I hope you're having a great week. I have another interview for you, so please welcome fantasy author C.E. Clayton, creator of the Monster of Selkirk series!
PB: Hi! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
CC: Hi! My name is Chelscey, but I write under C.E. Clayton. My first book baby was released in the wild just over 3 years ago, but before that I used to work in the media advertising industry as a game console specialist. Basically if my clients wanted to do something on PlayStation or Xbox, or do custom integrations with gamers around a specific game, I was your girl! But, before that, I was in college working on a Master’s degree in Communication Management. I always loved writing, I did it all the time in high school and ran my school’s literary magazine for two years, but I was convinced that I couldn’t do that as a career. But here I am, writing books for a living!
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
CC: I was going through a rough patch at work, was feeling bored and not sure what direction to take, so I started writing a story I had in my head for a while as a way to make me feel productive when my day job was otherwise unfulfilling. It took several years to write the first two books in my series as I was still working, and changing jobs (I did that twice during this time). Then I found a small press publisher I liked, who liked my story idea and we started making it a reality. But even then, I didn’t really consciously decide to become an author. It wasn’t until my husband had a job opportunity that required us to move cross country where I decided that this is all I really wanted to do, and if I wanted to do it justice, that I should take this opportunity and treat it like the career I wanted it to be. So I think that was really the moment when I “decided” to become an author and not treat it as something to do outside of my day job.
PB: When did you first start writing?
CC: I’ve always been coming up with stories. I had an active imagination as a kid to where I would just stare at these breakable things in my parent’s house and come up with elaborate scenarios for them, all without ever touching them! Eventually that moved to pen and paper, but I can’t remember when exactly that was!
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
CC: The first one I can distinctly remember I was maybe 12 years old and I was writing a “book” based off these elaborate glass princesses my mom has displayed around the house. I decided all these princesses were sisters, and the youngest one (because I am the youngest sibling myself) had a pet dragon named Walter. I wrote about her life and finding a prince, the typical thing—outside of the dragon of course. I think I ended up writing about 20 pages before my adolescent self became too distracted by other things to finish it, and I have no clue where that story is now. Which is probably for the best!
PB: When you begin writing a new story, do you always know the ending?
CC: I do! But the trick with that is, that ending may not be for several books. I am mostly a pantser when it comes to story creation, so I always vaguely know the big points and themes, where characters need to end, where the story will finish, but how the characters get to those endings, and how long it takes, is usually up to them. It helps me keep a structure for things, but gives me the freedom to let the characters grow and develop in unexpected ways that I find really enjoyable and exciting when writing.
PB: If you could meet any of your characters, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
CC: I’d love to meet my main cast of characters! Tallis, Rosslyn, Tomas…even my new MC’s, Ellinor, Jelani, and Kai. They are all such fun and unique characters, damaged and sassy, strong and soft. They are great balances for one another! So I’d love to meet them all and just apologize to them. I am not a kind author and am constantly hurting my poor babies either mentally or physically. But hey, that’s how they grow, right?
PB: Tell us about the Monster of Selkirk series.
CC: The series as a whole is about reluctant heroes, about growth, about becoming the person you’re most proud of at the end instead of the person society or your family wants you to be, or has planned out for you. It’s about normalizing grief, letting boys be sensitive and smart, and girls brave and brawny. It’s also about feral elves who are cursed and like to steal children and eat people. The Monster of Selkirk is very much an adventure, epic young adult fantasy series where the characters are on a quest to save themselves as much as they are to save their home. Because the series is six books long, each book centers on different themes, new characters come and go, they travel to new locations, so I don’t want to say too much in order to avoid spoilers! But I will say the “monster” in my books aren’t always the ones you suspect—not everyone knows a monster when they see one!
PB: Where did the idea come from?
CC: The very original idea which isn’t at all in the final version of the book and series, was actually a fan fiction I wrote as a background story for my character in the Dragon Age Origins game by Bioware. I loved how their elves were treated as second class citizens instead of these regal beings you’re used to seeing thanks to Lord of The Rings. So it was this whole background that I eventually discarded because I realized I didn’t want to write a story I already knew, but rather something completely new. Some of those original ideas or thought kernels did make it over to the final version of the book, but this was where the very first idea for this series came from.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
CC: I think just getting Resistor published is the latest achievement I am most proud of. This is the first book I have created on my own, without a publisher doing the formatting and all the background work. I got my own editors and cover designers, all of that was mine to control and it was a ton of work! But it’s also incredibly rewarding to see something that I truly created and believe in come to life in such a wonderful way. But I’m sure as my career progresses and more books are released, Resistor will lose her spot as my most proud achievement!
PB: What is your favourite book series to read and why?
CC: I have very fond memories of the Dragonriders of Pern series and universe by Anne McCaffrey. I adored the idea of these magnificent, telepathic dragons picking their riders like soul mates and then flying and destroying the Thread that fell from the sky. Those books were this amazing blend of science and fantasy that I hadn’t encountered before as a younger reader (even though most of the books in that series aren’t considered YA) and it’s what sparked my love for the science-fantasy sub-genre. I guess you can say that my love for those series helped inspire me for my current book, Resistor, and the shared universe it occupies with its magic and cyberpunk technology!
PB: What are your long term ambitions with regards to writing?
CC: I’d love to be on best seller lists. That’s my biggest ambition which is really hard for an indie author to do, but it is doable! But it will take a long time, which is ok! I’m here for the long haul.
PB: Well I certainly wish you luck with that! If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
CC: I’d still be in the career I was before most likely: advertising with a speciality in product integration in video games and gamer related events. I was good at my job before leaving it to pursue writing full time, but I had begun fantasizing about leaving that career behind to become a therapist. Both very different career choices, to be sure! But I find people so interesting and you do learn a lot about people though the back end of advertising, and therapy is a little self-explanatory there!
PB: What’s the next target for you?
CC: Right now I’m very focused on my new series so my next target outside of getting the digital and paperback versions out in the wild, is to create a special hardcover version of Resistor in full color, which will include beautiful character art from several incredibly talented artists. That and I’d really like to get an audiobook version of my books out there too, so I think those are my next targets, outside of writing the 3rd book in the new series, of course!
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
CC: I use a pen name for my books because my first name is odd to spell. It’s “Chelsea” but you spell it “Chelscey” so it’d be very hard to search me out! Why is my name so oddly spelled for an otherwise pretty common name? Because my mom put an homage to her college Alma Matter in my name. The SC is for USC (University of Southern California). Good thing I was also able to go there for college or I’d have had to change my name completely!
Interesting story! Thank you so much to C.E. Clayton for speaking to us today. If you would like to sample the Monster of Selkirk series or Resistor for youself, you can do so via the links below:
Until next time, happy reading!