Hello, everyone! We have something very exciting on the blog today- an interview with author Elijah David. His book, Albion Academy, makes its grand debut soon.
Is a Djinni just a trickster? Can a wizard only learn magic? Must a Valkyrie always ferry the dead?
For Mortimer, Merlin, and Bryn, it seems the fates have already written the ends of their stories. When Mortimer asks unorthodox questions, the Djinni Elders exile him to a human school of magic—Albion Academy. Merlin’s friendship with a mortal only increases his mother’s determination for him to live up to the heritage of his ancestors. And Bryn’s prophetic sisters outright declare that her fate is tethered to Mortimer, Merlin, and the mysterious door in the school’s basement.
As the three of them struggle against the constraints of their families’ expectations, they find themselves inexorably drawn into a conflict that encompasses rogue Faeries, dangerous mortals, and sorcerers hidden in Albion Academy itself. Defying their fates might be the only way they survive their first year at . . .
So I interviewed the author! Without further ado, let’s introduce Elijah David!Welcome to the blog, Eli! Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview.
- Tell us a little about yourself, your writing, how a reader can keep up to date on your works, and any random fun-facts that come to mind:
Thanks for having me! Well, I was raised in the panhandle of Florida but I’ve lived in five other states as well. I started seriously writing in middle school or early high school when I set out to write something that would have the impact on others that Narnia had on me (I’m still working on that high and lofty goal). I knit, crochet, and cross-stitch, and recently took up watercolors. My wife and I have a 2.5-month-old son and a calico cat named Pumpkin that keep us busy.
I write a mix of things, all of them under the umbrella of speculative fiction. I have magical realist and outright fantasy short stories set in a fictionalized version of my hometown that have been in anthologies from The Crossover Alliance and Oloris Publishing. Then there’s Albion Academy, which is a contemporary school fantasy. Other novels in the works have elements of horror, science fiction, high fantasy, portal fantasy, and urban fantasy (I like fantasy, can you tell?).
Readers can keep up with me via my blog/website at http://elijahdavidauthor.blogspot.com,
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elijahdavidauthor, and on
Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14746895.Elijah_David.
I’m also on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/elijahdavidauth, and yes, there’s a board for the Albion books.
- What is the highest compliment you could be paid by a reader?
As I said above, my goal in writing is to publish something that impacts people the way Narnia impacted me. So there’s that. Failing that (or in addition, I’m not picky), hearing that they enjoyed my book, can’t wait for the sequel, were angry/sad when a character died, etc. would be a huge compliment. I think knowing that your stories have been enjoyed and have affected people is the highest compliment any author can receive.
- If you could tell aspiring writers one thing, what would that be?
Don’t make excuses for why you can’t write. Write whenever you can, and don’t let the distractions eat up your writing time. Be willing to take criticism now, because it will only get worse as you grow more serious about your writing. Learn the basics of grammar and punctuation. Your beta readers and editors will bless you for this.
- What was the catalyst for writing Albion Academy?
It started with a simple idea: what if Merlin (the original Merlin) were somehow present in a modern day high school—as a student? And then I realized that I wanted to leave the old Merlin in the past, so my young Merlin became his descendant: Merlin Pendragon. Once I had my Merlin in place, and his origins in mind, I started writing. It took me a long while to finish the first draft because I was in college at the time and had a hard time making time for writing (see my first bit of advice on the last question). Once I finished that draft, I read through it for edits—and realized that Merlin’s story wasn’t the only one that needed telling here. So Mortimer and Bryn went from the primary secondary characters to full-on narrators alongside Merlin. Let me tell you, managing the switch from one to three first-person POV characters was a lot of work, but it was fun work, and the novel is better for their voices.
- How do you manage the pressures of adult life and writing?
Many days, I don’t. As I said, we have a young son and he takes most of our free time. I’m learning even more the importance of planning writing time and squeezing more in whenever there’s a free moment. If you are fortunate enough to not need a full-time job, make the most of the time off and write, write, write!
- What was the most difficult/enjoyable scene for you to write in Albion Academy?
Ooh! The opening was a difficult one because I had to change it a few times even after it became Mortimer’s chapter, not Merlin’s. Then there was the prologue that became a flashback that had to be moved within its chapter a few times. Those two are probably the ones that gave me the most grief.
The most enjoyable scene—well, there are two that I loved, and they go together. When I switched Albion Academy from Merlin’s narration to Mortimer’s, Merlin’s, and Bryn’s, I also added short interludes between the chapters to fill in the stories of some of the other characters who were important to the plot but might not fit as easily into the three main points of view. Towards the middle and end of the book, there are two interludes from the viewpoint of Gabriel, a mortal boy who causes some trouble for Merlin, that I loved writing because the scenes were such perfect mirrors of each other.
I’d also say that anything with Bryn—especially Bryn in Asgard—was wonderful to write. She’s my favorite perspective from this book, hands down.
- What are your top sources for inspiration for writing?
Usually, myths and folklore are the biggest sources of inspiration, as evidenced by the varied cast of Albion Academy. I also find phrases of Scripture tend to give me strong images that go into the cauldron for use later on. Pinterest can be a big help if you’re looking for something specific, but it can also be a waste of time if you spend too long looking (see my advice under question 3).
- What authors have shaped your love of fiction and writing?
C.S. Lewis was the author who inspired me to write seriously. J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones, Jim Butcher, Tad Williams, and Brandon Sanderson are some other writers whose works have influenced me in one way or another as I’ve developed my writing. Flannery O’Connor and Jonathan Stroud also deserve a mention, as does Charles Williams (the Inkling, not the thriller writer). And Ray Bradbury’s lyricism is one of my writing ideals.
- Do you have a writing ritual and how did that come about?
I don’t know that I have a ritual, per se. I have found that I love to have music going when I write. It helps me set the mood and tune out other noise. I’ve made a few playlists for the Albion books, so I try to not play those unless I’m actually writing, to keep my mind on the task at hand.
- Are there any other books in the works?
There are three sequels to Albion Academy in the works, the first of which I’m working on now. There are some prequel/side stories for the Albion series that I’d like to finish before the series is over. I also have some modern retellings of The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio I’m working on, an urban fantasy about a phoenix PI, a parallel series to Albion about a quite different school for young gifted people, and plans for some high and portal fantasy books somewhere down the road. But the Albion Quartet is first and foremost.
I always find it fascinating to talk to other authors- it’s nice to find that they’re human too! It’s also interesting that so many writers have the same inspiration authors (Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling…) but we all seem to invent new and exciting book ideas anyway.
Readers, we’re quite lucky: Elijah will be hanging around the blog today to answer any questions you might have for him! So go ahead and ply your wit and pick his brain in the comment section… I can’t wait to see your interactions!