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E. C. Ambrose

Visit E. C. Ambrose's website by clicking here

Order Elisha Barber: (Book One of the Dark Apostle) by clicking here

E. C. Ambrose writes "The Dark Apostle" historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, which began with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013) and continues with Elisha Magus (July 1, 2014).  Other published works include "The Romance of Ruins" in Clarkesworld, and "Custom of the Sea," winner of the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012.   She is also the author of The Singer's Crown and its sequels, The Eunuch's Heir, and The Bastard Queen, published as by Elaine Isaak.  Elaine quite enjoys her alternate identity, aside from a strong desire to start arguments with herself on social media.  She blogs about the intersections between fantasy and history at ecambrose.wordpress.com  and can also be found at facebook.com/e.c.ambroseauthor or twitter @ecambrose   Under any name, you still do NOT want to be her hero.  www.TheDarkApostle.com
In addition to writing, the author works as an adventure guide.  Past occupations include founding a wholesale business, selecting stamps for a philatelic company, selling equestrian equipment, and portraying the Easter Bunny on weekends.

How did you end up writing as E. C. Ambrose and Elaine Isaak?

I feel that the author's name is part of the selling package of the book along with the title, cover, etc.  When I had finished Elisha Barber, it felt like a very different kind of book, much more grim and gritty, no romance, compared with my prior works, so the new name was a way to signal that it's a different type of book. Also, I didn't think having a female name on the cover would be an asset to marketing, shall we say :-)

When did you realize you wanted to write?

My earliest stories date from first grade, and consisted of two or three sentences.  I had a great teacher who let me stay inside during recess to read (not really helping my physical health, no doubt). I was probably around age 11 or 12 when it occurred to me that writing was a potential career path.  So I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, I just figured I would need to have some other profession to support myself until I became successful.
Have you ever used one of the ideas from your youth for a story or novel?

Actually, no, I don't think so.  Although I once did begin a novel concept with a dream I had, does that count?

If you didn't become an author, what would you be doing now?

Some of those other possible professions included archaeology, theatrical design and genetic engineering.  Realistically?  For a while, I ran my own wholesale gift business, selling small-scale sculptures. I set the business aside because of some obstacles that arose (such as the price of tin in China), around the same time I started publishing novels, but it would have been interesting to work harder to make my creative business a success.

Your personal tag line seems to be: “you do NOT want to be my hero.”  What's up with that?

I think that, in order to be truly heroic, a character must be truly tested--he or she must face the hardest struggles and the most difficult choices.  Sometimes people see my tagline and say "oh, you must kill your characters" I say, "No, that would be too easy on them."

What will your next book be out and what can you tell us about it?

The third volume in "The Dark Apostle", entitled Elisha Rex, will be out on July 7th of this year.  The title is perhaps enough of a spoiler :-)    Suffice it to say, the protagonist, Elisha, finds his enemies are setting him up for a great fall indeed.
I have also finished drafting an epic fantasy novel set in China at the time of the Mongol invasion.  Entitled Drakemaster, this book follows a European bell maker, kidnapped into the Mongolian army as he takes on the role of the Khan's weapons maker--and discovers that the Chinese have a clockwork weapon greater than anything he could envision . . .my agent will be working on selling this one.

I have to ask.  How did you come up with: "European bell maker, kidnapped into the Mongolian army as he takes on the role of the Khan's weapons maker?"  Sounds brilliant, but very unusual.

And that, right there, is my problem:  unusual!  But I'm working on making my next book much more usual.  In the meantime, I am a huge Mongolia buff, enjoyed researching the country for some short stories, and wanted to finally create an epic which incorporated more Mongolian culture, as well as some Chinese technology I had been investigating.  In order to fully reveal the facets of that period of Chinese history, I wanted a variety of perspectives.  The European character gives an outsider's view of both the Mongolian and Chinese sides of the conflict (I also have a Mongolian protagonist, and three very different Chinese protagonists--I did say "epic" right?)  I actually have written loglines for this book from the perspective of each of these characters.
An orphaned dancer learns the assassin's trade to serve her emperor, but is she willing to be the weapon that slays her nation's heart?
An astronomer's daughter discovers that her father's legacy might be the map that leads to the ruin of all China.
An aging warrior abandons his temple to pursue an immortal monk and stop him from the slaughter of thousands.
A Mongol scout, dwarfed by the horror of his family's betrayal, searches for redemption and finds the power that could save him--at the cost of a nation.

But that's probably more than you wanted to know. . .

Do you ever go back and read your own books?

Not as such. I read them many times during the revision process, and after that, I often read them in bits and pieces as I draft the continuing series, or as I look for selections for readings and such. I am often surprised by what I find there--scenes I have forgotten.  Thankfully, I am usually pleased, though I know I could do a better job with my earlier works if I wrote them today.

You are a graduate of Odyssey.  How did that influence your career?

Odyssey gave me a wide variety of tools to create better fiction.  It encouraged me to examine my own work more closely, and to understand how story is made from its separate elements.  There's no doubt I would not be the writer I am today if I hadn't gone to Odyssey.  I also have a lifelong mentor in Jeanne Cavelos, and a wide support network in the Odfellows, the ever-growing ranks of Odyssey alumni around the world.  Even working with the Odyssey Critique Service pushes me deeper in my understanding of the craft of writing.

You're going to be at Odyssey this year.  What will you be doing there?

After some debate, I decided to do my "Making it Real" presentation, about how to use specific details to create the world of the book.  My niche as a workshop leader is to offer very specific tools and nitty-gritty advice to help writers improve their tasks. I'll also be critiquing stories by a few students during class, and meeting individually with three students to offer them focused criticism on their work.  This will be my third time at Odyssey as an instructor, and it's always very rewarding.
For fans who would like to meet you or get a signed copy of one of your books, where will they have the next opportunity?

I'll be at the Boskone convention, February 13-15, in Boston, MA on panels about how to pitch your work, and world building, as well as leading the Writers' Warm-up session.

Just one word of advice for aspiring authors?

(and if you allow me a few words to explain, then I'll say that it is the small, specific and deliberate choices of nouns, verbs and telling details that are what conveys the meaning of your work.  The more specific you make your choices, the more likely you are to move your reader in the way that you hope.)

Whose work do you most enjoy reading?

Elizabeth Bear, David Walton, Tim Powers, Mary Doria Russell  (there's an eclectic list for you!)
What frightens you most about the future?

The idea that our government, continuing to succumb to party divisions, will make life even harder for the majority of Americans, and all in the name of helping us out.

Note: Odyssey is a 6 week summer program for aspiring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror writers.  Please look it up if interested.  

Visit E. C. Ambrose's website by clicking here

Order Elisha Barber: (Book One of the Dark Apostle) by clicking here

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