Have you been reading Elexis Bell?
Welcome to my interview with Elexis Bell! Let’s learn about her and her amazing writing journey.
Hi Elexis Bell! Please introduce yourself and share 5 fun facts!
I’m a quiet nerd with a lot of hobbies. I specialize in sarcasm and love writing stories that make people feel something. I write dark, gritty books, sprinkling gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, thrillers, post-apocalyptic romance, science fiction, and supernatural romance.
Now, five fun facts:
- I went to Mexico for an afternoon.
- My husband and I have a dog and a small army of cats.
- Occasionally go target shooting, and I’m not a terrible shot.
- I collect clovers with more than 3 leaves.
- I collect old books. The oldest book in my collection was printed in 1758, and I have documents from the 1500s.
How did you begin your writing career?
I began writing as most do, assignments in school. Though I tended to write darker stories than my fellow students. As life tried its damnedest to break me, writing became a coping mechanism, a way for my emotions to bleed out of me. It wasn’t until the first semester of college that I wrote a full-length novel (lost to computer failure in the days before cloud storage), and even then I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer. That took many more years.
What was the inspiration for the book World For The Broken?
Oddly enough, given that an actual sex scene is one of the only triggers not in the book, the inspiration came from the trailer for a porn. It was a high end, story driven one, and the trailer consisted of a girl wearing heavy furs and old timey clothes tromping through the snow on a mountain side until she passed out. Then, some guy, also wearing furs and medieval clothes, found her and carried her to safety. And for some reason, the idea of someone finding someone near-dead in the snow just stuck with me.
I’ve been in a post-apocalyptic head space for a while, so I shifted it to that rather than a fantasy setting. Of course, I didn’t want the baggage of “Is he going to kill me or worse?” hanging over the love interest, what with the potential hostage situation, so I flipped the genders. I don’t particularly enjoy writing women who fall in love with men after thinking they might kill or rape them. So, Chloe found Christian bleeding in the snow. Then, I just needed a reason for him to be there. I built the world around them, unintentionally throwing nearly ever potential trigger into the book. I never even ended up watching the porn that inspired the story.
What was the most challenging part of writing it?
There were a lot of parallels to my life, some of which were intensely emotional. There were a lot of times where I was crying as I typed. Of course, I adjust everything to fit the characters’ personalities, but this book hit close to home. Putting such raw, recent wounds into it certainly made it difficult, at times.
Most notable victories?
The exact same thing. Not only was it a little bit cathartic, the very emotion that made it hurt made the scenes that much better. They hurt, a lot. But by contrast, the happy scenes, which also pulled tears from my eyes, were that much happier.
What is your favourite part about the themes and genres you write in?
For nearly every other book I’ve written, I like the magic aspect. I write a lot of dark high fantasy because I genuinely love magic and different worlds and different races of beings. I love the romance aspect of most of my books, too. But most importantly, I love the emotion and unique character development in each book. I love writing roller coasters with realistic characters.
What are the most challenging aspects?
Time and keeping myself from planning too far ahead. When I first start writing, I want to dive in and devote every waking second to it. Of course, life doesn’t quite allow that, so I have to write around work and other commitments. Meanwhile, I have to keep my brain from planning out every scene before I can get them written. I’m a hardcore pantser, and if the whole thing is planned out ahead of time, I lose interest.
What do you hope readers will gain from the experience of reading your book?
Of course, I want them to get an enjoyable reading experience. But I also want them to gain insight into themselves, their emotions, and the world around us. I write difficult topics into every book. Sexual abuse, depression, bullying, child abuse, attempted genocide, domestic abuse, Stockholm syndrome, racism, suicide… You name it, it’s in one or multiple of my books.
World for the Broken holds almost every possible trigger. But each one is in there for a reason. To show the way people develop around their scars, the way some people flourish despite their traumas and others fold before them. These aren’t things we should shy away from or shove into a corner to be forgotten. These are realities of our world, and they need to be dealt with.
What was the publishing process like for you?
At first… It was a minefield. I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing industry and ended up getting scammed by a vanity press. To any writers out there, if a publishing company expects you to pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish your book, don’t do business with them. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and don’t look back.
Initially, before I realized my mistake, I was ecstatic to have a book published. But then the phone calls from the publisher became manipulative. They called when they knew I wasn’t available (sleeping because I worked overnights, and I’d told them that) and spoke over me trying to push me into paying them more money for subpar services. Then, I learned more about the publishing industry and realized what was happening. I was embarrassed. Thought it meant I wasn’t a real author because anyone could pay them to publish anything.
I was convinced people would laugh at me if they found out. But eventually, I got my book back from them, edited it (because it was very nearly a first draft published through them), and re-released it with a reputable self-publishing company nearly six years after the initial publication.
Of course, this says nothing of the years in the middle there, spent querying agents and publishers with other books, or the interminable waiting for rejections. But since researching the publishing industry further and making the decision to forego traditional publishing in favor of indie publication, it’s been much better.
Can you share your best advice for aspiring authors?
Write however you can. If someone tells you that you have to write a 150 page outline (which I’ve actually seen as advice before), but you feel boxed in by outlines, skip it and just start writing. If the idea of jumping in blind scares you, make an outline. Jump around, write from start to finish…Do whatever works for you, because no single process for writing works for every writer. Also, study psychology. It helps a lot with realistic character development.
What is your process to get into your ‘creative mode’?
I just go about my day, for the most part. If I’m away from home and an idea hits, I write it on my arm or type it in a note on my phone. I’ve written in waiting rooms and passenger seats of cars, near heavy machinery at work or at friends’ houses. Otherwise, I do normal, productive things through the day, and then, somewhere between midnight and 2am, I start writing.
I don’t have a specific ritual with certain snacks and locations. I sit in my library if I need to limit distractions, but really, I just wait until my mind is fully awake and I have a decent day behind me. By that point, my mind is ready to dive into the story I’m working on. Usually, I work on my books until about 5 or 6 am, taking small breaks when necessary.
How do you relate to the characters in your book?
I give every character something of myself. Some get something as small or inconsequential as a favourite color or a favourite scent. Others get an experience, a personality quirk, or a specific emotion I’m dealing with at that point in my life. But all of them get something from me.
How are you different from them?
Everything else about them is different. I give them a quality or two, but the rest gets shaped specifically for them. They grow into their own, fully realized people, rooted in that quality.
Any last thoughts to share about Elexis Bell or your book?
This book, and my entire writing career, has been a long time in the making. It’s taken a great deal of work to get here, and I still have so far to go. But I intend to put my heart and soul into every book I write, and I hope you enjoy them.
Thank you so much Elexis Bell for talking about your writing process and sharing your book with us! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Keep in touch with Elexis on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, AllAuthor, Goodreads, and Nanowrimo.
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