The Write Way Café welcomes Eilis Flynn, whose writing is electrifying.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve written since I was a kid. I wrote my first novel when I was fourteen (the manuscript is sitting in a box, buried deep in a closet), but it wasn’t until I did some freelance for Harlequin when I was in my 20s that it occurred to me that I could write a romance—which seemed like a natural, since all of my stories seemed to have a central romance and a happily ever after!
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
The path for this particular book was a little wonkier than for others, mainly because of the topic. If you’re writing about parallel universes and unicorns, that’s one thing, nobody blinks an eye. But when you ask if they can wear a watch, they either stare at you (most of the time, it turned out) or they say, “Not really! They die on me,” and then they might be vaguely interested. The research—not easy to find research on personal electromagnetic fields. Oy.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
All the other books I’d written up to this time were fantasies. Somehow, writing about the fantastical seemed to make sense to me. But I’d always had this annoying problem: electricity and I didn’t necessarily get along. I would go through watch batteries because they kept wearing down fast on me, items like hair dryers would go kablooey and die, even a car’s electrical system went kaput once (it was a rental, it was very irritating, I tell you). I thought it was just me—until the day I found out that everyone had an electromagnetic field, and some people just had a stronger one that could on occasion interfere with the technology around us. And so the idea for my book Static Shock was born.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
For Static Shock, setting a story about an entire demographic who’s by nature nontechnological in Seattle, a bastion for tech right now, made sense. And it had to be in the near future, because these are turbulent times, for so many beliefs and systems as tech takes over our culture.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Oh, the electromagnetic pulse thing is very real. The naivete of someone who’s been living in an antibubble is very real. The hot hero is real. No, just kidding. Ran Owata is hot but not real.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I found the story itself came to me naturally, but telling it was another matter. It was a matter of figuring out the ramifications of the (dis)ability, how a recognized group of people would fare having to live with this situation, and how the unscrupulous would take advantage. Then there was the question of whether to tell it in first person or third. I had never encountered a problem with that before!
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
Until I was writing about the book’s heroine, I had never thought about how someone who can’t just get in a car to escape would get around, particularly in Seattle, a very much car-oriented place. Fortunately, as I was writing this, the fledgling light rail system finally started to get some traction in Seattle (so to speak).
What did you learn while writing Static Shock? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about a world without technology, and corporate espionage?
I’m not paranoid enough. I’m as clueless as my heroine in many ways. I have intriguing ideas, but I don’t necessarily aim them at the right people. I know corporate espionage exists, but I also know I’m not paranoid enough to come up with ways the perpetrators do espionage. And since I learned how to type on a manual typewriter (my fingers were very strong back then), I know technology has its good points—and bad ones.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space is what used to be a guest room, but many years ago I co-opted it for my office, mainly because after you come to see Seattle once, you don’t have to come back that often (great variety it does not have). My office works for me because it’s near the kitchen, the bathroom, and the library, both the public one (a block away) and our personal one (spread through several branches, as in the bedroom, the media room, the living room…). The windows are high up so I can’t just stare out, but I can see there’s daylight out there—which I’ll be able to see as long as I finish my words for the day!
What are some of your favorite books and why?
The Narnia series; the Forsyte saga; Riddler of Hed. Yes, all fantasy. What’s it to you? All have in common that they each deal with the end of one culture—and the beginning of the next. I was an anthropology major, so I was fascinated with the concept of rebuilding from the ashes of one society. And yes, Gone with the Wind is also a favorite, for the same reason.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Static Shock and the sequel to my fantasy The Sleeper Awakes, which I’m re-releasing since getting the rights back.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
On occasion, I think about writing a mystery. I’m sort of logical, and many of my stories do have a central mystery that has to be answered. I may yet!
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
What I do when I’m not writing—I’m an editor by day and a writer by night, and I enjoy both very much! For me, it’s the best of all possible worlds!
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
What, besides the synopses? I hate writing those, but I know I’m not the only one! I can do it, but it usually takes a few days. Sometimes I literally pace trying to figure out how to make one work. It’s good practice for clarifying thought and making things logical.
Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Good question! My super-heroine, Sonika (she can be found in The Sonika Stories). I wrote comics when I was younger (the first few stories I sold, as a matter of fact), so super-heroines are very close to my heart.
Can you wear a watch? Do you know people who can’t? Such people have a legally recognized status as electromagnetics, nicknamed “Readers.” Reader Jeanne Muir decides to expand her horizons when a new job gets offered to her out of the blue, but when she takes it, she finds herself framed for attempted murder—can she risk asking mysterious Ran Owata, a fellow Reader who is no longer accepted among their kind, for help?
Print: Coming soon!
Over the years, Eilis Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, a young adult, a graphic novella, and self-published historical fantasies and short stories (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, finance, romance fiction, and comic books. She can be reached at eilisflynn.com.