Sci-fi Fantasy Author Elizabeth Fountain Chats with Literarily Speaking
Elizabeth Fountain left a demanding job as a university administrator in Seattle to move to the small town of Ellensburg, Washington, and pursue her dream of writing novels. She started writing in grade school; fortunately, most of her tortured high school poetry and song lyrics are lost to posterity. Her first book was five years in the making, and offered lots of opportunities to give up along the way; that might be why it’s a tale of people, aliens, and dogs who face the impossible, and do it anyway. An independent publishing house in Calgary, Champagne Book Group, released the novel in April. Now Liz has three more novels in progress. She takes breaks from writing to teach university courses, spend time with family and friends, and take long walks while leaning into the diabolical Kittitas valley wind. She holds degrees in philosophy, psychology, and leadership, which contribute to a gently humorous view of humanity well suited to tales of aliens and angels, love and death, friendship and dogs. Liz strives to live according to a line from British singer-songwriter Chris Rea: “Every day, good luck comes in the strangest of ways.”
Her latest book is An Alien’s Guide to World Domination.
Visit her blog at www.lizfountain.wordpress.com or become her friend at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethFountainAuthor.
About the Book:
Louise Armstrong Holliday is the last person on Earth you’d expect to save the human race. But when she uncovers proof that her boss is an alien the color of lime jelly gone horribly wrong, and is at the center of a plot to destroy humanity, Louie decides to do exactly that. She begins a journey from her company’s suburban Seattle office park to the old cities and castles of Eastern Europe. Along the way, Louie is attacked by flying books, overly-sensitive bat-crow monsters, and her own self-doubts. She must learn the truth about her closest friend, stand up to her boss, confront her oldest enemy, and make peace with her Aunt Emma, who annoys her in the way only true family can. She also has to rely on Buddy, the little blind mini-Schnauzer who saves her life twice – and really is from Mars.
Purchase your copy at AMAZON.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Liz! Can you tell us where you are from?
I live in Ellensburg, a small town in the center of Washington state, and the heart of the beautiful and diabolically windy Kittitas Valley. I grew up in nearby towns of Yakima and Wenatchee, and lived in Seattle for over 25 years before moving here a year and a half ago.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
I didn’t! I sent several suggestions for titles to my publisher, who (rightfully) rejected them all. The publisher and editing team came up with An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, and when they sent it to me, I laughed out loud. I thought that was a good sign for a book I hope will make readers giggle.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
Petra K., one of the in-house graphic artists at Champagne Book Group, designed the cover. She’s incredibly talented, and her artwork captured the goofy charm of the story. I am not sure, but I like to think she put a little furry dog at the helm of the flying saucer. Look really closely. Do you see it there, too?
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
Have you ever looked at your boss and thought, “you must be from another planet”? If you’re nodding “yes!” this book is for you. Go read it, right now.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
I really thought about this before my book launch celebration in Ellensburg. Over one hundred people came, and I stood up in front of them to read something from the book. I wanted to share its “Important Themes.” Every novel has them, right? I scratched my head, hemmed and hawed, and finally realized the most important phrase in the book: “But you tried, anyway.” That’s the heart of this story: it’s about people who look the impossible straight in the eye, and do it anyway. Save the world from stupid but brutal aliens? Find a long-lost sister? Escape exile and return home? All impossible tasks, but these characters accomplish them, by helping and loving each other. (And by trusting the dog, of course!)
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
That’s a tough question; each part of this book spent time as my favorite. Maybe it was the epilogue. I’d finished the manuscript, and hired a professional editor to help me prepare it for submission to publishers. She made a suggestion about “closing the loop,” to help readers discover what happens to the main characters as the story comes to an end. So one afternoon, I sat down and wrote little “where are they now” pieces for each main character, including the dog. It felt so satisfying to bring closure to the stories of the humans, aliens, and the dog I’d grown to love. (And maybe, just maybe, set up a sequel…)
Oh, and I really liked writing the battle scene in the old castle, with the monsters that moan, or do they wail? Ancient monsters, alien mercenaries, mobsters, goons, and Kalashnikov rifles, all in one scene! How fun is that?
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
This story circled around in my head for a long, long time. I started writing it seriously in 2008, after a conversation with a friend triggered a dream that became a central scene in the book. I had planned to write a serious, realistic book about a woman who works too much, but it wasn’t going well. My writing was boring even me. Then in the dream, I realized the characters needed to be in a world like ours, but different – one where aliens are real, and the crazy things you imagine happening around you are more than your imagination. After that, the plot came together easily, and the humor of the story flowed out: a boss who alien form is the color of lime Jell-O gone horribly wrong, bat-bird monster reconnaissance scouts who are a touch oversensitive, and a blind dog who really is from Mars.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
Does it have to be deep and dark? Yikes! Okay, here goes. Like Louise, the main character in An Alien’s Guide, I’m a vegetarian. But I’m a vegetarian with a secret craving for bacon. There’s something about the smell of it cooking, about the way its crispy smoky saltiness combines with fluffy warm pancakes and sweet syrup… um, what were you asking? Oh, right. I don’t eat bacon, but deep down, I long for it.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Anywhere in this world? (Remember, I write science fiction. I’m always thinking about other worlds…) It probably sounds dorky, but I’ve always wanted to take the train that goes across Canada, from Vancouver to Montreal. I love the romance of riding a train, and the idea of an old-fashioned escape appeals to me. You can read, stop and spend a day or two in Banff or Toronto, and truly relax. No stress of driving, no cattle-like experience of flying. Plus Canadians are so polite, eh?
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
My favorite time of day is just after dawn. I love to be woken by the sunlight coming through the window, and snuggle with my fella, enjoying the sweet blurry moments before the day’s responsibilities and tasks crash back into my consciousness.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
My mom is a pretty good poet, in fact. So is her husband. They belong to a poetry group and read out loud fairly often, and they’ve both gained reputations as tough poetry slam competitors.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
Oh, yes. I always had my nose in a book, imagining living in the world it described. I’ve probably spent more hours lost in daydreaming than almost anything else, except maybe listening to baseball on the radio, or sleeping. Maybe.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
When I’m at a restaurant and the waiter or waitress asks “do you need anything?” I always answer, “yes, world peace and an end to conflict between the world’s religions, please?” Most of the time the poor wait person pretends to find it as funny as I do. I also really like the prayer my yoga teacher says at the end of each class: May all beings know peace, may all beings be free of suffering. (Does that count as one or two wishes?)
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you! I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about this book; at heart, I’m a reader who wants to be carried away by terrific storytelling, and I hope An Alien’s Guide to World Domination gives that gift to its readers, too.