Eugene F. Elander [eelander]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
My first recreational reading was science fiction, starting with the pulp magazines and fanzines, then on to classics like Astounding and Amazing publications. My first writing was naturally science fiction stories, including the scariest one-liner: The last man on earth heard a knock at the door..........(no, not the last woman, unfortunately.) My early stories were published in some fanzines while I was a teenager, after which I graduated to rhyming poetry but still with a sci-fi theme, winning the Dayton (Ohio)
Poetry Guild's Young Poet's Award at sixteen for my poem: The Vision.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I now write in several genres, including romantic and descriptive poetry, alternative history, inspirational spiritual fiction, economics, and safety and security. My novel The Goat of God should be available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon early in 2009. The best way to find out more about my work is by emailing me at Elander Press, firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
My creative process is varied. Romantic poems flow from the relationship to my wife Birgit. Science fiction flows from developments such as the discovery of new planets circling other stars and the exploration of the multiverse and hyperspace by physicists.
Being an economist has led to my formulation of a new non-adversarial economic system I've called Cooperatism, where all parties involved in the economy play real roles.
Safety and security writing has come from my experience in law enforcement and as an investigator in New England. But much of my writing falls between the cracks of these
creative processes and comes more from insights, epiphanies, and the like, which I would like to think of as inspirations (readers may or may not agree.)
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Everything from current events in area or national newspapers and newsmagazines, to alternative history and good science fiction by authors such as Piers Anthony and David Brin and Ursula LeGuin, to the textbooks used in my courses, to graffiti penned in all sorts of odd places, to material I see while at our second home in Sweden....you name it, I will probably read it - voraciously!
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Beginning, middle, and end (not necessarily in that order......)
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
First person, for fiction; third person, for non-fiction; but there may be variations.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Due to eclectic tastes, I would count Julius Caesar (whom I read in the original Latin in High School), Plato and Aristotle, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, James Michener, Elie Wiesel, Albert Einstein, and Michio Kaku.
As to poetry, again Shakespeare, the Brownings, Burns, Shelley, Keats, Longfellow, Keats, Sandburg, Leonard Cohen, Maya Angelou, and any Nobel Prize winner in the field.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Literary characters must behave and speak in a manner which relates to the readers, which seems to ring true, even if the reader would not speak or behave that same way.
My characters in poetry are real people; many of the subordinate characters in my novel
The Goat of God are well-known from the Old Testament period, the rest are congruent
with the well-known (and believable) characters.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Well, my favorite fantasy is to do stand-up comedy of the story-telling
variety, and I have a repertoire of hundreds of stories and jokes, which
I tailor to a particular audience, including the students I teach (if relevant.)
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Does reader feed-back help you?
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Yes, I have entered poetry and short story competitions, mostly winning honorable mentions. I was chosen Poet Laureate of Pownal, Vermont when I lived there, and was a nominee for Rochester, New Hampshire Poet Laureate. Other than that, I keep trying.
I resist contests or competitions with significant entry fees, those are often phony.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
President Lyndon Johnson once said that the only advisor to whom he really listened was the one he slept with; I am in that same situation, with wife Birgit reviewing my work. She is objective enough to tell me the truth, not necessarily what I want to hear. Some of my work has also been professionally critiqued.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
One's "voice" evolves, matures, and changes in other ways with time and experience. So one is always searching for its finest expression, a noble quest perhaps doomed to failure. But writing is still worth the effort.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Other than making wriitng a priority, it has to fit into a complex set of other tasks, civic and political affairs, teaching, and spending quality time with my wife Birgit. When
I get on a roll, I will keep writing, sometimes much of the night, until exhausted, rest up a bit, and then continue. But I try to pace myself, since not getting any younger.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Memorabilia, some of it really weird stuff, but I like it -- photos, awards, clocks, antique radios, wooden carvings, model cars, ancient artifacts, rocks and meteorites -- you name it, I probably have it, like Ebay.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a Dell laptop in the USA and a Mac Pro laptop in Sweden, correct as I go, review final drafts for content, form, and editing purposes; I try to print mostly final versions rather than interim ones. I do put everything on a CD or DVD for backup.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I do use Wikipedia to start a search and set parameters, then go to original sources whenever possible. Since I write in several genres, the sites and sources vary a great deal. I try to check information with more than one source for accuracy.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Although I have found an excellent ebook publisher and hopefully an outstanding hard copy publisher for my novel The Goat of God, previous bad experiences with publishers who misrepresent themselves led to my founding Elander Press to publish my poetry.
What are you working on now?
I am writing a sequel to The Goat of God, covering the period from Jesus to Leif Ericksson, mostly focusing on how my protagonist helps to undermine the Romans.
Also, an expanded version of Cooperatism, a new economic system, is in the works,
as is Turning the Tide, an anti-terrorist manifesto set in a semi-fictional formal. And,
who knows? Many other ideas are gestating, waiting to spring forth upon the world.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Join a writers' group, like our Stonepile Writers in Dahlonega, Georgia, and begin to share those old writings. What do you have to lose? Ridicule is unlikely, and even if it occurs, it is still a learning experience. And maybe you will be the next Hemingway....
Eugene F. Elander
Dahlonega, GA, USA and Gotland, Sweden