Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tray Ellis here today talking about writing, books and her latest story, Pyresnakes from Dreamspinner Press. Welcome, Tray.
Hello! My name is Tray Ellis and I’m excited to be here today to discuss my new story Pyresnakes, available through Dreamspinner Press, and for an author interview. So, let’s get on to those questions!
Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?
A: Every character has a little bit of me hidden in them somewhere. It’s nearly impossible not to draw upon one’s own preferences. But, even more of the characters are drawn from all sorts of things I’ve seen or heard. There are plenty of times where I’ll see someone do something and think to myself that I should remember that detail and give it to a character.
Q: Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?
A: Research is endless and ongoing. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new or pay attention in a new way to something you’re very familiar with. I’d rather make up something and put it into a structure than make up something entirely new. I envy those writers who can think so deeply and keep whole new worlds straight.
Q: Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
A: Absolutely. I spent at least a decade reading a lot of mystery novels, particularly series that followed a central character through many different stories. I haven’t written a straight up mystery, but I love putting in elements of mysteries. Pyresnakes has one in it and I loved being able to work out the puzzle of how to present it.
Q: Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
A: I like both HFN and HEA, but I gravitate more to HFN. I feel like once you reach HEA then that’s the end of the story and you get this deep wistful feeling about that. If you’re really engaged with characters and a story, with HFN, there’s always hope that there’s more romance and adventure on the way.
Q: Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
A: I read some romances while growing up, but most stories had romance as a secondary element. It wasn’t the focus. The older I got, the more romance found its way into my reading pile. There’s so much hope and excitement in romance and I’m drawn to that.
Q: How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?
A: I love the ebook format. It offers a lot, including the ability to read stories that are amazing, but perhaps aren’t exactly the length that make it to books. Having an electronic reading device means you can carry multitudes of books around with you at a fraction of the weight. I think we haven’t really seen exactly how ebooks will come to fill our lives. As humans we love stories and ebooks make it so much easier to share those stories, but there are still advancements that ebooks can make.
Q: How do you choose your covers?
A: I’ve mostly been a participating author in anthologies, so a lot of my covers were already chosen for me around a central theme. I’ve really been impressed with those, and how the one cover was able to be meaningful for so many different types of stories within an anthology. The cover for Pyresnakes was a joint effort. I was able to make suggestions, offer preferences, give a nebulous sort of insightful vision of what I saw in my head, and talk endlessly about the story components. The wonderful artist who created my cover did all the rest. And all the hard work.
Here is my gorgeous and evocative cover, by the talented artist Christine Griffin:
Pyresnakes is available through Dreamspinner Press.
And here’s the Pyresnakes story summary to get you up to speed:
There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.
Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.
When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a State Trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.
But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.
The larger of the two snakes at the bottom of the recessed area became more active, coiling over itself, its eyes fixed in Brandon’s direction. He took a step backward, wanting even more distance between himself and the danger, but his careful maneuver caused the snake to roil forward.
He desperately wanted to bolt from the cellar, but he forced himself to remain calm. He had on thick jeans and sturdy steel-toed boots. If he were careful, there should be no problem.
Except the snake continued moving forward, and as Brandon watched, its dark skin began to transform. The black of its scales bled into brown, and the brown kept growing deeper until it turned a dark red. The mahogany red of the snake’s skin lightened until it brightened into russet orange, and as Brandon stared transfixed at its shift of color, he realized one more thing.
Small flames surrounded the snake. Yellow and orange fire licked over its skin, and then the snake blazed hotter. Brandon could now see an intense white burn, and when he blinked, spots of color shadowed against his retina, lingering. The miasma of concentrated heat was extraordinary, and he could feel it against his skin as if he were standing too close to a smelting forge.
He stepped back quickly, gauging the distance to the staircase. The cellar design gave only one way out. No other exit was available. He needed to return the way he’d arrived.
As he pivoted and began to stride, he caught sight of images that sent fear coursing through him. Several more sinuous lengths of heat and flame writhed stark against the dark gray of the solid granite blocks. All the snakes were on fire.
Brandon sprinted. The heat of the burning snakes baked the skin at his nape and the backs of his arms.
About the Author
Tray Ellis grew up across from an empty field, where she spun a lot of imaginary adventures, helping to prepare her for a lifetime of writing. When she isn’t writing, she stays active by hiking, cooking, stacking the odd cord of wood in the shed, baking, and being too busy to keep her home in any semblance of order. Currently she tries to find a balance between the logical way she thinks and the flights of fancy she often daydreams about. Mostly, the daydreams are winning.