The Eli Constant Interview
I live outside Fredericksburg, VA. Our lake community is flanked by historic battlefields and farms – making the area very peaceful and family-friendly. I have two daughters, one fifteen years and the other seventeen months. My husband contracts for the government and is the most hardworking person I’ve ever met- leaving our home at four AM every day to travel the 1.5 hours to work. On the bright side, he comes home to us by three PM every day – leaving us ample family time before bed. Few things are more important to me than family. Having said that, writing books are a birthing process and the characters I write become like family.
Name: Eli Constant. My full name is actually Elizabeth Constantopoulos, but try putting that on a book cover. It either has to be a small font or broken into two lines. Not pretty formatting-wise. I find I really love my ‘pen name.’
Other contacts/social media sites: firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @Author_EliC
Link to Amazon page and or any other place it can be purchased:
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Dead Trees is available at other lesser known retailers also.
Where did you grow up? I was born in Florida. My father was in the military so we moved rather frequently. I spent the majority of my formative years in Washington State and South Carolina.
What school did you go to? Out of high school, I headed to Columbia College – a small women’s establishment in Columbia, SC. I quite enjoyed it there, but eventually, found the all-girl environment a bit limiting. Summer after Sophomore year, I completed a research fellowship at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, TX. I fell in love with, not only the beach-y feel of thecollege, but also the well-funded science program. Senior year, I moved to Virginia outside DC to be near my family. After marrying my husband, I attended George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. I began my college career focusing on pre-medical. With each transfer, I found myself changing majors – struggling to figure out who I was and what I was meant to contribute to the world. Eventually, I settled on Biology. It was logical as I had the most credits in the sciences. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be ‘finished’ with schooling.
When did you start writing? Years and years ago, when I was quite young. My grandmother has all my scribbling somewhere. I actually attended an art school and majored in creative writing the year before high school. Being a military family though, I was unable to go to the school long. This was probably a good thing as I had a creative writing teacher that lived for red ink on paper. I sometimes wonder if I would have written a book sooner if not for the discouragement of that teacher. In high school, I won the top award for a creative short story at a regional competition day. I don’t remember what the story was about exactly, but do remember it involved alien space-ducks, a little boy, and a lost yellow umbrella.
What made you start writing? I'm not sure… maybe I was just born with the ‘itch.’
Is it something that you have always wanted to do? Yes, but I don’t think I admitted it to myself until about a year ago. I worked my hodgepodge of jobs post-college, staying the longest at a pathology lab in Sterling, VA. I took a short sabbatical from pathology and then back to it – I think after that break from the sciences, I began to realize that maybe I was walking the wrong path. Having my daughter and having the ability to stay home while she is young, has afforded me the opportunity to really dive into writing. Now I find, I can’t seem to stop.
What is your favourite genre to read, and do you have any favourite books or authors you would like to recommend? I’ve always been an avid Science Fiction fan, but I also have a great love for classics and historical fictions. I’ll never turn down and Orson Scott Card read – his work is fantastic, especially the Ender’s Game series and Alvin Maker series. Although Magic Street ranks up there too. I also quite love author Libba Bray. She has a trilogy that feels very Victorian, but beautifully weaves in the supernatural (the first book is A Great and Terrible Beauty).
What about to write? So far, I’m finding I like to write in varied genres. Dead Trees is a dark thriller with SciFi elements. Tears of Chios is an urban fantasy with mystery elements. DRAG.N. is a political semi-satire. I honestly think genre definitions are objective and sometimes unnecessary. More often than not, a book will be multi-genre and that’s what makes it so successful, layered, and dynamic.
Do you write full time? I mother full-time right now; I write secondary to that.
About your book
Your latest book is Dead Tress, tell us all about the story/plot. What’s it about?
Here’s the pitch for Dead Trees:
A scientist mommy battling beasties better be handy with a scalpel.
Elise Swanson is trying to give her daughters a decent childhood. This should be a simple task, but the invading undergrounders – subterranean humanoids that have existed since the dawn of mankind – make outdoor playtime a tad tricky.
After fleeing Georgia and surviving six months of bumbling self-sufficiency, Elise and her daughters meet Jason. He's tough and nature-savvy. Pit stop fights with beasties define the survival-road that the four companions navigate. The bloody pavement finally ends in Washington State at a government safe zone where the trekkers hope to build a stationary life.
A little rest and rehab would be nice, but Elise is quickly led down a path of research and deception where humanity's future isn't a priority. She becomes leader of a secret plan and long nights in the lab keep her busy. She strives to destroy the undergrounders and the life of an underhuman crossbreed hangs in the balance.
Haphazardly conceived and manufactured, the H2H (Humanoid-to-Human) chromosome-targeting nanotech has a small probability of success, but Elise has to believe it will work. Hour by hour, she becomes less confident and more emotionally compromised by the rapidly growing, stunning underhuman. Her maternal nature leads to a late-night escapade resulting in a platinum-haired, third daughter and a million uncertainties.
Fleeing her home, Elise had two loved ones to shelter. That number has risen. When the not-so-safe zone is invaded by beasties, she will save her family... no matter the consequences.
DEAD TREES is a 111k word, mature-reader Dystopian that weaves horror, levity, and science. Underneath the layers of storyline, a simple core exists – the limitless distance a mother will go to protect her children, both physically and mentally
What gave you the idea for Dead Trees? It all started driving home from visiting my parents. My dad had about half a dozen large, white sealable paint buckets in his basement – each were filled with a dry foods product. Next thing I knew, I had my recorder out and I was dictating the first chapter to what would become Dead Trees.
Who is your favourite character? That’s a bit of a tossup. I quite like Elise – finding she is, in my opinion, a very real character with very understandable worries and challenges. Then again, I’m also quite in love with Sheila-2 / Meg. The challenges she will face in the world are impossible to predict or quantify.
What made you decide to upload it onto authonomy? I don’t really care for the rat-race premise of Authonomy (i.e. get enough supporters, get to the editor’s desk, maybe you’ll get published), but I do love it as a tool to gain feedback during the early stages of writing. I actually have three or four more works up on the site now.
You recently self-published. What made you decide to go down this route instead of the traditional way? Oh… about eight rejections! Also, I find self-publishing gives me a certain sense of control.
What are your hopes for Dead Trees? I hope Dead Trees will continue to be well-received and my number of readers will slowly increase. As a debut, I’m quite happy with it. I must confess though, self-editing was a very difficult task. Even after publishing, it took me a month to work out all the kinks. Now though, I am confident that when someone purchases Dead Trees, the will be getting a put-together product. Having said that, I’m sure there’s a misplaced comma or two - they are tricky little buggers after all.
What’s the next project that you’re working on? DRAG.N. – A Novella, will publish next month. It’s a brief, (~20k word) imaginative look at the future of America – paying special attention to a stylized viewpoint of National Healthcare. It’s been quite fun to write and was spawned during a writing contest hosted by the Kernel Magazine of London. After DRAG.N., I’ll be hard at work preparing Tears of Chios for a late Summer release.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have been given in regards to your writing? Go with your gut. Just like with childrearing, a book is best ‘raised’ by its parent.
At the end when the beasties are screeching, does that mean they are near the camp? Ah, spoiler-alert! Guess it doesn’t ruin too much though. Yes, at the end of the book, wild-beasties have been attracted to the camp by the military helicopters. That’s all I’m saying though.
When is the sequel out? Dark Wombs: The Underground, Book Two has been planned out to the last detail. I’m hoping to tackle it after Tears of Chios is out. I wouldn’t expect it until end of this year or beginning of 2014 though.
Bone-popping sound of Undergrounder joints ?: I supposed I was a bit sick of the overly-used norm for sounds in regards to monsters/humanoids/alien antagonists. I felt like it was always hissing- reptilian like. I do take some inspiration from reptiles in the jerking of the heads back and forth. Anyway, it dawned on me that as the undergrounders adapted and became 'more humane-esque' that the legs (originally inverted) were moving forward and that would bring with it some bone-on-bone contact and deterioration of cartilage. So I envisioned these changing joints rubbing together- thus, the sound. Hope that makes sense.
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