This week our very own Ellie James releases FRAGILE DARKNESS, the third book in her exciting , debut YA series, The Midnight Dragonfly Books. Today she’s answering a few questions about her books, writing, and a couple of really off the wall topics!
For the ones who do not know about the Midnight Dragonfly series.. What is the series about?
The Midnight Dragonfly books are a series of romantic YA thrillers following the visions of teenage psychic Trinity Monsour in New Orleans. Glimpses. That’s all she sees. Shadowy premonitions flickering through her dreams. Some are terrifying: a girl screaming, a knife lifting, a body in the grass. But others--the dark, tortured eyes and the shattering kiss, the promise of forever--whisper to her soul. They come without warning. They come without detail. But they always mean the same thing: The clock is ticking, and only Trinity can stop it.
Fragile Darkness is the third book in the series. Does someone need to read the other two books first? Can you tell us a little about Fragile?
Sure! Fragile Darkness is the third book, and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more emotional payoff for the reader who’s gotten to know the characters through the first two books (Shattered Dreams and Broken Illusions), but the story is designed to stand on its own. Trinity, the heroine, has seen precognitive visions her entire life. But now, in the wake of some really bad stuff at the end of book 2, her visions have gone dark. She can still sense things though, and the danger she picks up swirling around a new friend sends her deep into the New Orleans party scene, where nothing is as it seems, surprises wait at every turn, and the last guy she wants to see is the one she needs the most: the enigmatic Dylan Fourcade, part stranger, part friend, part so much more.
It's the so much more that confuses her.
But whether she wants him there or not, he's by her side, shadowing her every step of the way, until the darkness gives way to a deadly showdown.
How did you get the idea for the novel?
It was one of those bizarre, unplanned things. A few years ago I wasn’t getting much sleep and woke up one morning from one of the most incredibly detailed, vivid dreams I’d ever had. I’d more than just seen a group of teen sneak into an old abandoned mansion—I’d been with them. I’d gazed into the darkness, and smelled the decay. I’d felt the fear, and the crazy blast of excitement at the prospect of a game of truth or dare. My heart was still racing when I woke up. The images lingered. I kept thinking about what I’d seen, and from the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad? What if she had a premonition? What if what she saw actually happened? What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for?
As I answered those questions, the Midnight Dragonfly books were born!
So did you have everything planned out from the beginning, or did you end up winging the story as you went along?
Both! I start with a fairly detailed outline of major plot points, this is what my editor signs off on. But the second I begin writing, the characters take over and strange things start happening. It’s the strange things that I’ve come to love, because they’re authentic and unexpected, and they keep my fingers flying along the keyboard, and hopefully the reader flying through the pages! With the Midnight Dragonfly books, a HUGE change manifested itself that completely caught me by surprise. It was totally one of those turn left instead of right scenarios, and it changed everything J I was more than a little stunned when my editor said, go for it…but I’m really glad she did!
Thinking back to when you first started the series, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
That’s a fantastic question. Every book offers new challenges and opportunities, but if I have to boil it down to THE most important lesson, I’d have to say it’s to not protect your characters. Sometimes it’s tempting to push them to the edge, then rush in and save them at the last moment. But I’ve come to learn the most compelling stories come from letting them fall. Sometimes literally. Sometimes figuratively. Characters need to make mistakes. Characters need to get hurt—physically, emotionally, mentally, and any other way you can imagine. This is not only how they grow, but it also gives the opportunity to reveal new shades and sides to supporting characters, as well. I always tell myself, my characters are not my children. In fact, they’re not mine at all. They are themselves, and they need to live fully.
Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
I’m going to have to go with two favorites here: given my stories always feature some type of girl meets boy in a dangerous situation scenario, my favorite part of writing is always that moment when the world slows a little and two special people meet for the first time. I’m not an insta-love girl. It’s not that I don’t believe in it, but from a writing perspective, I want to see and experience two people fall for each other. If it happens instantly, you lose that. I’m all for instant attraction and even the cliché of all clichés, an immediate connection. I believe those are real. We’ve all felt that. We’ve all lived that moment where we see someone for the first time, and some place inside of us just clicks. It gets a little hard to breathe. Your heart quickens, and adrenaline races. That is real, and that’s the moment I most love to write.
My other favorite moment comes from my editor: the cover reveal. For me, it’s incredibly exciting to see the artwork for the first time. Everything becomes more real J
The least favorite would have to be the moment I realize I can’t tinker with the story any longer. No matter how many times I read/revise my work, I can always find things to change. Sometimes it’s simple word choices. Sometimes it’s a better way to describe something or taking someone’s thoughts and turning it into dialog. Sometimes it’s wanting to explore what would happen if the character had turned left instead of right. But there comes a point when you’re flat out of time and you have to let go, even if you do wake up one morning (after already signing off on galleys) with the most amazing idea, as I did numerous times with Shattered Dreams ;)
If you weren’t a writer, what job would you love to try out?
That ones easy: a photographer. I love taking pictures. I experimenting with angles and lighting, with framing a shot just so (Ask my family…I drive them nuts!) For the Midnight Dragonfly books, I spent quite a bit of time tromping through cemeteries, the French Quarter, and several abandoned places which I really shouldn’t name, taking pictures in the name of research!
If you could have dinner with one of your characters who would it be?
Ohhhh, it would have to be Julian Delacroix. Julian is introduced in the second book, Broken Illusions. Not only is he the master of all things metaphysical, but he runs a French Quarter New Age shop and has long dark hair which he wears pulled into a pony tail—and he knows stuff. Really cool stuff, like where dreams come from and what they mean, and how to access them later… And despite the fact that he dresses exclusively in black, there’s a small room above his shop that’s all white…
I’d love me some one-on-one time with Julian!
And finally, what else would you like us to know?
Contests! I'm running lots of fun contests, including giving away t-shirts and a drawing for a reproduction of the dragonfly necklace on the cover of the books.
Stop by my Facebook page for all the fun details :)
Stop by my Facebook page for all the fun details :)
Now, let's go Off Topic!
All time favorite….
Book OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon
Author Anne Stuart
Song Don’t Drink the Water by Dave Matthews
TV show LOST
Movie LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fictional Character Jamie Frasier
Food Guacamole and chips
City New Orleans
What the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? Jumped off a cliff
What is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you? The emergency c-section birth of my son…it was like starring in my own personal episode of ER :(
What’s one thing you’ll never do? Sky dive
What’s one food you’ll never eat? Chicken gizzard…whatever that is
What’s your guilty pleasure? Grande Latte with one raw sugar
What’s your favorite saying? You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
What’s your astrological sign? Aries
Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes.
Do you believe in the unexplained? Yes
Do YOU have a secret? Doesn’t everyone?
Hugs or kisses? Hugs
Fruits or vegetables? Vegetables
Cats or dogs? Cats
Tigers or bears? Tigers
Fish or birds? Birds
Abraham Lincoln or George Washington? Lincoln
Einstein or Stephen Hawking? Hawking