Can you give us your quickest description of The Elemental?
Sex and the City, set in London, with a supernatural twist. And not as much sex, sorry 😉
Haha. That’s a great description. It says immediately what the feel of the story is. What type of supernatural elements do you use?
I use the elements, obviously, as it’s called The Elemental. The main protagonist can control earth, air, fire and water. I also use healing powers, the ability to see the future, to see and sometimes stop death, empathic abilities, mind-readers. Actually, I use quite a lot of them, hahaha! I’m trying to describe them as normal, though. That’s part of my hidden agenda. Making the paranormal – normal, but don’t tell anyone I said that.
Your secret is safe with…uh… What are you working on currently? 🙂
I’m working on part II of The Fire Trilogy, The Empath. It’s the same timeline as The Elemental, only seen from Tristan’s point of view. We learn a lot more about his world, and his motives. It means a lot more research for me, because every conversation they have with each other, has to match. Also, the timeline has to match, so I keep going back and forth. There are moments when I want to throw my laptop out the window.
I also recently finished my first short-story for teenagers, The Bridge Between Yesterday and Tomorrow. I loved writing it so much, I think there’s more to come. I’m not quite done with the world of trolls and Sweden. Yes, there’s a bigger story in there.
You can’t see me, but I’m nodding in sympathy about the the “timeline has to match” dilemma. That’s really interesting. So is it the EXACT same story, just from a fresh perspective?
Yes, it is the exact same timeline – it is a completely different story, though. In The Elemental you see Catherine and Tristan interact, yes, but not that much. So it’s only the moments they interact that are the same. Tristan leads a very different life and The Empath focusses on that life. It was rather interesting, however, to write the same scenes from his point of view.
I know other authors have done this. Stephanie Meyer did with Midnight Sun – Twilight from Edward’s point of view. I loved it, but it’s not really a new book as Edward and Bella have a lot of interaction in the original. So only the stuff away from Bella shows you something more. I wanted to avoid that. It is a trilogy, after all, not two books from a different perspective and one follow-up. At least, I hope I’ve been able to do that. Write three different books. Time will tell.
That is a really cool idea. So who inspires you to write?
Well, my family and friends of course, but my main source of inspiration is the band Placebo. If I never listened to their music, The Fire Trilogy would never have been written. I’ve said this many times, but when I was seeing them play at Pinkpop festival in 2009, something special happened. I had a vision of Catherine’s world and later I dreamed the outlines of the entire trilogy. I took it as a sign to give writing a go. I love their music, but Brian – the singer – has been my muse ever since. Let’s just hope they won’t stop until I’m done with this trilogy. I have the complete outline, but some of the details are still fuzzy. I need him for that. He inspires me.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard that from another author – an entire trilogy of books inspired by hearing a band. What was it exactly that first gave you the vision of your fictional world? And can you think of other authors who’ve been similarly inspired?
The lyrics of Come Undone must have touched my brain on an unconscious level. I created a world of people with hidden talents. Talents which have to remain hidden. People with secrets. People who tell lies for a living, trying desperately not to lose themselves in the process. They balance their lives by doing very mundane things, which makes it easy to identity with the main characters. Don’t we all create some form of escapism?
As for other authors, I’m sure there are many more out there, but nobody famous comes to mind. I know of musicians who write and books that have inspired bands or artists to write music. Just think of Kate Bush with Wuthering Heights and The Cure’s Killing of an Arab, which was inspired by Albert Camus’ disturbing novel The Stranger.
The interaction between art forms is always interesting to me. In that vein… In a perfect world where you could cast The Elemental for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
In London, where the book is set. Preferably directed by Joss Whedon or JJ Abrams, if we’re talking perfect world. I devour both their movies and tv series 😉
The main characters, wow, that’s difficult.
For Catherine it would have to be a small actress and, if possible, British or in possession of a British accent. I loved Ophelia Lovibond in Elementary. (Mmm, close to my title, isn’t it.) And I also liked her in Guardians of the Galaxy. I think she has it in her to play the main protagonist. I absolutely adore Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I’m not sure she could be convincing as a British woman.
Tristan is also very difficult. He’s of Italian descent, so he has to have a southern vibe to him. He’s quite strong, both physically and mentally, but he doesn’t rub your face in it. Some of my personal favourite actors like Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp or Tom Cruise are what I call ‘canon-fire’. They take over the entire screen and I can’t have that with a character like Tristan. He knows how to blend in, to walk in the shadows. Maybe someone like Christian Bale or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Danish is not very southern, but I just love him in Game of Thrones, I think dark hair would suit him.
Alan’s a bit easier, to me, at least. Someone strong, but mysterious, with a hint of both good and bad guy. Paul Bettany could pull it off or Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, someone along those lines.
I love that you put so much thought into the type of presence the character needs to project. Sidetracking a little bit, why do you think that’s so important in an effective actor – portraying the internal persona rather than just an outward “look” of a character?
I think that’s what sets aside the good actors from the really great actors. If you can let go of your ego and truly become someone else, that’s its own form of magic, I think. For example, Heath Ledger’s performance of The Joker really gave me goose bumps. He transformed into someone else. It can be dangerous too. Vivien Leigh from Gone with the Wind stated more than once she lost herself in her roles and Tom Hanks went to extremes in Cast Away with a whopping weight loss and spending weeks in water, causing a nasty infection which almost led to blood poisoning. He even required surgery. It does leave me with a feeling of awe, to be able to show such kind of dedication.
Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
Yes. It’s one of the first lessons I learned as a writer. Stay close to home. Just to be clear, my gifts are nowhere near Catherine’s or her friends, this is fiction, after all. Or is it? Lol. No, that’s not fair. However, I do think there’s a lot of wisdom in the saying “hide the truth well – tell everyone.”
The rituals and meditations described in the book are based on real experiences. I adapted the Healing Flame meditation to the specific needs for one person, but anybody could use it. As long as you take it seriously and take you time. Rome wasn’t built in one day, you know.
Do you think it takes guts as a writer to use one’s own experiences? Or do you think there’s an easy shield to hide behind in that “it’s just fiction”?
I think it’s a bit of both. If things get too personal, I can always hide behind “It’s just fiction, you know.” On the other hand, I’m proud of who I am and if people choose to put me in the ‘weird’ or ‘fringe’ box, then so be it. So yes, it does take a certain amount of courage to write about your own experiences, because I base my stories around real-life events. I’m not Catherine, nor any of her friends, but The Elemental does contain aspects of my life. So in a way, it’ll be out there for all to see. That’s kind of scary.
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing!