I’ve been aware of Elle for quite some time due to our mutual friend Kristen Zimmer, so I was delighted when she said she wanted to be involved with Sapphic Fiction February. Reading through her answers to my interview questions, I was struck by just how dedicated Elle is to her book research. I think she wins the award for Most Extremely Dedicated Researcher Ever, if there is such a thing! Read on to find out how, and make sure to check out Elle’s books!
Elle - tell us a little more about yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Elle Ire. I write Sapphic science fiction and paranormal romance novels, and I'm mostly known for badass main characters who seem to have it all together on the outside, but they're a hot mess when it comes to emotions and relationships. I have a reputation for doing crazy things in the name of "research" from paying to have someone mock-kidnap me, to cave swimming with hundreds of bats flying overhead, to getting instruction on the use of numerous weapons (guns, axes, daggers, whips, throwing stars....) I have nine books currently in print from DSP Publications including three on audio as well. I also present at a lot of conferences and conventions about the business and craft of writing and becoming traditionally published.
Now that is dedication! How did you become an author?
It's been a long road. I've been writing stores, mostly fan fiction, since I was about seven years old. I have a degree in creative writing, but I didn't really consider pursuing publication until I was in my thirties and my spouse decided they wanted to try to reach that goal as well. We both entered and won some statewide and national writing contests. Eventually, we both signed with different agents (I've actually had four agents over the course of my career). I sold my first book to Torquere Press in 2015, but they went out of business the following year. My current agent, Naomi Davis, eventually sold my work to DSP Publications in 2018, and I've done nine books with them over the last five years.
Who’s your favourite character that you’ve ever written?
Vick Corren from my Storm Fronts series, hands down. I imagined her in college. She didn't make it to publication until 2019. But she's always been in my head, and she still whispers to me at night that she'd like some more stories someday. There is no character I know better than Vick. I could tell you anything you wanted to know about her. No single character of mine has suffered or grown as much on the page as Vick. Writing her also was instrumental in me figuring out pretty late in my life that I was bisexual. I first tried to pair her with a male love interest, but it wasn't working. Vick eventually "told" me she was bi and needed a woman paired with her for this part of her story to work, and she was right.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Sure, there are times when I cannot write. I don't know if I'd call it writer's block or if I'd call it "life getting in the way." To be honest, I don't force words to come when they don't want to. I'm not a "write every day" kind of person. The exception, of course, is if I have a contract deadline. Then I do my best to push through whatever is dragging me down in real life and get those words on the page. I take professionalism very seriously, and I always give it my all to meet my deadlines. When I must push through it, I have a rewards-based system that works pretty well for me. Write a page and then read a chapter of a book I've been enjoying. Write a page and then play a favorite online game for fifteen minutes. It works for me. I'm a firm believer or doing what works for you as a writer. There is no one right way to do this. Just be honest with yourself about what is and isn't working, and be open to trying new approaches.
What do you consider to be the hardest part of writing?
For me, the worst is when you feel like you have a great premise and a solid main character, and you get two-thirds of the way through writing the first draft and realize you have no idea how to tie things up. I'm a pantser, so this happens to me with some frequency. I have multiple half-done novels on my computer, waiting for lightning to strike my brain so I can finish them.
And how about the most rewarding?
Those scenes that make me cry or laugh out loud when I'm writing them are the most rewarding. The emotional moments that get to me no matter how many times I read them to myself. That's when I know I've got that scene right. And of course, any time a reader posts a positive comment or speaks to me directly, that makes my whole day.
What is one piece of advice you wish you had listened to, either in life or with regards to being an author?
I wish I'd developed my perseverance a little sooner. I queried my first book for almost a year before I gave up on it. But I had no idea that I was really close. I'd had some full requests and positive feedback from agents, but I didn't really believe it, and I stopped trying for several years before diving back into the agent query trenches again. I so wish I had those years back.
You’re putting together a party. Which characters from the Sapphic Fiction genre would you invite?
Oh wow, this is going to be a huge party! I'm inviting all the badasses! From my own work, I'd love for Vick Corren and Kelly LaSalle (Storm Fronts series) and Flynn Dalton and Genesis McTalish (Nearly Departed series) to meet each other. They could make notes and plot together on how they are going to get back at me for putting them through so much. (Hmm...maybe that isn't such a great idea...) Other favorites I'd love to meet at this party would be Talon from Merry Shannon's Sword of the Guardian, Grace and Maggie from Cathy Pegau's Demon Equilibrium, Jamie Gwynmorgan from Sophia Kell Hagin's series, Cameron Roberts and Reese Conlon from Radclyffe's Honor and Provincetown series respectively, Queen George from Jenny Frame's Royal Romance, Maji Rios from MB Austin's series, Joan Matthews from Virginia Black's Consecrated Ground, and let's top it all off with a visit from Gideon the Ninth from Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb series. I can totally picture Gideon chatting with Talon about swordplay while Genesis discusses the finer points of magic with Grace and Joan, and in the corner Vick is comparing her mercenary organization of the future with Maji's covert ops and Jamie's military experience. There are a million others I'd want there as well, but these are the kinds of characters I love to read, and hanging out with them would be amazing... if I can stop swooning long enough to have a conversation with any of them.
Is there anyone you’d like to highlight, while you’re here?
I'd like to give a shout out to the members of my writer support group, the Feisty Foes--MB Austin, Meredith Doench, Riley Scott, and Virginia Black. They are all amazing writers who are always ready to lift each other up, promote each other, and encourage and support each other when this crazy business goes off the rails.
How can people connect with you?
Finally a light-hearted one. What ice cream flavours and toppings would you put together in your ultimate sundae?
Hmm. I'm not sure I'd put them together in one sundae, but I love coffee ice cream if it's extremely rich. Starbucks used to make ice cream, and it was the richest coffee ice cream I ever had. Of course, they discontinued it. I'm also a big fan of vanilla soft-serve with butterscotch on top, and I'll never turn down a good Oreo cookies and cream or cookie dough ice cream. Don't forget the rainbow sprinkles on everything!
You've got to have those rainbow sprinkles.
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, The Summer We’ve Had is available now, and Love You However is coming on March 22nd!