Book Reviews / Interviews

Interview with Ellie Ann, THE SILVER SICKLE, and a Giveaway!

Introducing the brand new release from Ellie Ann!

SilverSickle

THE SILVER SICKLE is for fans of steampunk, cyberpunk, Veronica Roth, Scott Westerfeld, and Ally Condie.

BOOK DESCRIPTION from Amazon:
The end of humanity will come through the Silver Sickle . . .

Farissa lives every moment with reckless abandon, for it may be her last. Any day now, the alien goddesses will harvest her and take her to the mysterious Silver Sickle, never to return. She’s accepted that. What she can’t accept is this new idea of freedom Zel has planted in her head. She’d give almost anything to be with Zel, but how can she run from her destiny if it means putting the whole kingdom in danger?

Everyone in the desert kingdom believes the goddesses are immortal, but Zel has invented a way to kill them. Now all he has to do is convince Farissa to run away with him and plant a seed of hope in her heart that she’s not destined to die. Little does he know that one seed of hope could change the course of the future.

My Review

THE SILVER SICKLE has it all—adventure, humor, romance, and end-of-the-world tension. Add in the life-sucking aliens who masquerade as goddesses and the clockwork soldiers with unsurpassable loyalty, and you get an epic tale that stands out as original and unforgettable.

The story is told from the POVs of Gira, Zel, and Farissa. Gira is the leader of the Amar, the alien race that is secretly incubating their young to take over Earth. As much as I wanted to hate Gira, I found myself sympathizing with her. Above all she is a mother, willing to do anything—or sacrifice anyone—to save her offspring.

Zel is the cogsmaster’s apprentice, excelling at innovative research and fixing the clockwork soldiers. If the Amar knew that his technology could bring about their destruction, they would kill him. But Zel would risk his life to save Farissa from being sacrificed to the Amar. Because of his aptitude for science and his attention to details, I fell for the handsome Zel in a big way. Or perhaps it was his devotion and love for Farissa that made me swoon.

Farissa is one of my all-time favorite female characters. She can run above the city on steam pipes or hang upside down from a balcony. She can scale a rock wall or challenge the king to a horse race. Knowing the Amar could claim her life any day, she lives every hour to the fullest. It’s the same reason she holds back from loving Zel—she doesn’t want him to get hurt when she dies. And she won’t let him endanger himself to save her.

Nothing about this unpredictable story is black-and-white. The characters are realistically flawed, and their dilemmas are not easily solved. Ellie Ann has a way with language and proverbs that perfectly fits the cyberpunk world she has created. She doesn’t shy away from harsh truths, but she presents them in a non-graphic way. I can recommend this book to teenagers and not worry about over-the-top language, explicit violence, or sex scenes. In fact, I do strongly recommend this book—to anyone who loves a captivating story with characters you root for. THE SILVER SICKLE should come with a warning label: Do not make other plans for the day you read this. I stayed up half the night to finish it and was a zombie the next day. It was so, so worth it. I’d gladly escape reality to read this amazing book.

My interview with the lovely Ellie Ann!

Ellie Ann

Me:  What inspired you to write THE SILVER SICKLE? 

Ellie:  The book of Esther has always inspired me. It’s so intriguing and exciting, and I liked the idea of a common girl saving an entire race.

 

Me:  The plot and setting of TSS is so original. Did the idea come to you fully-formed, or in bits and pieces? How did you put it all together to create an amazing new story world?

Ellie: It took so many months of world building and character profiles. I probably wrote about three different drafts of the Amar’s alien profile. In my first draft (with my writing partner, Al) we wrote in good Amar, who fought to save the humans. They got cut, and the hatchlings got added.

The characters each had several drafts as well. At one point, Zel worked a lot more with the steam pipes. I had a lot of help with the character profiles from Piper Bayard, who has really great intuition and knowledge about writing good characters, and she was patient enough to read and critique all my profiles.

Nothing came fully formed. All my first ideas suck. I have to toss out my first 5-100 ideas before I find the really good ones.

 

Me:  Who’s your favorite character from TSS, and why?

Ellie:  Farissa, the dead girl walking with an inexplicable zest for life. I love how she looks at things with both eyes wide open, how she doesn’t put herself first, and her sense of humor. 

 

Me:  In addition to being an author, you’re also an editor! Which job do you like best? Do you think you’ll keep doing both in the foreseeable future? 

Ellie:  I love writing best. But I’ll always edit. It keeps me sharp. Without a doubt, I learned more about writing from editing manuscripts than any conference, book, or pep talk I’ve ever heard on writing. I love reading a manuscript, figuring out the problems and triumphs of the story, and then finding the answer together with the author.  

 

Me:  You’re a producer of interactive books at Noble Beast, the writer of digital comic books, and the writer of the Slice of Life transmedia project. Wow. What do you like about transmedia storytelling, and what would be your dream project?

Ellie:  I love how good multi-media stories immerse the reader in the book. Sometimes when I’m reading a description about a sound, I’d love to hear the sound effect. Or when the characters are traveling, I’d love to see where exactly they are on the map. And I love illustrations and symbols—they help bring the story to life. It’s these details that can capture a reader and not let go—that’s why I love it so much.

My dream project is Slice of Life—working with talented illustrators, graphic designers, composers, directors, animators, and poets to create an immersive story.

 

Me:  I think you’re one of the most talented jugglers I know—a wife and a mom to three kids, yet you still manage to edit and write every day. What’s your secret?? The whole world wants to know!  😉 

Ellie:  I hire my toddler to write all my blog posts.

Just kidding.

I have a robot to do all my housework. His name is Alexander the Great and he’s good at everything except making French bread.

Ha! Not really.

I think the things that keeps me productive are that I sit down at my desk at the same time every day for the same amount of time, I turn off all distractions (goodbye, *sniff* internet), I’m not a perfectionist, I focus at one thing at a time, and then I clock out and rejuvenate my brain, aka, take care of the house and kiddies.

Also, I surround myself with awesome friends like ERIN HORN who give me great writing advice and are good listeners and take the stress off the job. Also, I surround myself with great editors like ERIN HORN who polish up my imperfection-riddled manuscripts and don’t seem to get too annoyed in the process.

Added note from Erin: Awww! You know people will think I totally wrote that last part myself, right? 😉

 

Me:  Connecting with people is another one of your talents. What’s your favorite part of social networking and marketing? How do you fit it into your schedule?

Ellie:  I j’adore meeting new people! My favorite part of social networking is hearing new stories and seeing things through different points of views. As far as scheduling? I’m not very good at this, buuuuut…I’m always trying to give myself a time limit. Like, after writing time I’ll be on social media 20 minutes and I have to get everything I NEED to do done first and then I can play. Sometimes I end up playing for a leetle more than 20 minutes. *cough* hours *cough*

 

Me:  You were born in the jungles of Thailand, raised in a small farming village in Iowa, have lived in the middle of a Texan desert, and now abide in the Ozarks. Which location has the strongest hold on your heart? Where else in the world would you like to go?

Ellie:  Grinnell, Iowa has the strongest place in my heart. It will always be my beloved country.

One of my life goals is to take a long romantic trip to Paris with the love of my life, Michael. That’d be perfection. I’d also like to visit my sister and her family, who live in S Sudan. I’d also love to see Amman, Jordan. Ah, so many places to go, so many things to see! 

 

Me:  What book or project of yours can we look forward to next??

Ellie:  Twisting Steele, the second in the Sarah Steele thriller series will be released anytime now. It’s when Sarah and her best friend, Mandy, go on a vacation to Rio and get tangled up with some mysterious kidnappers called The Blondes.

The comic for MotionWorks Entertainment that I’m writing will be released by the end of the year.

And I’m currently writing Girls and Boys, a post-apocalyptic comedy about a village where the gender roles are reversed.

Thanks so much for having me, Erin! 

 

Thanks for stopping by during such a busy time, Ellie! And readers, you’ll want to enter Ellie’s giveaway on her website that’s going on now and will end in three days. The winner gets a $25 gift card and a signed copy of THE SILVER SICKLE (with the bonus of a tall tale featuring you!). Be sure to check it out for your chance to win!! And CLICK HERE to learn all the ways you can follow Ellie, through Facebook and Twitter and beyond. This woman is hilarious and kind and on the cutting edge of transmedia and more—you won’t want to miss it!

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