Elly, how long did you work on NIGHTBLOOD?
Too long! Ha. It was supposed to take me nine months to write and revise, but instead it took me over a year. I found it really difficult to tie up the loose ends, carry the story to the finish line, and weave the dark and light elements together so that it was neither too heavy, nor lacking in that visceral punch I try to deliver. I think maybe my unconscious mind didn’t want to say goodbye to these beloved characters!
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
This book taught me about perseverance. Anxiety was a particular challenge while I wrote and edited NIGHTBLOOD, which meant that I was never as productive as I would have liked. It was perhaps ironic to write about Ruby struggling with this dark force in her heart as I grappled with my own issues—those feelings of nameless worry and “not good enough” that anyone with anxiety knows well. I was lucky enough to have a solid support system, from my editor to my agent to my husband and kids, who all helped me in numerous ways. In the end, the book is complete and I’m very happy with the final installment in the series!
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I have about six or seven unfinished manuscripts that I wrote over a four-year period. Sometimes I would write as much as 80,000 words and then not know how to end the book, so I’d give up on it and move to a new idea. I was so frustrated with myself for not finishing, but I couldn’t get past the mental blocks I had around editing and revising. In retrospect, I think I needed to go through that process to inch my way toward the end. A book is a huge, intimidating mass of words when you’re still new and learning to write! I took more writing courses than anyone I know, and again, I think I needed to do that in order to have the confidence to keep writing. I admire people who finish and query their first book! I was definitely not one of those people. It took a long time for me to build my confidence slowly, and it’s something I still need to nurture and build.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
NaNoWriMo! I first participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 and it taught me that I can, in fact, draft quickly! Up until that point, I was caught in an endless loop of drafting and fixing the first few chapters, but never moving forward. What I love about NaNo is that quantity is king. It really helps you shove the perfectionism out of your mind and just allow yourself to write. As I’ve learned with time, I need a terrible first draft before I can write the less-terrible second draft, and eventually, with many passes and changes, hone that into a book. If you don’t finish the first draft, you can’t move on!
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I mostly work at home in my basement office, though I love to write outside if the weather is nice. I usually listen to music, though it can’t be any song with lyrics as I find that distracting. That’s why I tend to listen to a lot of soundtracks. Putting on the same music day after day helps to cue the brain that it’s writing time. (But eventually if I get tired of the same soundtrack, I switch to something new.)
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Don’t judge yourself by your firsts: your first draft, your first book, your first query, your first contest, etc. Or even your second or third. You have so much potential, and you won’t know what you’re capable of until you put in a hefty amount of work and produce lots of words. It takes time and patience and dedication, but you can do it! Let your love of words and characters push you forward. And take breaks without guilt! Everyone needs breaks.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on taking a break for the first time since 2014 when I started writing Frostblood. I hope that if I let my mind rest a bit, the ideas start coming again. I love my readers and I want to stay connected to them book after book!
ABOUT THE BOOKNightblood
by Elly Blake
Little, Brown Books for Young
Ruby's world has changed more than she ever could have imagined. She's in love with a powerful Frost King. She's the heir to the Fire Throne. And she may be a Nightblood--the spawn of a vengeful deity hellbent on releasing his wraithlike Minax from their prison. Once freed, these beasts will roam the earth, devouring every last person until he or she is nothing but an empty husk. But Ruby is able to control the Minax to a degree, and now she, her beloved Arcus, and her friend Kai must find a way to bring Frostbloods and Firebloods--sworn enemies--together to make a stand against a foe more deadly than any they've faced.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read NIGHTBLOOD yet? Have you participated in NaNoWriMo and has it helped your writing? Are you able to take breaks without guilt? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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