An Interview with Ellen Quinn

Ellen Quinn grew up in the north of England. She settled down as a teacher working with underprivileged children and those with special needs. She paused to have her children, which became a complete halt as her eyesight deteriorated. As teaching was no longer a viable option, Ellen turned her storytelling to story writing. Ellen now lives with her four children, her dog Angus (named after the lead guitarist in one of her favourite rock bands), her four cats and the rabbit—oh, and not forgetting her husband, spending most of the day running round after them. But once the sun goes down you’ll find her running away on her keyboard with those gorgeous heroes and lovable rogues, spinning stories of love, romance and hot, hot, hot sex!

Q: The Spirit Walkers series definitely puts an imaginative spin on shape-shifter soul mates, but the series also quickly expands beyond shape-shifters to include pirates, as well as wizards and other magical beings. What was the inspiration for this world, and what was it like finding ways to bring all these characters together?

A: The inspiration came from my frustration when reading other books and wanting to know what happened next after the story was complete. The only way round this was to write my own.

Once I’d made that decision, I started with the geography, thank you Scotland, and then the history. I needed a way to fund a large group of men in a way that was believable and interesting. That was where my pirates of pirates idea came from and was developed. Captain Blackbeard was a character I loved, so I used him as my basis for Kash, and Kashmerle was born. I wanted to create a community in which my characters could reside. Living in a town in Cornwall gave me an idea about size and demographic. The reason for this community was the basis for my stories as I did not want them to be solely about shape-shifters or wizards but to show a diverse community working together. I still have a long way to go in developing this idea, but hopefully you can see its beginnings.

Q: Some of the characters in this series really struggle with finding their happy ever after. Is it tough to watch them stumble through love, or do you just trust them to find their way?

A: I think the path to happiness is paved with heartache, but for those who face their fears and let themselves believe then anything is possible. I know where my characters are heading, though they don’t always get there the way I expect.

Q: What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve had with your characters?

A: Making them smile and bringing humour into their lives even with all the difficulties I throw in their way, showing that for all life is difficult sometimes and that love and laughter is a great way to get through. Oh and of course I love a happy ending.

Q: At the end of Our Silent Spirit, the Necromancer has teamed up with Kingdom in the search for Morgana’s Fire, and William and Percy have a new protégé. What’s in store next for the Kashmerle Pack?

A: Now that would be telling. Suffice to say no good will come from it and I felt I needed to spice up my villains, make them more three dimensional. There is a final villain to be introduced to part of the shifter world and together they are going to bring some great if traumatic mayhem and chaos to my world.

Q: Which character do you like writing more: the protagonist or the villain? Why?

A: I love my boys and their romances, but I really love my villains. I guess I love what I can do with them, how I can deal out death and destruction but know that they will get their due when the time comes. I love having suspense and danger in my characters’ lives and showing how they overcome it.

Q: What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned about/from writing that you didn’t know when you first started?

A: That’s there’s a lot more to it than just writing! Designing all the places where my stories end up. My desk is littered with my designs, from the outline and deck plan of an English galleon to the levels and room plans in a castle. Then there’s researching where I may take my boys: India, Kenya, Gibraltar, and Alaska. I try and keep to places that I know so I have a feel for the place I’m writing about. All of this happens before I come to grips with any story writing.

Q: Tell us about your writing routine.

A: My writing routine is changing. It was always through the night. I would be mum, wife, cook, and general housekeeper for my horde through the day, and then after nine o’clock at night I disappear into my world of Kashmerle. This is changing as my bairns are getting older and far too independent for my liking, but it’s opened up time during the day when I can write. So I send them off to school in the morning and work through the middle of the day, until they all arrive home at three thirty. Then my writing is put on hold till the evening when I can disappear once again.

Plus I always have a pad and pen with me as you never know when an idea is going to cross your mind.

Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?

A: I like my men to have an inner core of strength and tenderness, even if they don’t always recognize it in themselves. Also the ability to adapt and change to the circumstances around them and finally to have some degree of hope, to find and believe that Fate will eventually win out and they will find love there…

Q: When you start a series, do you plan all the books and heroes out beforehand or do you make them up as you go along?

A: I start with a small group of characters, and yes I have the ideas for their stories jotted down. But as I write I bring in other characters, for example Gabe, Ezee, and Orin, my three policemen. They were just incidentals, but I got to liking them and decided to keep them. It meant re-writing aspects of the book (Shy Spirits) to give them more depth and identity, but as I get to know them better their stories are beginning to develop in my mind.

Q: Out of all the characters you’ve killed off, which one do you most wish you could have spared? Why?

A: A character who you don’t know has died, as his death is part of Our Silent Spirit. But he was a lovely, flamboyant character who I had not fully developed so I could lose him.

But as I can control Morta, a lady after my own heart, and the fate that controls death, I’m sure if I need to I can work a little magic and find a way to bring him back. I did it with Matt, so why not…?