I am interviewing a wonderful woman, Elyse Salpeter who is the author of books entitled, “The Hunt For Xanadu, Flying to the Light, Flying to the Fire, The World of Karov, The Ruby Amulet and The Mannequins.”
What inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been pretty imaginative. When I was a little girl, I used to draw these fantastical cars for a family of a hundred. The car would have levels, with one level for a zoo, another for a carnival, an entire area for the kids to sleep. Think movie theaters and cafeterias. And in a teeny front window would be a steering wheel and a chair for the dad to drive everyone around.
When I hit my twenties, I had this idea for a fantasy novel and figured, “Oh, why not” and just started writing. It was not a well written book at all, and needed a lot of edits, but I fell in love with the idea of finally putting all my crazy thoughts down on paper.
Upon reading your work, you are a terrific writer! In your opinion, what makes a writer a great writer that is set apart from the rest?
Wow, I never thought of myself as a great writer, so I thank you. I do believe my talent is that I have very cool and different ideas that are really entertaining. I tend to explore topics not seen in the field before and I’m always writing about things I don’t know much about, so I have to research a lot. But to be honest, I pay editors to help me “clean myself up” and “make me look good.” They fix my grammar mistakes and assist with plot holes and overall book development issues.
I think the real thing is that you need to put the time into your craft so you can continue to grow and become stronger.
You have an upcoming novel, “The Mannequins.” What inspired you to write that book?
This book’s idea came from a scary dream I had. When I woke up, I remembered seeing, from the back, an older man with his arm on the shoulder of a young boy. They were on a hill, looking down at this abandoned mansion and I suddenly came up with the idea for the novel. It’s about a group of people who break into an abandoned mansion and get transported to a different reality run by a madman.
I started your novel, “The Hunt For Xanadu”. The writing is brilliant. When is it you realize that you’re finished not only writing the book but editing it? And can you share some helpful tips to the aspiring writer/author?
Oh, I never feel like I finish a novel. If I didn’t one day just let it go, I’d be editing it into the next millennia! But, at some point, you’ve paid for the editors, the proofreaders, you gone over the book with a fine tooth comb so many times and eventually, you just have to let it go into the universe.
How many novel ideas do you have in safe keeping to bring to the world?
Well, I have quite a few. I have my adult thriller series THE HUNT FOR XANADU and I’ve finished the sequel. It will be called THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB and it’s going through the editing process now. I have big plans for this series and it’s ongoing.
I have a YA thriller series called FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. At the moment, I’m planning out book #3.
I also have a dark fantasy series called THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET and it’s about a war torn land where gems have powers and wizards can flip worlds. There’s a plan for a third book in that series as well.
What about the afterlife do you believe?
I question the afterlife in so many of my novels. In THE HUNT FOR XANADU the novel has a Buddhist take on the concept and deals with reincarnation. In FLYING TO THE LIGHT I switch it up on its head with a novel idea I haven’t seen before (I can’t tell you what it is, big spoiler if I did!). My dark fantasy tales even have a bit of a take on them as well. Maybe I’m working through my own issues about it, but I personally believe there is something after this existence is over. What is it? I don’t know.
Have you had any paranormal experiences which you can’t explain?
When I was in eighth grade we lived in a house owned by June Havoc, the old time movie actress. Her husband died in the house and my mother and people visiting SWORE it was haunted. We would hear people walking across the upstairs hallway (even though no one was upstairs) and when we checked, we would then hear footsteps running across the third floor.
One evening, late at night, my father and two sisters and I each came out of our bedrooms and simply met each other in the hallway. My father looked at each of us and simply said “go back to bed, girls.” None of us knew why we all woke up – it was very spooky.
When you aren’t writing, I see you enjoy spending time with your family and gardening. What sort of things do you enjoy planting?
I like to plant veggies and herbs that I can pick and use for dinner in the evenings when I come home from work. This year I planted zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, corn and a ton of herbs. I tried to grow eggplant and artichokes and nothing came of it. I try something different each year.
Tell us something about yourself that your readers don’t know that would help them get acquainted with you.
My readers might not know how adventurous I am with food. I would love to travel the globe and eat street food. I think you can really learn about a culture by what the people eat. That said, I also love fine dining and to be pampered. I recently have been taking myself out to this decadent French restaurant where, all by myself, I’ll eat a plate of steak tartare, have a glass of wine, and read a book. I can’t do this often, it’s just too expensive, but once in a while I like to pretend I’m a Rockefeller.
With a busy schedule, how do you take time to write?
I squeeze it in whenever I can. I’ve taken to dragging my 15 inch laptop to work with me and writing on the train or at lunch if I don’t have any meetings. My family is pretty good about giving me some time on the weekends as well.
Many people don’t realize that a lot of time and energy is used to write a novel. A lot of writers also have to have things just right to concentrate. Do you have to follow a specific routine to be able to get into the zone of writing?
I just need silence. An empty house with just me and my laptop, sitting on my bed, is golden.
Do you have a book you’re working on right now, after the release of your novel The Mannequins?- which I am dying to read!
I do. I’ve finished the sequel to THE HUNT FOR XANADU. This will be Book #2 in the Kelsey Porter series. I’m in the process of proofing it right now and then I will be sending it off to my beta reader. It’s going to be called THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB.
In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and vice versa?
Well, self-pubbing gives you complete control and immediacy. I was going to try to go the traditional route with the horror novel, THE MANNEQUINS. But honestly, it could be months or years if I get it accepted to a publishing house or find an agent, and then I’d have no say about the cover or any control over the pricing AND I’d have to most likely do all the advertising and self promotion myself (just like I’d be doing if I self pubbed it), so why stress myself and go that route? I won’t lie, I’d love to be with a big six house, but in this day and age, it’s unreasonable to think they’d take on a debut author, even though I have six books under my belt.
At the end of the day, what brings you the most joy?
I could say my children laughing, a really funny television show, the satisfaction of getting a review… It’s all of that above, but honestly, the most joy is when it is quiet and I feel a sense of peace. The world is just so scary and chaotic, that sometimes just having myself to hang out with makes me happy.