Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author Eli Easton to The Novel Approach today to chat a bit about herself and her latest novel, How to Wish Upon a Star, book three in the Howl at the Moon series.
Thanks for dropping by to visit with us, Eli. Why don’t we start things off by having you tell us a little bit about the series, how you came up with the idea for it and some of the fresh takes you’ve given your shifters and their world?
Eli: The Howl at the Moon series is set in Mad Creek, California, which is a little mountain town way up in a remote area near Yosemite. The town is home to dog shifters, called quickened. In my universe, ordinary dogs can ‘get the spark’ and shift into humans, but only if they had an incredibly deep bond with a human and then lose the human. The world is not aware that these dog shifters exist, so it’s a fragile, secretive place. My characters in the town are a mix of dog shifters and full humans. The dog shifters can act fairly human, if they are second, third or more generation dog shifters who were raised human. Or they can be newly quickened dogs who still have a lot of dog characteristics. It’s written as romantic comedy but it’s also on the sweet and sappy side! Just having the shifters be dogs is pretty unusual, but I love dogs to pieces (we have 3) and it’s been a total blast to write from a dog-like POV.
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about your MCs, Jason and Milo. What are some of the things they’d say they like best and least about each other?
Eli: “How to Wish Upon a Star” is the third book in the series, though it can be read as a stand alone. It features a new couple, Jason and Milo. Jason is a third generation Alaskan Malamute shifter. He’s very intelligent, and he never could relate to his dog side. He got his PhD and is now a geneticist. He’s trying to figure out how the dog-to-human thing works, so he moves back to Mad Creek to study quickened subjects. He’s intense and very work-focused, but a little OCD because he is in such denial of his dog nature. Milo is a brand new quickened. He was a labradoodle working as a comfort dog in a hospice when he got the ability to become human. Milo begins working with Jason, and there’s a little element of “My Fair Lady” in it. But really, Milo teaches Jason a lot about what life really means. And, of course, it’s a romance so there’s some humor and some steamy bits.
What they like best and least about each other? I’d say Milo loves how smart Jason is, and how ‘smart he talks’, but he dislikes that Jason has effectively caged up his inner dog. Jason likes how loving and empathetic Milo is, but he dislikes Milo’s impulsiveness.
Lisa: What are some of the things you like best and least about them? I know writing them couldn’t have been all fun and games, could it?
Eli: Hmmm. Well, Milo was pretty easy to write. He’s all heart and very natural, and his behavior is often quite dog-like. So that was so much fun to write. He’s such a sweetheart. Jason was more difficult. Usually I find there’s usually one larger-than-life MC that’s anchored by a more normal ‘straight’ man (not literally straight, but you know what I mean!). It’s always tougher to write the ordinary character because there’s less to hold on to and it’s harder to make him feel real and interesting.
Lisa: How many books do you have planned for this series? Have you got it plotted out to an endpoint yet?
Eli: I have one other book planned for sure, but no end date or total number of books in mind. I’ll keep going as long as I’m interested and the audience is interested. Honestly, I really love Mad Creek and it’s fun to write these books.
Lisa: Having written across a number of genres, do you have a strong preference for one over another, i.e. historical vs contemporary vs fantasy? What’s your favorite to write, and why?
Eli: I like to write all sorts of things, even things outside the genre like horror and mystery. I loved writing the gothic m/m horror-romance in the “gothika” series with Kim Fielding and Jamie Fessenden. But mainly I stay contemporary and most of my books are on the lighter and humorous side. I just feel good writing them and I think they sell the best.
Lisa: For the longest time, I thought authors sat down in front of a computer at any given moment, decided to write a book, and then just started pecking things out. I know now that that’s so wrong. What’s your writing process? Do you have a set way of approaching each of your books, and how long does it typically take you to write a book, planning to finishing?
Eli: I generally start with a concept for a book and (hopefully) a burning interest in writing it. I tend to plot out a ways, but then I get bored with plotting and I start writing. I’ll switch back and forth between plotting and writing. Then I usually have a big editing process because sometimes if I get a scene in my head, I’ll skip ahead and write it and not have the transition or ‘in between’ stuff written. It takes a lot of work to get to a final draft I’m happy with. I do try to read the book outloud towards the end, but that takes a long time and I don’t always make it all the way through. Total time depends on the length of the book, but between 2-4 months.
Lisa: Is there an author (or authors) who you’d say inspired you to want to become a writer? Who are they, and what book(s) brought you to the point where you realized this is what you wanted to do?
Eli: I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In my early years, I collected Yearling books. I loved Madeleine L’Engle. At the age of 12 my brother-in-law handed me “Carrie” by Stephen King and I was a huge fan of his for many years. Also Anne Rice. I grew up reading horror. When I started reading romance I loved Western romances like those of Maggie Osborne and Pamela Morsi, and regencies and Scottish historicals like those by Loretta Chase and Julia Quinn. So all those authors influenced me. More recently, I really admire authors who can pull off a humorous romance like JL Merrow, John Inman, and Molly Harper.
Lisa: This question is called One Book: name the one book you wish you’d written, and why?
Eli: Hmmm. There are probably a few! In m/m I’d say “Hot Head” by Damon Suede. It’s such a great, classic m/m book and was one of my first forays into reading the genre. My favorite m/f romance that I greatly admire is “Simple Jess” by Pamela Morsi. It’s sweet, charming, folksy, and sexy, and has so much heart. I try my best to write like that!
Lisa: If you could sit down to a meal with one author, past or present, dead or alive, who would that be, and what makes that author so interesting to you?
Eli: Wow, an author…. I am very curious about history so I’d probably choose someone from a totally different era like Shakespeare or even Homer, just to try and get a handle on what their world was really like, talk about now, get their thoughts on the 21st century. lol
Lisa: If you were to sit down and write an auto-biography right now, at this moment, what would it be titled?
Eli: “Plan D”. I’ve had so many different plans and careers in my life. I definitely didn’t see this current path coming, but I love it.
Lisa: Would you like to share a bit of info on your upcoming projects/current WIPs with us?
Eli: I’m currently working on my second Dreamspun Desires book. It’s called “Snowblind”. The trope is being stuck together during a snowstorm, but it has a twisty-turny plot. It’s very alpha male, which is something I don’t normally write, so that’s a fun change. After that, I will be writing my Christmas story for this year—I have no idea what it’s about yet. And I want to write a m/f romance this year.
Lisa: Thanks again for joining us today, Eli. Will you tell readers where we can find you on the internet?
Thanks for having me on The Novel Approach, Lisa!
About the Book
Series: Howl at the Moon: Book Three
Length: 228 Pages (Kindle)
Publisher: Pinkerton Road LLC
Release Date: 10 May 2016
Categories: Paranormal (shifters), M/M Romance
Blurb: Dr. Jason Kunik is working on the most earth-shattering genetics project ever, DNA mapping of a new species, the quickened—dogs who can shift into human form. The problem is, no one knows the quickened exist and Jason can’t betray them by publishing his studies. When he moves to Mad Creek to continue his research in a town full of quickened, all he wants is peace, quiet, and to be allowed to bury himself in his work. Perhaps if he figures how out the mutation is activated, he can silence his own inner dog forever.
Milo is a hospice comfort dog who has bonded with, and lost, many beloved patients in his life. He intuitively understands sickness and pain on a spiritual level most can’t see. When he gains the ability to become a man, he thinks he finally has everything he ever wanted. But being a man isn’t the same thing as being loved, and taking shelter in Mad Creek isn’t the same thing as finding a home.
When a mysterious illness hits Mad Creek and threatens all the quickened in town, it’s up to the scientist and the comfort dog to figure out what it is and how to stop it. Along the way they might discover that true love is possible—if you wish upon a star.
This is the third book in the “Howl at the Moon” series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
How to Wish Upon a Star is available exclusively via Kindle Unlimited
About the Series
Find the series blurbs, buy links, and more about Eli Easton at Goodreads
About the Author
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.
As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.
1st Prize: INTERNATIONAL – $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
2nd Prize: DOMESTIC ONLY (US & Canada) – A signed paperback copy of “How to Walk Like a Man” and “How to Howl at the Moon” (books #1 and #2 in the Howl at the Moon series).