Twitter’s amazing, isn’t it? I get some of the best replies to my silliest comments. Some of those replies lead to hilarious conversation or, in the case of Martha Bourke, some sympathetic hand-holding. With Elizabeth Hunter, the discussion was David Gandy and his nose. I don’t even know who David Gandy is, but I did look him up. If I were going to talk about any part of him at all, it wouldn’t be his nose. That’s all beside the point. The point is that I asked Elizabeth to answer my usual questions for the site, and she agreed! After the silly conversation we’d had, I couldn’t help but get excited about her potential answers. She didn’t disappoint, either. Without further ridiculousness from me, I present to you Elizabeth Hunter, the author of the Elemental Mysteries series.
Elizabeth Hunter is the author of the Elemental Mysteries Series. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College in the Department of English (Linguistics) and a former English teacher.
A native of Central California, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, son, and an assortment of dogs. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and bowling (despite the fact that she’s not very good at it.) Someday, she plans to learn how to scuba dive. And maybe hang-glide. But that looks like a lot of running.
As my husband always says, “What’s your book about?”
My book series, The Elemental Mysteries, is a paranormal romance that dives into a mystery about lost libraries and long-buried secrets. In the first book, A Hidden Fire, Giovanni Vecchio, my main character, is a very “other” Italian book collector, and he’s helped by Beatrice De Novo, a student librarian at the university where he’s researching.The two main characters may start out in very different places, but as the story progresses, they find out that their pasts tie them together in unexpected ways. If you’re a fan of paranormal romance that’s a little more on the suspense and intrigue side, then I think you might like the series.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? Can you tell us about it?
I honestly don’t remember the first thing. The first thing I remember showing anyone was a short story I wrote in college for my mother. It was a fictionalized account of a story my grandfather had told me a few years before he passed away. In fact, a rewritten version of that story can be found in my writing site, ElizabethHunterWrites.com.
Do you prefer plaid or stripes?
Ha! I love plaid on other people, and on myself in very small amounts. A purse or a scarf, maybe. My son is six and quite adept at mixing both plaids and stripes, but unfortunately, I’m not that style-savvy.
Was choosing to publish independently something you always wanted, or an option you hadn’t considered before? (Independently being defined here as NOT one of the Big Six.)
I was a technical writer for many years, but I started to get serious about creative writing in late 2010, just as indie-publishing was starting to make news. I had never queried or submitted traditionally, so I decided to just start my career on my own terms. It’s a good fit for me, personally. I’m independent by nature, and I like to control all aspects of my books. I’m not afraid of the marketing, and I like being able to write and produce work at my own pace. My first series of books will all be published within a year of the first book’s release. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a traditional publisher.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
My husband will tell you that I’m always working on something! Right now, I’m editing the last book in the Elemental Mysteries, A Fall of Water, which will be out in June 2012. I’m also writing a companion novel for one of the supporting characters that explores the Elementals world a little more. I may write more in this particular universe, but I also have plans another series swirling around.
Do you have any rituals before writing? Music or silence? Coffee or tea? Twizzlers or M&Ms?
No rituals, per se. I’m a mom, so I often have to write when I can snatch time. I’m a meticulous planner and plotter, though, so my books are all time-lined, outlined, sketched, and plotted out in long-hand before I ever sit down to write at my laptop. I do have playlists that I create for each book that snap me into “writing mode.” I like coffee and tea, but coffee is, by far, more crucial for everyday survival. As for candy? I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I do love almonds and pistachios. I suppose my guilty pleasure are M&Ms with peanuts or almonds.
Have you ever based a character on someone you know?
Not directly, but I think there are aspects of characters that always sneak in or reflect the people closest to me. One of the characters in A Hidden Fire has an outrageous sense of humor like my husband. Beatrice’s best friend in This Same Earth, the second book, reminds me of a few of my girlfriends. Though I’ll admit, Doyle, the cat in A Hidden Fire is a direct homage to my Grandmother’s cat, Bibi.
What color is your umbrella?
Black. But I once saw an umbrella that was black on the outside and had panels from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on the inside! I wish I had bought it at the time. If I ever find another one, I’m buying a dozen.
Who is your favorite author and why?
There is no way to answer that question! I don’t have a single favorite. It’s impossible. My favorite in fantasy is Tolkien. My favorite poet is Neruda. I love Shakespeare and Austen and Morrison and Ondaatje. Within my own genre, I love Jeanine Frost and Charlaine Harris. I love variety, most of all. That’s part of the reason I became a writer. Writing is never boring for me.
What was the last book you read?
Thea Harrison’s third book in the Elder Races series, Serpent’s Kiss. I just discovered the Elder Races series a couple of months ago, and I really enjoy them.
Do you write about locations you’ve visited, or do you rely on research? Or do you make up entire settings in your head?
The Elemental Mysteries are pretty international. The story starts out in Houston, but then travels all over Europe, South America, and China. The first two books are mostly locations where I have traveled, but in the third book, The Force of Wind, Gio and B go to China, so I had to rely on research and help from my brother, who has traveled extensively in Asia. So, it’s a combination. I’ve traveled, but I also do a lot of research. Some of the locations are completely made up or based on traditional myth, like Mt. Penglai, the legendary home of the Eight Immortals in Asian mythology.
After the last word is written, then what? Do you have pre-readers and editors who take over? Do you begin query letters immediately?
I have a few readers who actually read while I’m writing. After I finish the first draft, I set it aside, then do the first self-edit. Then I send it my beta-readers, both of whom are writers; they go over it, then finally I send it to my editor, who then sends it to the proofreader, and so on. All in all, the books are usually read by about ten sets of eyes before they’re published!
What song would be on the soundtrack for your book?
There are so, so many. But two songs that jump to mind for my main characters, Giovanni and Beatrice are “Set Fire to the Third Bar” by Snow Patrol and “Anytime, Anywhere” by Sarah Brightman.
Where can people find your book?
They can find the first three books of my series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The first book is also available at iBookstore, Diesel, and Kobo (the second and third will get there eventually, but those stores take longer!) and the paperbacks are available on my book website, ElementalMysteries.com or on Amazon for $11.99.
Can we read a little excerpt?
Absolutely! Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from A Hidden Fire:
“Tell the truth, Giovanni Vecchio.” A mischievous look came to her eye. “You have a butler, a cool car, and I’ve only ever seen you at night…”
He froze, tension suddenly evident in the set of his shoulders. Beatrice leaned closer and whispered, “You’re Batman, aren’t you?”
His mouth dropped open in surprise before the grin overtook his face.
She smiled back at him, chuckling until he joined in. Soon, they were both laughing.
“You looked so serious for a second! What did you think I was going to say? A spy? Vampire? Hired killer?”
He shook his head in amusement. “You’re confounding. No, I was just surprised you guessed. I am, in fact, Batman. I would appreciate your discretion.”
She nodded with a smirk, and took another sip of the coffee he’d brought her. It had just a touch of cream, exactly the way she liked it. “Sure you are. I’m a skeptic until I see the rubber suit. You’re not fooling me.”
He looked at her, smiling mischievously. “You really want to see me in a rubber suit?”
A Hidden Fire, This Same Earth, and The Force of Wind are now available from all major online e-book retailers. Book Four, A Fall of Water, will be available in Summer 2012.