Author Interview: Elliot Brooks, Author of Peace and Turmoil
Hi all! As you may already know, I’ll be sharing the author interviews from the No Thanks We’re Booked podcast on this blog, but I am also hoping to share more author interviews aside from the pod.
Elliot Brooks is an AWESOME author I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’ve loved getting to know her through editing her novel and BookTube (all links to find her on the internet below!).
I don’t normally share about books I’ve worked on, but I’ve really loved how Elliot has marketed her book, and I think she has a lot of wisdom to share with aspiring authors.
If you’re an aspiring self-publishing author, I think you’ll really enjoy what she has to say . . .
Congratulations on your upcoming novel! Can you tell us what it's been like writing your book?
Thank you! Early on the process was very solitary, and the book was not good. I had a myriad of story ideas and I finally decided one day that I would bullet point some of them. That, naturally, turned into a stream of consciousness that eventually became the first draft of Peace and Turmoil.
I didn’t show anyone my writing initially. There is definitely a desire in me to only present something when it’s good, so the idea of anyone seeing what I knew was a terrible story was terrifying. As someone who teaches music, though, I knew that I needed to apply the same mindset to myself that I always tell my students: you’re going to be bad at first, and that’s okay. Once I started to take that seriously, I sought out other aspiring writers online to swap manuscripts with. While this was—in all honesty—a very frustrating and humiliating experience, it’s what the book needed. I ended up finding two wonderful critique partners, and they really helped give me the push I needed to feel confident in my story.
After that, I finally felt like I knew the tone I wanted for my story, I knew what I didn’t want for my story, and I knew where it needed to go. Starting a YouTube channel to connect with other book lovers was the best thing I could’ve done, as I’ve made friends with some of the most amazing people, and I’ve received more support than I could’ve imagined. Having betas tell me my book was their favorite they read that year, or having a beta tell me they thought it was the best debut they’ve come across, was both incredibly flattering and far more praise than I know what to do with (I’m terrible at accepting compliments). They were also, however, compliments I never would’ve imagined receiving when I first started. Although I’d consider myself a driven person, this book wouldn’t be where it is or what it is without the support I’ve received along the way. For that alone, I can easily say this has been one of the best experiences I’ll ever have.
I know you love fantasy, specifically Brandon Sanderson. What do you love about this genre/why is this genre important to you, and what do you hope readers love about your book?
I hate to say this, but I didn’t love my childhood. I was quite lonely when I was young, and there was a lot going on in my personal life that made me—generally speaking—quite sad. Being able to immerse myself in a story and connect with fictional characters was extremely helpful in lightening my mood. I know people often say fantasy can provide escapism for them, and while that’s not the primary reason I love fantasy now, it was a significant part of why I fell in love with the genre initially. Plus, who doesn’t love dragons and magic?
What's the best writing advice you've been given OR what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I mentioned it above, but knowing you and every other writer starts off poorly in their story-telling skills is comforting. Not because misery loves company—I’m aware how I worded that makes it sound as though I’m saying I was happy other writers weren’t good at first—but because it provides you with a realistic viewpoint. If you go in thinking it’s amazing, you’re going to feel awful getting your first bit of feedback. If you go in knowing it needs improving, you’ll be able to approach criticism with an open and hopefully eager mind.
Besides that, I’d say reading and constantly seeking new ways to make your writing better is extremely beneficial.
You're such a creative person! You've used your violin music and artwork to further tell the story of Peace and Turmoil. How have your musical and artistic interests enriched the creation of your book?
Music and art were the first ways I felt comfortable telling a story. Or, at the very least, imaging one in my ten-year-old brain. I used to draw characters that I had an entire backstory for, and I’d often draw the same characters over and over again.
With music, I’ve always found it impossible to listen to a great instrumental piece without imaging some kind of scene or mood. That has extended into my adult life as well, and I personally find listening to a wonderful symphonic movement or a great violin solo to be one of the best ways to help with writers’ block.
Now, since having dedicated so much time to writing, I find that I can do the reverse. I didn’t ever think I had the ability to compose music, but when reading or thinking about my favorite scenes and characters, I get an itch to write music inspired by them. The same can be said for drawing, though I’d love to do more of both, and I can of course improve with both as well.
You've decided to go the self-publishing route, and you've figured out a lot of this process on your own (marketing your book, finding an editor and beta readers, etc.). How would you encourage writers who are just starting to go down this road?
It sounds rather cheesy, but I’d say to find your own path. Not everyone is going to be comfortable marketing themselves the same way I have, or reaching out to have their manuscript looked over by complete strangers, and that’s okay. Risks will need to be taken at some point, but everyone is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing what those are and learning how to expand on them is going to make the process more enjoyable, which I personally believe is more likely to lead to some form of success.
Thanks to Elliot for sharing her author wisdom!
Ready to follow Elliot on her author journey and preorder Peace and Turmoil? Here are the links I promised!