Author of Harcourt's Mountain
Please join me in welcoming author Elaine Dodge from South Africa to Books & Benches for a 5 Question Q&A.
Harcourt's Mountain is Elaine's first novel.
“Original, intriguing in-depth story of love, life and danger in a spectacular but harsh environment!”
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
“What are you doing with your one wild and precious life?” I have that written out and pinned up on an ancient dictionary that stands on my desk. Beneath it I added, “Facebook? Really?”
There was a time when I felt as if…no, when I was addicted to Facebook and this was an attempt to wean myself from it. What actually worked was having an influx of paying-the-rent work that kept me too busy to waste time on social media.
That, and the fact that after a long night brainstorming session with a friend in Cape Town which involved a fair amount of red wine, I am now inspired again and am hacking my way through the undergrowth of the edit of my second book, The Device Hunter.
What else have you written?
Apart from the blogs, articles and website content I write in order to feed the cat, I have a series of flash fiction items on my website. They’re called Running the Bathwater Stories. Some of them are ideas I’m trying out for possible future books and some are moments in time as it were. It’s also a good way to tickle the bellies of different genres and see what bites.
Inspired by a painting someone I was at art college with had recently done and posted on Facebook, I wrote a story that later won a place in a horror anthology. It’s called The Man with a House on His Back. Turns out I quite like writing creepy stuff.
Wondering why they’re called Running the Bathwater stories? Because that’s all the time I allow myself to get the story down. And I’m not allowed to have thought of the story before I start writing. I’ll start with one word, turn on the bath tap and then start pounding the keyboard. I’m also only allowed to edit it during that time as well – although that’s a rule that tends to get stretched a tad.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Pay attention to those moments when being a writer is banging at the door. Someone is trying to tell you something. Believe in yourself. Celebrate yourself. Most girls bought make-up and clothes with their first holiday job pay check – you bought an antique portable Remette typewriter. Pay attention! Ignore those who try to force you to be just like everyone else and let your imagination have free reign. And write. Start now!
What story are you working on next and what inspired it?
My next book is a steampunk thriller called The Device Hunter. It’s been an interesting ride. One thing I’ve learned is that I much prefer working from a detailed plan than writing by the seat of my pants, which is how I started on The Device Hunter. It’s taken me far longer than anticipated. What inspired it? A toaster.
I had just read a few steampunk short stories and loved the fact that the names of ordinary, everyday objects were given much more elaborate names. For toaster read automatic double-slice bread browning device. It made me wonder what a book would be called. I came with an alternative reality, imagination re-ignition, time warp manipulation device. And what if that was the most dangerous device ever invented?
Although it’s taken a while to work out the kinks it’ll be finished in a few weeks. Then I just have to find someone who looks like Hugh Jackman to pose for the cover.
What would you like carved on your tombstone?
Today? Well today I’d like, “What are you standing here for? Go live your one wild, precious life!” This does tend to change depending on how long it’s been since I’ve had chocolate. Yesterday, for example, it was, “Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures!” A week ago I was quite keen on, “Gone in search of the awfully big adventure.” And last month, “See you on the flip side.”
"It was a page turner that you wanted to keep reading."
I was born in Zambia and went on a round the world cruise with my family when I was four years’ old. We moved to Zimbabwe where I grew up and set on my own round the world adventure a few years after I left art college. I’ve been in South Africa for the last thirteen years and although I’ve travelled haven’t managed to get more than two countries in at one time.
At college, I trained as a designer and after a few years segued into advertising. When I came ‘down south’, I moved into television production. I had always wanted to ‘make movies’, but that didn’t seem to be a door that would open for me. Writing TV proposals for international broadcasters however, did open a door. One I hadn’t realised I’d been camping outside of all my life – writing fiction.
“I couldn't put this book down and I read it in one day, If you want to read a beautiful story about two people that are getting to know each other and slowly falling in love I recommend this book.”
Spring, 1867 – The western frontier of British Columbia hardly seems a likely place for romance. Filthy, terrified and confused, HOPE BOOKER is waiting to be sold off the ‘bride’ ship. LUKE HARCOURT happens upon the sale. It’s not love at first sight, but he feels compelled to save her from a life of slavery and prostitution. To allay her fears of being raped, Luke promises never to touch her. Being a man of his word, this is a pledge he quickly finds almost impossible to keep.
Battling their growing attraction to each other, they must learn to live together in the forests of the wild and almost unexplored mountains. They face white water, Indians, wolves, and dangerous men.
No longer able to deny their feelings, their ‘happy-ever-after’ is shattered when a corrupt land baron forces Luke’s hand. Enraged at the man’s actions, Luke rides into town—and disappears.
Alone and pregnant, Hope faces the prospect of the worst winter in ten years. The trauma of fighting off a hungry grizzly brings on labor, but the baby is stuck. Luke meanwhile wakes up on a ship bound for South America, captained by a revengeful sadist who plans to murder him. Will Luke survive and make it back to Hope in time?
Print Length: 345 pages
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Publication Date: November 10, 2013