Hey everyone, this is the second episode of my blog series called MEET THE AUTHOR. In this series I feature lesser known/indie authors to give them a spotlight on my blog.
In this episode, I am interviewing debuting author Elizabeth Tammi. Her book, Outrun The Wind, is a YA Greek mythology retelling and it will release in little less than three weeks from now. Elizabeth provided me with an e-ARC to read and review it early and I really loved it, so I am really excited I am able to host her here in this series.
Elizabeth also shared something about her experience of publishing a book. It is a very personal text and it is really cool to read something from the perpective of the author, especially a debuting author. You can read that at the very end of the post.
Esmée: Welcome Elizabeth, I am glad to host you here and talk about your book. I have seen plenty of people talk about your book, even before I had the chance of reading it, but as you are a debuting author many may hear your name for the first time in this post. Why don’t you start with an introduction of yourself?
Elizabeth: Outside of writing, I’m a student at Mercer University in Georgia, where I study journalism and creative writing. I was born in California, but mostly grew up in Florida, so I really love NASA and roller coasters, haha! Other than that, I love singing, traveling, and holing up in coffeehouses!
Esmée: As I was reading, I figured the story of Outrun The Wind is a combination of the myths of Atalanta, Artemis and Artemis’ Huntresses together with your own fantasy. Are there specific versions of those myths you used or did you use a bunch of them?
Elizabeth: I definitely tried to read as many different sources as possible so I could gain a general impression as well as understand individual, varying accounts. There are more sources available on the story of Atalanta then there were regarding the huntresses or followers of Artemis, which was okay because they’re more of a peripheral aspect of Outrun the Wind. There’s some variety in the older poems that depict Atalanta, as far as who her parents were and things like that, so I felt it was important to read as much about her as I could to understand how I could portray her in a well-rounded way that honored the existing accounts of her as well as incorporating my own perspective of her.
Esmée: There is a great variation of characters in OTW. Is there a character from the book that really grew on you? Will we see more of them?
Elizabeth: Outside of my main characters, I think I ended up enjoying writing the roles of Nikoleta and Isidora the most! Nikoleta was actually the protagonist of the very first book I ever drafted (which was awful, frankly, but helped me learn lots about writing), so maybe some version of her tale will come to life someday! Never say never, though there are no official plans on that front yet.
Esmée: Where does your love for Greek Mythology come from? Did it start when you were a kid or did it come to you in adulthood?
Elizabeth: It definitely came very early on, starting from when we covered it in a history unit in elementary school. Not long after that, I also got hooked on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Both of those combined helped catalyze a lifelong connection with the mythology of Greece!
Esmée: In the back of the review copy you sent me I read about your trip to Greece. Can you tell us more about your experience there and how much it influenced the final version of your book?
Elizabeth: Ah, yes, that summer in Athens remains one of the most transformational and exciting times in my life. I talk about it in the author’s note of Outrun the Wind, as you mentioned, but essentially I got accepted to spend about a month in Greece with some of my professors and fellow Mercer students after my freshman year. I took a course on the philosophy behind mythology, and we took lots of excursions to see some awe-inspiring places that I’d read and written about so many times, including Delphi, Corinth, and Sparta. I’d already written the first draft of Outrun the Wind before I left, but seeing Greece and learning more about the history and mythology of Atalanta definitely gave me an extra burst of inspiration to draw from when it underwent further revisions!
Esmée: That sounds like a really awesome experience and a really good base for this and upcoming books. I can say I am kind of jealous, as I love Greece and its history and mythology.
On Goodreads I saw someone asked if Outrun The Wind would get a sequel. You answered that it would be a stand-alone for now, but you had plans for more books in this universe, which sounds really cool to be honest. Are you going to make a collection of retellings? What can you tell us?
Elizabeth: Unfortunately, I can’t share anything ‘official’ yet, though I’ll be sure to blast it all over my social media when and if that happens! I love mythology, but I’d also love to explore the historical aspect of ancient Greece more in future works. There are lots of ideas, but nothing concrete just yet.
Esmée: If you will have more books in the same universe, will there be overlapping characters? As most mythology is based around the Gods and I’d imagine some might poke their head around the corner in retellings like this.
Elizabeth:Oh, definitely! If I ever have another book set in ancient Greece, I’ll be sure to find a way to connect it to Outrun the Wind somehow, maybe how Leigh Bardugo connected the Grisha trilogy to Six of Crows. We’ll see!
Esmée: Do you have plans for other books outside of the mythology books?
Elizabeth: I do! I can’t share the specifics quite yet, but be on the lookout for some exciting news at the end of this year!
Esmée: Is there anything else we can expect from you, as a writer, in the near future or anything else you want to say to the readers?
Elizabeth: Well, like I mentioned above, there’s nothing I can share officially until the end of the year, but I look forward to exploring more ways to interact with mythology in the young adult genre! And I’m eternally grateful and absolutely floored by all those who shared with me their kind words, bookstagrams, or reviews of Outrun the Wind’s ARC! It’s impossible to articulate how meaningful and special this debut experience has been, and most days I can’t believe this is actually happening! Thank you so, so much!
Esmée: It all sounds really promising and I look forward to all the official announcements. For now, enjoy the release of your first book, it deserves all the love everyone is giving it. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review your book and thank you for joining me in this episode of MEET THE AUTHOR. I will keep an eye on your anouncements and I recommend everyone else to do just the same.
Make sure to follow Elizabeth Tammi on her social media accounts and learn more about OUTRUN THE WIND and, ofcourse, keep an eye out for the upcoming announcements she told us about!
Pre-order OUTRUN THE WIND now on Amazon, Bookdepository and Wordery!
‘Turning in the Final Manuscript’
Traditional publishing, for all its wonderful qualities, can be particularly difficult from the aspect that once a book deal is signed and announced and talked about online, it’s very rarely actually a finalized book yet.
Of course, for debuts like myself, we queried polished manuscripts. They have to be presentable, functional, and ready-to-go. Of course, it almost always ends up going through more edits with the editorial team at whatever house acquires it, which is good– you get awesome feedback, a dedicated editor, and time to make it the best it can be before ARCs are printed!
For me, this aspect is a relief, but also mildly terrifying. I was so excited and overjoyed when the announcement for Outrun the Wind initially went public, but I also felt the weight of expectations– people knew what the book was about, and messaged or posted about their excitement. This was awesome, but difficult too, because I was still undergoing some content edits with my editor, so even though it wasn’t really a “work-in-progress” in the true sense, it still felt like it sometimes.
It’s even worse for non-debut authors, who sell books on proposal!
Anyway, so for the first few months after Outrun the Wind was announced I felt like I was balancing my own final revisions on it with all the other posts and promotional aspects of publishing, and it felt both exciting and scary. What if I couldn’t “fix” Outrun the Wind in time? Did it need more changes? Bigger changes? Thankfully, I’m relatively decent at reining these types of thoughts in– and my editor was a huge comfort, too.
I survived my rounds of content edits while also studying abroad, which was definitely a challenge.
Then, finally and all too soon, the last deadline for my manuscript before it went to copyedits was due. I knew, logically, that I was as ready as I’d ever be. There were no more big edits or changes I wanted to make to the story, and even if I did, there was certainly no more time. The night they were due, I was staying at my aunt and uncle’s flat in Dublin, Ireland while on break from my two terms as a visiting student at Oxford.
It was strange and astonishingly bittersweet to close that Word document on my trusty laptop for the last time. I was in a country and city I’d never been to before, saying goodbye to the story that had stayed by my side constantly through months and months of moving and traveling.
I actually cried, a little. I was worried that as soon as I sent the final version to my editor, I would suddenly fall prey to all sorts of regrets and fears. But all I felt was a sad, sentimental breed of fulfillment. I had done it. It was over now, at least until the book came out in November.
I had written the story I’d dreamed of telling, and it was going to be an actual book. That felt fantastic– but I hadn’t been prepared to feel quite so melancholy and nostalgic for Arkadia, for Atalanta and Kahina and Phelix and Nikoleta and all the other small parts of myself that I’d left inside the pages. I still miss them, but the best part now is that more people get to understand and visit the places and people that lived only in my head for so long.
I’m endlessly grateful, and while it’s still bittersweet, I’m ready to tell more stories and see more places.
Are you a lesser known/indie author and interested in participating in my MEET THE AUTHOR series? Fill out this form. For more info, read my initial post or the description of the form. For questions or anything else, you can contact me at email@example.com