Elizabeth A Reeves was shocked to find out that she was the first nominee for America's Next Author. She's been writing for most of her life, and now has to find time to write while raising four kids. She wrote a great story for ANA that people loved and she did an awesome job of promoting it online to get the first nomination.
How does it feel to be the first Nominee for America's Next Author?
Honestly, I am still completely in shock. When I saw my name there on the webpage I sat down and bawled my eyes out. Things like this just don't happen to me. I am extremely excited, but I also feel responsible for doing well for all the people who read and voted -- and even for the writers that might have been in my place on any other given day. I want to do my best and not let anybody down. This is a huge blessing and honor.
How long have you been writing?
I started reading really young and started writing stories right away. I have childhood journals and sketchpads full of stories, mostly horrendously tragic. Ophelia was lucky compared to my characters. I recently decided that I had to go ahead and let people read what I was writing -- I would write anyway, but why not share?
How do you find time to write with four kids?
It's a huge challenge. Even right now I am typing this left-handed with my baby asleep across my chest. These days, most of my writing is done one-handed. I am blessed that my sons accept that this is my chosen vocation. In return, making a better future for them fuels my desire to improve my writing and 'make it'.
Did you have an existing fan base that was ready to vote for you?
Yes and no. I have a tiny but intensely loyal fan base of a few readers. I also have a more personal fan base of a family that really rallied forth for me, particularly my sister-in-law, Amanda. It was nothing short of miraculous.
Have you been able to learn anything from less-than-favorable reviews?
Certainly! Those that offered constructive criticism were particularly important to me. I really rely on reviews to help me improve as a writer. I requested that people vote honestly, not just to flatter me -- I can't grow without those critiques.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
Debora Geary. Connie Willis, Neil Stephenson, Jacqueline Carey, JR Rain, Rose Pressey, Dick Francis, Robin McKinley ... Can I choose a thousand? Before I had the boys I read over 800 pages on average a day. I wore out two Kindles in the last year alone.
Are the rumors true that you bribed our jury? Just kidding. What is your secret -- how did you make it to the top 10 of the ranking?
Honestly? I don't know! I have to attribute it to my sister in law really pressing forward and wanting this for me. Everyone just jumped in and helped out in a way I could never have expected. I did try to share my page wherever I could -- blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ ... I even posted a local notice on craigslist and some author groups I belong to. Why everyone rallied for me is a mystery, but I am grateful!
Some people posted reviews saying that your story is actually just the introduction to a novel. Is that true?
I'm glad you asked. No, it's not. I wrote it specifically for the contest and there isn't any 'rest' to read. I recognize that I didn't tie up all ends in the story -- but I don't make neat endings. In a Russian Fairy-tale there is no Happily Ever After -- the reader watches Cinderella grow up and die tragically. "We Mortal Few" was purely about prejudice and preconceptions. I wanted to suggest that no one truly is as they appear -- hence Lani's father, the familiar madman, and the foe who is a friend.
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
Maura, in my book Adrift. I want to grow up to be her. She is whole and warm and simply happy. I want that for me and my family.
Do you know any of the other participants in America's Next Author?
I do, but not closely. I am being careful not to read or review any of the competing works. I am truly competing against myself -- a dressage test for me and my pen. I would hate to believe that my success would ever harm anyone else, that's not who I am. Outside of ANA I love to promote other writers as much as I can.
What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
"Write something you would want to read and never sell out." That beauty is from my mom. I really try to live up to that standard.