Kate Avery Ellison decided she wanted to be an author when she was five years old, and her dreams of telling stories for a living came true in 2011 with her first novel, The Curse Girl, and continued with her Amazon bestselling series The Frost Chronicles and numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. She loves putting a dash of mystery in everything she writes, an ode to her childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes, and she can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever she can.
Kate wishes she could live in a place where it’s always October, but for now, she makes her home in Atlanta with her husband, two small children, and two spoiled cats. Her hobbies include–oh, who are we kidding. She is probably being lectured on the difference between a steam train and a diesel train by her toddler, or reading on her Kindle while rocking a fussy baby to sleep.
- Tell us a little about the world of Itlantis. How did you come up with it? Is Atlantis a longtime interest of yours? (And why change the spelling?) She always liked Atlantis. It’s not set in our universe per se. She was trying to figure out how to explain this exactly. Since writing this book, she’s written 10-12 other books. It’s an alternate universe. Several of her books take place in the same world but people don’t always realize this. There’s a book that is on the shelf of one of her characters in one book and that book becomes a big deal in another series. She wants to write another series that will tie these connections together. As for Atlantis: Plato wrote about Atlantis and there are a lot of theories on it. She also liked the Disney movie when she was a kid. It’s called Atlantis: The Lost Empire, came out in 2001. She’s had a casual interest in stuff like that for a long time.
- You’re self-published: what pushed you to choose that route? Did you ever consider going traditional? (Would you in the future?) She was trying to get an agent and had some positive movement in that direction in 2010. She was all about traditional, though self publishing was gaining steam at that time. She had no plans to be self-published, but she heard about Amanda Hawking, and she was in the news. She read blogs about her, and began to think about how she would do it. Then she realized she just really wanted to, to be in charge of covers, marketing strategy, etc. At one point in her life she wondered about doing graphic design, editing, etc. She’s also really interested in marketing, etc. She’s also very prolific and is able to put things out faster. She was courted by a traditional publisher and wondered if she wanted them to acquire one of her series. There was a movie deal: this was for Frost which was in the top 20 in the kindle store for awhile. She had a great moment for a few years. Then she had children and stopped working for awhile. She’s now returning her full attention to it. It ended up coming down to money and the contract, and she just wanted to retain the creative control. She was already making a lot of money on the series. She ended up not going with it. But that series was an inspiration for a game: it’s an app based game, called Frost. She’s sold rights for that and various things. Secrets of Itlantis is one of her smaller series.
- What advice might you have for other self-published authors out there: what’s the most effective marketing strategy you’ve used to date? (Or perhaps the top three?) It has changed. What she’d have said 5 yrs ago is totally different than now. She’s still seeing that if you can write fast, that still matters. But not so fast that you sacrifice quality. You get word of mouth, creating a base of true fans is huge. She doesn’t like the word “fans,” she likes the word “readers” better. Passionate readership. But you build that slowly. Blog tours don’t work as well as they used to. Having some books on Kindle Unlimited has worked for her, but some people aren’t big fans of that. She’s noticed that running Amazon marketing service ads has been good for her. Promo stacking: buys ads with lots of places. Book Bub elevates sales for all books. Have to have a good cover that looks professional and conveys the genre in a glance. She had a lot of trouble with the cover of one of her books bc she kept thinking that it looked like the wrong genre.
- Who are some of your favorite authors/books that you would consider to be your inspirations? When she was a kid, she was hugely inspired by mysteries: read that exclusively when she was eight. Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, etc. She liked mysteries that had a twist. She also likes mysteries where there’s a clever character who knows what’s going on. Then she got into fantasy: Robin McKinley and historical fiction. All the stuff out now is what she wishes she had when she was a kid. Harry Potter: big fan of that too. Megan Whalen Turner is one of her favorite authors. She does hit NYT when her books come out: she has twists, clever character, fantasy, etc. She didn’t read those books until she was 20-21. Another big one: Melina Marchetta. She’s an Australian writer and she’s written amazing books too. The Thief is the first of Megan Whalen Turner’s books, and Finnikin of the Rock is the first of Melina Marchetta’s. Robin McKinely continues to be an influence on her. She’s still writing. Smart fantasy women who have a lot of political intrigue and strong female characters. Another one that’s not a novel: not for children, but it’s called Saga. It was written by one of the writers on LOST. It’s a comic series. They like to push the envelope. Anything with a “found family”: people who are misfits who come together and become a family. Star Wars is a big influence too. She wrote fan fiction for that and thinly veiled Nancy Drew fan fiction when she was little. She still reads a lot of fan fiction on An Archive of Our Own and fanfiction.net. They take someone else’s ideas and world, and expound on them.
- I love the relationship between Nol and Aemi. Are your characters drawn from life at all? She wrote that series a few years ago and feels like her series grow with her. Her current series she feels come from some relationships she’s had. She doesn’t take people she knows and put them into her books. That’s very dangerous, and doesn’t usually work, bc what they do depends on the story. If there’s a main character in her books, they’re the opposite of herself. She puts herself in secondary characters. Her husband crops up in one of her most recent books. She’ll put an element of people in characters. If she’s ever had a character that is inspired by someone she knows in real life, she’d never admit to it.
- In your ‘about the author’ section, you say, ‘She loves dark chocolate, fairy tale retellings, and love stories with witty banter and sizzling, unspoken feelings.’ Sounds like we need to hang out! 🙂 Favorite fairy tale retelling? The Curse Girl is one of these. 🙂 She also recently read a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights: the motif in there. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. That’s not even the only retelling of that to come out that year. Ella Enchanted is her favorite retelling of Cinderella. It’s middle grade, very funny and witty and clever. She’s also writing a retelling of Sleeping Beauty but it’s really different. It doesn’t have a release date yet. She has 50 series ideas all the time.
7. Anything I haven’t asked that you want to share with the audience? Her most recent series is the Kingmaker series: 5 books in there so far, and the 6th one is coming out really soon ? way too soon. If you like Game of Thrones, you’ll love it. It has the “found family” thing, and dragons. She has a passionate readership for that one and they get really excited and opinionated. The first book is called the Gift of Poison and it’s on Kindle Unlimited.
8. If you use Amazon Prime, you can donate to The Clubfoot Research Foundation. This is a charity that is near and dear to her heart: Kate’s daughter has clubbed feet and spina bifida. The group is raising money to explore alternative and better ways to treat clubbed foot. Awareness is always important bc awareness leads to money and more research. The treatment hasn’t changed in the last 40-50 yrs. The braces their daughter wears they got from England and have done a lot of alternative treatments that they have to pay for out of pocket. They also live in Atlanta and there are some great hospitals and they’re treated by a really famous and good doctor at a well-known hospital, but a lot of people don’t get that chance. The methods available to many are limited. The technology is there and the knowledge is there, but it hasn’t trickled down to the practitioners necessarily. Some babies can’t tolerate the current treatment, or they don’t ever sleep bc the treatments are so tough. Clubfoot is one of the most common birth defects. To donate, you can go to smile.amazon.com and enter the Clubfoot Research Foundation and it will put a portion of your purchases toward them? or you can donate directly, at https://www.clubfootresearch.org/copy-of-about-us.