Listening In is a series of author interviews, featuring authors whose works have been transformed into audiobooks! We’re featuring Erin Bledsoe, author of the historical fiction novel The Forty Elephants, narrated by Hannah Curtis.
Erin Bledsoe was told in sixth grade that her essay on Marie Antoinette showed promise, fuelling her dream to write about historical women. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring nature, collecting journals, or rolling dice at a table with friends playing Dungeons & Dragons. She lives with her husband and children in Michigan. The Forty Elephants is her first novel.
Please tell us more about The Forty Elephants! Why should we listen to it?
The Forty Elephants is about London’s first all-female gang that specialized in organized shoplifting. But more specifically, the story follows Alice Diamond, their infamous leader. You’ll journey with her from London’s dark, gritty streets to the bright lights of the West End. There’s violence, a pinch of romance, but most importantly, the historical fight women faced for power in a man’s world.
Did it make writing your story easier or more difficult taking inspiration from the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants?
Certainly easier. I was fascinated with her initially, but researching fuelled my desire to explore her story more. I think there’s such a vast collection of important women, hidden in history, waiting to be discovered. Most of those women tend to have made history in more honest ways, of course, but I think there is real excitement in the dangerous women, too.
Could you please tell us about your career as an author. What first drew you to writing?
I’ve always wanted to write, but like any craft, it takes time and work. I learn new things daily about how to create a great story, and I’m genuinely thrilled when other authors or editors enlighten me with new tools and ideas.
We’d love to hear about your writing process. Please elaborate!
I outline like crazy and build off that, but a strange thing I’ve learned over the years is that I write better in chaos. A quiet bookstore or café has never worked for me.
What drew you to Contemporary Women and Historical Fiction? When did you know these were the genres you wanted to write?
I’ve always known women are incredible! Getting to write about them felt like this unattainable dream. Not to mention, historical fiction is intimidating. It’s one of the most beautiful genres and requires so much time and dedication. I genuinely get butterflies seeing my book anywhere near some of my favorite historical fiction authors.
Where is your favourite place to write?
A busy restaurant! Something about the noise and chaos of life around me helps me put words to the page.
Describe your writing style in five words or less.
A chaotic mess that works.
Any advice for emerging writers?
Writing is revising. It hurts, oh, it hurts. Sometimes it takes a few drafts to find the right draft, and each draft is usually better than the next. Just keep fighting the good fight. Someone is going to love your book!
What do you do when you experience writer’s block or reader’s block?
I play D&D with my friends and family. It allows me to explore other words as new characters. Typically a week or two of playing a few sessions, my inspiration kicks back in!
What has been the most exciting part of having your novel transformed into an audiobook?
Honestly, hearing it? That sounds odd, I know, but the narrator, Hannah Curtis, is incredible. She really brings all the characters to life in unique ways.
Please recommend an audiobook you absolutely adored!
What are you reading (or listening to) right now?
I’m on a fantasy kick with HBO’s new Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon. Currently working my way through the series!