Interview with Ellie James & Broken Illusions Giveaway

A couple of months back Bobbi reviewed Shattered Dreams, the first book in the Midnight Dragonfly Series by Ellie James. Today, as the second book, Broken Illusions, hits shelves for you to purchase we got an exclusive interview with Ellie to talk more about her series, the characters and a special little surprise for you all, she's giving away one copy of Broken Illusion to one of you Just Us Girls readers!

1. The characters in Shattered Dreams are all so well developed that they feel real. Do the characters or the stories of those characters ever get overwhelming during your writing process?

First, let me say thank you! When working on a book, it becomes so much more than telling a story. It’s living a story. The scenes play through my mind like movies, and the emotions bleed into my psyche, as well. I feel what the characters, especially Trinity, feel. My heart beats faster when she’s doing something dangerous, and my breathing catches during intensely emotional moments. Sometimes my fingers fly so fast across the keyboard it’s like I’m not even thinking, like something (or someone!) else is taking over. Those usually end up being the strongest scenes.

In Shattered Dreams, in many ways the stage was being set. We got to know Trinity and Chase and Victoria, Jessica and Amber, Aunt Sara and, um, a certain Father/Son duo. Trinity learned a little about her birthright, and a lot about her abilities. All that comes into play in Broken Illusions, when the stakes ramp up so much higher, and Trinity takes a significantly more active role in solving the mystery. And as she comes more fully into who she is meant to be, the cast around her is forced into action, as well. All this culminates in some intense choices and decisions and…mistakes. Mistakes that can’t be taken back. Mistakes that hurt. And TRUST ME when I tell you my husband can definitely vouch for just how deeply I lived every page of that story--and the aftermath J

2. Do you already have a set number of books to follow Trinitys story?

At this point three are in the can. Fragile Darkness (November 2012) follows Broken Illusions, but I hesitate to call it the last book. In addition to Trinity continuing to slip into my dreams, a few secondary characters are vying to tell their stories, as well. Frankly, I’m pretty darn eager to see where everyone goes next!

3. New Orleans sets a fantastically spooky stage for this story, how did you decide to go with New Orleans as the background?

In truth, I didn’t choose , at least not consciously.  The opening scene of
Shattered Dreams, (Trinity and her new friends sneaking into an abandoned Garden District mansion to play a game of Truth Or Dare), came to me in a dream. It was all amazingly vivid, the characters, the house, the situations--the setting. And as that one scene blossomed into a full-blown story, the city of New Orleans became as much of a character as Trinity.

That said, I grew up in south Louisiana and have long a long standing love affair with the Crescent City. I adore the French Quarter and the Garden District, the people and the culture, the hauntingly beautiful architecture. Many buildings there date back 200 years!

4. Some of the story described a post-Katrina New Orleans, was there any special meaning you hoped the readers to take away regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans?

You know, some of that was deliberate, but so much more was organic. Growing up in Louisiana, we always knew someday the Big Storm would come. And we all knew it would be bad. I was living in Texas when Katrina struck, and I sat glued to my television for days, watching in cold horror as the storm built, hit, and the city went under. It was like part of me went under, too. I was devastated. I ached for the people, the culture. New Orleans has a charm and hospitality all its own. Sure, the town has a dark side, but it has a heart, too, and the people there are good and loving and loyal. The suffering they experienced was unimaginable. I have friends who lost everything. One day they had a home. Then the storm came, and they evacuated. When they returned, their houses were gone. Their furniture. Their clothes. Everything. In many cases wiped away, in other cases only remnants remained, rotting and uninhabitable. For some of them all that remained was a mortgage on a house that no longer existed, or a car note on a car the floodwaters washed away. It was horrible. That takes an enormous toll on the soul, both of the people and the town.

It was my love for New Orleans that made it so awesome and exciting to explore a story set there, the story of a teenage girl returning to the city of her birth, but a city she knew nothing about. What I didn’t consciously realize was how much Trinity had in common with the city. As it turned out the shared themes of loss, resiliency, and rebirth became powerful touchstones throughout the series. I absolutely loved exploring them through the setting, as well as the characters.  In many ways, the Midnight Dragonfly Books are my own personal ode to the city I love.

5. Ive been excited to read the next book since about two seconds after finishing  Shattered Dreams.  Im far too curious not to ask, of course, we dont expect you to give any spoilers but can we expect Broken Illusions, coming out May 8 to further explore Trinitys abilities, maybe even get a little more insight into the mysterious father and son we all love so much?

Picture me smiling.  Yes. There’s a lot more exploring to come, both of Trinity’s abilities and the characters. All the characters. You see, Trinity’s been having these dreams….dreams she doesn’t understand….doesn’t want. Dreams that make her feel things she doesn’t want to feel: excitement and curiosity, longing and….fear. Fear for a whole lot of reasons, and a whole lot of people.

It’s going to take EVERYONE to help her fit the pieces together, even a Certain Someone she knows she shouldn’t see again….

6. Realizing that creativity doesnt always run on a 9:00 to 5:00, do you find it difficult to find time to write and balance family life?

LOL, if you could see my house right now, the big piles of laundry waiting to be folded, the dishes waiting to be washed, the cats waiting to be fed, you’d see that balance is way too kind of a word!  But you’re right. Creativity doesn’t run 9:00 to 5:00. It’s a 24/7 thing, so basically I work to maintain a schedule that accounts for that.  I sit down at my computer and physically write while my kids are at school, generally from 9:30 until 2:30. That is heads down, intensely focused time. I’m militant about letting nothing interfere. I don’t answer the phone; sometimes I forget to eat. (My editor is the only person who is graciously accommodated during this time!) I have a weekly page goal (daily is way too prohibitive!), which allows me wiggle room. So. I do the physical writing during those hours, while I tend to emails and social media after the kids get home (and after they go to bed, like right now!). In terms of brainstorming and thinking, that’s ongoing. I always seem to get my best plotting done in the shower, in the car, or while jogging. And I’ve learned to record those thoughts into my phone to make sure I don’t lose them J  One truth about writing: the physical fingers to the keyboard is less than fifty percent of the process. The thinking, the plotting and replotting, mulling things around in your mind and considering all possibilities, the research….that’s a huge part of the process!

7. Have you any plans to write any other stories or are you focusing on the Midnight Dragonfly series for the time being?

On my desk next to me are Line Edits for the third book in the Midnight Dragonfly series, FRAGILE DARKNESS.  In addition to those, I’m exploring possibilities for where Trinity goes next, as well as fleshing out several new series ideas. I’m not sure what’s going to bubble up first, but I can promise you lots of action, adventure, mystery, and romance!

8. Is there any advice youd like to give our hopeful future writers?

I could do an entire interview on this!!!!  But for now, let me give a one-word answer: BELIEVE.  You have to believe. In yourself. Your story. Your dreams. Your vision. Everything. If you don’t believe, no one else will. But if YOU believe, that’s when magic happens.

Each of us has stories to tell, and only you can tell them. The writing life can be incredibly hard. You spend tons of time alone, creating, and then you toss your creation out to the rest of the world, to see what they think. Some will love it, some won’t. That can take a toll of your confidence and your dream. But I have a plaque across from my desk that reads, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and I essentially live by those words. You have to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. It’s the only way they’ll come true.

Thank you so much for this opportunity!  Your questions were incredibly thought-provoking. I loved answering them!

To get more information about the Midnight Dragonfly Series follow Ellie on Twitter and Facebook!

~ Just Us Girls

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