Dragons, Assassins, and a Side of Blackmail
1) Let’s start with the basics. What is your Author name; use your Pen name if you have one.
2) What is your genre and what drew you to it?
YA Fantasy! I love reading fantasy, and I prefer fast-paced adventure fantasy without any sexual content or cursing, so it was a natural fit to land here where both teens and adults seek out those kinds of books.
3) Do you challenge yourself to writing sprints? If so, how long are they?
I do! I never really tried sprints until going to a writer’s conference at the end of 2022 and gaining some writer friends to build community with. They kept telling me how critical sprints can be, and I was very “yeah, yeah” until I tried it.
I love them now. My productivity and focus definitely goes up during sprints with other writers, and I prefer sprints 20-30 minutes long. If I’m struggling to focus, I’ll do 20, but I don’t mind doing 30 if my colleagues prefer it. Depends who I’m sprinting with. If it’s any longer than 30, I find the sense of urgency drops off and the benefit of the sprint declines. Your mileage may vary.
4) Which character of yours was the most challenging to write and why?
I have a character in The Forgotten Stone that is part of an allegory very close to my heart, and I was really nervous to do it just right. Who am I to assume what this person would say and do, since it’s based off of reality I’ve experienced, and has a greater meaning than the other characters? None of my other books have anything like that. So, you know, that one. For sure.
5) Do you prefer writing dialogue, action or other scenes?
I love dialogue. It’s so fun. If it’s really snappy banter, I sometimes write only the verbal exchanges first, imagining it in my head so that I don’t slow down the pace of the back-and-forth, and then go back in adding action tags of what they’re doing and who is speaking afterward. But definitely I love a good action scene, too!
6) What is the hardest challenge in being a writer?
All the non-writing stuff. Marketing, business, advertising.
7) Did you receive encouragement from a mentor, family member, teacher, coach…?
I mean, yes and no? My friends and family were supportive, but nobody was teaching me how to write. I didn’t even know any writers when I started. I bought My Story Can Beat Up Your Story as a good intro to structure and that was a phenomenal book to start with, picking it up after I wrote my first book, and I wound up doing my own researching and learning. I dove into the Facebook writer’s group and indie author conference 20booksto50k, and really dunked myself into it headfirst after finishing my first novel. I’m not sure how many people thought I was going to try and do this for real, as it were, but as it turns out I’m horrific at doing things halfway. For me, once the writing bug got me, it was never going to be just a hobby. When I wrote The Forgotten Stone, my grandma was reading each chapter as I finished it and would talk to me about it and be invested, which meant the world to me and was the most encouraging thing I could have hoped for. I dedicated that book to her. She still reads each book, but I wait until they’re done now, so she can enjoy the story all at once. I also have one particular friend who I now send everything to immediately. Like, I finished the latest draft, formatted the rough draft for kindle, and emailed within 5 minutes. She always finishes any book I write in about two days and is just the most encouraging pep-talk cheerleader you’ve ever met. I’m so grateful for her, and my husband, and everybody in my corner.
8) Was there a pivotal point or experience that impacted your decision to take writing seriously?
I’m not sure if there was a particular moment. Once I got going, I had my heart set on making it a thing and pursuing it, though I didn’t have the guts to say so out loud to everybody right off the bat.
Once I had a successful Kickstarter for another genre I write (children’s books), and one of those books did well on launch and started making enough money to pay my writing bills—cover design, illustration, edits—I knew I had what I needed to swing for the fences.
9) What is your favorite book and why?
This is going to sound cliché, and I know it’s unlikely to be quite what you were going for, but my favorite book is the Bible. It has utterly revolutionized my life, and I think our inner drive for story and story structure comes from the Great Story, as it were, overarching all of us.
As for fiction, I really struggle to nail it down to one book. There’s a book I used to read every summer growing up, which I love for nostalgia and the delightful story that it is: Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Shadow Spinner was another awesome middle-grade type story I read and loved as a kid, and still love. I read all the time as a kid.
Now, I’d probably say Ted Dekker’s The Circle Trilogy, maybe Lindsay Franklin’s The Story Peddler. Ugh. I’ve utterly failed this question.
But you know what, I’m not even mad. Thank goodness there are so many awesome books to love! And yet I’m always hungry for more. J
10) How many books do you try to read each year?
I don’t really have a certain number I try to read every year. Right now, with a 2 and 4 year old at home, and a mix of working time and staying at home with kids time, even carving out writing can be hard, so I prioritize that. I read at least 2 for-fun books in between drafts but I’m sort of scared to read while I’m writing, for fear I’ll ditch my draft and get sucked into the books. So I’ll read between drafts as a creative refill and reward for finishing a book.
11) What is your favorite book turned T.V. show/movie and why?
THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Because it’s awesome, that’s why. The heart, the depth, the characters, the setting—I mean, what’s not to love? I’ve watched the extended version of the movies many times, along with their behind-the-scenes counterparts. Yes please. Next up would be a movie I know essentially line by line, which is The Princess Bride. It’s my dad’s favorite movie, and the book and movie are equally fantastic. How often can you say that?
12) If you could live in any “book world” what would that be?
The Lord of the Rings, hands down.
13) What is the name of your book/series? Tell me a little bit about them.
My dragons and assassins YA Fantasy series, The Blood and Flame Saga, is complete and available for binging for anybody not willing to wait for the next book! Every month the great black dragon comes, and every month a child is snatched.
That’s all the village of Kalma knows, but Semra was one of those children and she knows the truth—there’s a dragonlord in the mountain, raising them up into his own personal syndicate of assassins.
When Semra learns they are not purging the world of evil as they have been told, but are evil itself, she risks everything to expose him and stop a royal coup before the kingdom falls. If you like dragons, assassins, royal intrigue, and clean slow burn romance, this is the series for you. The new series kicks off with Melderblood on December 12 of this year and takes a secondary character from The Blood and Flame Saga and blows out the map with new places, cultures, creatures, and threats in a fast-paced tale of adventure, blackmail, espionage, and royal romance. Though the new series picks up in the aftermath of the previous saga, it stands on its own, and readers will enjoy jumping in at either point. Lastly, my debut, The Forgotten Stone, is a Lord of the Rings meets Narnia vibe quest adventure. It does include some spiritual allegory, so be aware of that if that’s not your thing. It’s the only novel I’ve written to date that includes allegory, and I think it’s got some of my most creative worldbuilding elements.
14) Do you have a website? If so, what is it?
Yes! My website is https://www.eawinters.com and you can join my newsletter, snag signed copies of any of my books, pick up other fun swag, and check out what stories I’ve got going on.
15) Where can we find and follow you? (Name your social media platforms.)
TikTok: @eawinters Instagram: @e.a.winters Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eawintersnovels
16) If there anything important that you would want my readers to know about you?
I love my family, my husband, and my kids. I love Starbucks chai tea lattes more than I should. And I love all of you, for this fantasy book community, and the fun it is to be a part of, and the wild rides we get to go on together.