Today I have a wonderful original interview with Elle Marie, author of Chronicle of the Mound Builders. And after the interview, there is a giveaway for a copy of it!!! If you missed my review for it yesterday, click HERE!
Hi Elle, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us for an interview. Your work is a fascinating blend of history and fiction! How are things going for you?
Elle: Hello, Erin! Thanks for having me. Things are going very well. I’m really enjoying my tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
Erin: So glad to hear that! Let’s leave the “dirt” of the archaeological site and dig deeper into your writing…let’s have a seat and get started!
A: I’ve always wondered what happened to the ancient civilization at Cahokia Mounds. They disappeared 700 years ago with few traces left behind – one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries. When a Mound Builders village was discovered in my hometown of Chesterfield, Missouri, it gave me the idea to write about what might have actually happened to destroy the prosperous community.
Q: Have you always been a fan of archaeology and/or Native American studies? If so, what intrigues you about this profession and about Native American history in particular?
A: Oh yes, I love both fiction and nonfiction books about archaeology. I find it fascinating to learn how archaeologists solve mysteries through the clues they find and interpret from digs. The Native American cultures in particular are very interesting to me. So much of what we think we know comes from stereotypes in movies, which only show a slice of what their lives were really like.
Q: The mystery component for those that enjoy these types of topics is usually a propelling factor in a desire to read or write books with this topic. Do you like to uncover and solve historical mysteries? Without giving your book away, can you describe the element of mystery that you have in Chronicle of the Mound Builders?
A: The basic mystery in Chronicle of the Mound Builders is what happened to the Mississippians, otherwise known as the Mound Builders. The entire civilization vanished practically overnight and no one really knows why or how it happened. Chronicle follows the people living in that time period as they move toward their destiny, while at the same time telling the story of archaeologist Angela Hunter trying to solve the mystery in modern times.
Q: In researching and writing about Native American tribes, the names and verbiage can sometimes be hard to pronounce, write, and organize. How did you deal with this or overcome this? Do you have any words of advice for readers in regards to pronunciation?
A: I’m glad you asked – it’s come up many times already! I did a lot of research to find actual Aztec and Native American names to use in Chronicle, and the Aztec names in particular are long and hard to pronounce. I recently added a pronunciation guide to my website (http://www.chronicleofthemoundbuilders.com/dig-deeper.html, below the chapter excerpts) where you can actually hear the names and places spoken aloud. It was fun to recruit volunteers to help me do the recordings.
Erin comments: That is a GREAT idea!
Q: What was one of the most interesting things you uncovered during your research?
A: I was amazed at the advanced technology developed by the Mound Builders. Their knowledge of astronomy, agriculture, and even dentistry was so much more sophisticated than I expected.
Erin Comments: I love the whole astronomy aspect!
Q: I love Native American, or in other words First Peoples, history and culture. We have the Serpent Mounds here in Ohio and they are fascinating. What you see on the ground compared to what you see from the air is so different, it’s like they built them for someone looking down from the sky. That mystery again is what thrills people. Do you feel that there is more than meets the eye?
A: That’s another mystery we may never know the answer to. How were they able to visualize a view that they could not actually experience themselves? Perhaps Angela Hunter will take on that challenge next!
Erin Comments: One theory is that they were directed by people from another world to build them as markings for them. I wonder…!! I suppose astronomy comes in to play in that regard. Kind of like the Great Pyramids. If Angela ever wants to visit the Serpent Mounds here, I’ll give her a tour! 😉
Q: What do you feel that modern society can learn from the ancient cultures of Native Americans?
A: What impresses me most about the ancient cultures was their understanding of nature and their desire to be in harmony with it, rather than overcome it. I think we forget that sometimes and have the mistaken belief that we can control nature.
Q: I read that your book is an adventure. What do you hope that readers take away when they’ve completed your novel?
A: My hope is that while readers are enjoying the action and adventure, they’re also learning about the ancient cultures. Kind of a stealthy way of educating through entertainment.
Q: When did you start writing? What is your inspiration for writing and what motivates you to keep writing?
A: I’ve been writing one thing or another since grade school. I think everyone has the desire to create something, and since I have pretty much zero artistic or musical talent, I turned to writing.
Q: What has been your happy moment during the process of writing and publishing your book? What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
A: What I enjoy most is hearing from readers and their thoughts on Chronicle. While not all the comments are favorable, I can always learn something from them. As far as my biggest challenge, I guess one of them was deciding when to stop researching and get back to the job of writing! There is so much fascinating material about the Native American cultures, but I also researched things like hunting, how to escape from a cave, and how a bear attacks. One item leads to another related article or website and sometimes it’s just fun to follow that trail. Then before you know it, another evening is gone!
Q: What else do you plan to write in the future? Will there be a sequel to Chronicle of the Mound Builders?
A: I’m actually starting to plot out a prequel to Chronicle. Angela will face another archaeological mystery and the reader will gain some insight into her early relationship with Dr. Oettendorf. Should be fun!
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors and your favorite books to read?
A: I’m a very eclectic reader. I enjoy historical fiction (of course!), mysteries, and nonfiction such as biographies. Recently I’ve read the Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. I enjoy reading fun adventure novels by authors like Michael Crichton, Ken Follett, and Douglas Preston. I also confess to the guilty pleasure of reading Sophie Kinsella books. She makes me laugh out loud!
Q: You work in what must be a challenging full-time job that seems opposite from your creative side. When and where do you find time to put on your creative hat? What advice do you have for other writers?
A: That’s a funny question coming from someone who is able to juggle writing, public relations, photography, motherhood, and more – I should be asking you! But to answer your question, my full-time IT job is certainly challenging and when I’m working, I’m fully immersed in it. But after hours, I prefer to use my imagination and creativity. My secret to having time to write is that I don’t watch television. I don’t necessarily advise other writers to give up TV, but I would tell them to find a cozy place to work without distractions and set aside a solid block of time each day for writing. I find I can’t really be productive in 5-minute spurts – I need time to focus and give my thoughts a chance to flow.
Erin Comments: Life is full, for everyone in different ways! And I don’t always juggle well!! Ha! I like your advice though and I think the answers I get to this question helps out other authors as well.
Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?
A: My website is www.ChronicleOfTheMoundBuilders.com and you can find me on Twitter at @ellemarie24. I’d love to hear from fellow authors as well as my readers!
Erin: Elle, thank you so much for joining us here today. Glad to find we have a similar interest! I look forward to seeing what else you write in the future!
Elle: Thanks! It’s been great talking with you.
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CHRONICLE OF THE MOUND BUILDERS, Synopsis~
Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.
In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.
Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?
Author Elle Marie, Biography~
Coming from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.
A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.
By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.
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