Tommy Clark and Ellen Mae Franklin are both highly regarded fantasy writers. It has been said that the fantasy genre is overcrowded with newbie writers who want their wild imaginations to become the next bestseller. I think it would be fair to say that Tommy and Ellen have both managed to create wonderful books. Ellen has just authored her first, hot selling novel,”The Unseen Promise,” and Tommy has written the highly rated “Rogue’s Phoenix Chronicles“.
I thought it would be rather fun to interview them both together. So, here for the first time, I am happy to present the wonderful Ellen Mae straight from Australia and the very talented Mr Clark from the U.S.A…
Will I ever get a Russian writer on Novel Ideas?
Nick: A huge hello to Tommy Clark and Ellen Mae!
Ellen: Great to be here, Nick!
Tommy: Hi, Nick!
Nick: How does it feel to be together on Novel Ideas?
Ellen: I love the interviews you do, Nick. I find myself visiting your site more and more often these days.
Tommy: Sometimes I visit in my sleep… It always wakes me up.
Nick: Good one Tommy and thank you so much, Ellen! Let me start by asking you something, Tommy. When did you know you would grow up to become a writer?
Tommy: I just sort of fell into it. I did theatre in high school. I did forensics and did improv for competition. In college, I started to work behind the scenes and eventually wrote, directed and produced a movie for the student one-act show. After that, I just couldn’t stop.
Nick: You produced a movie? Can you tell me more about that?
Tommy: Oh geez. It was a horrible attempt. It was a script I wrote to tell my view on my Christian belief. I believe we are Christians living in a secular world and wanted to express to people that we shouldn’t be so strict or uptight about our beliefs. It was about four college roommates– one of which wasn’t a Christian. The other three were each a different “style” of Christian.
Nick: What does it mean to be Christian to you, Tommy?
Tommy: Oh my – there’s the question. I believe we are each correct in our own way. I don’t believe that there is “one” correct way to believe, and if a person’s beliefs guide them into a humble and respectable lifestyle–one where we treat others well and do the best we can with what we have–that sort of sums it up. We are all in the same position. What would make me better than the guy standing beside me? Absolutely nothing.
Nick: I think that’s a very apt point, Tommy. So, Ellen, what do you have faith in?
Ellen: I have a deep faith. It’s quite personaland I find as people we hold a tendency to embrace the chaos of things around us. We also have the capacity to do great things. I have faith in this.
Nick: So, let me ask you, how does faith affect your writing?
Ellen: It doesn’t at all. I do try to bring in characters that show a balance on human behaviour to outline that all actions have consequences. To do good takes more effort than doing bad. Through my words I endeavor to point this out.
Nick: What about you, Tommy? Does your faith shine through your writing?
Tommy: Actually, I agree with you, Ellen. When I write a story, I try to keep my faith out of the story unless my faith is the reason for it. I have a couple of scripts inspired by visits to church when I was in high school or what I saw in others. It is stories like Mental Health Day where I write to speak to the reader as a human being. I will write characters who act in ways I wouldn’t dare. It is fun to do this. People are very surprised when they read about these characters.
Nick: What actually makes a great character, in your opinion, Tommy?
Tommy: Someone the reader can relate to. Whether they love the character, hate the character or enjoy what the character brings to the story. I believe my favorite type, no matter the genre, is the comic relief. That character can keep a person reading even if the story slows a bit.
Ellen, I agree. While my beliefs are very liberal in both of those environments, I know several people who believe otherwise.
Ellen: I would like to mention that, as you know, fantasy is endless. I am moralistic by heart. My short stories enforce that more, for I can give them endings with a ‘See what would happen if?’ I like to create new characters not seen before. Complex personalities and worlds that are non existent make the greatest characters.
Nick: Have you ever hated a character you’ve created, Ellen?
Ellen: I love my characters – even the very evil ones. In fact, the more evil, the more complicated a personality, the more endearing they are to me.
Nick: Tommy, do you think people love to hate some characters?
Tommy: I am going to show my “nerd” side here but, I love watching Wrestling. I enjoy it for the same reason most men do. I love the storyline element as well as the finesse of the characters. I do not watch UFC because I am not a fan of real fighting. I love the stylized and over the top version. With that being said, many people would agree that your “Face” character is only as good as the “Heel” he is up to. There are some wrestlers who you don’t like and don’t want to see wrestle. But there are some wrestlers you love to hate. I have seen shows or read stories where I have absolutely hated a character. Terry Goodkind has done a fantastic job at this with his Cara character. Anyone who has taken the time to read his work knows exactly what I am talking about.
Nick: Interesting comparison, Tommy. So, let me ask you Ellen. Have you ever read another writer’s work and thought, “Hell I can beat that.”
Ellen: That’s a question that could get me into trouble and will make me sound rather smug. But, yes and that is not to say that what I have read is bad, just different I suppose.
Nick: What is bad to you, Tommy?
Tommy: To me I don’t believe there is “bad” in writing, or movies or television for that matter. I believe that there is
just some material that is not for me. Now with that being said, and I have made this mistake, if a piece of work hasn’t taken steps to provide a clean read with minimal error, that might be “bad” in my mind. I am not the best reader, but seeing many errors back-to-back makes me not want to continue.
Nick: Well, we are out of time. I would like to thank you both for coming over for this chat with me.
Tommy: I loved it. We should do this again sometime.
Ellen: You bet!