Of all the ways to make a name in the artistic world I imagine that “author” would be the most difficult. It’s not as if you can sit down and write a book in one evening. It’s not instant gratification like writing a song, drawing, or painting a picture. These are art forms that can produce fever dream creations within an evening of caffeine fuel and sudden inspiration. Even a poet can belt out a complete piece in a night if time allows. But the way of the author is a longer road. Years some have taken to finish one manuscript. Then once it’s finished you have to find someone willing to take a chance on you and publish the book. Musicians, graphic designers, and the like can start a Bandcamp page, blog, or some easily created website and put their work out for the world to see and be their own publisher. A book, at least if you want to go the physical route(people still do like to hold a book in their hands, you know) requires cover design, printers, and I’m sure many more folks to make something you can flip through. Going the way of the author is a rough road, but can be a rewarding one.
Local Warsaw resident E.R. Blake is one of those valiant souls that wanted to tell a story, so she told it. After years of ideas, consuming books, inspirations, and working time into a busy day of being the mother of two girls she has given the world her first novel, the mystery/thriller The Exile Carpet: Dreamscapes(Volume 1). I had the chance to talk to E.R. Blake in-between local book signings about her upbringing, her inspirations, and of course her novel.
J. Hubner: Thanks for talking to me. So where did you grow up? Where were your formative years spent?
E.R. Blake: I was born and raised in Southern California, which has a diverse backdrop of cultures all intertwining into a unique version of the American Dream. Simply by driving through one county to the next, you are able to visit countries with rich language and a proud heritage on your way to shop at Target or a trip to the Beach.
J. Hubner: Were you interested in writing at a young age?
E.R. Blake: I never considered myself to be any great writer as a child. I had a rich imagination and spent my time creating stories in my head that I frequently acted out as a soloist in my bedroom. I was, and still continue to be, a voracious reader. My parents did a wonderful job of promoting the written word in various forms, such as poetry, plays, and all genres of novels. I would escape into the pages and surrender to the characters plight as my own vision of the authors work came to life. My parents both worked in the film industry when I was a child, so seeing things come to life on a set for a commercial they were working on stirred the portion of my brain to dream and create.
J. Hubner: Was there a specific age when you decided you wanted to write?
E.R. Blake: There hasn’t been a specific age where the light bulb illuminated and I exclaimed that I would be an author….how is that for dramatic? I played around with it here and there and comments were made that I should give it a go, but my focus until college was music. I believed that I would be a music major until I met a woman who changed my life. Granted, as a child I wanted to a marine biologist or a Top Gun pilot…..thank you Tom Cruise. In high school, my parents met and befriended a woman by the name of Dr. Norma L. Goodrich. She was a Professor Emeritus, could speak and write 7 languages, some of them ancient languages and was completing work on an academic work regarding King Arthur. There was a common thread in our journeys to Scotland as a family, which began when I was 7, and her own travels and work on King Arthur. She saw something in me that I didn’t. We began to talk and she took me under her wing. When I went off to college, she saw that music was not my passion, but History was and steered me towards that topic as a major. She was an accomplished author, having proven the existence of Arthur, Merlin and Guinevere….I still like to find her work on the shelves in bookstores. One day, she suggested that I start research on a fifth century Irish saint named Columba. She was looking for some research help on a project she was working on and I agreed. I was told that it would make a wonderful dissertation and when I didn’t seemed thrilled, she said….you could always write a book. What pushed me to “knock out a book” were all the research notebooks and information I gathered with Dr Goodrich in mind over the years. One day I came to the realization that maybe I could and what was the harm in trying. What good would all that material do if it sat around in my house? If Dan Brown and Steve Berry could do it, I might as well take a crack at it!
J. Hubner: So let’s talk about the book. It’s called The Exile Carpet: Dreamscapes(Volume 1). What can one expect when they crack open those pages?
E.R. Blake: First off, the cover is the key. The artwork, brilliantly created by Dickson Design Company, draws you in and beckons for you to open the cover. It has a life of its own and fascinates me. The pin on the cover is the broach that characters wear in the book….the symbols are explained,,,,when you read the book. (wink wink). When you delve into the pages you will find a character rich thriller that speeds you though Scotland in a race against time. At the heart of the mystery, The Exile Carpet, an ancient artifact guarded for centuries and hunted for destruction. It is a character all on its own. The idea came from research when I came across an artifact sold on the Black Market called The Exile Carpet. It is a prayer carpet that depicted the voyage of Mary Magdalene to France from the Holy Land. It intrigued me and the idea was born. With children running about, I never had vast days of writing, so I would write here and there and edit as I went along. With all the edits, I would say 5 years to what you hold in our hand today.
J. Hubner: I gather from all your research and the story itself that you’re a history buff. Is that so? Do you have a favorite era you like to delve into?
E.R. Blake: I am HUGE history buff! I am most interested in Ancient to Medieval European history….how specific is that? I love to research and read about emerging civilzations and how they evolved. I get lost in it all……if I am having a challenging day, I can crack open a history book and surrender to the time period. It is better than candy.
J. Hubner: How has the reception been for the book so far?
E.R. Blake: The reception has been amazing! It is an incredible responsibility to be allowed into someone’s imagination. It is personal and private, their own escape from reality. If my words can transport them into another place, beyond the page my task is done. The wonderful reward or me is that the characters have come to life. I created some of them out of thin air and then used people in my own life as influences for the characters you will journey with. For example, the character of Mitch is after a dear friend of mine who passed away when we were in Middle School. For me, he gets the chance to come alive each time someone reads. What a gift!
J. Hubner: Where is the book available currently?
E.R. Blake: It is available online with Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
J. Hubner: I read that you’re a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m not sure what that entails but it seems pretty significant. Can you tell me a little more about that?
E.R. Blake: Dr Goodrich helped me become a fellow. She nominated me! The Society is charged with the task of preserving, recording and assisting in new research projects in all aspects of Scottish History. There are research digs funded through them as well as research projects and academic publishing to preserve and catalogue the rich history of the nation. It is an honor to be a Fellow.
J. Hubner: You’ve given the world Volume 1 of The Exile Carpet. Is Volume 2 done and ready to go? Do you know the fate of the characters already?
E.R. Blake: Volume Two: Restoration is complete. One and Two originally were one piece of work. I was prompted to split into two for an easier read. It will go into story edit in the New Year and look for a release in 2017. Volume Three: Ascension is in outline phase right now, with actual typing to be done soon. It begs me to sit down and write it out each day! I do know where the characters are headed and what the ultimate conclusion will be…..wait and find out!
J. Hubner: So can you tell me how one goes about getting a novel published? Maybe there’s someone reading this that could use some advice?
E.R. Blake: Publishing is a highly subjective industry. What you love and what someone else feels passionate about are worlds apart! The process is tedious. You write what you believe is a New York Times Best seller and then you send it forth to be judged as marketable material in the form of a Query Letter. Agents read these letters and decide whether or not they have the same passion to sell your material. After 134 rejections of this isn’t the right project for me or my client list is full, Amazon said yes! Oh happy day!! Is it horrible and difficult to be rejected and try to move on….yep! But it is completely worth it!!!
J. Hubner: So how has this experience been overall for you? Has your work turned out how you wanted it to?
E.R. Blake: My dream of my words on paper has come true….giving people the of a story that captures them and sends them beyond the page to question or research on their own is a humbling gift for me. Why Scotland as a backdrop you might ask? When I first traveled there as a child, the castles and monuments were not so stirring, but as I grew they called out begging to be discovered. I spent every summer there between the ages of 7 and 20 and it is where my soul sings. This creation is my love letter to the Nation of Scotland. Its magic is undeniable.
E.R. Blake’s The Exile Carpet: Dreamscapes(Volume 1) is available now online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/erblakeauthor/. And be on the lookout for The Exile Carpet: Restoration(Volume 2) coming next year.