Interview with Elaine – Indie Block Party

Today as part of the Indie Block Party, I had the chance to interview Elaine. Here’s a bit about her:
elaine ibp

I am an engineer by day and aspiring writer by night.  I try to bring in the design principles and quality rigor from my professional experience, then port back the creativity of writing to my day job.  I primarily write fantasy.  I like to explore more deeply into myths and legends, and try to put such fantastical things into a modern context.

*If you had to describe your occupation to someone without using ‘author’ or ‘writer’, how would you describe it?


This question is a bit of a cheat for me…  I already call myself a Literary Engineer.  I’m a Systems Engineer in my day job and I enjoy bringing those same concepts for design, quality, and rigor into my writing.  I like Story Architect as well.  Basically what I do is take possibilities, ideas, and curiosities, and then step by step refine them into stories that people that are not inside my head may actually enjoy.


*Paperback, Hardback, or ebook?


eBook.  I love me my electronic toys.  I also can pack a lot more books in much smaller space when traveling.  Most of all I find the instant gratification when I want a particular book very appealing to me.  I lived in a small town when I was young so it sometimes took years for me to find the next book in a series.  Digital distribution changed all that.


*What’s the first story you remember ever writing?


The Runaways.  It was about a bunch of homeless kids that were living in the forest by my school, and they would come out on the weekends and snow days and take over the school.  One day a new kid ended up having to withdraw before even starting so one of the runaways finally went to school.  I don’t remember the middle so much, but the ending had the schooled runaway finally returning home.


*If you had to live the rest of your life in a book that you didn’t write, what would it be, and why?


The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.  I return to it on a regular basis.  The struggles that Aerin goes through to figure out her place in the world really resonates with me, especially when I was younger.  To some extent I’m still trying to find my place, like Aerin.


*Computer, typewriter, or pen and paper?


Computer.  As a Technogeek it’s the best way for me to draft.  I keep trying for larger and larger screens so I can look at more artifacts.  And quite frankly my penmanship is too atrocious for anything of length.  I _do_ like pencil for brainstorming though.  I’ve got a ton of paper doodles, diagrams, and phrases littered around the house.


*Do you like to break the rules of writing, or stick to them completely?


I thought the only rules about writing is there are no rules?  Thats pretty hard to break (or to follow, depending on how you interpret the logic).  Ok, in all seriousness I’m a studier.  I like to dive deep into domains and educate myself as much as possible.  Because you have to know the rules first, to understand how and when to break them.


*When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?


I first started writing when I was a kid when I wanted new stories.  There were popular shows my parents wouldn’t let us watch on TV, and at first I was jealous I since I couldn’t follow what my peers were talking about.  And then I finally got to watch an episode, and I thought it was absolutely stupid.  Thats when I started writing, I figured I could write more entertaining stories myself.



Filed under Michelle Birbeck

10 responses to “Interview with Elaine – Indie Block Party

  1. With your love for technology, did you try to write science fiction?

    • Linda I actually feel intimidated about it, because I know it so well, and its the day job. I do have some ideas for shorts and situations but I haven’t been able to come up with anything novel length for science fiction.

      Granted one could argue the tragectory for my WIP series will be Sci-Fantasy, but I still have a lot of writing to do to get there.

  2. burnsmillie

    I love that you started writing because you found the TV shows you were missing out on were crap. Your parents’d probably laugh if they read that and think, “See, I knew best!”

    • Thanks Millie, Yeah there was definitely a lot of moments like that when I was a kid. I actually thanked them for preventing me from going to a party when I found out my buddies had not stuck tot he plan and did some things I did NOT agree with.

  3. Pingback: Interview With Michelle Birbeck, Writer | Paul C. Hoppe

  4. Nice interview. I have two 30″ monitors and I’m still looking for bigger. It’s great for comparing drafts, editing eBooks, and whatnot.

  5. Strangely I have found, quite recently, that anything I write with pen and paper is totally different to the stuff I tap out at the wordface. My pen-and-ink writing is much wilder, freer, edgier. The thing I have to be careful of is editing it as I type it into the laptop, because that spoils the whole point of writing with pen-and-ink.

    • Oh yes! Thats definitely the trick when translating. I think I need to just take pictures or scan my physical stuff more, so I don’t lose the verve when making it a digital artifact instead.

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