Q&A with Elisa Keyston

I am fascinated with writers abilities to create images in our heads. I’m often tongue tied when put on the spot to say something funny or witty. Maybe that’s why I narrate. I get to read other peoples’ words!

When hired to narrate a book, I read the book start to finish. If it’s a first-time client, I also send the author a packet called “How to Work on an Audiobook Successfully”. It explains the process of working together and of an audio book’s creation. Our next step is conversation either by phone or through Zoom or Skype.  It helps us learn about each other, and I enjoy discovering what parts of the author’s life experiences weave their way through the characters and storyline…even in fantasy books.

In an ongoing effort to help readers learn more about authors, I’m sharing some of the recent Q&A conversation I had with Elisa Keyston, the author of Alexandra’s Riddle (spoiler alert about the residential developer in the story) and how she was able to intertwine aspects of her own life into the story and how she was able to resolve (even if only fictionally) some frustrations that occurred in her own life.

Blair:   How long have you been writing?

Elisa:      I’ve been writing my whole life! I remember writing comic books for my friends in probably first or second grade. My first “published” book was when I was in third grade: my teacher spiral-bound a fairy tale I wrote called “The Lovely Duckling.” I don’t remember what it was about, but I remember the name! From that point on, I wanted to be an author when I grew up, but by the time I got into college I imagined that it would be something I would do when I was older and retired from my “real” career. Health issues limited my career options in my late twenties so I decided that writing was going to have to become my “real” career!   I’ve been writing professionally for five years now. I started my career writing Young Adult (YA) under a different pen name, and I’ve been writing sweet romance as Elisa Keyston for just over a year.

Blair:   Is romance/ fantasy your favorite genre?

Elisa:      I love fantasy and would say that it is definitely my favorite genre to write in. I also enjoy science fiction. Romance as the primary genre (rather than just being a secondary plot line) is newer to me, but I’m enjoying it as a genre! It’s a lot more relaxing to write than an intricate, high-adrenaline dystopian, and I enjoy being able to let go of my real-world worries and indulge in escapism in this genre.

Blair:   How did you come up with the idea for Alexandra’s Riddle?

Elisa:      It came to me in a very round-about way!  Back in the summer of 2015, I was considering submitting to an open call for a novella anthology with the theme “drifters”.  I was trying to come up with an interesting story about a drifter character. At the same time, I had been wanting to write a story set in a magical wood ever since I moved to my current home in Oregon in 2013…My house backed up to a very enchanting wood that had an old farm road running through it. Walking through those woods, especially in the evening, had a mystical and sometimes spooky feel to it, and I wanted to try to encapsulate it in a story.

An open call for a drifter anthology and my move to Oregon. These two things came together to form Cass and Alexandra’s house in my mind. But one of the primary plot points came to me the day that I was trying to brainstorm a submission for the anthology. I sat in my backyard, enjoying a sunny late spring afternoon, while in the distance I could hear a noise that sounded like a lawn mower. It didn’t occur to me that it was strange that the noise had been going on for hours—there were a few properties nearby that had several acres of lawn, so I just figured it was one of them. Until, out of my peripheral vision, I saw a tree in the woods fall. It turned out the “lawn mower” was an excavator. The woods had been purchased by a land developer, and they were being razed to make room for houses.

That kicked off a long, many-year battle involving all our neighbors that unfortunately did not end happily. So one of my main goals in Alexandra’s Riddle was to give those woods a happy ending. Writing the book was therapeutic in a lot of ways, since many details were taken from my own life, but I was able to exert more control over the events than I was in reality. Add in a dash of magic and a sweet small-town romance, and I think the end product came out to be a very cozy adventure in escapism!

Blair:     Why did you decide to have an audiobook made of your book?
Elisa:      I really enjoy listening to audiobooks, so having one made for my own book is a dream come true. Hearing my book read by someone else is so surreal, it’s almost like I didn’t even write it and am getting to experience it for the first time!

If you’d like to get a taste of Elisa’s newest audiobook check out this link: https://bit.ly/AlexandrasRiddle