Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Interview With Elizabeth Kaiser, Author of Jeweler's Apprentice

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Elizabeth Kaiser, author of Jeweler's Apprentice to Shelf Full of Books. Welcome Elizabeth. 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up 3rd in a semi-large, rural family, lots of outdoors adventures and animal escapades throughout childhood. Dad has been varyingly ill most of his life; and we were always financially uncertain, and the scary, real world was never far away.

 I was always making up stories, the wilder the better. I loved tales with fairies in them, and used to play with my siblings in the woods, finding mosses that were fairy courts and spider webs that were fairy bowers. Mom read The Hobbit aloud to us kids when I was 7 or 8, and I’ve loved the genre ever since. I have read thousands of books, all genres, since... but any specific has a warm place in my heart. I’ve read and imagined so much fantasy that it was a easy place to start writing at. Also, my sister Abigail, (whom I wrote the first book in this series for) likes that kind of thing as well, so with Jeweler’s Apprentice I was specifically trying to make her happy.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I was a precocious reader, starting at about 7, and  at 9 I read an abridged version of Little Women. The fact that Jo March went on to write books make a light-bulb go off in my

 head, and at that moment I knew that's exactly what I wanted to do.

Where did your inspiration come for Jeweler’s Apprentice?
   It started as a gift for my youngest sister (and best friend). I wanted to write about a 16 yr-old girl, since Abi was just turning 16. I wanted her to have a real-world trade that was also interesting, and not already overused. I also wanted to follow the “write what you know” adage, so that I could be certain I wasn’t misrepresenting some innocent line of work by trying to write about something I was totally ignorant of. That left few options: Farm girl. (How clich√©!) Baker. (Boring!) Dairymaid. (Slightly better, but how would that turn out exciting?) Horse-trainer. (Here at the ranch I’m surrounded by horse-training, and those kind of books always make me roll my eyes, so I didn’t want to do that.) So I thought “What are the things Abi really likes that I can work into the story?” After a bit it struck me: we both really love gems and jewelry, and I’ve had some experience with jewelry making, as well as done a whole lot more research into the higher forms I haven’t reached myself. So voila! A jeweler Fia would be.
   As for the circumstances of her apprenticeship; I wanted to have her be a Reluctant Hero, with a side dish of “if we try our best, good things can come even from our mistakes; even if they come in disguise at first!” So I wanted her to stumble into the “good fortune” of her apprenticeship in a completely uncomfortable way, and then have that lead to more discomfort as the tale escalated. A lot like Bilbo wishing he was “back at home with the kettle just beginning to boil. Not for the last time!”

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I looked deeper into jewelry making, metal crafting, to get the finer points down and make sure I was representing the stage of heat glow correctly, for example. There's a lot of other, little, incidental things that I don't recall, because basically I used a lot of things I was already fairly familiar with, so I just needed to freshen up on the exact facts.

You’ve said that your goal is to write “re-readable literature”. I think that is an awesome goal. What is it and what makes literature re-readable?
You know that kind of book that you can read more than once and glean something new out of it each time? That is what I'd like to put out there. I know the market is all about quick sales and spike bestsellers right now, but I love the classics that just last and last because they're so... re-readable! Those books you love, and can pick up anywhere and enjoy that scene even if you already know the plot by heart.
 I'd like to write that kind of books.

You also say on your website that you “believe that fiction can be a huge vehicle for truths of all kinds”. What kinds of truths do you try to bring across in your novels?
   I deeply believe that mainstream fiction has become mired in a sinkhole of "un-realism", not to mention basic "nihilism". There are so many books that I just can barey make myself finish because a ton of their plot points are so "THAT could NEVER happen!" From stopping speeding motorcycles on a dime, to avoid a wreck (physically impossible!) to simple relational things like "the Bad Boy" is instantly Completely GOOD, because he has a crush on some girl... it's just not factual. People are way to complicated to be so simplistically rendered.
    I know with fiction we deal in the realm of the imagination, but our imaginary world ought to be used to bring across Truths that Work in the Real World; so that readers can be better equipped to make better decisions in their own life. Like the speeding motorcycle. Who's going to be careful about their speed if "the books say" you can "just stop when you want to"? If instead they read a scene where aerodynamics of speed were kept in realistic bounds, they might be aware of the awesome power momentum can be, and drive slightly more carefully because of it. How would that author feel to have saved lives, instead of endangered them?
    I don't write contemporary, but the same principle applies to all genres. Tolkien is one of my inspirations... he realistically dealt with the difficulties of both bad and good characters. Even evil characters had some beneficial role to play, and the fact that good characters were sometimes weak was not a problem. That they staggered on in spite of it was what made them heroes.
   That is a truth that is, and always will be, applicable to the present.

How does your faith fit into your books?
I'd say that my faith definitely underpins my books, but that it is so substantial of a foundation that the book itself has no need to talk about it. In my worlds, good will overcome evil, even if it looks impossible at any given moment. And that is directly from me faith. This I know, that Right will be done, no matter what.
This enables me to understand that what seems to be a tragedy can actually turn out to be a glorious victory, in the end of all things.

Now that you have completed your second novel “Traitor’s Knife”, what are you working on? 
I am taking a slight break from Fia's journey to spend some time on a few historical romances people have urged me to complete, so I'm kind of giving my creative muscle a different exercise to work on.

What do you think of the revolution in the publishing industry?
   I think that it's a time both great opportunities and hardships, just like an shifting landscape. But it definitely has opened things up, and I think people should start deciding what they want to read, and then pursue creatives that can make it real for them. There's a huge opportunity to close the gap between hearer and teller, make the power of storytelling back into a community thing and less of an industry. I hope that we'll see "tribes" of aficionados cultivating and cultivated by artistic producers that can speak to the heart of where their audiences are at.
   The world is such a scary, changing place, I think this needs to happen.

Contact Elizabeth:

Get to know me better at
Leave a comment on my blog E.KaiserWrites-A-Blog!
'Like' my author page on FB, E Kaiser writes;
or follow @EKaiserWrites on Twitter!
Friend E. Kaiser on Goodreads!
and LinkedIn; E. Kaiser Writes

 I’m very much an off-grid girl setting sail into the roiling waters of the internet, so I am open to friending and connecting with anyone on any of these sites! Anyone that will have me, that is, of course. ;-)

1 comment :

  1. Hey! Great interview, Kathryn! Thanks for having me!