Updated: May 22
We're halfway through the month?
Who authorized this?
Anyways, today we get to talk to E.B. Finke! She was born in Lübbecke, Germany, to German/English parents; fluent in both languages. After getting her degree in English Literature and History of Art at Bochum University, she spent years working as a research assistant. Final paper on “The Image of Women in Late 19th/Early 20th Century Fantastic Literature”. Since then she's been a freelance journalist, photographer, editor, translator, researcher, and lecturer on the subject of Arabian horses. Articles published in Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Italy, the USA, Australia, and the Middle East. Co-author and translator of several books. She's a proud member of the German Tolkien Society (DTG) and active in fandom, regularly giving lectures on mythology and fantasy at conventions.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up reading books and playing make-believe with other kids, so I got into story-telling at an early age. Writing them down was just the next step. I’m naturally creative, so I’ve always been creating things – drawing, sculpting, or writing. As a teen I made a little fake magazine, filled with articles about imaginary people and horses in the style of a magazine I was reading at the time. Eventually I submitted an article to that magazine. They not only accepted it, the asked for more, and it turned into a profession. But I’ve always loved writing fiction and kept doing that as well, although for many years I only shared those stories with friends.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Anywhere, really. I might get inspired by a face, or a name, or a landscape, or by something I’ve read or seen on TV. It all gets sucked into what I think of as a vast swamp inside my head, where it gets stirred around until it bubbles back to the surfaces in a completely different shape. When I need any factual information, I consult books or the internet.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
In the past, when I was just writing stories for myself and for fun, I often wrote in bed at night – with pen and paper, by candlelight! These days I sit down at my computer after breakfast and write or edit until lunchtime.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
That depends on how you define “book”. I have written a whole pile of “books” over the years, most of them in my twenties and thirties, but they only exist as typescripts and/or computer files. I am only now starting to polish them up to be published, the first one a year ago. I have some I wrote as a teen, but those are definitely staying in the closet.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading, photography, reading, board games, reading, attending renaissance fairs and fantasy conventions. Did I mention reading? ;-) I also build fantasy creatures that I photograph in natural settings. Brian and Wendy Froud are my heroes!
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Written or published? I have written some 20 novels, half a dozen novellas, and enough short stories to fill an anthology. At this point, I have published two of the novels, the third is due to be published, and I’m busy rewriting/editing the next two in line. My favourite is always the one I’m working on at the time.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
1) Read. 2) Read more. 3) Keep reading. Read books in your genre, read the kind of books you want to write. Read lots of them. While you read, take note how they are written and how they affect you, and why. This will teach you more about writing than any number of manuals or courses.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Not as much as I’d like, but it’s all been positive so far. I’ve heard from readers who were unable to put the book down until they’d finished it, which is nice.
Do you like to create books for adults?
Well, since there’s sex in them, they are for adults. They’re not erotica, though. It’s just part of the story.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me it’s always about the characters, whether I’m reading or writing. I need characters I can relate to and empathize with as I follow their adventures. I prefer smaller, more personal stories that chart the characters’ growth and development and don’t rely too heavily on action, so that’s basically what I write. There’s always a bit of romance involved, but no sword fighting or epic battles; which, since I write fantasy, is a little unusual. It’s doesn’t always have to be about saving the world. While I enjoy reading a good, sprawling epic as much as anyone, it’s not what I want to write.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve visited many sites associated with my favourite authors in Britain: Charlotte and Emily Bronte’s Haworth, Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, Tolkien’s Oxford, and Alan Garner’s Alderley Edge. And while I’m not sure this counts, I’ve also visited pretty much every site connected to the tales of King Arthur, which I’ve always loved.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did consider it, but I decided I wanted my real name on the cover. I use different variations of my name for different writing purposes, though: I’m Betty Finke when I write non-fiction and E. B. Finke when I write fiction.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Neither. It’s next to impossible to be original when you write fantasy these days, and not all readers want the same things. You can’t please everyone. I write books I would like to read myself.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am friends with several authors in Germany, where I live. Two of them motivated me to publish my first short stories in 2006, because they are also an editor and a publisher, respectively. Writing those stories on commission definitely gave me some valuable experience.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
The latter. All my books, those already published as well as those waiting in line, are set in the same world and have characters in common. Each book tells a finished story, but they are all connected to each other. The main character of one book turns up as a secondary character in the next, or vice-versa, and I always include references to events and people from previous as well as from future
books. So, although each book tells a separate, finished story, there’s an overall arc going on in the background.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Quite a lot. Before deciding to publish, I wasn’t aware of the massive amount of editing and even rewriting that was necessary, other than just proofreading. Actually putting something out there for everyone to see, completely changes your perspective. I used to just merrily forge ahead, while now I am much more aware of what I am doing and I’m constantly changing things as I go along.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A barn owl.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
A whole shelf full, but I’m working on changing that.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success usually means writing a bestseller and/or gaining critical acclaim. As a self-publisher I’m unlikely to achieve either. I’d regard it as a major success if I managed to expand my fan base, which is very small at present. Sure, having a bestseller would be great; but if I have just enough readers who really love my books to keep me motivated, that’s fine.
What’s the best way to market your books?
If I knew, I’d use it ... Frankly, I’m not good at marketing. So far I keep a blog on Facebook, but that’s it.
What do you have coming next?
If all goes well, Stormbird’s Price – the third book in my series – will be available within the next few days. Then I’ll continue working on the next two.
Author page & blog: https://www.facebook.com/E.B.Finke
The Lanyon Stone: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0951ZFCBS
Delharne’s Daughter: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09Q29WKYR