E. S. Furlán
Today in the Writer's Corner, we meet E.S. Furlán.
Amanda: Hello Eleanor! Welcome to the Writer’s Corner where we talk all things writing in our own corner of the world!
Eleanor: Hi! Thanks for having me.
Amanda: So tell me, where are you in this big wide world?
Eleanor: I live in Denmark, near a little town called Hillerød. It’s very pastoral and I love it.
Amanda: Let’s talk writing. How do you write? And what makes you different to other writers?
Eleanor: I’m a pretty structured writer. I generally outline a few times, going into more and more detail with each pass, then write from start to finish. I find it easier that way, since I’m not beholden to muse or anything elusive like that - there is a plan, and as long as I stick to it, I’m guaranteed to get it done. My characters sometimes have other ideas, but I quite like that. Their random whims and impulses mid-scene are what keeps it fresh for me.
As for what’s different, I suppose my background is a bit unusual. I didn’t finish high school and I had my daughter at seventeen. After that, I worked a few different jobs and freelanced as an artist until I moved to Denmark. In terms of writing though, I like to take cliches and tropes and turn them on their heads. Fantasy can sometimes become a little predictable in its archetypes and plots. Given that it’s such a versatile genre, it’s important we as writers utilise it to its fullest potential and take advantage of the freedom it offers compared to, say, slice of life fiction.
Amanda: The Bloodsong Series. Tell me everything!
Eleanor: Wow, where to begin? It’s a story I started writing when I was eleven, then discarded until a couple of years ago. The first iteration was awful, but there was enough there to develop it. The first book follows Kanika, a Seer trapped in a city that condemns magic and an abusive relationship with the prince, in her fight to reclaim her life. The second and third books will focus more evenly on a few characters aside from her - Meto, the prince’s half-brother; Cassia, an acolyte of a death cult; and Elsephere, an ambitious princess with a lot of work to do to maintain order.
As in every city under the thumb of its rulers, there’s also a resistance group. Their struggle for power and internal conflicts are set to make waves, especially as there’s a growing threat from outside the city gaining momentum. I can’t go into too much detail but expect magic, power struggles, unnatural creatures and complicated relationships when you pick it up!
Amanda: What was the hardest scene to write?
Eleanor: There’s a torture scene near the end of book one involving one of my favourite characters - that one was a little gnarly to write. I hated hurting him but I know that ultimately it’s necessary. As my friend says though, the good thing is that no matter how much we get our characters into, we’re always there to get them out again. I add the caveat of ‘most of the time’ but it’s still a comfort.
Amanda: Have you ever based a character on someone you know? Did you ever tell them? What happened?
Eleanor: The entire royal family in my book is based on an actual family - dramatised for the book, of course - but I don’t want to tell them. I’d rather they figure it out themselves if they ever read it. If they do they probably won’t be particularly pleased with their portrayal though. I’ll keep you posted on their reactions.
Amanda: Haha That’s hilarious. Yes please, updates are essential! So would that make you more of a character builder? Or are you a world builder?
Eleanor: I started out as a world builder. I grew up in a village of about fifty people, basically no public transport and a main road separating me from the bigger town. There was precious little to do there, especially during the winter. Then I read Tolkien. When I saw how much detail he put into his worlds, I was curious and found I enjoy making maps, writing histories and religions, creating languages, so that became my hobby. I created a few languages based on the European ones I knew - French, Italian, German, English - then started looking into Arabic and Sanskrit. The same with history. World building became both an escape from this world and a means by which to explore it further.
Amanda: Was self-publishing everything you thought it was going to be?
Eleanor: It’s actually turned out to be even better than I expected, especially as I dropped the ball a bit on the marketing front leading up to the release. Mostly I just prefer my projects to succeed or fail on my own effort and not rely on others to prioritise the things I care about. Given the amount of effort I need to put in no matter how I choose to publish, I’d rather just do it all myself and be assured the finished product is something I’m proud of.
Amanda: How many half-finished books do you have? Would you consider that normal?
Eleanor: If you don’t count Bloodsong Books II and III, I don’t actually have any - though, based on the Internet, I think that’s significantly fewer than average. I have lots of synopses for future books. I ironed out my writing style on text-based roleplaying boards though instead of book drafts. Even now, if I have plots that don’t fit with books I go to a role play forum I’m a part of and find someone there to play it out with. That way when I’m book-writing I don’t have renegade scenes running through my head to distract me. If I didn’t have that, though, I’d probably have mountains of unfinished drafts!
Amanda: What do you find the most difficult part of your writing process?
Eleanor: Usually when I realise where a plot is leading and I don’t like it, that’s quite difficult. There’s always that brief flurry of trying to figure a way around it. But if it’s what the story is, if that’s where it’s going, then anything different is less satisfying.
Amanda: What’s the best part about your process?
Eleanor: All of it! I love my job. There are challenges, for sure, but they feel good. Sometimes it’s challenging to find the right words, sometimes a character won’t cooperate, but I live by the belief that some words on the page, even terrible ones, are better than no words. If I’ve written something it can be edited, after all.
Amanda: Let’s talk a day in the life of E.S. What does it look like?
Eleanor: I’m usually up at five to spend some time alone and without obligation before the day properly gets going. I usually water my plants in that time too, which is a lovely way to start the day. Then I wake up my kiddo at six and get her ready for school and out the door for the bus. After that, my housemate and I hang out until he goes to work, and I start writing sprints, usually fifteen minutes at a time, or painting. If I have freelance work, I’ll do that in between sprints. Otherwise it’s housework. We have a forest a few minutes walk from our house, so most days I’ll spend a while in there as well to get rid of excess physical energy from sitting all day. When I get back I focus on hobbies - I code and make the graphics for the role play forum, so if I’ve got a project for them in progress I’ll work on that and chat with the other members. Then people get home from school and work and I guess the routine from there is pretty standard.
Amanda: Do you believe in writer’s block? Ever suffered from it? How did you overcome it?
Eleanor: It depends what you mean by writer’s block. There are some days when it’s trickier to find the words and connect with certain characters, but I don’t consider that a block. It’s just a natural fluctuation that comes and goes. It happens with everything so it doesn’t bother me or stop me from doing what I want and need to do. I just appreciate the days when I’m feeling inspired all the more for the days it doesn’t flow quite so smoothly.
Amanda: Have you hidden any secrets, or gems in your stories? Why?
Eleanor: I don’t think so. In one iteration of the draft there was a weird little Beatles reference, but I cut that scene. If there are any others they’re unintentional.
Amanda: What are you reading right now?
Eleanor: I’m revisiting Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Some of it is a little dated (understandable, given it was written so long ago) but it’s interesting to explore.
Amanda: Any advice for writers?
Eleanor: Yes - the only failure is giving up. Everything else is a learning experience. Probably applicable to more than just writing, come to think of it.
Amanda: Any advice for readers?
Eleanor: I’ve noticed some readers feel guilty for the genres they like. I don’t think they should. It’s your entertainment, after all, you can enjoy whatever you want. If you can find the thing that makes you feel good, then don’t be afraid to read it - and don’t be afraid to try new genres and authors! You never know what will spark that fire in you until you’ve tried.
Amanda: Thank you Eleanor! You are truly an inspiration. Where can everyone find you?
Eleanor: Thank you! It’s been a blast. People can find me and my art on Instagram (@neffiart) or on my website, www.esfurlan.com, and they can find The Tainted Shrine: Bloodsong Book I on Amazon. Thanks for having me!