Interview with Elise Stokes

Elise Stokes

Interview Date: 9/17/2012


Elise Stokes lives in Washington State, with her husband and four children. She was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time mom. With a daughter in middle school and one in high school, Elise's understanding of the challenges facing girls in that age range inspired her to create a series that will motivate young teens to value individualism, courage, integrity, and intelligence. The stories in the Cassidy Jones Adventures series are fun and relatable, and a bit edgy without taking the reader uncomfortably out of bounds. "Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula" is the first book in this new action-adventure series.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

Yes. Mono is a rather significant event when you’re eleven. I was bedridden for a month with it. Until that time, I had successfully avoided reading a book, but since I had nothing better to do I decided to give reading a whirl. My mom had placed a stack of Trixie Belden books on my nightstand, which she had urged me to read for years. Trixie Belden was her favorite series as a kid. I cracked open The Mystery Of The Red Trailer and was hooked. After devouring that series, I tried my hand at sleuthing and started a secret detective club. There were four of us, and as luck would have it we had a mystery to solve right under our noses. A mob boss had built the creepy Victorian I lived in, and rumor was he had hid mob money somewhere within the walls. My fellow detectives and I believed there were bodies as well. This was the mob after all. After not uncovering cash or bodies— much to our disappointment— I turned my wild imagination to paper and wrote a mystery involving the mob, 150 pages in pencil, front and back. I still have it. :)

Kev's response: Hmm, so you've been a troublemaker for quite a while now... Pretty cool on keeping that penciled original!

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Space-time manipulation because time is my enemy. Cliché, but true. Just yesterday I was a stringy eleven-year-old girl knocking on wood panels with high hopes of finding a secret compartment; now, I’m a forty-four-year-old mother of four who would still knock on wood panels if she thought mob money might be hidden behind them. I would like to have control over my elapsing days, but who wouldn’t?

Kev's response: Indeed, although I would not be averse to gaining the "do stuff in 1/10th normal time" power!

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, books, or movies?

Currently Black Widow is my favorite superhero. Anyone who saw her kick henchmen butt down a white corridor in Iron Man II and read Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula will know why. Readers, yeah, that’s what I envisioned. :)

Kev's response: For a normal, she's a great heroine in IM2 and Avengers. :)

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style of writer?

I would like to think I’m an organized writer, but fact is I’m a by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of girl. I create a skeleton outline for the story, but rarely stick to it. Characters and situations seem to pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes they cause me to stray from the plot, but we always find our way back, and usually pick up a few fun twists and turns along the way.

Kev's response: For a moment, I thought you said the characters rarely stick to it, and I envisioned you throwing miniature heroes at a giant outline on a wall (and they just bounced off).

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule when you sit down to write?

I try to write when my kids are at school. They’re pretty distracting and I’m easily distracted. And thank heavens— especially for my family— I can write when not in the grips of inspiration because that usually strikes in the middle of the night.

Kev's response: Ugh, I'm so easily distracted as well ... SQUIRREL! Sorry, what were we discussing? The television is my archenemy.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I enjoy writing young adult action-adventure, and I usually read mysteries. I need something going on, a goal, and it has to be more than enrapturing the hot guy who lives in the apartment next door. In other words, I’m not big on romance.

Kev's response: I'm trying to think about what kind of Freudian slip caused you to bring up the hot guy next door... >;) With four kids, I imagine that they provide some good insight into the YA world of wackiness.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

Something odd about myself? I can’t think of a thing. ;)

Kev's response: Now those who read this will be hunting down tidbits on you on the web. It'll be the great hunt for Elise oddities. Make sure to wear a red-and-white striped hat, no one will find you!

For my evil plot to take over the world, do you think I should go for a grand, take-it-all-at-once scheme, or spread my evil influence like the mad, ravenous butterfly?

The grand, take-it-all-at-once scheme would be much more interesting to an observer, but slowly poisoning the minds of society has a better chance of success…although, I kind of like the mad, ravenous butterfly idea…hmmmmm…

Kev's response: I'm losing hope in the butterflies. They've taken to terrorizing several fields near the house, and aren't spreading much evil.

What are your current projects?

Project. I can only do one at a time. Cassidy Jones and the Seventh Attendant, Book Three in my series.

Kev's response: Somehow, I think it'll be as big a hit as the other two. :)

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Foolish indie authors go “the lone wolf” route and view other indie authors as competition. Smart indie authors realize there is power in numbers and those in the trenches with you will become your greatest support on social networks. So make friends, and toot the horn of other authors who in turn may toot yours, thus bettering your chances of being heard above the noise.

Kev's response: It's hard for people not to think inwardly. It took a shift in my own thinking to decide to spend time helping other authors rather than spend that time period just on my own work (or promotion). In the end, I believe the relationships we build are more important, and while I'm not big on karma beliefs, I would rather err on the side of helping others than just myself. So I'm fully drinking the same kool-aid you are here.

Where can you be found?

Cassidy Jones Adventures:
Twitter: @CassidyJonesAdv

Author of:
Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula
Cassidy Jones and Vulcan's Gift

Kev's response: Elise, thank you for joining me! Good fortune on the Cassidy Jones series, and I hope book 3 takes off when you release it!

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