Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Elizabeth Corrigan

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
Oracle of Philadelphia is about Carrie, an immortal woman with the ability to read other people's thoughts and emotions. She owns a diner in Philadelphia where humans, demons, and angels come to her for advice. One day, a young man walks into the diner who has sold his soul to a demon, and Carrie decides that she needs to save him.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I've written stories in my head for as long as I can remember, and I always intended to put them down on paper but never really got around to it. Then a couple years ago, I was hit with a bout of insomnia and had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. So I decided to use it to write my book.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don't think so. Mostly I try to think of events from a character's point of view and then write them in the language they are thinking in.

How did you come up with the title?

The title is a play on Oracle of Delphi. I always intended that, back in the days of Ancient Greece, Carrie actually was the Oracle of Delphi. I wanted to update that name to convey that she's still dispensing oracular advice in a modern setting.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Well, if I have to tell you about it, I'm probably not doing the best job of conveying it! But overall, the book is about characters who are trapped on Earth, between Heaven and Hell. They're trying to figure out what good and evil mean, and if Heaven and Hell are really the authorities on the subject that they would have us believe.

How much of the book is realistic?

Almost none of it? I mean, it's about an immortal girl traveling through Hell. But a lot of the story is set in Philadelphia, and I tried to make that as realistic as possible. I kept calling up my sister who lives there and asking her questions like, "What does Philly smell like?" or "If you were going to die and only had one day left to spend in Philadelphia, what would you do?"

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Sadly, I do not know any 8,000 year old oracles who hang out with chaos demons. And, really, I feel that my life is the worse for it.

What books have most influenced your life most?

I've read so many books over the course of my life that it's hard to pick. I guess the first things that come to mind are books I've read that I couldn't put down or that I immediately wanted to read again after finishing-L.J. Smith's Secret Circle series (not the show; the show was terrible), Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, and the My Merlin series by Priya Ardis. I don't know that any of these books stand out for their literary merit-in fact, many people have told me that they do not and I have atrocious taste, which is fair-but I keep reading in hopes that every book will capture my imagination the way these ones did.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I haven't really done a lot of work with writers that I would consider personal mentors. But reading Sharon Shinn's books introduced me to religious fantasy, which definitely had an impact on my current work.

What book are you reading now?

At the moment, I'm reading The Golden Lily , the second book in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. Yes, I admit it, I'm a YA paranormal junkie.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I spent a year reviewing young adult indie books, and I found some really great authors in the process-Tammy Blackwell, Chelsea Fine, Vicky Savage, and Sarra Cannon, among others.

What are your current projects?

I'm pretty focused on the Earthbound Angels series at the moment. I hope to have 7 books in the series someday. Right now I'm focused on editing book 2 and writing the first draft of book 3. But I have a couple other ideas for books and the very rough draft of another project sitting on my hard drive, so I do hope to branch out in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My friend Kevin has been super-supportive of me. He reads the roughest drafts of my works and tells me what doesn't work.

Do you see writing as a career?

I guess that depends on how you define career. I would love to be a full-time novelist, if only because I could sleep as late as I wanted every day. And to some extent I think of writing as my real job-the one I spend 40 hours at every week is just to support my writing habit. And I definitely thing writing a novel-especially a series of novels-is a commitment to your audience that you're going to keep up writing. If all that makes writing a career, then that is how I see it

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No, my book is perfect. PERFECT.
Just kidding. Mostly.
Really, though, the process of getting Oracle of Philadelphia from an idea into my head into a format worthy of publication has been a multi-stage journey. There are some parts I would not care to repeat, but I think in the long-run, they all made the book better.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I've written stories in my head for as long as I remember. It's what I do when I get bored, think of other people and places. When I was little, this translated into pretend games that I played with my friends. As I got older, I started to come up with extravagant plots for my favorite television shows. At some point in high school, though I started coming up with stories of my own to write. But before you ask, no you cannot read the book I wrote in high school. It was terrible.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I give you the end of chapter 1, where we introduce Carrie's demon friend Bedlam.
I felt the arrival of a cluttered mind strong enough to overpower the thoughts from the doomed young man. I turned back to the counter. A black-clad man with black hair and black eyes had materialized on one of the stools. His grin suggested he had spent the last several hours wreaking havoc upon innocent passersby, and he wasn't quite done with his day yet.
"Hey, Khet," he said. "Have you missed me terribly?"
I rolled my eyes but was unable to help smiling back. "Yes, Bedlam. The last"-I glanced at the clock on the wall-"thirteen and a half hours that I have spent outside your company have been absolutely unbearable."
The demon's smile widened. "I knew they would be."

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I think the thing I find most challenging is remembering to be descriptive. I always want to get right to the action, so I often don't think to set the scene, and my characters end up looking like they're talking to each other in a dark box.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I don't know that I have a favorite author. These days I'm really into the superstars of the YA paranormal world-Cassandra Clare, Richelle Mead, and always L.J. Smith. I have no explanation for why I love to read about teenagers with paranormal powers. They certainly bear no resemblance to my life now or when I was a teen, but I can't get enough of them.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not so far, but I hope to someday have an international book tour with free cookies for anyone who stops by.

Who designed the covers?

My cover was designed by Streetlight Graphics, and I think it is amazing. It makes me want to buy my book!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I wouldn't call any part of the writing process easy, but I think the hardest thing was to actually motivate myself to sit down and write the thing. I spent years planning to someday write the book before I actually did it. Once I trained myself to be disciplined enough to sit down and write every day, the other barriers were more manageable.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I have learned so many things writing my book! Did you know they had onions in ancient Mesopotamia? They did. They also had an alcoholic beverage akin to beer. And a lot of barley. Seriously, I don't know how people wrote books before the internet.
I also learned that writing a book is really hard, but worth the effort.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say not to be afraid to find out what is wrong with your book. Because chances are, if it's the first time you've ever done it, you're doing something wrong. (My editors could give you pages of things I was and probably still am doing wrong.) It might be a lot of hard work to fix it, but in the end, you will have a better piece of writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you liked my book! And I forgive you if you didn't.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

There are so many challenges in producing a book that I don't think I could possibly list them all here. First it's hard to write a book-to find the time to write, to work out plot details, to come up with the perfect word for each scenario. And then it's extremely difficult to get a book published; every author faces lots of rejection before finding someone to read his or her work. And then once a book is accepted for publishing comes the editing, which for me involved redoing everything I did during the initial writing phase. But in the end, all the hard work was worth it because it means I have a book I can be proud of.