Thursday, February 16, 2017

Interview with Ella Carey

It's a pleasure to welcome Ella Carey to the blog today. Ella Carey is the internationally bestselling author of Paris Time Capsule, The House by the Lake and From a Paris Balcony, all published with Lake Union Publishing in the US. Paris Time Capsule has been adapted into a feature film screenplay and is agented in LA, and the novels are being translated into several European languages. Paris Time Capsule was released in Australia with Harlequin Australia in September, 2016. 

Ella is a Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret, forgotten histories set in Europe's entrancing past. She has degrees in music, majoring in classical piano, and in Arts majoring in nineteenth century women’s fiction and modern European history. Ella is now hard at work on her fourth novel, an Australian story set in the Melbourne art world during the 1940s, with a working title of Secret Shores. The book is set for release with Lake Union Publishing on September 5th, 2017. Ella has recently moved to Melbourne from Hobart with her two children and two Italian Greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.

What is the inspiration for your current book?  

I was inspired by several things that all came together- two strands were the true story of the death of a young girl who was sketching on an island in South Australia and the modernist movement in art, writing and life that happened during the 1940s in Melbourne.

Is there a particular theme you are exploring in this book? 

The theme is very much about authenticity in life and art in the context of the modernist movement in Australia. The book explores the impact of the conflict that existed between generations and across generations in Australian art and politics. The story takes place over a few months in 1946 and dovetails to scenes set in New York in 1987. It’s a dual narrative. 


What period of history particularly interests you? Why? 

I am drawn to this generation of people who lived through the second world war, probably because my parents lived through it. My mother was seventeen when the war broke out. She was about to go to university but instead spent six years in the air force in a Nissen hut on a pilot’s training station at Mallala where she met my father, who was a pilot in the air force. Of course, once the war was over, my mother was married in 1946 and she lost her chance to go to university for good. I think it’s incredibly hard for us to understand the impact of that war.  

What resources do you use to research your book? 

I use books from the library and bookstores! I like to read sources from the period as much as I can, such as letters. With the Australian novel, it was helpful to be able to read Sunday Reed and Joy Hester’s letters to each other because I was able to feel and sense their voices. I read biographies and history books along with novels set and around the era- everything I can get my hands on which relates to the setting. 

Visiting the places in the book has become important to me. For this novel, spending a few days at Anlaby Station made all the difference for me. The current owners of the property shared so much about the Dutton family and the old station’s past. Just walking around the property and in the gardens and around the old rooms in the house made a huge difference. You can feel the past and the history so much by being at a place.  

As for the internet, I do use that as well for visual details- photos of clothing that people wore, fact checking if something comes up along the way as I write.

What is more important to you, historical authenticity or accuracy? 

My instinctive response to that, and something I would adhere to after reflection, is that historical authenticity is more important than accuracy. While you need to be careful with accuracy, while accuracy is important and publishing houses have fact checkers to ensure that things are correct throughout the book, I think authenticity is something deeper than accuracy- it’s about being true to the time about which you are writing. If, in general terms, the story, characters and setting are not authentic, or true, then I think nothing works, the story won’t resonate or ring true- in short, readers need to believe that the story seems real, as if it all could have happened- as if it did happen. I think that is at the essence of storytelling no matter what.  

Which character in your current book is your favourite? Why? 

That is possibly not as bad as asking me to choose between my children, but it’s hard.  Rebecca Swift comes to mind as soon as you ask that question, so I’ll go with her. She is so determined to stick to her principles and her belief in art and what she loves to do. At the same time, she is a warm, loving human being. She’s suffered in her early years, which gives her a depth of understanding and empathy which I think is interesting for a woman in her early twenties, and she is courageous as well. I think she has many qualities that I admire in people. 

Are you a plotter or a panster? How long does it generally take you to write a book? 

I’m a plotter who turns into a panster once I start writing- and it only gets worst with each draft. I do start with a synopsis so that I know I have a story - and then things change as I write. I have had three novels published in quick succession in the last two years and I think it took me about eight or nine months to write each book from start to submission, but then they go into the revision process, which takes another four or so months, then there is a lapse of several months before the book is released, while the book is produced and covers designed. I started Secret Shores in March 2016 and it will be released in September 2017. 

Which authors have influenced you? 

Late nineteenth century women authors- the classics-  especially the Bronte’s for dramatic, tragic love stories, (they are the best kind!). Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are probably my two favourite novels. Anna Karenina is wonderful. I love E.M Forster and Edith Wharton, along with Evelyn Waugh. I admire Hemingway’s style of writing, his spare prose and his use of dialogue. In terms of contemporary writing, I’m enjoying Emily Bitte’s The Strays at the moment. I’m always open to discovering new authors- I love to read. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?  

Don’t give up, do educate yourself on the craft of writing to the highest level which you can achieve, and do not send your work out until you are sure it is the best it can be- you’ll know when it is ready. And surround yourself with people who are supportive of your writing, as much as you can, that is important. 

Tell us about your next book or work in progress. 

My next book is set for release in July 2018. It’s set in the early twentieth century in Europe and London but I can’t tell you much more than that! 

Thank you for sharing your story to publication with us, Ella. You can connect with Ella via Facebook or her website. Ella's books are available on Amazon.

HNSA 2017 Conference

The HNSA 2017 Conference in Melbourne is being held on 8-10 September 2017. Belinda Murrell Ella Carey will be appearing the following panel in Session Five on Saturday 9 September at 2.15-3.15 pm.

The Outlander Effect: Parallel Narratives and Time Travelling

The success of the Diana Garabaldon’s Outlander series has inspired authors to delve into the lives of characters through parallel narratives, fantasy and cracks in time. Ella Carey, Belinda Murrell, Gary Crew and Felicity Pulman discuss with Catherine Padmore the challenges of interweaving the tales of two or more protagonists from different periods into their plotlines and themes.

Early bird registration is open for the HNSA 2017 Conference. You will receive 15% off the full price for our weekend programme.  The same discount also applies for tickets to our opening reception
This celebration of the historical fiction genre will showcase over 60 speakers discussing our theme, inspiration, writing craft, research, publishing pathways and personal histories. Among the many acclaimed historical novelists participating are Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Deborah Challinor, Lucy Treloar, Sophie Masson, Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott and Arnold Zable. The HNSA’s speakers’ list is available on the HNSA website.

In addition to the two stream weekend programme, there will be ten craft based super sessions and two research masterclasses. You won’t want to miss our interactive sessions on armour and historical costumes either! Manuscript assessments will be conducted by industry experts, Alison Arnold and Irina Dunn. And there are two calls for papers in our free extended academic programme.

Our First Pages Pitch Contest offers an opportunity for submissions to be read aloud to a panel of publishers. And we are delighted to announce the introduction of our inaugural HNSA Short Story Contest with a $500 prize!

Let’s make a noise about historical fiction!

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