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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Author Interview with Elena Dorothy Bowman


Elena Dorothy Bowman, an Honors graduate of Fitchburg State University earned her BS Degree in Engineering and Management. She has held the offices of State President, Treasurer, and Letters Chairperson of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National League of American Pen Women and is currently President of the Merrimack Valley Branch. Her published science-fiction mystery/romance novel Sarah's Landing-I, won the coveted APA award for its audio book. Credits include: By-Line Magazine, Parentguide Magazine, regional newspapers, and organizational newsletters. She has co-written and co-produced a Musical Workshop Production, and her prize winning short story was published in The Lowell Sun. A Software Engineer turned author, she has completed ten full-length fiction novels, 3 non-fiction books, thirty-five short stories, and has recently published her latest novel, a Historical Romance Mystery. The mother of four, Elena resides in Chelmsford, Massachusetts with her husband James, her four children and her daughter's three cats.

SA:  Tell us about Catherine’s Ring in a few sentences.

EDB:   Catherine’s Ring is a Historical Romance Novel with a bit of mystery to it:
 -- In a small fictional town in the northeast corner of Massachusetts a mysterious package from out of the past had the residents buzzing.  The original recipient had long since passed, and the sender of the package had died at sea in a tragedy that stunned the world. Where had this package been all these years, and why, even if it was postmarked the year it was sent, was it never delivered? When the present day recipient received the mysterious package, he wondered if he opened it, would he be opening a Pandora's Box. But, neither he nor his wife were aware that his thoughts would ring true, or the strange events and entities that would envelop his family and the family of the original sender. 

SA:     How did you come to write this particular book?
EDB:  Well, that’s difficult to answer, because I’m not sure why this particular novel came into being.  I know the reasons for writing my other novels and series, but for this one…I guess a thought that crossed my mind, or an incident I heard about triggered my creative energy and brought this one to fruition.  What can I say? All I can tell you is that this one came from out of the blue.
 
SA: If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?

      EDB:  In this particular novel, it is Catherine. Even though she died at an early age, her spirit remained throughout the novel and had an impact on everyone in it.

SA: Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?

EDB:  My novel is set in a small town in the northeast corner of Massachusetts in present time. But there are flashbacks to the 19th century, to this town and to an ancient Village in the East Indies. It also includes a visit or two in present time to a place in Britain because the characters involved in the story stem from these time periods and places.

SA: How can people buy your books?
EDB: All of my novels are on Amazon.com in ebook, Kindle and Print Format and on Barnes and Noble in ebooks and Nook formats.
      The Sarah’s Landing Series: Consists of Four Science Fiction Novels




The Legacy Series: Consists of Three Romance, Mystery, Paranormal Novels



Four stand alone novels are:


3. The Imposter – based on a true story is only in ebook and nook formats…this one has not yet been posted on Amazon.com.

4. Catherine’s Ring – Historical, Romance, Mystery – ebook and Kindle Formats. The print edition of this novel will be released sometime this year.

SA:     What qualities make a successful writer?

EDB:  Perseverance, believing in yourself and in your work. Being able to accept criticism in the way it was intended and to use that criticism to the best of your ability to improve your work.

SA:  What is your working method?

EDB:  I don’t plan or use an outline.  I discovered to my dismay that neither I nor my characters can follow an outline to any degree. Therefore, I do what comes more natural to me, let the words flow and see where they take me.  Sometimes, I am just as surprised at the outcome as any bystander might be.

SA:  Beginning writers make many mistakes; what do you think is the most harmful?

      EDB:  Thinking that the world is waiting to read what you have written, warts and all.  Not being able to take rejections from publishers and agents thinking they are missing out on the greatest story ever told, and not paying attention to what they are attempting to tell you. 

SA:  To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

      EDB:  It’s important in some respects for the author to attempt to be as accurate as one can be, to try to spell the words correctly, and to be grammatically correct as possible. But mainly it depends on the visual you are attempting to create.  Sometimes it is difficult to put into words the picture you see in your mind’s eye.  You want to transfer that image to the computer screen just as you see it, and in that respect may not pay as much attention to being grammatically correct as one should.

SA:  How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?

      EDB: Quite a bit.  I go over my MS several times and always find an area that might need to be more defined or expanded. And there are times when I go back to the beginning because something has turned up in the later pages that needed to be introduced and/or explained earlier in the story.  A new character may suddenly appear, and to justify that appearance a word or two of explanation may be needed.

SA:  To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?

      EDB: I believe very important.  How else can publishers or readers categorize the books that come to them? Publishers have to know how to market them, and readers have to know where to go in a particular book store, even on the internet, to obtain the book or books they want.  Not everyone reads the same genre. Therefore, it is important to know where each category is being displayed in order for the sales of these books to be realized.

SA:  How do you know where to begin any given story?

      EDB:  I could say at the beginning, but that is not always so. There are times when I think I am at the beginning of a story only to learn later that I am somewhere in the middle of the story and have to backtrack. That only makes it more interesting to see where the story actually began before it reached the point where I was at. 

SA:  What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?

      EDB:  It used to be my day job, but since I’ve retired it is the constant interruptions from the inhabitants in my home.

SA:  Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

      EDB:  Yes, I have a great deal of support from my family and my friends even when they want my time for something else.  As well as from the writing group I belong to. Actually, I am President of the Massachusetts Chapter, Merrimack Branch of the National League of American PenWomen and as a group, we do critique each other’s work.

SA:  Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?

      EDB:  Very much so!  No publisher or agent wants a messy, unformatted manuscript delivered to their offices.  From what I have heard from agents, manuscripts that come to them disheveled, unformatted, stained and dirty just get tossed into the wastebasket.  The attitude is if the author isn’t interested enough to deliver a presentable document to them, why should they waste their time looking at something so offensive when there are dozens of other well-prepared manuscripts waiting for their perusal?

SA:  How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

EDB:  Depends. With my first novel, it was six months.  The rest of the series took a bit longer, but I was also working full time then and writing only at night.  Also, along with co-writing a musical play during my lunch hours with another author took up a great deal  of my time as well.  As to the other novels, I would say, with all the interruptions six months about covers it. 

SA:  Who or what inspires you?

      EDB:  Everything!  A word, a thought, a look, a child’s cry, an animal’s antics, or even a conversation at dinner.  Things I’ve read, heard.  Sometimes a dream can inspire a story, a plot, or characters that make up a story.  Really, it can be anything and everything. 

SA:  If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

      EDB:  Being interrupted when I’m on a roll, when the words are flowing so fast and furious that I’m afraid if I stop I’ll lose them.  I used to write late at night when the kids were all in bed. And in the quiet evening hours, the words seem to come from out of nowhere and I tried to get as much done as possible before my husband turned the lights down on me.  His reasoning? I only had a couple of hours left for sleep before getting up and ready for work.

SA:  Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
           
      EDB:  Yes, I love it when the words just seem to flow from out of nowhere and seeing them appear and come alive on the computer screen.  It’s as if I’m just a bystander watching these letters rapidly appearing before me and I love it.  As well as to the writing itself, being able to complete a story whether it’s a short story or a novel is astounding to me.

SA:  Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

      EDB:  It’s probably both.  To be able to string words together to tell a story to completion has to have some natural gift to it.  And yes, there are rules that must be learned in order to make a story comprehensible.

SA:  What single piece of advice would you give to writers still hoping to be published?

      EDB:  Never give up.  It only takes one person to love what you write. It can be frustrating waiting for that one person, but if your work is good, someone will see it.  There is always the self-publishing route, but in most respects, that way can be just as frustration and far more expensive.

SA:  What are you writing now?

      EDB:  At the moment, I am taking a break.  Catherine’s Ring was just released by my publisher and I am now waiting for it to be released in print.

SA:  Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?

      EDB:  Yes.  Readers can visit my websites and read excerpts and reviews of all my novels.
       And my blog is:

SA:   Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

      EDB:  Somewhere in a cottage along the ocean where I can listen to the waves crashing up against the rocks and hear the whisper of the breeze as it gently flows through the trees.

SA: Where do you actually write?

EDB:  In front on my computer which is set up against the wall in my dining room since my youngest daughter has moved back home and confiscated more room in my home than I could have dreamed possible.

Thank you for inviting me.

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