Here is my interview! Enjoy 🙂 (check out part 1 to understand what’s going on!)
Hi Erica! I’m so excited to have you here today. Congratulations on completing the series! You must feel really proud whenever you look at those books on your bookshelf. I imagine if I ever write a book I’d freak out every time I see it 😉
Thanks so much for having me! It’s nuts to think that the Ignite series is now over. I think I’m still getting used to the idea that there won’t be another book with all these characters I love, but I’m really happy with how it all ended — so it’s not too sad!
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a young adult and new adult author, vlogger with the WordNerds, and an avid book hoarder obsessed with goats, the 1920s, and characters who don’t exist. I have a strange blended aesthetic of cute and spooky, and my books reflect my ever-changing mood. I’m also the cofounder of Patchwork Press and Weapenry, with over fifty projects to my name. You can read about the weird stuff I’m up to at ericacrouch.com.
Now that you are done with the Ignite project, are you planning a new series?
I have a lot of ideas — some for series, others for standalones. Right now, I’m playing around with them all and trying to decide which project I want to dive into next. I think the next book I write will likely not be a part of a big series, just so I can really separate myself from Ignite. I’m still at the early stages of fleshing out one idea that I’m particularly excited for; it’s inspired by European folklore and the Blaire Witch Project.
What inspired Ignite?
I’ve answered this question a lot and every time I do, I think my answer changes just a little bit. (That happens with remembering.) Ignite, at its core, was inspired by an idea I had of someone keeping a deadly secret. In this case, Pen’s secret of not being fully committed to Hell. Once I had Pen’s character, and explored her relationship with Azael, I had my entire story. It all sort of snowballed from there.
I always thought it was really smart how the book titles start with ‘I’ while the novellas start with ‘E’. Was there any reason for that? How did you come up with the titles?
That was definitely a stroke of luck! I think if I had tried to run with that theme, I wouldn’t have come up with the titles at all, but it somehow all worked out. Really, I named Ignite first (well, duh Erica, it’s the first book). That took a while to title because nothing seemed right. I was calling it “Baby Manuscript” for the loooongest time. Then I reread what I’d written and tried to pluck out the theme at its core: the hope in Pen being lit again after so many years of staying in the dark. Entice came naturally (enticing Adam in Eden), and Incite was quickly decided after I had finished writingIgnite. Engage and Infinite took a little more time — particularly Infinite, as I couldn’t think of something that would both go with the beginning of the series and also fit the theme of the story. I definitely have Kellie to thank for the title of the last book; we must have sent back a dozen emails brainstorming titles until I landed on Infinite. I’m glad we came up with it though — it just fits!
Who is your favorite character? Why?
Eli, probably. He doesn’t get a ton of page time, but there’s a lot of hidden depth to his character. He’s someone who seems so shallow and flaky and cocky, but really, truly cares. Plus he makes me laugh.
Which character was the toughest to write? Easiest?
It was odd, but Kala was actually the toughest character to write, when I was in her point of view. She was a breeze to write from Pen’s point of view, but once I actually stepped into her head for Engage, I realized she wasn’t exactly who I thought she was. On the outside, she was all cheerfully optimistic and unfailingly hopeful, but inside was a different story. She had a lot of struggle, and it was hard to show that internal battle while keeping her outside persona intact. Also there was a lot of pressure to have her POV live up to readers’ expectations.
The easiest, especially by book three, was Pen. I think I know her forward and backward now.
Are the characters based on people you know?
No one character is truly based on any real life people I know. There are little aspects and details that are familiar, but I try not to take people I know and put them into my books. That seems too passive aggressive to me, haha. My sister, though, did inspire a lot of Azael’s humor, and his relationship with Pen — though much darker and violent — is, in part, inspired by the back and forth joking and weirdly-close relationship me and my sister have. Neither of us have tried to kill the other one, though. Yet.
I love that Pen quotes poems. With the amount of poems that exist, was there a specific way you used to search for a poem that fits the current scene?
I actually read a lot of poetry, so I didn’t have to search out poems to match up to certain scenes. Since I had a pretty good idea how the series would unfold, if I came across a poem I really liked (or that reminded me of Pen/Michael/Azael/etc), I would just flag it and come back to it later. All of the poems in the series are poems I have read and loved immensely and wanted to incorporate into the story!
Did you try to traditionally publish Ignite? Or did you always know you want to self publish?
Very briefly, I entertained the idea of traditionally publishing Ignite. I actually queried for it for a few weeks, and got decent responses, but most agents’ catalogs were too similar. Thanks to talking a lot with my other writing buddies (*cough cough* KELLIE SHERIDAN *cough cough*) I saw all that I could do with self-publishing the series. I just wanted to make sure that when I put out the series, it was done right; once I was sure I was able to do that, I pulled the trigger, and about a month later Ignite was out in the world and I was terrified. I’m so glad I made that decision, and I wouldn’t change it for the world! It gives me so much more control over the story and its publishing. (There’s no way Infinite would have been released so soon after Engage if I had went traditional! It might have taken another year!)
I (along with many other people) used to think that self published books aren’t good enough. Recently though, indie publishing started to become really popular and many authors who had traditionally published in the past are going indie. Since then I’ve read a lot of self published books and I’m glad that I straightened my misconception! Do you have any advice for those who want to take the same route as you?
OH MAN I have so much advice, but I’ll try to keep it short. First is to know your market and read as much as you can in your genre. Know what readers expect, what they like/don’t like, and how to incorporate that information into your own work. Understand trends and marketing and really, genuinely connect with readers online. (Just be a nice person; you’ll be shocked how far it gets you!) And then, of course, be honest with yourself. Look at your work as objectively as possible and know that there are times you will have to say “This is not ready to be published.” Indie authors have no gatekeepers, so we have to act as our own. Filter your work and make sure that what you’re publishing is in the best possible shape it can be! Get a team around you to help make it as professional as possible: cover designers, editors… It might cost something up front, but it is more than worth it when you publish a product that is up to the quality of traditionally published books. When you’re there, readers won’t care how you published; they might not even know! Last piece of advice: keep writing.
And that concludes my part for the tour!
so what do you think of my first interview? did I write good enough questions? do you have any tips? share your thoughts 🙂