Interview with Earth Angel author Ruth Ellen Parlour
Earth Angel, officially released on Friday July 27th 2012, is a futuristic novel self published by the author, a very lovely woman I had the pleasure of interviewing about her novel and a few personal details.
C.V.: So I’ve been reading over your website about your book, Earth Angel that just released. Tell me a little bit about the storyline.
Ruth Parlour: Well it follows a few very different perspectives who are all thrown into the same situation. The two key characters, Gabrielle and Faith are both Earth Angels (humans chosen by the Gods as ambassadors for their race) but they are both very different. Faith is a well-off, privileged and educated individual whereas Gabrielle was committed to prison for murder. The main themes in the novel is Fate Vs Freewill. The characters are pushed into the situation by the Gods but both fight it and come together by their own motivations, and not the gods.
The world they live is under threat by an invading force. Earth Angel is about how different characters, races and cultures come together to fight against them using very unconventional methods. The military train up convicted criminals to use as a disposable army to fight against the invading forces. Ultimately the fate of the country rests on the Angels unreliable shoulders.
C.V.: So where did the idea for Earth Angel come from?
Ruth Parlour: Earth Angel has developed over a very long time. I wrote the very first version when I was just 13 and as I’ve become more experienced at writing it’s been a story I revised several times.
The very original idea about the Angels derived from the final fantasy computer games (particularly number 10) where they had summoners who could conjure fantastical beasts.
I developed my own world and culture over the years drawing inspiration from a multitude of different sources like films, books, history, people and even dreams!
C.V.: It seems to me many great stories are something that have stewed inside Writer Brain over the course of years. I know Orson Scott Card said he had the ideas for the Ender books for literal years before he finally wrote them. Have you found the story timeline and facts have changed over the years you’ve been working with it?
Ruth Parlour: Most definitely. The first story was very basic and over the years I’ve built layers of history and culture into my world as well as technological and magical systems to ground the world within certain rules. The characters and plots have also changed and grown up. Sometimes even surprising me with the secrets they’ve been keeping!
C.V.: So how did you take something that I’m sure grew to epic proportions in your head and put it in some kind of linear format to follow for the story?
Ruth Parlour: I had quite a lot of things to keep track of, like the different plot lines and characters in different locations. I kept spreadsheets to make sure the time sequence was linear for all plots. I think one of the plotlines had more days than the other so I had to combine and cut some of their scenes! I ended up with quite a bit of chapter rearranging as well. It was quite a struggle at times to keep things in check so the timeline was really useful.
C.V.: How did you decide what to cut? That’s always the hardest part, especially when your characters demand it’s something essential to their story.
Ruth Parlour: I really struggled with what to cut and sometimes I was really brutal with myself and cut out quite a few scenes. I just ask myself, what does this scene add to the story? Does it move the plot forward? Would the story still make sense if this scene was cut? Then I bite the bullet and cut what I have to. I won’t throw anything away though, I’m planning on publishing the deleted scenes on my blog for anyone who’s interested in reading them.
C.V.: That’s an awesome idea. That way if anyone wants to know what happened, they can go poking about like Easter eggs in video games.
C.V.: And, speaking of which, you’re into video games, right? Which games are your favorites?
Ruth Parlour: All time favourites or current favourites? I have so many! When I was a kid I love Spyro and tomb raider. I’ve always been a massive fan of final fantasy (my first story telling inspiration!) I love Metal Gear Solid, Assasins creed and Fable. I’m a big fan of RPGs or adventure style games. Although these days I don’t get round to playing many games. I love Ocarina of time too 😀
C.V.: The Final Fantasy games were where we were originally acquainted, I believe. You’ve said FFX was where you drew some of the inspiration for the angels. So can I ask the dirty question of rather or not you’ve written fanfiction?
Ruth Parlour: I actually wrote a ff7 fanfiction when I was a youngster but that was as far as it went, I have too many stories of my own I want to tell! 🙂
C.V.: So what’s your next project? Are you one of those people who can write several stories at once?
Ruth Parlour: I always have two projects on the go at the same time (at different draft stages though.) This is because I like to leave a story to stew for a while then come back to it with a fresh perspective.
I’m currently editing the first draft of another fantasy novel, it’s a spin off from Earth Angel staring one of the minor characters and will be the first of a triliogy. I’ve planned 4 books for the Earth Angel series (all stand alones) so we’ll see how far I get with them!
C.V.: Will you self publish your upcoming works as well?
Ruth Parlour: yes, I’m planning on self publishing each and probably bring out a revised paperback when the series is complete. That’s the plan anyway!
C.V.: When is the next book due out?
Ruth Parlour: That depends when I can get it finished and up to a good standard. Ideally I’d like to publish 2 books a year but realistically might not be feasible. It all depends on what I do after university, if I get a job or go self employed. At the very most it will be a year after the release of EA but I’d much prefer to release in 6 months time.
C.V.: Are you your own editor?
Ruth Parlour: Mainly. I scour my MS quite a few times, I also have my Kindle read it to me to spot the mistakes. I have a few Beta readers who help with things but obviously none of us are particularly experienced or at all professional. I just don’t have the funds to hire anyone better.
C.V.: From start to finish, from creation to the finished, published product, what’s the most challenging part of the writing process?
Ruth Parlour: Remaining objective. When you’re so close to your own work it’s really hard to take a step back and look at it objectively, realizing and understanding what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes only an outsider can give you this information. Also it’s really hard to proof your own work, I could read the same section over and over again and still miss mistakes. This is why it’s so important to get other people to read it, people who can spot spelling and grammar errors and people who can tell you what does and doesn’t work.
C.V.: And, for the last question: What is the single most important piece of advice you have for fellow writers?
Ruth Parlour: Probably to research and development. As writers we should always try to improve our skill and write better stories through practice and research. there’s so many great writing blogs, forums and groups out there that can offer support and advice to writers. Especially if you want to self publish it’s vital to do the research to make sure you get it right and write a great book. Always aim to be better! 🙂
If you’d like to “try before you buy”, Ruth Ellen has made the first chapter of her novel available on her website. You can read that here. If you are interested in picking up a copy of the lovely Ms. Parlour’s newest novel, Earth Angel, it is available for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords.
Ruth Ellen Parlour was born in North Yorkshire and grew up in country Durham, North East England. She is a fantasy writer for young adults and occasionally writes short stories. She is currently studying a masters degree in digital arts and design at Teesside after her BA in interior design. Earth Angel is her first novel.