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Monday, July 15, 2013

Interview with Elsie Park

I'm here introducing Elsie Park, a debut author and a friend whose book Shadows of Valor is coming out September 7, 2013.

Rachel - Before we talk about your writing, tell me a little about yourself. 

Elsie – First of all, Rachel, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog. I’m both honored and grateful *smile*.
I grew up in a small town outside Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A. I enjoy playing soccer and the piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family. Years ago I spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities enhanced my fascination for ancient and medieval culture (unfortunately, my Italian is now a little rusty). In college I studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. I've worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but I am currently a stay-at-home mother of three. I love thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and composing musical scores to go with them.

Rachel - You have had quite the career experiences in firefighting, law enforcement, and lately as a stay-at-home mom. How did you decide you wanted to be an author and how did you come up with the idea for your story?

Elsie - After leaving my careers behind to be a mother, it didn’t take long after having my first baby that I got antsy to do something more than just dishes, changing diapers and grocery shopping. I’ve always loved books, reading and watching good movies (especially historicals), so when some adventurous medieval scenes started invading my head, I thought, “Hey, those would make a good movie or excellent story if coupled with a good plot, but can  I really write a full-length novel? I’ve never done anything like that before. Hmm.Yes. Yes, I could . . . or at least I could try.” So on a whim I jotted my ideas down and my first step to writing Shadows of Valor was taken.

Rachel - What is “Shadows of Valor” about?

Elsie - Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must also deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. Smugglers infiltrate the area and The Shadow must discover who they are before Elsbeth and others are hurt or killed.

Rachel - What made you decide to place your story in the medieval time period?

Elsie - I have always loved fantastical and historical stories about princesses, knights, pirates, Vikings, wizards, dragons, and anything adventurous in another time. I don’t dislike contemporary stories, but since I’m already living a contemporary life, I often want to read about times and places far from my own. I like to get lost in unknown worlds . . . places I don’t experience everyday. I chose 1300 A.D. England because I like the clothing, and King Edward’s wool tax causing some people to smuggle their goods. Created a great backdrop for an exciting story. Also drawn to the poems in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings written by J.R.R. Tolkien, I also wrote ballads into my story, even composing the written music for them. I’ve included a medieval recipe in there as well. My awesome publisher gave me the unique opportunity to compile two of my songs into a 2-minute score for my visual book trailer too. I was flattered and elated to take part in it.

Rachel - Do you have a favorite character in your book and what makes him/her your favorite?

Elsie – Besides my two main characters being my obvious favorites, I also like one of my minor characters, Sir Giles. He brings a lighter feel to the story with his humor and easy-going manner. He constantly has some sort of food in hand as he’s ever snacking on victuals or looking for the next meal – a tribute to all those who, like my husband, can eat and eat but never gain weight. Unfortunately, I don’t fit into that special category, never gaining weight *smile*. Maybe I’m living a dream through that particular character *laugh*.

Rachel - Help me see inside your daily life. When do you work on your writing and what is your process like?

Elsie – Wow, I’m no authority on finding time to write. With the addition of two kids since I first started Shadows of Valor (I have a total of three now), I’ve had less time to dedicate to writing. But this is what I TRY to do: After taking my oldest to school and then working out for an hour, I spend a half hour to an hour on social media before attacking my house chores. After the dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, feeding the kids and putting the youngest down for a nap, I feel I can jump on the computer again to beat out a few pages of manuscript. This doesn’t always happen as distracting things tend to pop up, but this is what I try to do. I sometimes stay up after the kids have gone to bed and write a bit, but I lose a lot of sleep and tend to be a cranky, tired mommy the next day, so I don’t do that very often.

Rachel - What is the hardest part of being an author? What is the best part?

Elsie – For me, the hardest part about being a debut author is getting my name known, but with social media and gracious people and friends who allow other authors to answer interview questions on their blog, it makes this task easier. The best part about being an author is imagining fun and exciting stories and writing them out so others can read and share the adventure with me. 

Rachel - What have you found that helps you out the most in the editing process?

Elsie – My secret editing weapon is my sweet mother, who majored in journalism, worked as a reporter for the Deseret News before she was married, and proofread all my rewrites. She’s a saint! But when I’ve edited on my own, I’ve found sticking to the basic rules of grammar is the most helpful. I also listen to what seasoned authors suggest about grammar and editing, and I apply their knowledge. When I sit down to edit (something an author doesn’t ever look forward to) I just DO IT, even though I know the process will take a while. Some things I try to avoid in my writing is the overuse of “–ly” verbs, the word “that”, similes and clich├ęs. I also love the “find” and “change” option on my writing program so I can find and change certain words within seconds throughout the entire manuscript. I also print out my manuscript at some point and read it on paper. Things just look different on paper than they do on the computer screen, and I catch mistakes on paper that I didn’t catch on the screen. I also read my manuscript aloud at some point to see how well my sentences flow while speaking them. If they don’t flow, seem too wordy, or I stumble over the syntax, I change it up.

Rachel - Can you tell me a little about what you’re working on now?

Elsie – I’m working on another story that takes place several years after Shadows of Valor. I’ve taken a minor character from Shadows of Valor and have weaved a story around him. The story takes place in England again, but ventures into Scotland as well, drawing on the historical happenings and battles that took place between the countries at that time. You don’t need to read Shadows of Valor to read my next book. Though they share a common character, it’s not a sequel. It’s a separate story.

Rachel - Do you have a favorite author?

Elsie – Oh boy, this is a hard one because I love so many authors. No, I don’t have ONE favorite author, but there are some who stand out in my mind as writers who have produced stories that are unforgettable to me. I love these authors and their timeless stories: Jane Austin, JRR Tolkien, and Charles Dickens.

Rachel - Where can readers find more information about you and “Shadows of Valor”?

Shadows of Valor will be released September 7, 2013 through Jolly Fish Press. It can be ordered from any bookstore including Barnes and Noble and Amazon and will be available in hard cover, paperback and e-readers (including Kindle, Nook, and Kobo e-readers, and can be downloaded to any tablet, smartphone, or computer). I’m excited over the release of Shadows of Valor, and I hope people will love the story and my music as much as I loved writing and composing it.

Elsie Park’s contact information:
Twitter - @elsiepark1

To schedule a book signing, appearance, or interview, contact my publicist, Kirk Cunningham: kirk@jollyfishpress.com or me: elsie_rees@hotmail.com


  1. Elise, this book sounds so awesome! I know how it feels to struggle with being a debut author. Hopefully my book will be published a month after yours, so yeah. I'm anxious to read Shadows of Valor, it shares some themes with Twisted (my book.)
    Thanks for interviewing her, Rachel. I love to hear about other authors, especially ones that like Tolkien. =D

    1. You're too cute, Tayla! Thanks for your enthusiasm and support. Best wishes on your book as well. Publishing is such an exciting adventure! (P.S. Tolkien ROCKS!)

    2. Tayla, I didn't realize you were still hoping for September with your book. That would be great! Have you received it back from your editor, then? If not, I'm sure you will soon.

  2. Rachel, this post looks GREAT! Thanks again for allowing me to be a guest! HUGS!

    1. I'm glad you're happy with how it turned out. I'm really happy for you with this publishing venture.

  3. Elsie,

    This was so fun to read! I love writing, but honestly and truly I can't even began to fathom how one goes about creating a plot and filling in everything around it. It truly amazes me. I am so excited to actually read it and wish it was sooner!!

    1. Thanks, Nancy!!! I wish it was sooner too :(. When I first jotted down ideas and scenes for Shadows of Valor, the thought of making it a full-length novel seemed daunting, but as my father reminded me: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." :)

  4. This was a great interview Rachel and Elsie. I can't believe I know two authors, I feel special! I'm getting excited to read your books!

    1. Thanks Gloria! You are sweet. I hope your mission is going well so far. It's good to hear from you.

    2. You're so sweet, Gloria. I hope you're finding ways too keep cool in Arizona. We love you and pray for your safety and success in the field. HUGS!!!