There are lots of stories about the children of gods. But what about those cursed by the gods, and their descendants…
El, a seventeen-year-old has inherited an ancient and deadly power. She loses control of it, causing a horrific accident, and becomes the prey of a secret organisation, known as the Order.
Forced from her family and home, she hides in plain sight amidst the crowds of London, and is thrust into a world she never knew existed; one full of arete: beings with extraordinary powers like hers.
Arete are beings that can trace their lineage and powers from ancient Greece. They do not claim their inheritance comes from the gods, rather legend says they are descended from cursed beings, such as Medusa.
At the heart of their world is the kerykeion, the symbol that protects them from the humans and the humans from them. El is trapped between two factions, one that has built an empire around the kerykeion and another that is determined to bring it down.
As she is drawn deeper into the conflict, the only way to find the truth is to take matters into her own hands, and the line between friend and foe becomes dangerously blurred.
Sounds extremely interesting, doesn’t it? Descendants is set to be released on 12 April 2017. Joining us today is its author, Rae Else. Please help me give her a warm welcome!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
- Where you are from?
I’m originally from a little town called Lanark in South Lanarkshire in Scotland. I went to university in Durham, lived in Newcastle and now live in London. So, I’ve basically been making my way down the UK.
- Do you have any hobbies?
Other than reading, which I do a lot of, I love to scuba-dive. It’s a great way to switch off from the literary stuff – books and devices tend to get a bit wet if you try and take them into a quarry or the sea! I dive in the UK year round (in a drysuit) but love to get off to tropical reefs when I can.
- What do you do for a living?
I was a primary school teacher in my twenties and a couple of years ago set-up a dog-walking business so as to have more time to focus on my writing. I can generally be found frolicking with my hounds, who help me sniff out new plots and characters.
- What did you study in college?
I studied Classics at University, which has given me my love of mythology and ancient worlds which I draw on in lots of my stories.
- Give us a few fun facts about yourself.
I can do a great Donald Duck impression (as can my brother, much to the dismay of other family members who have sat through many ducky conversations). I did my first Ouija/séance when I was about 7 years old as my dad was convinced we were living in a haunted house…and…struggling for another fun fact. Umm, when I was a kid I really, really wanted to be able to turn into a dog. (Perhaps that’s why I love running around with my pack these days!
2. When did you start writing?
I loved writing creatively in primary school and although I loved reading throughout high school – the creative urge to write waned then. I started writing again towards the end of university though and penned a first series called The Elementals in my early twenties. It was quite a complicated story – a story about reincarnation and with the narrative spanning millennia. At the time, although I got it written down, I didn’t feel that I had the skill or craft to do it justice. I look forward to revisiting it when the time is right. Look forward to, and dread! It will need an extensive re-drafting.
3. Why did you start writing?
The Elementals was the reason I started writing – the idea niggled at me throughout university and had to be written down.
4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
After I finished up teaching, I brain-stormed and jotted down some ideas that had been percolating. Descendants, The Arete Series was the one that dominated. I mapped out the first book, then the second and, I’d like to say the third, but that needs a thorough redrafting too! Lol!
5. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision? That is, did the structure and content of the novel change with the passage of time?
Yes, very much so. I went through so many iterations of the novel in the past two years. So much has changed, and yet, the themes and the heart of the novel has stayed the same.
6. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
Descendants was the title I knew I wanted when I was sketching out from the beginning stage. I just didn’t know which ancient hero I wanted my characters to descend from. Would their ancestor be Theseus who slew the minotaur? Or was it to be Daedelus, who could fly? I much prefer the fully-developed idea now of a line that descends from Perseus, who killed the gorgon, but inherited her accursed power.
7. Were there other titles which you were considering?
I did play around a while ago, but nothing else stuck. I can’t actually remember them –they will be in a notebook though somewhere. (I’m a hoarder of notebooks.)
8. Does your story have a moral?
Ooo, that’s hard. I never like to think that I’m moralising or being preachy – more that the characters do change over the story and learn along the way. You could take some meaning from that, (which is a moral, haha). I guess I’d say at the heart of the book, and the series, is the moral that you can’t take things for granted – people, expectations…life. Things aren’t always what they seem, or rather we each see things differently.
Other morals of the story are universal themes – exploring loss, love, loyalty…going for alliteration apparently today.
9. Let’s discuss what a typical writing session looks like for you.
- Do you listen to music as you write?
Yes – generally a soundtrack that I create as the book/short story goes on.
- What is your preferred writing time? Morning? Afternoon? Late at night?
I write a bit in the morning, afternoon and evening, around the dog pick-ups, walks and drop offs.
- Do you have a specific location that you go to when you want to write?
Desk in the living room. Occassionally, for a change of scene a coffee shop or in the summer the park with the dogs.
- Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?
I prefer indoors because I don’t get so easily distracted.
- Do you like to write in public places, or do you seek out isolation?
A bit of both – the bulk is done inside but it’s so nice to shake things up and have a change of scene. I love going to the Brisitish Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London for a bit of inspiration. Sometimes the Natural History Museum too.
- Do you set daily goals for yourself (in terms of word count)?
When I’m in the bulk of a novel – planning’s done, I tend to aim for 2000 a day. But it’s different in the redraft and editing time.
10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
A bit of both. I like having a bit of wiggle room, but it’s feel it’s important to have a broad plan sketched out before writing.
11. Which genre do you prefer to read in?
I tend to prefer reading fantasy, some dystopian and lots of classics and some literary fiction.
12. Which genre do you prefer to write in?
So far Urban Fantasy. I did Nanowrimo last year, as well as a writing course and developed the first 2/3rds of a YA Dystopian, which I aim to finish this November during Nano and get out next year.
13. What are you currently reading?
Currently reading Black Inked Pearl by Ruth Finnigan, Mora Goddess of Death by Emrie Vegas.
14. What is your favorite book?
That’s so hard! I can’t pick a favourite. But one of my all time favourites is Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. It’s narrated by a vampire, Louis who tells how he became one and details his relationship with his maker and his life story or “death” story, I guess. Why is it so dear to you? There’s so much in it I love – the relationship between the two main characters, the setting of New Orleans and how the story is steeped in history. Mainly though, I love the idea of immortals who are outside of time, outside of humanity but have to live within it.
15. Any project in the works?
Currently working on book 2 of The Arete Series which will be out this Autumn.
16. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It’s hard to say as the last one has been in the pipeline for two years, but in that time I also drafted the first draft of the second which I’m currently redrafting and then I have 2/3rds of the YA Dystopian. I’d say about 9 months (like a baby) lol, from planning stage to finished product seems to be the timescale at the moment.
17. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good?’
For me it’s about balance – I want thrills and intrigue – to be caught up and dazzled in the world within. But I also want to connect to the characters and to think of them even after the book’s finished.
18. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Whether it’s at the weekends, in the evenings – writers write and redraft and write and redraft. Other than that – perseverance.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs! (with almost as much emphasis as above)
3. Summer or winter?
4. Cake or ice-cream?
5. Car or motorcycle?
6. Ebook or physical book?
7. Nights out or nights in?
8. Living in the city or living in the country?
9. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
10. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
11. Making a phone call or sending a text?
12. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
13. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
14. Working in a group or working alone?
15. To find true love or to win the lottery?