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Indie Author Spotlight Interview: E.A. Fortneaux author of Following the Snow

Hey babes, so those of you who follow this blog know one of my recent reads was an Arc I did for Following the Snow, an epic fantasy romance novel and I just couldn't get enough of. Well I reached out to the author and asked if she'd be willing to do an interview and here's the results. I hope you all enjoy reading it and getting to know her! I think she's a truly fun lady and her book has me hooked. I can't wait for the sequel!

Let us get to know you:

1. Where are you from? Does that have any impact on your writing?

I am from the state of Kentucky, in the United States. I was born here and have lived here all my life and that has totally had a profound impact on my writing. Often, people will see us as a poor state full of bumpkins and think about Kentuckians in incredibly stereotypical ways. The idea of “forgotten folks” living in a world where the wealthy or the educated dominate existence, was a theme you will see in Following the Snow. It is one I have seen play out near home as well. No matter how many coins a person has, no matter their background, no matter their level of education, they are worthy of a life lived well.

2. You mentioned that you were part of the LGBTQIA+ Community, do you think that has had any impact on your writing?

Surely. My sexuality is not something I tend to talk about and I tend to keep “me” fairly private, though if asked I am quite open. It's not because of embarrassment or shame, but because I’ve never felt the need to qualify myself to others. What has had a greater impact, even more than the fact that I am a very open person when it comes to my preferences, is that the LGBTQIA+ relationships I have been exposed to all my life have been good and loving and wonderful examples of what love should look like. In this book, I wanted to create a world where all types of relationships were commonplace; didn’t want any to be a surprise factor.

3. How old were you when you first started writing your own stories?

The first story I wrote was in the 2nd grade. If I remember correctly, I even bound it in construction paper and won a classroom award. I wish I could remember what it was about… if I had to guess it probably had to do with puppies or Egypt— I had an Egyptian culture obsession from a super early age.

4. Do you enjoy reading? If so, who would you say is your favorite author?

Yep, I love reading, but pinpointing a favorite author is difficult. For non-fiction Elie Wiesel. For fiction… oh boy, so many in the Romance genre! Gabaldon, Showalter, Garwood, Austen… that’s just what I can rattle off the top of my head.

5. Did you always want to be an author?

From about the age of 14, yes.

6. Do you have any hobbies?

I do! I am into historical recreation. I dress up on the weekends and pretend to be a 14th-century lady or a lady of Ancient Rome depending on how hot the weather is that day! I also weave fabric and, well, read a whole bunch.

7. How many unfinished novel ideas do you have lying around?

None, I hyperfocus. The Obligates of Aerta are my current obsession so I will focus there until the series is complete most likely. And then, who knows where the world will take this mind? I can't wait to see!

8. If you could change any one thing about our world today, what would it be?

ONE! Just ONE? Oh, sheesh. I would rid the world of hatred. Then I think many of its other issues would begin to be resolved.

9. Does anyone in your family read your books?

My husband has, and I think a few cousins will. My mom is 100% out, but she still bought one! My wonderful mother-in-law is currently reading it, but I think she plans to skip over the spicy stuff like she used to skip over the fight scenes in the Lord of the Rings when reading it to her boys :P

10. Is there any snack or drink that you have to have when writing?

Nope, I am an equal-opportunity snacker! Is it crunchy and salty? Perfect! Sweet and sour? Yes, please! Also, I am kinda boring and like an icy water with a wedge of lemon.

A bit about your writing:

11.How do you go about writing? Are you a planner or do you just write?

Both, actually, I will start writing with an idea in mind and let it run, then I will plan out that particular vein in the story, stopping at its zenith, and then fitting it within the full scope of the manuscript.

12. How do you come up with your characters? Are any of them inspired by people in your life?

There is a mix, many of them are inspired by my friends or family. Some, like Ambrose, are straight from my mind… or are a little like me (I’m more like him than I care to admit, Ha!)

13. Knowing this is your first published book, could you tell us a little about the journey from beginning to end? How do you feel now that it’s finally out there?

I am exhausted and also a little hollow now. I know that must sound strange. For a year I worked so hard and dedicated myself to the story, to marketing, to outreach, and then… I hit the button… it was done. I miss the work, I miss the focus and drive. I am working on the second story in the series now, so I am sure it will come back, but I am not sure it will ever feel like the first time. Who knows, maybe it will! I still can’t call myself an author without pausing and reflecting.

14. What do you find to be the most difficult part about writing? The easiest?

Most difficult: I am not a trained writer, I really had to learn and focus on grammar and structure. Easiest: The story just flowed.

15.What comes first, plot or characters?

Characters, I want you to form relationships with them and let them drive the narrative. I want people to hate them, love them, wish they were them, or cringe when one they loathe is written into a scene.

16. Why did you choose to self-publish your books?

Because I believe in me and the story. I wanted to have the rights to my work and I didn’t want to wait years trying to get the story to the reader. I took a chance, and I know it will be a longer walk, but ultimately I hope to arrive at the goal destination.

Book Specific:

17. What inspired you to write Following the Snow?

I was lying in bed one night and it hopped into my brain and wouldn’t leave me alone. I put pen to paper the next day and diagrammed and outlined a very basic plot. I think my brain wanted to distance itself from a bunch of stuff going on in the world and you may see some of my feelings about it coming out in the story.

18. You managed to pack in a good bit of diversity in your characters, how do you feel you did portraying them? Was it difficult at any point?

One of the number one characteristics I wanted in my book was for a multitude of differing people to see themselves. When I wrote descriptions I reached out to friends for feedback. I never wanted a character's description to feel vague. For a long time, I thought if you left a character vague then everyone could imagine themselves as that person, but as I reflected on that, it felt like cowardice on my part or simply a lack of knowledge/understanding. I sat down, gave it more thought, began studying and researching different sources on the matter, and then went to work. There is a story behind why all of the diverse characters have come to live in the various kingdoms around the continent and I hope beyond that I have done them all justice in their representation. I worked with a sensitivity reader when the manuscript was done and tweaked it until things felt right.

19. So far Eira has two love interests, is there a chance for more in book 2? A lady perhaps? (I’m crossing my fingers here js)

There are always chances for this to happen when I'm behind the keyboard. I wasn't sure if people would catch that one of her early partners was a woman, but maybe I can make that more clear in the next books! I briefly thought about her having a fling with Evon in book one… but my page count was already so long!

20. Another thing I’m curious about, I noticed the mental health rep in the book. Though I’m sure the obvious one is Eira seeking “Therapy” after her ordeal but the one that stood out to me was Kairus, will we be seeing more of her in later books? Was it intentional that while seen it was never commented on? Personally, it was nice to see her as still being shown as a strong character despite her struggles with mental health.

Yes, taking care of one's mental health is near and dear to my heart. My dearest friend in the world has struggled with MH issues and despite it all has sought to fight for herself and recognize her own self-worth. She is a hero of mine, and her commitment to her health has been incredible to witness. I wanted people to see Kairus’s struggles and yet recognize her strengths. You will see her again, eventually, and she will change the world, just like those strong souls dealing with and fighting the struggles of trauma and mental health issues do in our world.

21. Do you have a favorite character? Scene?

It's… it's AMBROSE! I love to hate him and hate to love him. He’s a combination of the most irritating and most loved traits I see in people. I think one of my favorite scenes is where he and Eira have their first awkward, super-unromantic moment!

22. Were there any parts of the novel you found challenging to write?

The scene where Eira tries to save the fawn. I have a fragile heart when it comes to death, violence, and innocence. I’ve had two miscarriages and helped nurse a friend through a late-term loss. Though I know how nature works, and though I know life is certainly not fair, it's hard for me. I remember in the fifth grade being told that if baby sea turtles were being attacked by seagulls on their way from shore to water, we shouldn't interfere with nature. I said “fuck that” and to this day would probably punch a seagull for trying to eat one, nature or not. (Does that make me bad? That may make me bad). I’m kind of a cubless momma bear.

23. We know you’re currently working on book 2. Is there a quote you’d be willing to share with us? A teaser if you will.

Sure, have two:

“This was different. That had been a light and pleasant sensation, this was a glug—a pull from within my… my being.”

I pointed to his chin and he bent low.

“Good night, husband.”

I placed a kiss on one cheek and then the other.

“Good night, wife.” He pecked my temple and tapped my nose with his pointer finger.

“Well, I hate the fuck out of that.”

Those have not been edited but I hope they are fun little teasers!


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