Fiona McVie Interviews Lela Markham   Leave a comment

https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/here-is-my-interview-with-lela-markham/

 

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedName Lela Markham

Age  54

Where are you from  Fairbanks, Alaska

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc  I grew up in Alaska in a series of houses always full of books. I went to college to study journalism before discovering that reporters don’t get paid very well, so now I have a job that pays the mortgage and an avocation to write fiction. I married a man who came to Alaska for adventures. We’ve traveled and risked our lives in the wilderness and raised two fearless offspring. Our daughter is a professional musical gypsy and our son is a budding engineer.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

In October 2014, I published The Willow Branch, Book 1 of the Daermad Cycle, under the Breakwater Harbor Books imprint.

 
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

My mom said I told stories from the time I could talk. A class assignment in the 5th grade made me write one of them down. I hated it, it was awful. After the assignment was over, I rewrote it and that sparked something that continued from then on.

 
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

By 7th or 8th grade I was already thinking of myself as a writer and so were my friends, who would have me compose fan fiction for us to act out when we hung out together. I didn’t think of myself as an author until I published The Willow Branch in October, and I still have a kind of weird reverent feeling when I use the word.

 
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

It was a really cold winter in Fairbanks, so I had cabin fever from being stuck indoors and I wrote a novella – a mystery set on the Olympic Peninsula because we had spent part of the summer there. Those were the long-hand days, so it took about four months to write about 80 pages.I was in 9th grade.

 
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a genre-hopper. I’m current writing the sequel to The Willow Branch (Mirklin Wood) which is epic high fantasy, but I’m also working on a dystopian thriller set in the near-future of the United States, a mystery-political thriller set in Alaska, and a fiction about repentence, redemption and accepting the things you cannot change. I also write non-fiction. I’m working on a history of American colonial abuse of Alaska. So I think the answer is no, I have no specific writing style. I am a writing Renaissance woman.

 

 

 

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The story tells me the title. For The Willow Branch, it came about when I decided where I was going to break a huge opus up into smaller segments and the scene where Ryanna receives the willow staff turned out to be the last scene of the book. So that became the tentative “working” title for Book One. When I reread the story for revision, I realized that willows appear throughout the book, so The Willow Branch became the actual title. Mirklin Wood was named in a similar fashion. I don’t yet have titles for the rest of the books in the Cycle because they haven’t revealed them to me yet and nothing is set in stone until publication. Mirklin Wood has changed its title three times, I think.

 
71rYAYxfZsL._SL1500_Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There’s several messages. I touch on racism, faith, the misuse of power … but the primary one for me is that we really have to know our past in order to understand our present and, hopefully, improve our future.

 
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

Well, it’s a fantasy, so that definitely requires some suspension of disbelief. On the other hand, many of the landscapes described come from places I’ve visited. I also did extensive research into Celtic religion and culture and Medieval history for the culture depicted. I also try to include in anything I write a very viseral experience. My streets stink of ale and running feces, for example. That came from encountering a street in a third world country. I try to infuse my books with details that bring the reader into the scenes.

 
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Again, it’s a fantasy, but yes, there are experiences from my own life that have shaped characters in The Willow Branch and I’ve borrowed elements for use in some of the fictional events. But I so disguise most of what I borrow that not even my husband would recognize it from our lives.

 
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

The Bible, not just for its spiritual aspects, but because it is so rich in relationships and human interactions that are a vast resource for a writer. I am a huge reader, so there are many books that have influenced my life at various stages – the great masters of fantasy, sci-fi and dystopian would be high on the list, but I’ve also read everything Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and Madeleine L’Engle ever wrote

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

I have to choose one? Ouch! There are so many writers I have learned from by reading their writing or following their blogs. Ray Bradbury, if I had to choose just one, but that wouldn’t be fair to the others.

 
Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’m reading several right now. George RR Martin’s Dance with Dragons and Kate Elliott’s Cold Steel are the mainstream market books on my nightstand currently. But I’m also reading some small-press and self-published authors.

 
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

There’s a Breakwater Harbor Books author Ted Cross who wrote a sci-fi dystopian thriller “Immorality Game”. CMT Stibbe who wrote “Chasing Pharoahs” and the “Fowlers Snare” which are historical fantasy set in Egypt. Nicholas Kotas who wrote “Raven Son,” a fantasy based on Russian fairy tales.

 
Fiona: What are your current projects?

The second book in the Daermad Cycle is underway. It’s about two-thirds written. I hope to publish Mirklin Wood in early 2016. I’m working on a dystopian thriller about a small town trying to survive in the aftermath of a widespread terrorist attack. It’s working title is “A Well in Emmaus”, but that may end up being the series title. It’s got 70,000 words banged out, but it’s shorter and less complicated than a fantasy, so it might be published next summer. I’m playing around with a mystery political thriller set in Alaska which does not have a name currently. I also have several works in progress that may or may not ever be published.

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

My faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and muse.

 

 

 

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

 I consider myself a bi-vocational writer. It doesn’t pay my bills and I don’t know that it ever will, but it is a profession that I am engaged in that I am serious about and is as important to me as my money job.

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

Well, the beauty of self-publishing is that if I run across something that I don’t like, so long as it’s not a substantive change, I can fix it. But, no, I think it’s headed in the direction it needs to go and I’m pleased with that. I’m open to critique though, so if someone reading my book finds typos or stuff that really bugs them, they’re welcome to send me messages and I’ll take it under advisement. Not promising I’ll change anything,  but I’m open to suggestions that might make the rest of the Cycle better.

 

 
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Telling stories is something I’ve done since I could talk. Writing them down was simply the logical thing to do. I’ve always watched television shows and movies and thought “That could be better”, which has sometimes inspired me to write something. Characters appear in my head and they want me to write their story. It’s hard to say where it originates from. It just sort of flows out of me and demands an outlet.

 

 

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

From A Well in Emmaus

She stood before the safe, one hand beckoning, the other holding the cloth-wrapped bundle. Her face hid behind the veil, but her large dark eyes were sad and angry. Shane slid up the wall, bracing himself in the corner, scrubbing tears from his stinging eyes with the heels of his hands. Time had come.

It had been years since he’d thought about God, let alone prayed. His heart had been certain that there was no god. Yet a verse floated up from some long-forgotten Sunday School. “… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered. “What I earned on earth and in heaven.”

Her eyes demanded his obedience and his legs complied. The locked safe was no deterrent as he knew the combination. Guns on the right, clips on the left. The 9mm felt light in his hand. Unloaded! He always unloaded when he came home from a trip. The clip slid easily home and the gun felt right. Heavy. Final.

She stood to his left as she had that night, clutching the bundle to her chest. Shane raised the gun as if to fire at her, but then turned it, put the barrel up under his chin, deep in the curve of his jaw and pulled the trigger.

CLICK! The sound echoed through the room like a shot, but far quieter.

Not bang? Shane felt invisible blood coating his hands as he stared at the gun, bewildered why his life hadn’t just ended. He hadn’t primed the first round. Racking the slide, he heard the round slip into the chamber.

“If you’re going to do it, do it right? Don’t risk flinching, blowing your face off and living.”

That voice was not his or hers, but it had a point. Shane stared at the barrel, tongue working at the thought of putting it in his mouth. Her eyes bore into his soul while blood stuck his fingers together. She wanted this.

“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered again. When you serve Satan, you reap the whirlwind. He raised the gun and opened his mouth to receive the barrel, ignoring the taste of carbon and gun oil, and froze just before he pulled the trigger.

“We are … we are … the youth of the nation! We are … we are … the youth of the nation!”

The cell phone echoed out of the safe, the long unheard ring tone jarring Shane from head to toe. He flinched, dropped the gun, covering his head as he watched it drop. It hit the threadbare carpet, bounced then slid toward the bed.

 

 

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?


My characters write themselves, so getting them to do things that are important to the plot but against their nature is impossible. Sometimes it takes a lot of revision to get the plot to go where I want it to go with the characters I have – and occasionally, I have to create a character for a specific purpose and that never really feels right to me until the character starts to “live” on his or her own.

 

 

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


Favorite author? Wow, that would be hard to narrow down. Among my favorite authors is Kate Elliott and I admire her writing because she does such great world-building. You really feel like you’re visiting this culture you’ve never known before, but could be just around the corner.

 

 

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Thanks to the Internet, no, which is extremely fortunate because it takes several hundred dollars and a minimum 6-hour plane ride to get anywhere from Alaska.

 
Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I do … so far. I collaborated with my daughter, who is also a semi-professional artist. She suggested the image and I took it from there since musical gypsies don’t have reliable Internet connections. Unfortunately, the quality turned out so great on The Willow Branch cover that I may have to hire a professional to keep up with my own standards.

 
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Revision. It’s hard to see where your own work needs paring. It feels like you’re criticizing your baby. I have been fortunate to find beta readers with good suggestions that I felt comfortable following.

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

It is easier to be ruthless in revision when I’ve printed out the book. After spending so much time with it on the computer, having it in a different format takes away a lot of the warm-fuzzy feeling and makes it easier to used the red pen.

 
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on and not just the genre(s) you like. Study history, economics, military strategy, forensic psychology. Then write everyday about anything. If you get stuck on a story line, switch to another and keep writing. And remember “Good, better, best, never it let it rest” … at least until you hit Publish on KDP.

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

The Willow Branch is just the start of an epic fantasy that will get bigger and better as the Daermad Cycle goes along. Join me and hang on tight.

 

 

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

 Probably the Pokie Little Puppy, but the first book I ever read for my own enjoyment was My Friend Flicka, I think. Or it might have been On the Banks of Plum Creek. They were the same winter. I was in 3rd grade.

 

 

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

 I only cry in sorrow or sometimes anger. I’ve never understood the whole “happy tears” thing. My husband, who will cry at a sappy movie before I do, makes me laugh. So does my daughter. They riff on anything and it is just hilarious. I have a truly inappropriate sense of humor so I’m often laughing inside, cracking wise in my own head, when others are not thinking it’s funny at all. I’m a big believer that life’s miseries are easier to get through if you can laugh at them. My favorite comic is Christopher Titus, not surprisingly.

 

 

Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?

 Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, from the Bible because I want to know if she was one of the writers of the letter to the Hebrews. Some scholars believe she may have been involved. I also think it would be great to hear her lie to rest the nonsense that the Christian church doesn’t respect women. Some of the earlier leaders were women and Priscilla was one.

 

 

Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why ?

“I’ll leave the light on. Follow soon.”

 

 

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

Quilting, hiking, home remodelling, cover design.

 

 

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

The Walking Dead, Haven, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Supernatural on television. Divergence and The Hobbit films on movie.

 

 

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Chinese food and chocolate cheese cake (not together). Green and orange in all their varieties with a little blue tossed in. Music depends on my mood and what I am writing. The Willow Branch would not have been possible without Celtic music, but other genres need other types of music. I like classic rock probably the best. The Eagles are my favorite band.

 

 

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

That is an impossible question to answer because writing is so much a part of my life, even when I am doing other things. I’m not sure I could be those other things if I were not a writer.

 

 

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

I have two websites and linkage across the Internet

 

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/ is my main site where I babble about everything.

 

http://thewillowbranchbookonedaermadcycle.wordpress.com/ which is book and writing specific

 

I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Goggle +, Tumbler, and now Rebel Mouse and Goodreads. Good heavens, that’s WAY too much social media.

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Amazon book link – http://www.amazon.com/Willow-Branch-Book-Daermad-Cycle-ebook/dp/B00OL13YF2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417827111&sr=1-1&keywords=the+willow+branch

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