Born and raised in South Carolina, Elaine Cantrell holds a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University and is a member of Romance Writers of America, EPIC authors, and Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the winner of the 2003 Timeless Love contest. She’s here today to talk about her latest book, The Enchanted.
Congratulations on the release of The Enchanted! When did you start writing and what got you into romance?
Thank you. I’ve been writing romance since 2001, but I wrote my first story before I started school. I dictated it to my father who wrote it on notebook paper and kept it until he died. My stepmother found it and gave it to me.
As an adult, I started writing because my son, who’s very talented, wrote a book and let me read it. I’d always wanted to write, so I sat down to give it a try. I stared at that blank screen for 10 minutes before it occurred to me that I had a delete key. I started writing, and I haven’t stopped since.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
I sure did. I’m lucky enough to have two of them. One of my best friends, Jennifer Gravely, is an English teacher who’s also a writer. The two of us share a publisher, Astraea Press. We read each other’s manuscripts and make suggestions. I promise that her help is invaluable to me. My other mentor is my sweet husband. He doesn’t know a thing about writing, and some of the suggestions he’s made are hilarious, but he supports me in my writing no matter what I want to do, so I think I can safely call him a mentor.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
LOL. Not at all. I didn’t know enough about writing to see anything wrong with my manuscripts, and my husband was there to encourage me about promotion, etc.
What was your inspiration for The Enchanted?
I’m a history teacher at the local high school, and my class was studying the Middle Ages, a time when arranged, dynastic marriages were all too common. After talking about it all day, I decided I’d write a story about a dynastic marriage, but I didn’t want a historical. Instead, I created a romantic fantasy so that I could incorporate those elements as well.
What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
Write anyway. We can edit later. So far that’s worked pretty well. A couple of years ago I got serious writer’s block and decided to write through it. I’ve turned out several novels that I really like since that time.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
Not after the first book. The best part of writing for me is when I first sit down at the computer with ideas swirling around in my head. Sometimes my fingers can’t move fast enough to get it all down. My characters want to get out and tell their story!
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Yes, I do best on a schedule. Every day I get up, check my email and publisher’s Facebook page, make sure my blog post published with no problems, and write until lunch time. I play until after dinner when I sit down to write for a few more hours.
How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
Oh, I don’t celebrate. I don’t want to let my characters go. They all become my friends who’ve allowed me a peek into their lives. One family, the Lovinggoods of Return Engagement grabbed my imagination so hard that I’ve written two more books about them. Book two of the trilogy, Blue 52, releases in December.
How do you define success?
Obviously, being on the New York Times bestseller list would spell success, but knowing that a publisher liked my book well enough to offer me a contract, is a success in itself. Pleasing readers who enjoy your book is certainly a definition of success. So is the knowledge that I did my very best to craft my story.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
I love experiencing the world through someone else’s point of view. I give my characters choices, and sometimes I let them take a different path than the one I would have chosen just to see where it takes them.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
Here’s my at website. That’s the place to go for excerpts and background info on my writing. On my blog on Saturdays and Sundays I post excerpts, and on Tuesdays I do a feature called Beyond the Book. This keeps readers up to date on what my characters are doing after the book ends. On Fridays I do Fashionista Friday. I figure women like clothes as well as romance.
Where is your book available?
A: It’s available from the publisher and at most online retail outlets. It released first as an ebook, but by the time you’re reading this I expect it to be in print also. Any bookstore can order a print version for you. It’ll also be at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Yes, I’d like to say that I love hearing from readers. If you read The Enchanted or any of my other work, let me know how you liked it.