About Author

Ellen L. Ekstrom

Ellen L. Ekstrom

Ellen L. Ekstrom is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and was educated locally. She holds a bachelor's degree in theological studies and her area of concentration is Christian Mythos, also known as church history, with a sub-specialty in Christian Social Ethics, for both of which she took honors.

A clergywoman in the Episcopal Church, Ellen was ordained to the vocational diaconate in 2002 and is now retired from parish ministry, although she continues to be active in social justice issues and pastoral care.

Ellen has been fascinated by all things medieval since childhood and is now studying Late Anglo-Saxon England in preparation for two forthcoming novels, Swannsaeld, and The Sometime Queen. She is also working on the prequel to "Armor of Light" and "Ascalon," "George of Grasmere."

The genres Ellen prefers to work in are fantasy/historical: her first novel was The Legacy, a tale of fourteenth-century Florence and Tuscany, followed by her retelling of the St. George and the Dragon legend, Armor of Light, and St. Edmund Wood, a story of Victorian England. Once in a while, she delves into matters of the modern heart, as evidenced by her novels in the Midwinter Sonata series and What She Wished For… a Cautionary Tale. Just as a painter has many subjects to bring to a canvas, Ellen believes that there are many stories to tell and to limit oneself to a niche isn’t the way she lives and thinks.

Want to know more about Whyte Rose & Violet, Scribes? Go to ww.whyteroseandviolet.net.

Ellen L. Ekstrom's Books

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$6.99 kindle Free with KUeBook,
George of Grasmere: Part One - The Oathby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Apr 22, 2024Series: The Ascalon Saga, Book 1Action & Adventure Historical Romance Historical Fiction Fantasy
Scarborough: Quinn's Story
$3.99 kindleeBook,
Scarborough: Quinn's Storyby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Dec 12, 2014
The Legacy
$3.99 kindleeBook,
The Legacyby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Dec 28, 2015
Tallis' Third Tune (Midwinter Sonata, Book 1)
$3.99 kindle Free with KUeBook,
Tallis' Third Tune (Midwinter Sonata, Book 1)by Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Apr 22, 2014Literary Fiction
What She Wished For...: a Cautionary Tale
$3.99 kindleeBook,
What She Wished For...: a Cautionary Taleby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Dec 14, 2015
St. Edmund Wood: A Cheshire Tale
$3.99 kindleeBook,
St. Edmund Wood: A Cheshire Taleby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: May 02, 2016
$3.99 kindle Free with KUeBook,
Ascalonby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Aug 21, 2018Fantasy
$3.24 kindle Free with KUeBook,
Armor of Lightby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Aug 03, 2014Fantasy
The Shop Girl of Flowergate
$2.55 kindle Free with KUeBook,
The Shop Girl of Flowergateby Ellen L. EkstromPublish: Apr 04, 2017Fantasy

Ellen L. Ekstrom's Series in Order

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  • The Ascalon Saga, Book 1

    1 George of Grasmere: Part One - The Oath - Published on Apr, 2024

Ellen L. Ekstrom Interview On 07, Mar 2024

"Ellen L. Ekstrom, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, is a distinguished author with a profound educational background. Her passion for medieval history since childhood is evident in her current focus on studying Late Anglo-Saxon England, preparing for her upcoming novels, "Swannsaeld" and "The Sometime Queen." Ellen's literary canvas spans across various subjects, reflecting her belief that storytelling should be as diverse and rich as life itself."
Can you share more about your educational background and how it has influenced your writing, particularly in the area of theological studies and Christian Mythos?

I started as a classical music major with concentration in orchestral and vocal disciplines. The music theory requirements put a damper on the degree—it wasn’t that I couldn’t pass the courses; they killed my interest in music for a while. I’ve never had that problem with history and religion. I’ve always been drawn to them, particularly Christian Mythos, or church history. How people lived and worked, and how we got from there to now is fascinating, especially medieval history. The church was the central part of Western European life for several hundred years and how it shaped our societies, mores, and politics, fascinates me.

As a clergywoman in the Episcopal Church, how has your experience in parish ministry shaped your perspective on social justice issues and pastoral care, and how does this influence your writing?

I sat in the pews for many years and during that time I engaged in ministry to the people living on the edge of society: those without a place to live, women in abusive relationships, i.e., domestic violence, the sick and hungry. God was nudging me towards ordination and the question I received time and again by my vocations committee was “What would you do as a deacon that you’re not already doing now?” My response was to lead, to be the face of the church out in the world, and to instruct others entering ministry by words and deeds inspired by God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. My writing has been inspired by my faith and the ministry given to me by Christ. I attempt to show as authentic as I can how faith is a part of life and how often we struggle with it. I’m semi-retired from ministry now – parish ministry to be exact – but I am busy with social justice issues every day. I desire to return to parish work after I retire from the law firm this June.

As someone who believes in the diversity of stories, how do you navigate between different genres?

That’s easy—at least for me. When I get bored with one genre, or get stuck on a plot or arc, I do something different, or if something in life inspires a story. It’s a great way for me to look at something fresh again.

Can you provide insights into the themes of your novels, particularly those in the fantasy/historical genre?

The epic stories of the Greek poets, the Bible, and the epic poetry of the early middle ages are my inspirations. Because there are only seven original plots (some say five), I take what I need and spin it into something of my own. As a girl, I used to check out the Andrew Lang fairy tale books from our local library and read them cover to cover. The stories of the hero vanquishing evil were the strongest draws. The heroes who are flawed and make mistakes, their nobility and goodness hard won are books that I read again and again, and those are stories I like to write.

What inspired your fascination with all things medieval, and how did this childhood interest evolve into the focus on Late Anglo-Saxon England for your upcoming novels, "Swannsaeld" and "The Sometime Queen"?

Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and Ingrid Berman’s “Joan of Arc.” From there it was all things medieval. I’ve read other areas of history, but the medieval period is what I love, and it’s a wide range – 1000-1485. I’ve been asked why I don’t write about the Tudors. They’ve been written about a thousand times a thousand. Someone else can put a new spin on Anne Boleyn. My interest and focus on Late Anglo-Saxon England come from research I was engaged in for “George of Grasmere,” my upcoming novel. I found paragraphs about Harold Godwinsson, later Harold II of England and his long-time love, Edyth Swannsaels, or Swanneck, in a book about medieval England and I kept reading. Women in Anglo Saxon England had a small amount of autonomy once widowed and my story tells Edyth’s story as a young widow who is married More Danico to Harold, which was a legitimate marriage at the time, though the church didn’t recognize it; Edyth was thought of as Harold’s concubine or mistress and could be put aside for a more politically expedient marriage, which happened. Harold had a rough time of it as King. Harold II marched an army from York to London in a matter of days after a battle against Harald Hardrada, a formidable opponent, which Harold II won, and then met William of Normandy on Senlac Ridge, or Hastings, as we know it. Edyth was commanded by William to identify Harold’s body after the battle. It’s the stuff of legends. It’s also an area of history that hasn’t been saturated with novels. “Swannsaeld” is told from Edyth’s point of view from her first meeting with Harold to the night of his death. Edyth is almost a mythical figure in history, but you can find her mentioned in the Domesday Book. She was one of the wealthiest women in England of her day. “The Sometime Queen” deals with after the battle of Hastings and my version of what happened to her afterwards. No one really knows what her fate was.

Your novels span different historical periods, from fourteenth-century Florence to Victorian England. What draws you to these specific time periods?

It’s always something I’ve read that inspires my stories and draws me into the time periods. Fourteenth Century Florence was a fascinating place before the Medici took power. The town of Florence was run by the wool trade and banking and there were families at war with one another due to their respective loyalties, either to the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor. My protagonist Francesco da Romena is based in fiction, but his family was active during this period and is mentioned by Dante Alighieri. My story about Victorian England, “St, Edmund Wood” is an homage to my favorite English novelists, Thomas Hardy and the Brontës.

"Armor of Light" is a retelling of the St. George and the Dragon legend. What inspired you to revisit this classic tale, and how did you bring your unique perspective to the narrative?

“Armor of Light” came from a dark period in my life when we were dealing with a family crisis and I was having a crisis of faith. I glanced down at the religious medals I always wear – St. George and St. Joan – and while sitting in the ICU I thought of how these two people faced adversity and got through it. We know how Joan’s story ended, but as George of Cappadocia is mythical and may not have been a real person, the story I made of his hagiography handed down to us, especially Spencer’s “The Faery Queene” and “The Golden Legend,” is that of a war-weary knight returning home to England from Byzantium after witnessing the fall of Constantinople and being compelled to take up a quest to save his family. George has a crisis of faith which he battles along with the dark forces in his life. Are the demons and serpents real, or are they a manifestation of his time in the Holy Land and Byzantium? “Armor of Light” was supposed to be one book, but my readers wanted to know why George was the way he was, so I wrote “Ascalon” to finish the story, and now I’m finishing the origin story, “George of Grasmere that tells of his time in Byzantium and Jerusalem, alluded to in the first book.

In addition to historical fiction, you've explored matters of the modern heart in novels like "What She Wished For… a Cautionary Tale." How do you approach storytelling when shifting between historical and contemporary settings?

Writers are supposed to write what they know, so a burned-out legal secretary who’s a mother and wife raising three children while trying to finish a history degree is something that I’ve experienced. I live in Berkeley, California, and I work in San Francisco’s Financial District. The story is set in 1995, which I supposed could be considered historical fiction now! Everything else in “What She Wished For…” is fiction. Would I have liked to meet my high school rock star crush? Definitely. Whether he’d fall in love with me is another issue. I had fun writing it. My approach to modern stories is a ‘stream-of-consciousness’ journey. I merely write what’s floating around in my head. My story “Tallis’ Third Tune” was written like that and it went through three drafts – the fewest I’ve ever gone through with a book. The story comes from a meeting with a friend after many years apart and the question, “What if?” It’s companion novel, “Scarborough” was written in the same way, but from the boy’s point of view. Because it's modern, it’s easier to write. I’m actually thinking about writing a police procedural using my life experiences. Still in the embryonic phase. I’ve got a title!

Your involvement in social justice issues is evident in your life and writing. How do you weave themes of social justice into your fantasy/historical novels?

Someone in my stories aspires to and sometimes succeeds in living out Christ’s gospel to love one another as He loves us, and his instruction from Matthew 25:34-40, e.g., they feed the hungry, cloth them, welcome them, and give comfort. Oftentimes they fail, but get back on their feet and try again.

How does your background in theology and church history inform your character development, especially in creating protagonists and antagonists with moral and ethical dilemmas?

I try my best to make the characters flawed with a chance for growth. They are not epic heroes without blemish or sin. They learn from adversity and suffer from their faults. Eventually they come out the other side of their trials better people.

Can you share a bit about your writing routine and habits? How do you balance your time between writing, research, and other activities?

I write for an hour before I get ready for work, write on the commute, write after dinner. The weekends are for research, writing, and marketing. My children are grown and not sitting on my lap as I write like twenty, thirty years ago. My routine is to do what I feel needs to be done at the time. Writer’s block is a real thing born of stress and fatigue from the work as a legal secretary. I may go days without writing or editing, burying myself in research instead. If I can’t write, I read, if I don’t feel like reading, I binge-watch a police procedural and knit. I’ve knit quite a few blankets, shawls and caps, by the way, and I’ve seen every episode of “Law & Order SVU” and “The Chosen.”

What advice do you have for aspiring authors, especially those who are interested in exploring multiple genres and historical periods in their writing?

Just write. Don’t take classes or read books on how to write. If you have the gift, it will come to the surface. Taking classes and reading books on how to write will only have you writing like the instructor. Find your own voice. Write stories you want to tell. “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “It Ends With Us” have already been written. Introduce the reading public to work that will surprise and delight, make them think. I’m one of the authors who isn’t in it for the money, and if you don’t believe me, I’ll show you my 1099 for last year’s sales – less than $40.00 in royalties. I write because I always have and have done so since I used a newsprint tablet and big green pencil when I was five. If you’re writing historical fiction, read your dialogue out loud. If it sounds like a CW network TV show with anachronistic speech patterns spoken by actors in pretty costumes, or makes you cringe, toss it. I’m pretty sure teenagers in medieval France didn’t say ‘Whatever’ when they were perturbed. Of course, if what you want is a parody, by all means write it. But make sure your readers know that. Do your homework for historical fiction. Yes, it’s fiction, but your characters were real people in history. Find out as much as you can about them. Readers need to know what you’re writing and believe your characters are real, thinking “I bet that’s what they were like in real life!” If you make it clear, there are no assumptions about the genres and historical periods.

How do you envision the role of spirituality or religious themes in your future works?

There will always be some spirituality or religious component to my work. They are my hallmarks now. There’s one character that’s always in my stories. Guess which one it is?

Looking ahead, are there specific historical periods or themes you're eager to explore in your writing that you haven't delved into yet?

Women taking the cross and going on crusade. I also have a prose version of “Romeo & Juliet” in the works based on the original sources that Shakespeare used for his play.

What has your AllAuthor experience been like so far? What are some highlights?

I hate marketing, but I love AllAuthor! You’ve been supportive, encouraging, and thanks to you my sales are picking up. I really enjoyed “The Shopgirl of Flowergate” making it into the top ten covers in last October’s book cover competition. That garnered sales. People wanted to read the book after they saw the cover. The weekly posts and artwork for marketing are great. I’ve always said I couldn’t afford a marketing team, but I’ve found one in AllAuthor.

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