Vision, Clairvoyance, and Soul Herder: Beth Elisa Harris Interview

Soul Herder, by Beth Elisa Harris

Soul Herder, by Beth Elisa Harris

I’m thrilled to have author Beth Elisa Harris joining us today. Her fiction blends fantasy with humor and subtle themes of the human condition. She started writing fiction at an early age, with later detours working as a business writer and editor. Her paranormal  novel, Vision, is an international bestseller, receiving recognition and rave reviews from readers worldwide.

AR: Soul Herder is the second book of a trilogy. Without giving anything away, give us the set up from book one.

BE: Layla Stone is a seventeen year old headed from Portland to Cambridge, England to attend college. She possess extremely strong clairvoyant skills that have given her recurring nightmares most of her life. She thinks she is compelled to leave to break the isolation in her life, but discovers she’s pulled to the UK for bigger reasons. There are secrets buried on a Scottish island where she meets a woman who changes her life, and helps reveal a strange, dark past. Layla thinks she’s unique and distant from her mom, but they are more alike then she knows. Book one deals with discovery, and sets the path for the other two books.

AR: Imagine that Layla has materialized somehow in the middle of a Roman coliseum. Can you write a brief scene to show us something about her character?

BE: Stuart must have whisked me here. We generally don’t end up in a different part of the world when he swishes me from danger, and I don’t recall events leading up to this point. But I can’t complain. Visiting Italy and touring the coliseum is on my long bucket lists of travel destinations, and there is so much to see. The only problem is I seem to be alone. I rely on my well-traveled, worldly Guardian boyfriend for tours and language barriers, but he must have wandered off. I may be dreaming—it wouldn’t be the first time my dreams are as real as life. Time passes slowly while I wait to wake up, or wait for Stuart, or wait for any sign to show me why I’m in Rome. In the meantime, I stroll around admiring the historical significance and architecture, imagining the events once held within the magnificent, circular structure. I close my eyes and focus, because when I do, I am able to see exactly what really happened, as if it was the present.

AR: What does Layla yearn for?

BE: Well, it depends on what phase of her life she is in. They are different in the three books. Organically, she wants to study literature, travel, and experience the world once she finishes college. Her initial goals are clear and fairly simple. She does get to see the world sooner than expected, but on very different terms. Layla moves from an isolated loner to somewhat of a warrior confronting danger. The adjustment in her thinking occurs as she experiences more and more life-altering events.

AR: Tell us about the story’s antagonist.

BE: Layla is extremely smart and a bit lonely. Her parents are good people but have basically left her on her own most of her life due to circumstances I can’t reveal without giving away the story. Her decision to attend college in England is a way for her to escape and expand her education—or so she thinks. There is a part of Layla that thinks she knows a lot because she can read minds, so she knows who to trust, who to avoid, and thinks her brains and ability makes her self-sufficient. What she learns is, she needs people more than she knew and there is much more to her life and family then she could possibly imagine. If you take the clairvoyance away, we can all relate to loneliness, needing others, and discovering our roots.

AR: How did you go about figuring out the plot line for the trilogy? Was it all done in advance, or are you creating it as you go along?

BE: Both. I had most of the premise and story in my head, and have also allowed it to evolve while writing. VISION went through several iterations because it was my first book and I was experimenting and anticipating how the trilogy would play out. Once I had that down, the other two books have just spilled out. I didn’t sit down and say, “I’m going to write a trilogy because it’s trendy.” It was more a matter of needing three books to tell the story.

AR: What kind of research did you do to write the book? Did you study Scotland and clairvoyance?

BE: About ten years ago we discovered some rich family history from the Scottish island of Colonsay, one of the primary locations in the book. The clairvoyance is just stretching the idea of our sixth sense like a rubber band. I started thinking about what could play out if someone had senses that strong, and would bad people attempt to exploit their abilities. So, it started with actual history, with actual clan names. My family is MacPhie descendents. Layla’s soul belonged to Sarah MacPhie.

AR: What do you think drew you to write a story about eternal love, forgiveness, and the human connection?

BE: All relatable subjects for me and always threaded in my stories. I am obsessed with the idea of living longer than we are given, not in any afterlife, but here on earth, in the tangible. I believe love and forgiveness transforms people, and this is what really changes Layla, even with all the other crazy stuff going on. It is her connection with people and forgiving that sets her free and opens her eyes.

AR: What has helped you the most to develop as a writer?

BE: Writing, and probably reading. Reading was a writer is different than just reading. As an author, you start to analyze as you read. I think authors give other authors permission to go to places they may not have considered, or have been brave enough to explore. Sometimes I’ll read something and think, “Oh, we can do that? We can say things that way?” or “That’s a great way to handle a fragile subject matter without crossing a line” or “Cool! That writer went to a place I would have otherwise thought was forbidden.” Reading liberates thinking, so I would ultimately say fearlessness has helped me the most.

AR: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

BE: Put the time in. Even though I recently published, I have been honing my skills for a very long time. I always refer to the book OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell where he proves successful people spend ten-thousand hour perfecting their craft—approximately 10 years. Also, if you decide to publish, be prepared to work at the business of writing. Writing is not all about rainy days and coffee shops and book signings. It’s real work and some expense. If you write for fun, great! If you plan to write for profit, learn the business side. It never ends.

AR: What’s ahead for you?

BE: After the SOUL HERDER launch May 1, the PR will continue while writing the final VISION novel WRITTEN IN TIME. I look forward to working on some of the other projects and concepts I have on the burner that are NOT series!

AR: Thanks so much for joining us! Please come back when WRITTEN IN TIME is released! Meanwhile, readers can follow you at the links below!

Purchase Beth Elisa’s books on Amazon

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Beth Elisa Harris, Author of Soul Herder

Beth Elisa Harris, Author of Soul Herder

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  1. By What’s Happening Now « bethelisaharris on May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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