Author Interview with Mary-Ellen Lang Collura - Author of the Historical (Medieval) Fantasy Adventure The Queen's Key.
Mary-Ellen Lang Collura is a Canadian writer who has won numerous literary awards.
Her first novel, Winners, was an international best seller, as was her second, Sunny. Both these books attracted movie contracts. She also wrote an opinion/analysis column for CBC news for years.
Interview with Mary-Ellen Lang Collura
|Mary-Ellen Lang Collura|
Mary-Ellen Lang Collura: I am a “self taught” writer for the most part. However, I was privileged to have several extremely astute, professional editor/mentors over the years. The first and foremost of these was Janet Lunn, who worked with me on my first published novel, WINNERS, and whose editorial voice is permanently stuck in my head. Also, Don McKay’s input as I worked on my literary novel, COLOURING INSIDE THE LINES was invaluable. Other editors contributed to other novels as well. I can’t imagine working without a good editor.
I have had three novels published the “traditional” way. Two of these were award winning, international best sellers, and attracted movie deals. Now I have a self published novel on Amazon (and other sites).
The most fun I’ve had writing was the monthly “Opinion and Analysis” columns I wrote for CBC news for years.
I also like to write poetry and plays, which are liberating in ways writing a novel isn’t.
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I don’t have too many “favorite” authors. There are so many good, interesting writers out there. However, if I had to pick, I’d go with Charles Dickens and John Keats (UK), Margaret Laurence and Hugh MacLennan (Canada), Conrad Richter, Wallace Stegner, and Dr. Seuss (USA).
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve never known I wanted to be a “writer”. I spent my life being a teacher and a mom, and until recently, wrote on the side.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I don’t have a writing routine. I see no value in churning out word counts for any reason. I write when ideas are flowing, and when they’re not, I do other things like vacuum, or paint. However I would say that when I know a critical “loaded” scene is coming soon, I will wait for the right time, when I have gathered sufficient emotional momentum to blast the thing in one go.
When writing novels, I like to have a big ballpark idea of what’s going on and where it’s all heading. But sometimes various aspects of the plot, or characters will just take over, and surprise me.
I re-read constantly and edit continuously as I go. This helps with pacing, “flow”, consistency, and readability.
I would add that for me anyway, “writing” is about 90% “think time”. A tremendous amount of thinking happens before I’m ready to write. Jotting it down once I’ve thought about it is the easy part.
"The easiest thing about writing is writing."
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The easiest thing about writing is writing. I don’t have a “hardest” thing. I don’t understand it when people say writing is torture or frustrating or hard. If it were, I wouldn’t do it.
Mary-Ellen, please tell us a little about your Memoir 'The Queen's Key'.
THE QUEEN’S KEY (Book One of a trilogy: The Queen’s Claim), is set in the future, and follows a child, Princess Zabeth, from the age of five to fifteen. The constraints of her basically medieval society grate on her. Her powerful father, and her vanished mother confound her. As she struggles to find her way in a world that is dangerous and fragile, an alien people (with vastly superior technologies) from across the Shallow Sea appear on the shores of her land and chaos and plague descends. By the end of Book One, Zabeth is a nameless, homeless fugitive who nonetheless sets out to find answers to the secrets and mysteries she harbors.
(I’ve finished Book Two, THE QUEEN’S RETURN and am working on Book Three, THE QUEEN’S EQUATION. I don’t think you’d ever guess what happens in Book Two).
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
What inspired you to write the book?
Before I started this trilogy, I spent about a year being fascinated by the childhood of Queen Elizabeth I, beset on all sides by intrigue, murder, ambition and deceit, from the time she was four years old, and continuing unabated her whole life. This is the springboard I bounced on as I thought up the story for The Queen’s Claim trilogy.
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
The target audience is adults, although good YA readers are enjoying it too. There is a lot of thought provoking stuff in the story that adults are finding “gripping.”
"So far, the reviews are all 'five star'."
How would you describe the success of your book so far?
So far, the reviews are all “five star”. Everyone seems to be saying the same thing: the story is “gripping”, the characters believable and interesting, the plot surprising, the writing “fresh”. They can’t put it down. This is my definition of success.
How long did it take it to write the book?
I spent about a year writing the first draft, and untold hours after that polishing and fiddling to get it where I wanted it. I also had a professional editor (Anne Bougie) in Canada work with me on this book.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
This is my first experience with self publishing. The book went to Create Space, and now is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and other sites.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I have numerous other book projects on the go. I am committed to finishing the third book of the trilogy and then finding a home for several other novels I have written, most notably, Coloring Inside the Lines and Other People’s Children. I have a book of poetry called “Yeshua” and a book for single mothers called “Water for Hagar” that I may someday do something serious with.
"The learning curve that comes with self publishing is very steep."
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
I have an open mind about self publishing and/or traditional publishing. There are pros and cons to everything. I think at this point, that traditional publishing is perhaps an easier route to travel. The learning curve that comes with self publishing is very steep. I don’t think I know very much about it yet.
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I suspect that in 5 or 10 years publishing books will be a completely different ball game than it is now. I think the younger generation will do most of their reading on line or on little machines like Kindle, while my generation will continue to enjoy holding a “real” book, and turning pages. But we’re dying out. (lol)
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I was working part time and additionally went full time to school when I started to write my book.
How can readers connect with you?
Readers can connect with me through twitter, or in Canada, through The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC). Or chase me down on Facebook (Mary-Ellen Lang) I love to chat with readers and writers.
Thank you very much for the Interview, Mary-Ellen.
About the Book The Queen's Key
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
As she grows and discovers more about the contradictions and conflicts her powerful father has inspired, she must come to terms with who she is, and her destiny. Along the way she is befriended by a stable boy, a horse, a pair of dwarfs and more than one wolf. Her search for answers about her mother and her thirst for the truth about many things find some resolution as the Queen’s key gives up its secret.
The Queen's Key is not a children’s book. It appeals to adults and good YA readers who appreciate a gripping story that is full of surprises and memorable, engaging characters and scenes.
- "[...] There are so many touching and poignant moments in this book. It is hard to pick just one, but one of my favorite scenes is at the beginning. Zabeth is five years old and is trying to make sense of her mother's absence. "Zabeth did not know what to make of any of this. The world of grown-ups was impossible to understand. She must watch it closely of course, but figuring it out was beyond her. She preferred to think of ponies".
The Queen's Key is one of the most gripping and captivating novels I have read in a long time. It is the first of a trilogy, and I can't wait for the sequels to be published. I look forward to reading the rest of this author's work. " - Reader Review
Links to the Book
Link to the Paperback The Queen's Key with Excerpt on Amazon
Link to the eBook The Queen's Key with Excerpt on Amazon