Saturday, August 22, 2015

0 Kate Elliott, author of COURT OF FIVES, on staying true to your vision

We're delighted to have Kate Elliott join us to share more about her latest novel COURT OF FIVES.

Kate, what was your inspiration for writing COURT OF FIVES?

1) I wanted to write a story about a girl who is a serious athlete without the story being solely about the game.

2) My spouse is an archaeologist who is currently co-directing a project excavating an important archaeological site in the Delta region of Egypt. This city, called Timai, flourished during the Greco-Roman era (approximately 300 B.C. to 400 A.D.), when first Macedonians and then Romans ruled Egypt. I felt like the dynamic of a foreign ruling class having power over a large indigenous population creates a lot of opportunity for plot conflict, especially for a character caught between the two groups because she has a parent from each.

3) I put these inspirations together with my love for fantasy to create Court of Fives.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scenes to write were those in which Jes is running the Fives. It’s difficult to combine describing a sport that doesn’t exist with the physical effort and emotion of a person playing it, and I worked over and over again on the Fives scenes to make them feel immediate and emotional, and to give the reader a visceral sense of Jes on the court. I wanted readers who love playing and/or watching sports to be excited by what’s happening on the obstacles, while also giving an emotional hook to draw in people who might otherwise skim over that kind of action scene.

I’m most proud of the final scene in the book, but if I told you why it would be a spoiler!

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I asked some people who have read Court of Fives to comment, and they suggested Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce, Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee, The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Shadowboxer is a great YA fantasy by Tricia Sullivan about a fierce young female MMA fighter. Another recent sports oriented story is Fonda Lee’s Zeroboxer.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

This is my YA debut but my twenty-second published solo novel (twenty-fourth published book if you count my one novel collaboration and my short fiction collection). My other published novels are adult science fiction and fantasy field.

My first published novel was actually the sixth novel I wrote. Three of the novels I wrote before my “first” published novel were later extensively revised and published, while the other two unpublished novels were abandoned to the trunk of obscurity where they properly belong.

The lesson here is: If you’re serious about writing remember that this is a long haul game. Don’t write just one book. If you write one and it doesn’t go anywhere or doesn’t work, write another one. If one fails, write another one. A writing career is a process, not a point you reach where you stop. There are lots of ways to measure success. Don’t limit yourself!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

I would really like to come back to that point about there being multiple ways to measure success as a writer. Success should not be limited to narrow definitions like “write a debut novel that gets on the New York Times bestseller list and a film deal.” This does happen, but it’s rare. Even George RR Martin, whose Game of Thrones is now adapted in an HBO series that is a worldwide sensation, labored for decades as a successful but (to a greater audience) relatively obscure writer before the tv series exploded onto the scene. Even without that, it is possible to work for decades as a writer without a tv series or a major bestseller and still be a success.

Decide what your goals are. Many people write fanfiction for the entertainment of themselves and others, and when they are achieving that goal, that is success. Otherwise work in short fiction, or in non-fiction or poetry; they write blog posts and essays. Self publish, or traditionally publish, or combine both. Be aware there are more possibilities than ever before because social media and digital publishing expand our reach.

Mostly, be persistent, and stay true to your vision. Your vision is what you have to bring to the world. Find the thing you can say that no one else can.

What are you working on now?

Black Wolves, the first of an epic fantasy series, is due out in November 2015 from Orbit Books. I am finishing up revisions on the sequel to Court of Fives. Then I need to write book three of the Fives trilogy and Books 2 and 3 of the Black Wolves Trilogy. Oh, I’m also working on two novellas to go with the Fives trilogy. Busy times! I feel very fortunate.


Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 8/18/2015

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Purchase Court of Fives at Amazon
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View Court of Fives on Goodreads


As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. It should therefore come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight.

When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures in dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling.

Also, there is a schnauzer.

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