When authors sit down to create magic, it stems from an active imagination, ideas from their minds or the world around them, and the power behind their fingertips. Elana McDougall is one such author I had the pleasure of meeting while skimming Twitter, and I am so happy that she said yes in doing this interview with me. I hope you enjoy meeting this author as much as I have.
1. What sparked your interest in writing?
I have always loved reading. I think I consumed every fiction book in my elementary school’s library. But sometimes, I would reach the end of a wonderful story and feel betrayed by the climax. And the difference between what the author had decided and what I wanted became the catalyst for my writing.
2. Has anyone in your life inspired you to write?
No one per se. I had a difficult childhood. And I used to go to bed telling myself stories. Many times I would be re-writing what had happened or re-imagining how things could be. I realize now it was a survival mechanism.
3. When did you decide to publish?
Like most writers, I have many works in various stages of progress. Different genres. My book “Hidden Magic” was started years ago when I was inspired by ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I had an idea of a fantasy world connected to Earth through a portal leading to a mysterious village. And a shapeshifter and a long-lost heir. All fire and magic and dwarves and orcs. I may still write it. But over three or four years, the village became a sanctuary for supernatural peoples, hidden from the rest of us. And when I surprised myself by actually finishing it, I gave myself a shake and decided it was time to live out my lifelong dream.
4. Are you an Indie Author or Traditional Author? Why did you choose the path you did?
I am an Indie author. I tried the traditional route and queried at least 50 agencies in the US and Canada. But my paranormal romance didn’t have “Girl” in the title. It wasn’t dystopian or angry enough. No angst. No blood. Hidden Magic is just pure escapism, a book for curling up with in front of a fire or sprawling on the beach to read. It’s a fun, sexy adventure with trolls, handsome shapeshifters, talking statues and lots of lusty romance. And much talk about food because Sasha is a chef.
As one agent wrote, there are publishing trends and Hidden Magic doesn’t fit ‘my current needs at this moment’. But I have enjoyed the indie process. It’s not easy and I’ve had to learn a lot, but when the cover artist showed me the design he had created to my specifications, I felt my heart burst with joy.
5. What is your first published book?
My first book (!) is “Hidden Magic: The Eldritch of Hallows”, a paranormal romance. A young woman running from evil finds a hiding place in Hallows. The local sheriff Jake takes a personal, passionate interest in her. But Sasha soon notices strange things about the citizens and ‘Sheriff Sexy’ and realizes that she too is affected by the village. When a menace from her hunts her down, she must turn to Jake for help and in the process, learns the supernatural truth about Hallows and her own magical heritage. ( I love Jake. I’d date him.)
6. Are you happy with how your books are coming out? Would you change anything?
I had no real expectation of becoming the next best-selling author. Hey, I daydreamed, but I knew the reality. Word of mouth takes time. For me, publishing was about saying I had had written and published a book. Now that I understand a little more, I would do things differently. I would have taken writing classes first because yes, they are helpful. Writing is much more than just putting words on a paper, although that is the first step. And I would have learned more about marketing and building a readership prior to releasing my first book. But you learn. And you grow.
7. Will you continue to publish books for many years to come?
Yes, I’m currently revising my second story, Scorched Earth Magic, and hoping that it will be even better. It’s also set in Hallows. Julia, daughter of the head mage, has returned after a five-year self-exile to see her mother, who is dying. And that means she must confront Sebastian, her arrogant former lover. Lots of conflict and passionate clashes between them. Secrets will be revealed and of course, danger lurks and threatens all she loves.
8. What genres inspire you to write?
I am an omnivore when it comes to reading. I love fantasy of course, especially stories by Sharon Shinn, Melanie Rawn and Guy Gavriel Kay. When it comes to romance, I’m inspired by Nora Roberts, Christina Lauren, and Anne Stuart. For mysteries, you can’t beat Louise Penny and Ian Rankin.
9. What is your favorite genre to write? What is your least favorite genre to write?
I always describe my genre as fantasy romance. Paranormal romance is the current term, but that makes me think of ghosts. I love the ability to world build. Hallows is complex, with suspicion between the different supernatural clans with their different cultures and religions. There is tension between the few humans who live there and the magical peoples who are the descendants of the victims of the witch hunts and bounties on shapeshifters and trolls. The overwhelming need to remain invisible from the Outside has become more difficult with the internet and satellite surveillance. And as a writer, it’s a challenge to make magic ‘logical’. But as a bonus, I got to write all those very hot, sexy love scenes between Jake and Sasha. And now between Sebastian and Julia.
Someday, I would like to write horror. But I don’t like gore or sadism that masquerades as terror in some stories. Another writing class is in my future.
10. What challenges have you faced publishing?
I didn’t realize how important literary agents were to publishing and how like gatekeepers for publishing houses they were. If I had known, I wouldn’t have wasted a year chasing the dream of traditional publishing and just gone ahead and published independently.
11. What challenges have you faced in writing?
I always get to a point about two-thirds of the way in where I decide what I’ve written is rubbish. Drivel. And I lose all faith in myself. That happened with Hidden Magic. I walked away from it. Then about six months later, I pulled it out and decided if nothing else, I would at least finish the dang thing. And I realized it wasn’t drivel. But of course, then I revise it and I go through the same self-doubt again.
The writing classes both help and hinder. So much conflicting advice. Rules. Show vs Tell. Point-of-View. I sweat each word and shift and massage every chapter. It’s draining. But when that book is finished, and someone tells you how much he or she loved it, it is all worth it.
12. Where do your ideas for your books come from? Where do you keep those ideas?
I wish I always knew. Some are ‘what if’s’. Some are inspired by what I’ve seen on TV, or an idea that comes from something I read. Sometimes I realize I need a particular scene and while sitting at a traffic stop or about to drop off to sleep, an image will float up out of my subconscious. I had one character spring fully fledged during a yoga class. I store the ideas on Notes on my phone.
13. Are you also a bookworm and does reading other works help inspire your own writing?
I think all writers start as readers. I have books all over the house, in the bathroom, by the bed, in a guest room which is now a library. I remember books for particular scenes and prefer authors with a talent for exquisite prose, an imaginative turn of phrase or poetic pacing. Everything I read influences my writing, but especially fantasy, romances, and mysteries. I would describe my stories as fantastic mysteries full of desire, in which everyone except the villain ends up with a happy ending.
14. Do you have a website where we can follow you?
Yes. I am still awestruck that I have a website. A daughter of a friend created it. I’m still learning what to do with a website, so if anyone has any ideas, please send them alone. It’s:
15. What is the link for your books so others may look and possibly purchase them from?
Thank you. Hidden Magic: The Eldritch of Hallows can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088GVSZPQ And it’s free on Kindle Unlimited. I’m hoping that Scorched Earth Magic will be available by spring.
If you want to leave this world for a little, then pick up the book above by Elana McDougall and just escape it all for a few magical hours. I really enjoyed reading her answers to the interview questions. She was very insightful in everything, including her books and thought process. I am looking forward to when I can finally read her book and escape into a world created by Elana.
Thank you so much Elana for doing this interview with me and teaching us more about your amazing mind and world. I wish you the best of luck and many years of wonderful publishing of your outstanding books.