Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed five novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town and The Christmas Diary.
Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. He has also worked as a graphic designer.
What inspires you to write?
Two major things: feelings and situations I want to explore. Attached to those situations, of course, are characters, who force their way into consciousness and demand that their story be written. Also, I just like writing. It’s what makes me feel alive.
Tell us about your writing process.
Generally, I sit with a feeling that inspires a potential plot. Then I write one sentence that states what the novel is about, including what the characters want, what the characters are afraid of, and what is stopping the characters from getting what they want. The characters must be challenged by the plot, and the plot by the characters. Sometimes I come up with a title first. For me, the title is a poem, and contained within the title is the entire book. Sometimes a photograph will inspire a story, and I end up using it for the book cover. I use that photo as a desktop background for focused inspiration. Once I start writing, I work every day for 4-5 hours. My subconscious mind treats me with words or ideas even when I’m not at the computer, so I always keep a notebook handy to jot them down. I do not write an outline. I think of it as more of a jazz improvisation with a defined structure.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
They talk to me, often uninvited. I don’t interact with them. They take over the story. I just watch the story unfold and write it down, always mindful of the plot and structure of the novel and how many words I want the novel to be.
What advice would you give other writers?
As John Steinbeck said, “I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.” If you are a writer, you will write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Working with a publisher and self-publishing are equally challenging processes. Traditional publishing has changed drastically and the options have narrowed. Self-publishing has become the new Wild West, where nearly anything is possible if one is willing to accept the challenges and the adventure. We opted to take the adventure of self-publishing, both for speed of publication and control of the process. We have made mistakes, but we like to think we have learned from them. There is no simple answer as to which route is better to take. It depends on whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, literary or genre fiction. Ultimately, each writer must explore and take the adventure.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Greater minds than mine are pondering this. I’ll quote one of my favorite writers, John Steinbeck, again. “The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”
Publishing is in flux because technology has changed entertainment and leisure time. Indie books flourish. Mobile devices, tablets and electronic reading devices proliferate. All of these are wonderful opportunities. The publishing industry is in the process of making a paradigm shift. I think it needs to find ways to incorporate good quality Indie writers into mainstream. It needs to find marketing that engages and includes young people – and encourages them to write their stories, fiction and non-fiction. Then publish them. Promote them in schools, universities and on-line. The young will drive the market as they always have. Get out into the schools and show that reading is a dynamic experience. Have readings, contests. Encourage those who have proofing and editing skills. Make it fun.
What do you use?
Co-writer, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Contemporary romance, general fiction, time travel, and mystery.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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