Friday, September 23, 2016

Interviewing Bestselling Author Elle Casey - Part One

Have I got a real treat for you today, dear readers!  I stumbled upon Elle Casey during one of her freebie promotion days for her sci-fi space opera adventure series DRIFTERS' ALLIANCE (read my review HERE).  It was such an enjoyable read, I quickly downloaded books two and three in the series and devoured them.  Her characters are rich.  They're flawed.  They have pasts, presents, and are dreaming of futures yet to be realized - and I can hardly wait to jump back on board the spaceship DS Anarchy for additional adventures with Captain Cass and Company.

While I was in full geek-out mode, I took a chance and contacted Elle through her website ( to see if she'd be willing to let me interview her for the blog - and she graciously agreed, answering not just some but all of my questions.  Thus, please join me today for part one of this interview and get to know bestselling author, Elle Casey.

DAB:  Welcome, Elle!  You’ve been an attorney, a teacher, and now a bestselling author.  Tell us a little of what the progression was like through your various careers, and how it prepared you for the life you’re living as an author today.

EC:    I’m the kind of person who gets interested in a particular topic or subject and then I research the heck out of it. And if it interests me beyond that, sometimes I turn it into a career. I've done that several times, in fact. (stock broker, insurance sales, restaurateur, medical devices, etc.) But I'm also the kind of person who, once I have mastered something, I get bored with it. That goes for jobs and it also goes for places where I live. So I guess you could say I've been a bit nomadic in both my work and private lives. Most of my life, the people who love me would make offhand comments about me being flaky (“She can’t settle down, she’s always starting something new.”) But as it turns out, this kind of life can turn a person into a great storyteller. I've met many kinds of people, I've worked in a lot of different environments, and I've lived in a lot of places. You will see bits of that in all of the books I write.

DAB:  Well here's one reader that hopes you won't give up this particular writing career anytime soon.  You’re an American living in France.  How did you arrive at the decision to make the move, and did moving to France influence your decision to pursue a novel writing career?

EC:    My husband and I decided to take a one year timeout with the kids so that we could all learn about another culture and take a break from the rat race. But once we were here, we didn't want to leave. So that put me in the position of having to figure out a way to make a living here. At first, I was working as a teacher, but as everybody knows, teacher salaries aren't so great. Self-publishing came along at just the right moment.

DAB:  I come from a family full of teachers, so I can definitely appreciate that aspect.  Was it exciting, frightening, nerve-wracking, or simply business-as-usual to move from the corporate/business environment to self-publishing?

EC:    It was just plain exciting! I did it while I was also working as a teacher, so I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

DAB:  So I guess we could say teaching was your transition career between being an attorney and an author.  So at this point, which of your novels is your favorite?

EC:    They all take a piece of me to put together and they all pull from my life or my history in one way or another. My favorite might be Apocalypsis because I dreamed of a post-apocalyptic world often as a teen, wondering what I’d do to survive. I also love War of the Fae because the characters are so crazy and I adore supernatural stuff. There will always be a part of me that believes vampires, witches, elves, and fairies exist here with us. No one will ever be able to convince me they don’t.

DAB:  Maybe they're all part of that world in a galaxy far, far away. Speaking of other galaxies, I’ve read your DRIFTERS’ ALLIANCE series and loved the three books thus far.  Where did the germ that sprang into the idea for this series come from?

EC:    I’m a big fan of the television series Firefly. My husband and I were always looking for something similar on TV, but there's not much out there. So, I decided to write my own story. I would love to see it on television one day.

DAB:  Me too!  Total Firefly geek. Personally, I'd love to see your DA novels become the next space opera TV series.  Now who would play the ginger twins???

But sci-fi aside, you write in a broad category of other genres such as romance, mystery, etc.  Have you experienced unexpected challenges to writing under and juggling so many hats?

EC:    I write in several genres including action-adventure, contemporary urban fantasy, romance, romantic thriller, paranormal, paranormal romance, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. I really believe there are no genre or subject matter limits to what indie authors can publish. Indies can write in any genre, and that work will be accepted by readers around the world. In fact, I believe that indie writing lends itself to a much broader spectrum of fiction than what has been accepted by the traditional publishing world.  Right now indie authors are setting the trends, and traditional publishers are playing catch-up.  But there’s a valid reason for it. It’s all about the cost of doing business. Traditional publishing companies like to make sure that their marketing money is being spent as efficiently as possible, therefore they limit their authors to a specific genre so that every dollar they spend can be focused on a single group of readers that’s very easy to find and identify and “speak" to. If an author were to write in several genres, that marketing money could be wasted, in that they’d be talking to the wrong people sometimes and they’d have to build up and attract a new audience for each genre. I’m sure they see it as re-inventing the wheel over and over. It’s true to say that reader-fans don’t always cross over and read other genres written by their favorite authors. Many of my readers have told me that they will read all the romance novels I write, but they won't touch the other genres that I write in; and, on the other hand, I have readers who will only read my fantasy or paranormal work and nothing else.  From a marketing dollar perspective, it's very expensive to have to build new audiences for each genre, but indie authors don't really worry about this kind of thing, in general. Indie authors write what excites them, write what they're interested in reading, or write what they think their readers are looking for. Indie authors are not limited by a company head above them telling them what they can and cannot do. Personally, I like to read in all these genres, and I also get bored writing in the same genre all the time.

DAB:  I second that.  It's nice as an indie to be able to write what we enjoy without all of those restrictions. You've mentioned many different genres in which you write, so that's got to translate to quite a few books.  How many total books written/published are you up to now?

EC:    I currently have 44 published works (this includes full-length novels, serials and short stories).

DAB:  In three/four years as an author?  That's incredible!  Have you found certain genres perform better than others?  If so, what’s your take on the reasons for this genre performance?

EC:    The romance genre performs better than any of the others because the market is so big and readers of romance tend to be very voracious. They read more books in a the year than any other genre reader, I’m convinced of that. A close second would be mystery/thriller readers, but that genre is more popular in the UK than the US. Lately, science fiction has started to jump, and I'm really excited about that. It's one of my favorite genres to watch on television and in the movies. My Drifters’ Alliance science fiction space opera has been really well-received.

DAB:  Uh, big fan here if I've yet to make that clear.  What project(s) are you currently pounding out that we might see later in 2016/2017 (please say DA4)?

EC:    Yes! DA 4, 5, and 6 actually—they’re coming next year. I have more War of the Fae coming this year. I also have a 4th book in the Bourbon Street Boys series in process right now. You can check my website for my full publishing schedule:

DAB:  Okay, here's something I ask every interviewee who visits the blog, and I get some very interesting answers sometimes.  Are you a plotter or a pantser (i.e. to outline or not to outline, that is the question)?

EC:    I don’t use outlines to write; I’m a total Pantser. I’m never in control of my stories. Never ever. I just take dictation of what I see and hear them doing/saying in my head. My stories go wherever the characters take them. When I try to outline it ends up being a waste of time.

DAB:  I'm so glad to hear you say that!  I'm a Pantser as well, but most Plotters shake their finger at me and tell me they get a much higher output when they outline.  However, your reported word count output per day is astounding.  Tell us what word count you’ve been running lately, and advice you would give other authors on how to increase their daily volume.

EC:    It totally depends on how close the deadline is. If I set a short deadline, I can do as much as 10k a day for several days in a row. I can do more than that but it’s mentally exhausting and then I need a break. 5k a day is very reasonable for me. I would say that practice makes perfect. Getting into the swing of writing is like anything else; you have to do a lot of it before it starts feeling natural. I’ve also started doing dictation using a dictaphone and uploading to Dragon. That makes it much easier to hit my targets.

DAB:  Hmm, I might have to try that too.  To get all of this writing done, do you keep a regular writing schedule or do you write all hours of the day and night as the muse nags?

EC:    I have a schedule but it’s flexible. I write at all hours of the day and night depending on what else is going on in my life.

DAB:  Do you ever write to music or do you prefer silence?

EC:    I need either silence or white noise. Anything that can distract me, will! So anything with lyrics is out, anything I can hum to, etc.

DAB:  Uh-oh!  The writer's death knell.  That reminds me - I've read references on your site about what you call ‘squirrels’.  Care to explain this term to our audience and how to deal with these pesky critters that plague us as writers?

EC:    Squirrels are, quite simply, distractions. The reference comes from that movie Up where there's a talking dog who’s having a conversation with somebody and then stops and whips his head to the side and says, “Squirrel!” Most dogs are distracted by those little critters. And writers are distracted by Facebook, Twitter, email, laundry, spouses, kids, etc etc. The list of writing squirrels is endless and ignoring them is a daily battle.

DAB:  Which is why my desk is covered in notepads.  Squirrels are an insanity-inducing challenge some days.  Speaking of which, did your husband and children ever question your sanity when you told them you were going to quit your day job and write novels?

EC:    Never, because I think it had been pretty well established already that I wasn't sane in the first place. Haha. Ask anyone who loves me. . . they’ll tell you I’m a little crazy. My husband’s favorite line is: “Life with you is never boring.”

DAB:  Well, hey - if life got boring, what would you write about?  So that brings us to another big question.  You could've gone the traditional route and spent time writing and sending out queries to agents and publishers instead of taking such a big risk and publishing on your own.  What advice would you give someone considering traditional publishing versus self-publishing?

EC:    My advice to other people considering self-publishing is to absolutely jump in there and do it. Nobody's going to come knocking on your door asking you to write a book for them, but there are plenty of people out there who want to read what you have to write, I promise. And they’ll pay you for it! Also I wouldn't bother with the traditional publishing process because it takes so long, and the market is flooded with people doing that. Besides, you really don't need a gatekeeper between yourself and your readers. Let the readers decide if you're a good writer. Let the readers give you the very valuable feedback you will need in order to improve your skills; and then, after you've had some success as a writer to the real people who matter—  that is the readers —  go ahead and send a query letter out if you still feel the need. At least following this path you will have the confidence you need to push through the closed doors you’re apt to find. The most pleasing aspect of self-publishing for me has absolutely been the reader response to my work. I suspect that had I sent out query letters to agents, I would have run into a lot of closed doors. I never had to deal with that as an indie writer. I love being able to speak directly with my readers about my work and to share in their enthusiasm over it.

As I mentioned before, Elle was so gracious to answer every question I posed to her, I decided to break the interview up into two parts.  Stay tuned next week for some additional insight into the world of Elle Casey, self-publishing, and what it takes to become a bestselling author.

In the meantime, happy reading!


  1. Thanks so much for doing this great feature on Elle Casey! --Noelle, Elle's assistant

    1. My pleasure, Noelle. I appreciate both yours and Elle's time in doing this interview for the blog.