Welcome to my blog interview with novelist, Ellwyn Autumn, author of The Kamyla Chung Series and Chris Kringle’s Cops The First Mission.
Ellwyn Autumn is an American author/blogger/ghostwriter and a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree in Education. She writes children’s picture books, middle-grade novels, and Young Adult fiction. Ellwyn’s first self-published novel, Chris Kringle’s Cops The First Mission, was a finalist in the 2016 Reader’s Favorite International Book Contest. Her Kamyla Chung picture book series addresses difficult issues facing young children. Kamyla Chung and the Classroom Bully is on Jedlie’s Certified Great Reads List and earned Story Monster Approval.
Ellwyn discovered her passion for writing in second grade when she had to write a book report for school. She was so excited to write the report, until her mother told her that she had to write about someone else’s book and not her own story. Ellwyn became indignant and decided that once she finished the book report she would most certainly write her own original story. She has been writing ever since!
She lives with her family in Pennsylvania. She loves all things magical, curling up with a good book, writing stories, and almost anything with chocolate in it.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was seven years old.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My son inspired my first published book. When he was little I used to tell him and his friends that I was a secret agent for Santa Claus. Shortly after I envisioned, Agent 12-25, and the story came to life.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Children’s and fantasy.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It depends on the day. During a good week, usually several hours every day. This may also include marketing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That’s a good question. I like rhyme and alliteration.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to weave humor and sarcastic characters, that have a certain vulnerability, into my stories. I want to show the humanity beneath their salty exteriors. I strive to write stories that will make people laugh and empathize with the characters as they overcome difficult obstacles.
How did you come up with the title?
Chris Kringle’s Cops (C.K.C.) initially had a few variations: Santa Secret Service, North Pole Police. I wanted something that would have a catchy acronym like, C.I.A. and F.B.I. Chris Kringle’s Cops worked best for me.
The name for The Kamyla Chung Series was intended as a multi-cultural blend. The first name came from one of my former students. When I taught I noticed a strong need for stories about bi-racial children. Since I couldn’t find any, I wrote some.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t start off with a particular message for Chris Kringle’s Cops, but in the end the theme wound up being, “believe”. Believe in yourself, believe in others, believe in possibilities.
The Kamyla Chung Series addresses difficult topics that young children face everyday like bullying and personal fears. So every story has a message. Ultimately, I want children to learn that they are their own best advocates.
Those are great messages. How much of the book is realistic?
Although C.K.C. is a fantasy story, a good portion of it is very realistic. The protagonist, Patty Pringle, is dealing with the loss of her mother, and the consequences such a loss has on the family dynamic. It is also set on the streets of Philadelphia, so I used a lot of places local to the neighborhood where I grew up.
I drew on my own experience with personal loss to express Patty’s reaction to her mother’s death.
The Kamyla Chung Series is based on my experiences as a public school teacher.
Yes. Patty Pringle, the main character in Chris Kringle’s Cops, is loosely based on my daughter. She’s the pretty girl on the front cover.
And, as I said before, The Kamyla Chung Series is based on my real life experiences as a teacher.
How long did it take you to write this book?
From the very first draft to publication, Chris Kringle’s Cops, took fourteen years.
The Kamyla Chung books took much less time. About a year for each to write, edit, illustrate and publish.
What books have most influenced your life most?
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
J.K. Rowling. She is truly a wizard with words.
What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading Peter and the Star Catchers.
What are your current projects?
The sequel to Chris Kringle’s Cops, A Fairy In A Jar, Captain Hook, my blog and articles I write for Coffee House Writers.
Meldoy Whitaker designed Chris Kringle’s Cops.
Dahn Tran designed The Kamyla Chung Books.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Chris Kringle’s Cops was challenging because I was world building and character building. I had to learn how to keep track of plot holes and other inconsistencies.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, write, repeat. Join a writer’s group and find yourself a good editor.
Do you write with music or in silence? If you prefer music, what kind?
Music. I find a different movie sound track for each story.
Do you have playlists for any of your books or characters?
I don’t have a playlist for my characters, but I like the suggestion. Perhaps I’ll start using them. Each book has it’s own soundtrack.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my books and supporting me. It means a lot.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I’m not sure if it’s considered writer’s block, but if I’m feeling down in the dumps, I don’t write.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
No. It depends on the book. Sometimes I just write everything down that’s in my head and then I do an outline. A bit backwards but it works.
Patty Pringle and I both struggle with self-confidence.
If you were a fictional character, who would you be?
Oh, this is a fun question. Do I have to pick just one? Let’s see… an elf warrior of some kind. One that carries a bow and arrow and has magical abilities.
Love it. Me, too. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading, watching my favorite movies, walking among the trees
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive and encouraging.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much work goes into marketing them.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
For Chris Kringle’s Cops The First MIssion, eleven-year old actress, Alexa Nisenson.
What is your favorite motivational phrase or positive saying?
Start small, stay sane.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Major in English
THIS OR THAT—The Speed Round
Which do you prefer – Reading or writing? I can’t decide.
Writing during the night or writing during the day? During the Day
Writing from home or someplace else? Home
Reading a ebook or print? Print
Buy books online or buy in a bookstore? Bookstore
Weather: Hot or Cold? Cold
Music or Silence? Music
Classic Fairy tales or Fairy tale retellings? Retellings
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
The Beach or The Mountains? Mountains
The World being taken over my zombies or sexy blood sucking vampires? Neither
Time travel to the future or past? Past
Facebook or twitter? Facebook
Being able to fly or being able to go invisible? Invisible
Bookmark or Dog eared? Bookmark, only savages dog ear!
1st character POV or 3rd character POV? 3rd character POV
City or Country? Country
Pen or Pencil? Pen
Polk-a-dots or Stripes? Polk-a-dots
Pancakes or Waffles? Pancakes
Books or Movies? Books
Coffee or Tea? Neither (hot chocolate)
Elbows the size of pumpkins or knees the size of watermelons? Not sure
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Blog: Lemon Drop Literary