Monday, January 9, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Jake Elliot

1.  Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
The Wrong Way Down is the first of a fantasy series with dark undertones.
Beginning with a temple being robbed of a powerful healing scepter, Priestess Popalia seeks to find the stolen artifact, but is instead pulled into the deep spiral of the underworld.
2.  How did you come up with the title of your book?
There is a critical point in the story where the heroes must make a decision while on the run. They picked the wrong way.
3.  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
For the purpose of the first book, I would say Raenyl is my favorite. Raised in an orphanage, he is callous and cold, bitter and apathetic. In a world with multiple gods and goddesses, he is an Atheist. His life has been perpetuated by good luck and strong-will, or so he believes. I love the irony that by circumstance, fate chooses him as one of Popalia’s protectors.
4.  How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
For the purpose of this kick-off novel, I don’t have a least favorite character. Even the villains I love greatly. But if I had to choose one character, I’d say Canon Shertlief is the one I like the least. He may be a very powerful man, but he lives in a tiny box where appearances are more important than achievements. His role is small in the first book; his greater role will play out as the series develops. In the end, I may like him more.
5.  If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I’m not completely satisfied with chapter-one. I’m such a terrible perfectionist that I could nit-pick my book to death. That being said, there are a couple things in the first chapter that should have been placed a little further into the story.
6.  Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
The central character, Popalia, was originally written as a gnome named Popolo. That book version failed to sell, my guess is the twist was too campy, so I rewrote everything. The greatest alteration in the story was making Popolo ‘human’ and forcing the poor little guy through a sex change. In the end, it was the decisive factor in getting published. It was Popalia who opened the door for me. Who she is, and will become, is far superior to what Popolo was. I’m glad I made the sex-change for Popolo.
7.  Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I collect scabs. Just kidding. I don’t really collect scabs, that is truly gross. Outside of writing, I can’t think of anything too unique about myself. I have a warped sense of humor, but I wouldn’t call it unique.
Oh, I know! I can fit my whole foot in my mouth, and I do it frequently. Again, not a unique skill.
8.  How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
The easiest way would be by going to and leave me a message.
9.  What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to continue to evolve as a writer. Although I write fantasy, I like having an edge that scrapes the boundaries of horror. The Wrong Way Down has only small traces of horror within its cover, but the sequel, currently named ‘Crossing Lo’Lyth’s Grave,’ should be quite terrifying.
10.  Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Tips for readers, please– keep reading. My book may not be the right fit for you, but don’t give up looking for the book that speaks to you. Obviously, the survival of our art depends on readers. When you read a book that is good, please tell others.
As for potential authors, don’t give up. Revise, revise and revise; eventually you will refine your story to where it is marketable – unless you give up first. (The Wrong Way Down was completely re-written 3 times, and then revised four more times before it was accepted by Damnation Books. The story has only got better each time.)
11.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m really glad I chose to be a writer instead of try to become a superhero. When I was younger I was too scrawny to ever look good in yellow tights, and now that I’m older, fighting evil-doers takes way too much effort.
12.  And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
“No, we didn’t break in to steal trinkets,” Thorgen answers, nodding toward the altar. “That is the prize, there. Are you ready to do your part?”
Atop the marble surface, two silver prongs have been crafted into feminine hands. Resting between the thumbs of silver lay a black-handled scepter. The shaft of the rod appears reflective like obsidian. The treasure is crowned with four golden prongs, each ribbed with platinum. In the very center and planted within the golden head, a diamond the size of a walnut twinkles in the candlelight.
Katia reaches into a dark-stained pouch tied at her belt, withdrawing a small looking-glass and three small iron rods. These were the most important tools of her trade. If their prize was protected by traps, she would find and remove each of them. Gingerly, she walks into the room, mindful of where she places her feet. In her line of work, assumptions often ended poorly, if not fatally.
She holds the looking glass behind each tile before stepping to the next one. With relative quickness, she moves closer to the altar, one tile at a time. Two long paces from the altar, she sensed a change and a deep fear tickles her spine.
There’s no natural air movement in the room. Upon entering the room, she’d seen the holes in the ceiling set to release smoke and heat from the room, but they were too small to change the air flow. The candles’ flames did not waver, yet the smoke from the incense began lashing aggressively above the black and gold rod.
She stands up as soft wisps of sweet smoke draw together, appearing firm and solid. The smoke forms into a sharp face, wisps curling where cheekbones end. Materializing above the altar, a smoking chin and cruel lips hover in the air. Hollow holes instead of eyes fix upon her.
Stopping cold, she stares at the magical warding before shooting a desperate look to her partner. Knowing nothing about magic traps, her eyes express how this is beyond her ability.
“Just grab it and let’s go!” Thorgen ordered.
To return empty-handed would mean no protection from their employer. Her partner killed the monk, affording her no choice but moving forward with the heist. With retreat no longer an option, she damns caution and takes two steps closer.
Her partner signals to snatch and run. The smoke hardens solid as granite. Rows of predatory teeth linger behind sneering lips. Evil teeth grin– daring her to try. Hoping to snatch the scepter from between silver hands before losing her own arms up to the elbows, she swipes her prize like a snake would strike, lifting the rod from off its holder.
* * *
Thank you Jake for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview!  I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

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