Elaine Chissick became an author when she wanted to share her experiences of the adoption process. But once her book ‘Willing And Able’ was self-published on Amazon Kindle, she discovered the writing bug had truly bitten her, and she went on to write her first fiction, ‘Ties That Bind!’
I chat with Elaine to find out how hard it was to go through the process of adoption, where her fiction inspiration steams from and how it feels for an author to receive the first paperback copy of their own book.
Why do you think it was important to share your experience of adoption?
My husband and I aren’t your average couple. I’m 16 years younger than him and he had children from a previous marriage, one of whom, lived with us. There were also medical issues, he’d not long since recovered from open heart surgery and I was classed as obese. To us, it seemed things were against us for one reason or another. It took us two years to go through the whole process and be approved to adopt children and a lot of what happened in those two years was totally different to what we were expecting. Both good and bad. I wanted to write the book to dispel any myths that people had about the adoption process. I wanted to write a frank and truthful account of what we went through and it’s had some good reviews I just wanted it to come across as me telling the reader what we went through as if I was sat sharing a coffee with them. I hope that’s what I’ve accomplished.
What was the hardest thing about the adoption process?
The time it took to go through the process. Two years for us. There were times when we felt we were getting nowhere. Endless questions, reports and workshops left us mentally drained but we carried on, determined to get there.
What’s the best thing about being a mum?
Every day is different. Some are good, some are bad which I presume is the same for every parent, biological or not. The best thing about adoption is knowing we gave a home to children whose biological parents wouldn’t or couldn’t give them the home and life they deserved.
Would you recommend other struggling writers to take the self publishing route?
This is a tough one as every writer has different circumstances. There are a lot of discussions going on between authors about self publishing. Some won’t do it because anyone can self publish anything they write, even if it’s badly written (and when I say that, I mean bad as in full of spelling and grammar errors as well as bad formatting and cover designs) which often puts people off buying other self published books fearing that they are all the same. But to a lot of readers who buy on the e-reader platforms, the question of whether a book is self published or not, often comes way down on their list of requirements. If you are an author and you can get an agent or publisher to take on your work, great! If you can’t, try self publishing. Yes, it’s very hard to promote yourself and your work but, your work stays your own!
After writing ‘Willing and Able’ you self-published a novel. Give us a quick plot summary of ‘Ties That Bind’
Alexandra Dinapoli has everything she could ever wish for, except what she really wants. Leaving her family behind, she heads for New York City and starts a journey to make her own way in the world. Whilst there, she bumps into Gabriel Harland, an enigmatic Chief Assistant DA. They begin a love affair that’s cruelly cut short when someone from her past surfaces in Gabriel’s life. Will their relationship be worth saving or will the truth tear them apart? It’s a story charting the tenderness of new love, the sorrow of losing someone close, the suspense of running from the past and the anger of not being in control. It’s also a story told from two sides.
Where did the inspiration for ‘Ties That Bind’ come from?
I’m not sure! The very bare bones, the basic main points, I had written as a very short story just before I left school. It wasn’t meant for anyone but a close friend of mine to read but it somehow got shoved in a folder and followed me through getting married and moving house four times. It was always in the back of my mind and then a few months after I’d self published Willing and Able, the story gradually surfaced in my head. I asked myself a few questions about the plot and started writing.
How did it feel when you received your book in paperback form?
Emotional. Exciting. Euphoric! I was alone at home and I actually screamed. I then left a message on my husband’s answer phone which he played back for me when he got home. Neither of us could understand a word I’d said! I remember taking a photo of it and posting it to facebook with the title “My hand, on MY book!”
Do you ever worry about writer’s block and your ideas coming to a standstill?
Writer’s block is when my characters stop talking to me. On a serious note, I do worry when I get to a point where the words won’t come. When that happens, I walk away from it for a couple of hours and let the ideas brew in my mind. Eventually, the answers come to me. I planned to write one book but during the writing, I got so attached to my characters that when I’d finished the story, I sat and cried. It felt like they were real people who had died! That’s when a question popped into my head and the idea for the second book was born.
You’re currently writing the follow up book. Why did you feel the story had more to it?
I didn’t want to let my characters go! I had a story to tell and I told it, beginning, middle and end but an author doesn’t always have the final say when a story ends. That one question that started the second book, led onto a further 20 questions about why, who, where and how. Those answers showed me their story wasn’t quite at its end.
Are there any more books up your sleeve?
I am planning a second true life book which looks at the role of adoptive fathers. It’s going to take a lot of research – which I’ve already started – but it means a lot of input by other people too. As for the fiction, I do have a smidgen of an idea but it won’t be with the same characters as the ones in Ties That Bind.
What advice would you give to other authors who want to get their stories published?
Do it! Don’t think about doing it, just do it. But, do it to the best of your abilities. Get an independent person to help edit your work, not teachers (or ex teachers) and not family members. Research punctuation and grammar. I don’t read “how to write” books, I don’t believe in them, some people do and that’s fine but there’s no excuse for bad grammar and bad spelling (although there will always be something that slips through the net …) Join a writing forum and chat with other authors, published and aspiring and spend the time to research things you write about. You’ll be surprised how many people out there are willing to answer your research questions or point you in the right direction.
Interested in Elaine’s Writing? Check out her website : www.elainechissick.wix.com/chissickchat
Both Elaine’s books, ‘Willing and Able’ And ‘Ties That Bind’ are available on Amazon Kindle Store. You can also purchase ‘Ties That Bind’ as a paperback.