I’m pleased to open this new blog with an interview featuring a good friend and colleague. The lovely and talented Elle Klass is one of the industry’s most promising indie authors. Her novel As Snow Falls is a daring and innovative study in narrative technique, and her Baby Girl series is allowing the industry to witness the development of her unique talent. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado…
Your first-person narrative style in As Snow Falls was highly distinctive. You went to a more traditional style in the Baby Girl series. Can you tell us more about your development process in Snow, and whether it was something you would want to try again? Was there a reason you might have thought it wouldn’t have worked in Baby Girl?
In As Snow Falls I wanted to do something that most authors are too afraid to try, something unique in the literature world. I did that. With Baby Girl I went again with the first person narrative, but there is a lot of dialogue which gives the reader different perspectives. I have some other works I will be publishing in the future, which are more traditional third person narrative. Every book is different and so is its narrator. Anything is possible in the future, but As Snow Falls will most likely stand as an exclusive literary treasure.
Baby Girl follows an exotic storyline, with Cleo riding the rails across America in Book One before ending up in Europe in Book Two. Were you paying tribute to the classic Cinderella fairy tale? What assets and qualities did you endow Cleo with to enable her to carry such a series?
Cleo is intelligent, even though she never made it past the 6th grade. She is also a superbly hot babe who is alluring to the male gender, secretive, and not afraid to take chances. One of my favorite of her qualities is her ability to slip past trouble, however that quality wouldn’t be there if the others weren’t present.
There’s not a whole lot of political discussion in your novels, though there are a lot of sociological overtones in Baby Girl. Considering the immigration controversy in France and the overwhelming issues facing the homeless, will Cleo possibly return to her roots in weighing in on the situation?
Cleo isn’t much for politics, she’s young and somewhat tunnel vision. Her future is finding out who she really is. That idea becomes more consuming to her as she grows older. In France she was hold up in a luxurious resort of a hotel with a devastatingly handsome and rich man. After the housing situations and poverty she grew up with she enjoyed being spoiled. In Baby Girl 3 she will make it on her own, meeting a few new characters, relationships she even holds onto long into the future. She really comes into herself in book 3. In book 4… writing that now.
We see how Didier was reminiscent of a number of protagonists in classic literature, most notably Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre. Are we looking forward to Cleo to find the mature lover in her future, or will she continue climbing the ladder to the success that she and Einstein never achieved?
There are a few surprises there. She does meet another, Fetch, who reminds her a bit of Einstein in personality. The idea scares her a little, but I hate to give away any secrets. There is another man she meets, he’s not good looking or rich. He is endearing and works himself a special place in her heart.
You were born in California, then moved to Florida. How have your life experiences influenced your novels? Was the homeless community in the two cities different for young people like Cleo and Einstein?
I have lived on each coast and travelled through most states in between. People are people. The homeless situation is bad everywhere and many kids find themselves prostituting, using drugs, or worse human trafficking or ending up dead at the hands of a psychopath. I wanted something a little lighter for my characters. When I moved to the south I was culture shocked at first, rebel flags, gun racks, Nascar and hunting were new to me. I also couldn’t understand people because of their hefty southern accents. I’m going to mention here in did an 8 year stint in Virginia before moving to Florida so when I talk about accents that was in Virginia. People where I live in Florida don’t generally have a heavy drawl, some do. For Cleo and Einstein each city was different but they never changed their M.O. get in, get out and don’t get caught.
A lot of people would have wanted to see Einstein continue alongside Cleo in her journey. What made you decide to remove him from the storyline?
They were too young and every girl needs a heartbreak. Cleo’s heartbreak stays with her and shapes her future, which will be seen more after book 4. Yes, I have Cleo’s life planned out for more books of which I may tie book 1 together and produce two more full length novels to make a trilogy. The future will see.
Can you tell us about your days at the University of North Florida? What made you realize you were going to become a novelist?
Being a novelist is my dream, but I didn’t think it would make enough to help raise my daughters so I chose education, and have now spent 11 years teaching. Education seemed a little more stable. With all the changes in education over the past few years I unfortunately have to say that’s not true anymore. There is little to no job security now for new teachers in Florida or even for those of us who have been at it before the rules changed. Writing was something I enjoyed since I was young, my children are grown, less the job security thing I figure now is a good time to get started on my dream. As Snow Falls was the first novel I wrote after realizing teaching had one great fringe benefit (still does), summers off. I spent one entire summer plugged into my old Dell.
Who are your favorite writers? Which of them have been your biggest influences and why?
I studied literature in college and loved some of the classics, but my favorite novelist of all time is V.C. Andrews. Her books probably influenced my style more than any other author ever. In fact ,I still have all my old trade paperbacks of the Dollanger and Heaven series. I’m thrilled that Lifetime is making them into movies! It is the intense and subtle darkness in her words that keeps me glued to the pages. Her ability to give her protagonist a fairy tale life and then take it away at the drop of a hat. By no means would I compare my writing to hers, but I do associate with the darkness, only my books are somewhat lighter with humorous overtones.
Do you have a great Elle Klass novel you’re dreaming of writing? Tell us about it.
I have a slew of novels. For starters Eye of The storm the first of a trilogy will be released this fall. Cleo’s adventures will span a few novels. This fall, for NaNoWriMo I’m contemplating between writing book 2 in my Strom series or going with a hilarious third person narrative that is currently a sketch about a biology teacher Joan, who with the aid of her students have a hilarious and somewhat disturbing day, which could also lead to a series since I have so many teaching stories to embellish on. I also have a rough draft of a stream punkish book about a teacher who lives below a serial killer and beside a group of vampires. The idea from this book comes from a personal experience. In my private thoughts I have a zombie novel forming, gruesome and funny.
What is your biggest criticism of the indie writing scene these days? What do you think can be done to improve it?
There are so many indie authors out there it is highly competitive. I published As Snow Falls knowing nothing about publishing and little about the differences of publishing indie style or traditional. It seems there is still a lot of criticism about indie writers, not being true authors. I would like to say that is so not true. I am an avid reader and spent my childhood reading traditionally published novels. Now that I’m older I enjoy sitting down with a fantastic unknown indie published book. I may check out a traditionally published book from the library, but my money goes strictly to indies. To improve the situation an author needs to do their research and use the same tricks the big guys use. We also need to work together as a team, getting our work out there to the public using all means possible. A few great indie authors I would recommend checking out are for starters John Reinhard Dizon, my sister and YA fiction author Terri Klaes Harper, for excellent poetry Jeniann Bowers, and for intense multi genres John Tucker. I could keep going with this list my Kindle is full of excellent indie reads. I even have a few autographed paperbacks that I cherish as much as my beloved V.C. Andrews collection.
Check out Elle’s Amazon Author Page!!!