Kate Elliott discusses storytelling, her new collection, and of course cake
Recently, Kate Elliott answered fan questions in a Reddit AMA.
Hi, Kate! I’ve really enjoyed your Spiritwalker trilogy.
Can you tell us some of the favorite themes you like to write about in your stories and maybe just a little about why those themes resonate with you?
Thank you, Teresa.
Spiritwalker is a good example of four of my favorite themes, ones that crop up in many of my series.
1) Active, physical protagonist. Can be a fighter but doesn’t have to be, just someone who is comfortable in their body and strong and likes to move. This resonates with me because, um, it describes me. I hasten to add my characters are not “versions” of me, but I do enjoy writing that physical type.
2) Revolution. I’m just so interested in how societies work and how they fall apart and how they change, sometimes in violent ways and sometimes in quiet, subtle ways. I’m not sure why this theme resonates for me but I suspect that the whole American Revolution thing is a big deal in the USA so perhaps it’s partly an echo of that.
3) Family. I identify strongly with the idea that we are who we are in relationship to the people around us. I do not resonate so much with the “loner cut off from all relationship” type of character or the “orphan protagonist” in part because I find so fascinating the ways in which people can both feel close to and find annoying family members (whether blood or found family) and I think I examine that dichotomy a lot in Spiritwalker. We all constantly walk that balance.
4) A love story. I just enjoy writing these.
I do talk a lot about gender in fantasy and about having women characters in books because I grew up reading and loving sff and wishing I saw more female characters in the stories.
Once I started writing I decided to write what I wanted which was: more female characters in books both as main characters and as secondary characters. That’s the main thing. I just wanted what was, to me, a more interesting and varied cast.
Spiritwalker is told in first person and has a single point of view character who is female, but I am pretty sure (although I haven’t counted it up) that all my multiple third person point of view series (which is all the others) have a 50/50 split between male/female points of view. So I guess my question would be: If it is a 50/50 split, does that mean I am highlighting women if, in much epic fantasy, it’s more like a 75/25 or 80/20 split? I don’t say that in a snarky way. I’m thinking of academic studies that have suggested that in some circumstances if women make up 30% of a room or talk 30% of the time it is perceived as 50% or more (even though it isn’t). In which case 50% might seem overwhelming to some readers. 😉
Hi Kate! I bought your short stories collection last week. So far I have only read the Spiritwalker trilogy of your series (though I certainly plan to read more). So my question is – do the short stories in the collection which are set in the worlds of your other series contain major spoilers for them? In other words – is it better if I read these short stories now or after I have read the respective series of novels?
Also, speaking of short stories, which SFF authors do you consider to be the best at writing them?
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it. The Crossroads universe story definitely does spoil the Crossroads Trilogy, so read Crossroads first if you care about spoilers. Of the two Jaran universe stories, My Voice Is In My Sword is safe to read (no crossover at all), and Sunseeker is tricky; it include characters who are important in the Jaran novels but the focus is on a minor character. If you hate ANY spoilers, then no. If only MAJOR spoilers, then I’m torn but possibly yes. Of the two Crown of Stars stories, Riding the Shore contains an embedded spoiler in a passing reference but otherwise is unconnected because it takes place hundreds of years later. The other Crown of Stars story (A Simple Act of Kindness) is actually now alternate history because I completely changed a crucial aspect of the plot after I wrote the story, so you can safely read it (I think) because it tells a story that actually never happens in the series.
Hi Kate! Just popping in to let you know that I liked your Spiritwalker trilogy a lot! Your other books are still lost somewhere on Mt TBR. And I would like to have that chocolate cake recipe you mentioned. You can never have too many of those!
Read the rest of Kate Elliott’s AMA at Reddit.
For more on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon.
Design by Elizabeth Story.
My Favorite Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 400F
Melt over low heat, stirring well: 2 sticks butter, 6 heaping Tablespoons cocoa, 1 c water
Mix: 1 ½ c sugar, 2 c flour, ½ teas baking powder, ½ teas salt, 1 teas soda, ½ c buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 teas vanilla.
Combine cooked melted cocoa with flour mixture. Pour into greased, floured pan (9×14) or 2 9” round pans. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
(I cant post a pic, but…I made the cake and it tastes great!)
That is so fantastic!!!!
Yes, I love this cake. Not too sweet and really strongly chocolate.
I thought if you surprise me with a real recipe, I can surprise you (and myself) with a real cake. 😀 It’s huge, though! I had to make some cupcakes because my cake tin was too small. But my boardgamefriends didn’t mind!
This is a perfect cake for board game/RPG parties.
I love that you actually gave a recipe! Noms.
I’m very serious about cake.
Thanks! Cake is serious business! 😉