The Duality of Nature
(The Monster of Selkirk, #1)
Publication date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.
As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends.
But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.
The Heart of the Forest
(The Monster of Selkirk, #2)
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Tallis is learning how to deal with loss and violence as she and her friends traverse the forests of Selkirk trying to find the reason behind the elven uprising. Not to mention why they keep hissing her name. But the further into the forests they go, Tallis is finding that the elves’ depravity can still surprise her, and thoroughly test the bonds of friendship, family, and love.
Tallis’s journey eventually leads to answers they’re not prepared for. Now Tallis begins to wonder just who she really is, and if she’s the evil that will end up destroying Selkirk. But she cannot stop to process these revelations, as an unforeseen betrayal lands those she loves at the feet of the very monster responsible for all the hurt, and heartbreak.
Coming face to face with her foe, Tallis discovers all too late she has no idea how to deal with this level of pain, and death. One way or another, the monster’s path ends here, and all Tallis can hope to do is bring those she loves safely out of the heart of the forest.
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I kind of always knew I’d end up as a writer even if I tried to deny it for a very long time. Writing was always something I did and enjoyed and never thought much about, even when teachers would enter my essays into contests and they would win awards. It just wasn’t something I considered to be a career option until after I did the normal 9-5 job for a while after college. But eventually I went back to my first, true love of writing and decided to literally put my all into it. When I told my family and friends this, they weren’t at all surprised and most said: “It’s about time!”
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
Usually about 2 years. That includes all the research and world building I do before I even write the first word, as well as all the months I spend editing and revising after beta readers and editors have gone through my books with big red pens!
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
Usually through a type of “wouldn’t it be cool if” game once I’m inspired by something I enjoy. So, for The Monster of Selkirk I really liked how the video game Dragon Age set up their world and elves, so I looked at that and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if the elves were monsters?” and things dove-tailed from there!
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I do try to keep to a schedule because it helps me feel productive even if I’m not in a writing phase of my project. I have so many other aspects of the book I have to manage (like promoting it) that it’s easy for me to get distracted and bounce around from one thing to another without finishing, that things get overly hectic and my writing comes to a standstill. So I try to write for at least 4 hours a day spread out in manageable chunks so I don’t get burnt out on any one thing.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?.
I’m not that great at balancing things. I work from home so it’s really easy to work all the time, whether that’s reading for the book reviews other indie authors ask me for, managing my website and newsletter list, my social media accounts… It drives my husband crazy! So I try very hard to make sure that the weekends are spent out of the house so that temptation to get more stuff done is eliminated as much as possible. It’s the only way I can avoid getting seriously burnt out, which leads to a kind of depression for me. It’s no fun!
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
Realism. Even in fantasy books, having them grounded in something that is tangible makes for great story lines. Whether that’s a character trying to deal with grief or their anxiety over responsibility, having those emotions or even topics that transcend genre and are grounded in the real world make for really strong and fantastic stories in my opinion.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
For me, the hardest thing is always letting it go. Knowing when I need to stop tinkering or editing just small stuff and giving my book over to others to read—whether as beta readers, editors, or even for publishing. I never feel like things are ever good enough which really slows down how quickly I can get work out.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I have 6 books out with my publisher DevilDog Press but I have written another 2 outside of that series. It’s so hard to pick a favorite because each story has something in it I love that no other book I’ve written has. My characters grow and change just like I do. So something I loved a few years ago isn’t the same as it is today. My work evolves as I learn and read more. So I want to say they are all my favorite for different reasons. If I don’t genuinely love something, I delete it!
9. Do you have a favorite character?
I love my main character Tallis because she is a reflection of the person I am, and wish I could be. But Rosslyn will always have a special place in my heart because her wit and snarky attitude makes her a ton of fun to write!
10. Where do you write?
I write at my desk in my home office. It’s really the only place I feel comfortable writing because I have limited distractions and have access to everything I need.
11.When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I knew I didn’t want to self-publish. Not that there is anything wrong with that option; it’s great if you have the passion, the resources, and the ability to do everything on your own. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do all that effectively so I wanted a publisher to help me with marketing, finding a cover designer, getting a professional editor etc. and alleviate that upfront cost of publishing a book. I used to work in advertising, so I was comfortable doing some of that on my own, and I also didn’t want to lose control over the story I wanted to tell, which meant a smaller press publisher was the best option. So I researched, and I queried, and landed with my current publisher!
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
Most of my family aren’t big readers. My parents are very proud of me, but they haven’t read the novels, though they do buy them for their friends! The only family members who have read all the books I have out so far are my sister (who adores Tallis and Tomas together) and my father-in-law (who enjoys watching the characters grow, and especially loved Cookie ;) ).
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love traveling! But if I can’t do that, I like gardening as a stress reliever because it has nothing to do with books, and I love going to see live music.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Outside of just start writing, I’d say to be patient. Writing takes a long time, and it’s never perfect the first time around. But all that is fixable if you sit down to do it, and are patient. Let the words come in their own pace and don’t compare your speed to someone else’s. Take your time to make sure you are happy with your words, then put it aside and come back to it months later to see if everything still reads the same and you still love your story. This is a slow industry, it takes a while for books to get published, so be patient with it and yourself and you’ll be great!
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
My favorite book series of all time has been The Dragon Riders of Pern pretty consistently, but my favorite author changes almost monthly as I read and discover new books and the incredible authors who pen them. Those authors who have beautiful writing and robust, creative worlds tend to inspire me the most and keep me motivated to write more.
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
I do! And a few of them are authors themselves so it definitely helps as we all go through the same struggles together and can also pick up on the little details that my friends and family wouldn’t normally catch. Tyffany Hacket (author of Imber) and becky Moynihan (author of Adaptive) have been huge helps, as have Kat, Theresa, Grace, and Hannah, who have written books that will hopefully come out soon!
17. Are you working on anything now?
Yes! I am shopping a new contemporary family saga out to literary agents right now and am revising a cyberpunk fantasy series. I am also starting to research for my next contemporary and hope to start that in the next few months.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
My dog, Dobby.
Playing video games with my husband
Seeing my favorite bands in concert
Happy hour with my big sister and best friends
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
My imposter syndrome
When friends cancel plans last minute
Running out of snacks unexpectedly
That in-between phase where I finish a book or project and don’t know where to start on the next thing
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
Well, since Selkirk is based pretty heavily on Scotland, I won’t say that lol! But probably somewhere hard to get to, like remote areas of Egypt, Africa, or India just because those places are so vibrant but so hard to capture unless you can see them with your own eyes.
C. E. Clayton was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area, where she attended the University of Southern California (Fight On!) for both her Bachelors and Masters, and then worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts ranging from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love–writing–and hasn’t stopped. She is now the author of “The Monster of Selkirk” series and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts. And reading. She does read quite a bit. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, social media presence, and newsletter, can be found on her website: https://www.ceclayton.com/
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