Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Behind The Words // Ellie Ann Soderstrom

Ellie Ann Soderstrom assures me she hasn't yet published a book. I assure her that there's still a place for her -- a big one -- here at The Farthest Reaches. Behind the Words is about talking your way through the process of writing, about seeing what habits form the successes we call words on paper. And besides, Ellie's good Twitter friend (and mine), Ryne Douglas Pearson says putting "your butt in the chair and mak[ing] clicky sounds with your keyboard" makes you a writer.

And I know that Ellie Ann is a writer. Her pop-culture and unique-perspective blog posts keep me enthralled and in stitches, nearly always at the same time. Let's stop wasting time with what I have to say about Ellie Ann's processes as she gets set to finish her first full-length novel. Let's instead go Behind the Words, and see first hand how Ellie's writing life works...

Ellie Ann battles the Farthest Reaches...

I am Mrs. Ellie Ann Soderstrom and my ancestor was a Scottish patriot who got his head chopped off and his body flung over the side of a castle. That doesn't have much to do with anything but I like bragging about dead relatives.

I haven't written anything you can read (yet) unless you get a hand on Grinnell's Homeschool Newsletter of 1998 'cause I had a good many articles published: The DesMoines Zoo Field Trip and How To Make Monkeybread were some of my best. It was a good stint while it lasted . . . the publicity was lucrative but the pay was lousy.

I also write a blog. I know, I know. You're thinking that NO writer has a blog these days. But I like to be different, I guess:

Ellie Ann battles early mornings and caffeine...

My writing space is dark. I wake up at @#$%^. Uh...I mean, 5:25 A.M. and then sit at the bedroom computer with a canteen of water (to keep me healthy) and a cup of coffee (to keep me awake) and write in a completely dark room, with my husband and infant sleeping behind me. It's peaceful.

To be honest, the mornings after Darius (the "sleeping" infant) has had a particularly fussy night I sleep past my writing time, and then usually don't have a chance to write for the rest of the day as I'm too busy blowing bubbles and tending to water-gun-fight wounds and cooking and cleaning for my family of five. Three kids three and under. Not a lotta time to sit and bask in the glow of a computer screen.

Editors Note: That's good. The radiation embedded in the glow of my monitor here is responsible for the growth of thorn-addled vines tangling inside my brains. They make the scary stories come out like juice squeezed from fruit, but, long term, that glow simply can't be healthy.

I'm working on a YA Fantasy with my writing partner, Albert Berg. It's been awesome getting to write with him. An absolutely great adventure. We're writing about Zel and Adel, two "kids" forced to work in a castle for very different reasons, and the extra-terrestrial plot they uncover. If we keep up our pace, we'll have the first draft done by August, second draft done by the end of the year to give to beta-readers. Then we'll start querying. And then I expect our book to be in print a couple months after that.

That's how it works doesn't it? DOESN'T IT?!

Ellie Ann battles fairies...

I'm pretty passionate about seeing more people of color in literature, specifically in YA and MG books. I'd love to see more books starring people of color, so that ALL kids can feel like the hero.

I've been writing 1k a day pretty consistently lately. It takes me around an hour and a half. My writing secret is that I write every day. Even if it's just a paragraph. I find that it keeps me in the story, and if I take a break then it's harder to dive back into story world.

I write crappy first drafts. And I love editing. LOVE it. I like taking the skeletal first drafts and adding flesh and layers and makeup and a helmut and sunglasses and other important stuff that all books need. As for my secret writing tool, I chop off fairy's legs and use their blood as ink.

No, just joking *shudders* I actually love fairies.

Editor's Note: Phew! I work with an organization called Save The Faeries.

Ellie Ann embraces her kids, her hubby and talks about support. Not that kind of support.

My husband is phenomenal to me. His middle name is Supportive. I couldn't do it without him. Adara, my three year old, says she doesn't like it when I write, she just likes it when I tell stories. Lilia, my almost-two year old, says "more books please," which is, I think, her way of asking me to write more books.

And Darius, my 6 month old likes to sit in my lap, and he'll sometimes smile at the keyboard when I write something particularly funny...he has a great sense of humor.

Ellie Ann battles social media...and wins!

I love chatting on twitter! Be sure to say hi! @elliesoderstrom

I write every Wednesday on this group blog called The Gig:
A post I wrote about having a black protagonist.

And, of course, my blog:

Thank you so much, Jason, for hosting me and other writers on your site! You're a great asset to the writing community *tips cowboy hat your way*

Oh, heavens! It's my pleasure to have you stop by and share your world with us. And, I'm doubly impressed by the tip of your hat. I love head wear. And I loved having you here, Ellie Ann!


  1. I'm so glad that you invited me here today. I love hanging out with you! And bless your endeavors with Save the Faeries, they do such important work. ;)
    -Ellie Ann

  2. And I love hanging with you, Ellie Ann!

    I do work hard at Save the Faeries. And since my three-year-old has become enamored with Tinkerbell of late, the endeavor is even closer to my heart.

  3. This interview made me giggle more than once. Thanks guys.

  4. Catie and JRD --> Thanks for stopping in! Glad that Ellie Ann can provide so much fun. We aim to please out here in the Reaches.

  5. Catie and JRD - thanks for the comment! =)

  6. Ellie Ann,

    How did I not know you were here at the Reaches with Jason? Damn, that man can keep a secret, and to think I almost missed swimming by here to say hello.

    I truly admire all it takes for you to be able to write, particularly a novel with a partner, a joint blog, and your own blog. That'd be enough to exhaust me WITHOUT a growing family. It's truly incredible.

    I love your blog and think you're an amazing writer. I look forward to your book whenever it comes out, so no worries about timelines. The quality of your book will shine whenever it's released.

    It was nice getting to know a "slightly" more serious side of you!


  7. Wow, incredible that you find the energy to write with three little ones. Super interview, I find it inspiring to read the way you write in spite of life taking up most of your time.
    Thank you, Jason, for bringing your friends here and sharing them with us. Ellie Ann, so nice to meet you.


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