We have all tucked into our favourite armchair with a cup of hot cocoa. It is cold and dark outside. The wind is whistling softly outside. It is the perfect time to open your new purchase: your favourite thriller. You open up the pages and soon you are so lost in the story that when the phone rings; you jump and your heart is racing a mile a minute. Every creak in the floorboards, every noise in the house makes you tuck in deeper, trying to hide from all the would-be dangers…that is when you know that you are reading a book that turns even the most mundane into a thrill. Have you ever wondered what sort of person is behind the pen that writes that book? What skills do they need to thrill you? What experiences turn them into a person who can write a story that can make you jump at imagined danger…and all this with the power of words and imagination? Well wonder no more. Today’s Warrior is that person behind that book that thrills you on cold winter nights….So sit down, tuck into a favourite armchair with a cup of cocoa and listen to the talk behind the thrills…
Introducing author: Elise VanCise
girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Elise VanCise?
Elise: I’m a writer/photographer, native Floridian, and a single home schooling mom. I love to explore museums and historic sites. I’m addicted to dark chocolate and cherry Dr Pepper. I carry pen and notebook where ever I go. I’ve been known to write in the middle of the grocery store when an idea hits.
girl with a quill: If you wrote yourself a part in one of your stories, what role would you play and why?
Elise: The beautiful rich heroine that gets the guy of course! Really though I think I write a bit of myself in every story. There’s always a quirk or favorite thing in the stories that reflect a bit of who I am.
girl with a quill: Which is the more challenging hat to wear and why – that of journalist or that of novelist?
Elise: Journalist, because you have to be careful of what you report and how accurate it is. Every detail must be checked and double checked. Fiction you have much more freedom to bend reality anyway you like.
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer/journalist?
Elise: In 2006 I joined NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of In the Dark. Finishing the book I realized hey this has been my passion all along. I had just never written a full novel. I wanted to have an avenue that was a bit more lucrative between books so I started working as a freelance journalist /photographer in 2009. I love being able to write about the people and places I meet along the way.
girl with a quill: Do you find that your skills in journalism have helped/hindered your skills as a novelist? How?
Elise: I think learning to think like a journalist has helped me see things in new ways. I have been able to put that into my fiction writing as well. I’ve been able to find some great story ideas while out and working as a journalist. My hindrance is switching my tenses lol. You write mostly active voice present tense in a news/non-fiction article. I find myself switching tenses in the middle of my stories. It makes editing interesting and I drive my writing partner Rose Wade a little crazy sometimes.
girl with a quill: I know that you are a prolific NaNoWriMo participant and winner 5 times over.
What is it about NaNoWriMo that makes you keep on competing?
Elise: I love the challenge of NaNoWriMo. To write 50,000 words in only 30 days is a feat. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to hit that mark and watch your green bar go purple. I also enjoy the camaraderie that you get with writers from around the world.
girl with a quill: For those naysayers of NaNoWriMo, what would you say have been the highlights of your NaNoWriMo involvement, not only as a writer but as a municipal liaison?
Elise: I think the highlight of NaNo for me is seeing people who never thought they could write a story. It really doesn’t matter if you make it to 50k. NaNoWriMo is all about the joy of writing. Being able to see first time writers grow and find their own voices over the course of the contest is a really great thing to witness.
As a municipal liaison I’ve been able to create a group for writers in my area. We meet the 4th Wed. every month at the Eustis Denny’s at 6:30pm. Everyone is welcome we have members of all ages.
girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Elise: Yes, I do. I have the monthly group I spoke about and I chat every day with my writing partner Rose. We met on a fan fic writing board and became close friends, sisters-in-heart. I also am an online member of a few groups such as Fellow Writers on Facebook. Lots of wonderful people in there.
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Elise: I would have to say just the world around me is my greatest influence. God created this great big place, filling it with such wonders. There’s something to be inspired by everywhere you look.
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Elise: I would have to say a mix of Drama, Horror, and Comedy. The last year has been such a roller coaster of emotions and events, I’m kind of surprised the white coats haven’t knocked on my door yet lol.
girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Elise: I write mostly at my desk. I have photos of my fave places and my son. Two books always at hand a thesaurus and The Descriptionary. I have a koosh ball and Baoding Balls, both are great when your hands get tired from typing or sore. I have carpel tunnel and arthritis so they are great tools for my poor achy hands. I have a flower pot painted with all my pens and pencils in it. I have all sorts of crazy shaped ones. Most important other than my computer is my bulletin board. Part of it is filled with some memory items but half is my novel notes and bullet points.
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Elise: I start jotting down ideas and possibilities of where it might lead. Then jump into some research for some building materials to really set the idea. As I look though these materials the characters really start to come to life. I’ll do little shorts or a paragraph or two writing about or as that character to flesh them out. Once we’re all acquainted I dive into the story.
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Elise: I’m somewhere in the middle. I make a bullet point outline of at least 60 points. Scenes, dialog, plot points, character notes. Whatever I need, I then print it out and cut them apart. I put each bullet on the board in story sequence, sort of like a story board. It helps me see the progress as each finished bullet is pulled down.
girl with a quill: How important a part does the digital world and an online platform play in your life?
Do you believe that writers now have more control over their own platform now that we live in an increasingly virtual online world of social networking/blogging/tumbling/tweeting ect?
Elise: The digital world is a huge part of my life. I work, play and even use online curriculum to home school my son. I think writers now have the ability to be more hands on. There are more and more opportunities being created for us to spread the word about our ‘brand’. Being involved in social networking is almost a necessity these days. You need to have an internet presence to reach the audience you want.
girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?
Elise: That’s hard to answer. I write so many different kinds of stories but I think my books and niche fall in Paranormal Thrillers. There is always a touch of comedy and romance tossed in the mix as well.
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Elise: Crime/Mystery these are the things I like to read. A good thrill or a dark mystery to solve.
girl with a quill: Are you working on any new story now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Elise: I have several projects going actually. I’m working on one called Out of the Air. Evan is a scientist who doesn’t believe in anything other than logic. A near death experience causes her to meet someone who shows her science can’t explain everything.
The other is Worth. A photographer working for World Magazine doing a story on the Congo where she finds herself in a war zone doing more than taking pictures.
girl with a quill: If you met a found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Elise: To become a character for a short time. Everyone wants to be someone else, just for a little while, to lead a more adventurous, glamorous life. Then just think of the story ideals you’ll come out with for your own work!
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Elise: Character, it’s the character that readers really connect with. You can love a story and not be thrilled with the characters. But once you fall in love with a Character the story becomes more compelling. You’re feeling something for them every time you turn the page.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Elise: That’s hard they’re all my darlings lol. I would have to say Dean Cross. He’s an ex Marine with a bigger than life personality. Fun loving but ready for action at a moments notice.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Elise: You know I’m not really sure I have a favorite.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Elise: Stephen King, what writer wouldn’t want to sit down with the master! Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, I would love to see Florida though her eyes in the early days of the state. My favorite artist Salvador Dali, his art has so much in it. Each piece tells more than one story. Russell Crowe, an actor who brings so much life to the characters he plays. It would be wonderful to talk about characterization and what makes them so compelling or not to an audience. And lastly Mark Twain, a man who made no excuses for who he was, lived his life to the fullest with pen and heart.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Elise: Capt. Jack Aubrey from Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this character on the first page as he hummed and tapped his foot and leg to the music of the orchestra with such exuberance. Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s books, tall dark handsome ex military, kind of brooding… do I really need to explain this one? Travis Criton from my book Half, I’ve always thought he would just be so much fun to be out on the town with. Robin Hood, he has been my hero since childhood.
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Elise: It would be the same advice I give myself now. Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t stop searching for the end of the rainbow, keep dreaming big.
girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Elise: Just breathe it all in and enjoy life to the fullest.
girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Elise: To be someone who inspired others to follow dreams and write their tales.
girl with a quill: Where can we buy your books?
Elise: Most online retailers or your best price would be at my Literary Emporium http://stores.lulu.com/elisevancise
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?