Hi Elyse and welcome to Bayou Book Junkie. Elyse is a new author over at Riptide Publishing, and has a series of 4 tales – Seasons of Love – out in 2017, together with (at least for now), one other called Heels Over Head, out in May. She describes herself as asexual, out and proud Jewish woman, and we can’t wait to find out all about her and the books and characters she creates. I’ve read Whiteout, book 1 in the SoL series, which came out on 23/01/17 <Elyse’s birthday!> (with the rest of the series following in April, July and October), and it’s one of the few books to have utterly, utterly puzzled me over the ‘who’s the good guy here and who’s the bad guy, or actually, is it shades of good and bad in both?’ thing. She totally threw me for a loop, making me reach out to her before I could even put words together to review her amazing book and she was lovely enough to come over for a visit. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BBJ: Hi Elyse and welcome. We’re really pleased to have you over here today, so would you please fill in any gaps that I’ve left out in your intro, and remember, nothing is TMI here! 😉
ELYSE: Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be here :D
BBJ: What inspired the Seasons of Love series, which features tales with characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and which – sorry, mean question, I know! – did you most enjoy writing and why?
ELYSE: Whiteout actually began as a dream, strangely enough. I woke up at 6:00 one morning last year with this fading dream about a man who had lost his memories, and something wasn’t quite right around him. I’ve always loved reading the amnesia trope, so I knew right away that this was going to be a fun story to write!
But I think Thaw is my favorite book in the series, for a number of reasons. It’s an intensely personal book in a lot of ways, because it’s an asexual romance with two women who have to navigate and compromise, and that’s not something I see often (or ever, really) in fiction. Abby is a librarian, she’s asexual and comfortable in that identity. After reading so many books where an allosexual (read: not asexual) person has to “inform” an ace person about their asexuality… well, it was important to me to write a character who knows herself, who educates others instead.
BBJ: Are we right in thinking you’re an ice hockey and Tyler Seguin fan? Tell us more, lots more, please. Do you think we might be seeing a sports-based tale from you any time soon?
ELYSE: OH MY GOD it’s terrible. I got into hockey back in October, thanks (NO THANKS) to my friend C and author Avon Gale (go read her hockey books, they’re fabulous). Now I’m hooked. And yes, I’m a Dallas Stars fan (I’m from Dallas originally), and I do adore Tyler Seguin a lot.
Heels Over Head was my first sports romance—about Olympic platform diving—but I do have a ridiculous hockey series in the works.
BBJ: I’ve recently read several Hannukah tales with MM characters, and the reactions from the leads’ nearest and dearest have varied from ostracising (by the entire local Jewish community) to complete and utter acceptance (and even matchmaking by one’s momma) – would you please tell us about how you mesh your religion/faith/background with the fact that you’re so open with your own sexuality and romantic leanings, and what reactions you’ve encountered?
ELYSE: Judaism is a super complex religion, and differs so wildly from person to person that it’s almost impossible to find one thing that all Jews have in common. So I generally accept that any interpretation is a valid one. One thing most people don’t realize is that being Jewish is a religion and a culture! So the cultural side, I’ve found, is very accepting of LGBT culture. (I read an interview with a rabbi once that boiled down to: “We don’t care who you marry, as long as they’re Jewish.”)
My parents and sister have been incredibly accepting. My grandmother… well, she still thinks I’m going to settle down with a “nice young Jewish doctor”.
BBJ: Where do you currently live, and what made you choose to live there after all the travelling you’ve done? And, can you tell us a little bit about that NZ film set, and your reasons for being there? And no, we don’t buy the I wandered onto the set by mistake!
ELYSE: I live in New York City right now! It’s a great city to live in, when you’re as restless as I am, because there’s always something new to explore.
I’m an ENORMOUS nerd (which will surprise absolutely no one), and a diehard Lord of the Rings fanatic. After visiting New Zealand several times, I did a Working Holiday Visa for one year, and worked on one of the Hobbit film sets there for about eight months. Absolutely incredible experience, and a nerd’s dream come true!
BBJ: Where can readers interact with you in 2017, Elyse? Will you be attending the likes of GRL, RT or RWA?
ELYSE: I’ll be at RT Convention in Atlanta for the first week of May, and hope to be at GRL as well! Unfortunately I’ll be missing RWA, but that’s because I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con instead.
BBJ: What’s the RL day job, Elyse, and how does it influence your writing?
ELYSE: Hahahahaha I have a boring office job these days. It’s a change of pace from my days of adventuring around the globe, but it’s a solid job. It doesn’t influence my writing much, except I can daydream at my desk on slow days.
BBJ: What advice would you offer, Elyse, to anyone questioning their sexuality and trying to reconcile themselves with what they’re feeling/thinking/worried about? Do you think changing attitudes in society and the power of media and social media influenced your own decision to be yourself so openly and honestly, or was it a no-brainer that you’d be so?
ELYSE: The best advice I can offer is that anything you’re feeling or experiencing is 100% valid and perfect. There’s no such thing as “normal”, and you’re not alone in whatever you’re going through. The internet is also a fantastic resource for finding community and learning more about the diverse spectrum of sexuality.
I’m trying to live by a philosophy of “have no regrets”, and that means being true to myself and learning to accept myself as-is. So part of that approach is to be open about and find pride in my asexuality. And if I can help other people find comfort in their own identity along the way, that’s just incredible 😃
BBJ: Which would trust more when considering buying a book, Elyse – a 5* review that’s quite bland/inoffensive/generic-ish or overly effusive or a 3* review that’s more detailed and critically constructive?
ELYSE: Absolutely the three-star review. I don’t trust any five-star review where the reviewer doesn’t explain how the book affected them. I need to see an emotional connection, to understand how the book is going to affect me.
BBJ: What book and which author most influenced you and your writing career, Elyse, and why?
ELYSE: Oh gosh. Harry Potter for showing me that there’s real magic in storytelling, and J.K. Rowling for showing me that rejection by a publisher isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and you should never give up on your dreams.
BBJ: Name 5 things, please, Elyse, that are on your bucket list.
ELYSE: This is the hardest question, because I don’t really keep a bucket list! Okay, off the top of my head: Book a ride on the Virgin Galactic; visit the pyramids in Egypt; take a trip on the Trans-Siberian railroad; have lunch with Neil Gaiman; and get to the North Pole.
BBJ: How do you feel, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, about how life in the US, following the 2016 Presidential election, is changing? Do you think the new administration will bring the community together as one, rather than the (sometimes) bitching and in-fighting we see in social media?
ELYSE: I think it’s terrifying, but I think it’s also bringing together communities that have previously been mostly separate. So I’m afraid, but I’m also so, so proud to see my fellow Americans resist and stand tall.
BBJ: And now, the quick-fire round:
The thing you’re most proud of is…….. my family.
What’s the best bit of reader interaction you’ve had so far? The messages from people who say they stayed awake all night because of my book!
Which of the countries you’ve visited so far has the best food and what was it? (not sure if you’ve visited the UK, but if so, I *know* we’re likely out of the running, lol!) SORRY UK, you do not win this one! I’m torn between Italy and Japan. Italy has the best food (everything is delicious!)… but Japan has the strangest!
What’s your secret super power (well, not so secret once you answer this)? And what’s your kryptonite? My secret power is my ability to travel for super cheap. My kryptonite is chocolate!
Finally, what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done, and were there witnesses to it? I plead the fifth! Though I did break a toe a few months ago by walking into my suitcase in the middle of the night…
Thanks for popping in, Elyse. We hope you had fun and wish you all the very best in your writing career.
You can contact Elyse through: