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An interview with

E.L. Noel

Author of The Threshing Floor, a medieval novel, and the soon to be published L'arobi Frame, a science fiction novel.
Read a five star review of The Threshing Floor at http://www.sharpwriterreviews.8m.com/review118.html

Interviewed by Bonnie Mercure

E.L Noel


E. L. Noel is the author of THE THRESHING FLOOR, a novel about a knight, Sir James Greybold, during the crusades--his battles, adventures and the political intrigue to which he falls victim. THE THRESHING FLOOR is available at CrossroadsPub.com and will be published in paperback by The Fiction Works. She has also written a science fiction novel, THE L'AROBI FRAME -- coming out soon from CrossroadsPub.com -- as well as many short stories which have been published in print and electronic formats.

Bonnie Mercure: Have you always wanted to be a writer, or was it something you realized later in life? What factors influenced your decision to become a writer?

E.L Noel: I didn't actually start writing until I was in my thirties, so I sort of feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. I simply never saw myself as capable of writing the kind of stories I so loved to read, until one day it dawned on me that I should try. I think I always harbored the desire but didn't know where to begin. Or have the time, for that matter. Probably the biggest factor in my decision to write was my unbelievably naive attitude toward a writing career. I didn't realize there was so much work involved. Or that it took a tremendous amount of time and effort to acquire the skills of good craft. I believed that if one had read a lot, then one could write. Boy, was I mistaken, but I'm glad I didn't know those things when I started, or I might never have made the effort. Once I decided to write, I never quit. And I'm glad I didn't. Whether I ever make a lot of money or not, I have since learned that the writing is a reward in itself, that the ideas put to paper have value beyond the monetary. At least for me they do. The written word has endurance, and if the author writes from the heart then accomplishment is inherent in that activity.

Bonnie Mercure: The Threshing Floor recently won the 2001 EPPIE award for best historical novel. I heard the competition for this prestigious award was pretty stiff. What was your reaction when you heard you won?

E.L. Noel: I couldn't believe it! I had wanted so much to go to Las Vegas for the awards, but my dad was having some problems in another state, so we went to help him, instead. When my husband and I returned, Patricia White announced the winners, and I can't accurately describe how thrilled I was. I had hoped to win, like all the finalists, but was truly surprised when it actually happened. To have my novel chosen from such a fine bunch of contenders was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It truly is a writer's dream come true.

Bonnie Mercure: You chose to publish both "The Threshing Floor" and your soon to be released science fiction novel "The L'arobi Frame" with an electronic publisher. What led you to the decision to seek out electronic publishing?

E.L. Noel: Many things, but probably one of the most important is that publishing has changed over the last few years. The desire to publish important work seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of buying what fits into a marketing mold. I think this has stifled creativity and shut out some outstanding authors whose work would more than likely appeal to readers if they were ever given the chance. The restrictions with print have become so cumbersome that few new authors can break into the field. Genre constraints, formulas, word count, and lines have taken precedence over story, and fiction offered to the public suffers because of it. With electronic publishing the creative field is wide open. All the constraints are removed, though not the strictures of good craft, of course, and an author is free to simply write a good story filled with exotic characters and new plot lines. That's exciting to me. The world is changing in many ways, including the way we think of books. For education, ebooks provide an inexpensive way to maintain and enhance learning material, easily distributed and upgraded. Hopefully, the advent of electronic publishing will put an end to the use of outdated texts and old methods of teaching. There are many, many new reading devices on the horizon that can offer a whole new world of reading and learning enjoyment. Interactive text, music, graphics, all kinds of things are possible with ebooks.

Bonnie Mercure: What advice would you give to new writers who are thinking about finding an electronic publisher for their own works?

E.L. Noel: Writers are tailor-made for scam artists. We put our hearts and souls into a book so it's no wonder we want so much to see our work published. Sometimes we want it so badly that we don't do the research required to find a good epublisher. The truth is I didn't, but I happened onto to a great publisher by sheer luck. That doesn't happen for most. Now that I've learned a lot more about the industry, I urge all new writers to carefully research the epublishers that interest them. There are many less than reputable companies out there, just like there are in traditional print publishing. It's always a good idea to check the P&E site, but that's not enough in and of itself. Unfair contracts can be a huge detriment to new writers. When considering a publisher, email a few of their authors. Most are more than happy to give the new writer information and help. Make sure there is a time limit clearly stated in the contract offered and know exactly what rights are being contracted. For instance, with The Threshing Floor I sold the electronic rights to CrossroadsPub.com and the print rights to The Fiction Works. I still retain movie, foreign and audio rights, which I intend to market as well. EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection, has put together a model contract that is available to all on their site. I would urge all new writers to take a look before signing anything. Some have signed away all their rights, print, audio, foreign, movie, etc. for an interminable length of time. Don't be so thrilled over your manuscript's acceptance that you're willing to sign away its value. Be careful and be aware.

Bonnie Mercure: I find it interesting that you write in the historical genre and then can change creative gears and complete a science fiction novel. Is this difficult to do, and what genre is your favorite?

E.L. Noel: Actually, they're more closely related than they appear to be. A thousand years ago is almost as foreign to our contemporary culture as a thousand years in the future. I think those who write in either genre would have little difficulty in making the switch. Of course, there are some major differences. With science fiction the author must stick to science, or have the plausibility of science, and with historical the facts must be considered and dealt with in an honest manner. Creating a totally fictional world is a little different than researching an ancient one, but the main point, I think, is that the author is writing to a different time period, one other than our own. That to me makes all the difference. My favorite genre? Well... that's difficult to answer. I'd say my favorite is always the one I'm not currently working on. When I'm working on a sci-fi, I long to get back to historical, and when I'm working on a historical I'm anxious to return to sci-fi.

Bonnie Mercure: The Threshing Floor is a medieval tale full of knights, lords and treacherous kings. How much research went into writing 'The Threshing Floor' and when did you first become interested in that time period?

E.L. Noel: I spent an enormous amount of time doing the research for The Threshing Floor, but since I truly love that time period it didn't seem much like work. Paul Halsall and his Medieval Source Book, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Zoe Oldenburg's 'The Crusades', R. R. Selman, Edith Simon, and many more were all extremely helpful and interesting. The idea of a Holy War or a 'just' war has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. The depth of commitment had to be extraordinary and the level of courage extreme. There are many accounts of knights who performed truly heroic acts in the shadow of death. I'm amazed by it.

Bonnie Mercure: What authors have influenced your writing? Did you ever have a favorite book that you read over and over again, until the cover had grown frayed and the pages torn?

E.L. Noel: I love Len Deighton, John Grisham, Stephen King, Walter Farley's The Black Stallion series, and many more. The work of Patrick O'Brian and the Age of Sail are fascinating. C. S. Forrester and Robert Heinlein. Shakespeare probably had the most profound affect, though. His tragedies are so emotional and his ability to touch the heart so exceptional. He reached into the soul of mankind for his stories, so it's no wonder he is labeled as classic today. Not many writers can do what he did. I love to see his work performed, either on screen or stage. It just comes alive with the aid of a good actor.

Bonnie Mercure: What are your interests--what do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job? Family?

E.L. Noel: Good acoustic music always gets my attention, bluegrass, Celtic and instrumentals. I rarely go without music. My whole family is musically talented, except for me. I had every opportunity to learn several different instruments, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, piano, and others, but I didn't have the drive required to practice and keep after it. I write full time now, although I have worked at a variety of jobs, none big paying or prestigious. Once I even helped a friend who worked at a nursing home when we were in college. There was an elderly lady there who hated long hair, which I had at the time. Every time she saw me she yelled, "You'll never catch a husband with that hair!" I'm glad to say she was mistaken. I'm married to a wonderful man, very strong in every sense of the word. He's made my life full and rich. We have three daughters, lovely ladies with good hearts. If I had one wish, I think I'd wish that everyone could have a mate as well suited to him or her as my husband is to me. It's a true blessing.

Bonnie Mercure: What are you currently working on?

E.L. Noel: Right now I'm working on another historical novel, set in the twelfth century, a story about rivalry between two brothers set against a backdrop of the Crusades and Richard the Lionheart's siege of St. Jean d' Acre. The age of chivalry was so different from our own it's oftentimes hard to imagine. At one point during the crusade, Saladin, the Saracen Sultan, stopped a pitched battle to send the Lionheart two horses as gifts when the king's mount was shot from beneath him. Richard reciprocated by giving Saladin two falcons, birds which were highly prized by the Sultan. They didn't hate their enemies, but respected them. Both sides viewed Palestine as holy and warred to possess it, so both sides fought for an ideal, rather than for economic gain or over political differences. That changes the face of war somewhat and also changes the perspective of those who fight it.

* * * *

"Greybold did not go in until long after the men had gone off to sleep. Tonight, his heart dwelt not with the living, but with the dead. He raised his toast to the company of brave men who fought so valiantly at Nazareth and perished to a man, every one. Good warriors, true of heart, the greatest of the realm, and the finest he had ever known.

"To Duncan of Bordeaux," he whispered in the dark, and sipped his wine, a soothing balm for scalding guilt. The reveries left him sleepless, aching, and empty of all emotion, save for grief. And that did lie like a choking mist, heavy and dark as a raven's wing, in his breast. He missed them. He believed he always would." From 'The Threshing Floor'


Read 'The Rock Hound' by E.L Noel at the Dowse Fiction Hub
Visit E.L Noel's website at http://www.isp101.com/~mikenoel/index.htm

Bonnie Mercure runs the Writers Markets at Dowse, The Dowse Guide to E-Publishers, and presents the Dowse Fiction Hub

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An Interview with E.L. Noel