles in the way of would-be authors. Everyone should have the chance to do their best, unhindered by financial worries.
Michael: Any chance we could get information on upcoming writing projects?
Ella: I have started writing sequels for both Martin Little and Blood Is Heavier. I intend to publish the first volume of the Authors’ Resources in September and the Blood Is Heavier sequel in December. I’ll try to fit Martin Little in there, somewhere, though I don’t know exactly where yet.
I have recently entered a partnership to co-author a series of book – possibly as many as five or six of them.
Of other projects, I am considering a conspiracy theory thriller set in the 70s, during the ‘cold war’. Most of the action would probably take place in Russia. I am thinking of a murder, where a wrongly-accused man is using his wits to prove his innocence from within his prison cell (see – that injustice theme again). I am also playing with an apocalyptic idea, for which I will have to do a lot of research. It’s so simple, I wonder why nobody’s thought about it yet. There’s a trilogy – commercial fiction – but based on real life events, in which I wish to treat the idea of voluntary immigration from the point of view of the immigrant. As you can see, I’m not short of ideas.
Michael: Any advice for new authors or writers?
Ella: Yes. Write from the heart. Easy to say, hard to do, but worth it.
Michael: Thank you for your time in doing this review. I know several people are looking forward to your next book, myself included.