Elle Mott Interview Published on: 25, Jul 2019

Where have you spent most of your childhood? Since how long have you been living in Northern Kentucky?

I’ve called Northern Kentucky my home since May 2013 and have lived several other places since my childhood in northwest Oregon.

What challenges did you face while publishing your debut memoir? How would you describe your experience with Boyle & Dalton Publishers?

Ironically, my biggest challenge when ready to seek publication came from other authors in my closest writing circles—my closest peers. It was as if publishing was black-and-white. I knew it wasn’t. While writing my memoir, I followed industry leaders and accomplished authors for more than a year, reading their blogs, partaking in webinars and showing up to conferences. I asked questions by email, over the phone, and in person. This led me to an informed publishing decision. It comes down to the fact that each author is an individual who, if they want to be successful, must choose a way of publishing that is a good fit for their own needs rather than succumbing to their peers’ wants.

My experience in publishing with Boyle and Dalton Publishers has been sweet. (Note, I said “with” and not “by”— one of many variables in the publishing world.) Collaboration in our publishing relationship, their strength in the many levels of editing, and their know-how in technology where I am weak was great. I detail my publishing challenges and experience in a past post, “Choosing Your Publisher” (Jan. 7, 2018) on my blog at (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/2018/01/07/choosing-your-publisher/)

What inspired you to start writing about homelessness, recovery, activism, and spirituality and humanitarianism?

My author tag line is “Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.” Drawn from personal experience, I write about homelessness, recovery, activism, and spirituality and humanitarianism in my memoir based essays. It is what I know. I write to encourage others to overcome their own difficulties through action and empowerment, which will create a better life. More so, we can come together, focused on life, to create a better community. More about this is found on the Publications Page under the About section on my website at (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/publications-elle-motts-published-work).

How did you begin working as a page with The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County?

I started in the materials processing department with my current employer, the public library in downtown Cincinnati back in the summer of 2013. In that job, I helped unpack boxes of brand new books—most boxes held a dozen or more books and oh how I miss the fresh smell when first cracking open a box of new books! This is the first good job I think I ever had, although only part-time in the beginning.

Simply put, the American economy had hit me hard as the recession lingered when I graduated from college in 2010. Grunt job after grunt job—from dishwashing to pulling nails out of pallets outside in the snow—I kept trying for better jobs. Following relocation, I immediately launched yet another serious job hunt, which put me here at the library. During my off-hours, I helped other departments which led to my current full-time paging position in the materials retrieval department. In this role, I’m all over the library, two city blocks wide, on public floors and in places between walls and floors; all in search of books and other items for our patrons.

What inspired you to start writing, Out of Chaos?

During my last round of homelessness (in 2011-2012), I became especially inspired to write my book, which later became “Out of Chaos: A Memoir.” I felt I had to share my story if only to encourage others to not give up when faced with life’s intolerable challenges. Homeless, I couldn’t afford toiletries, let alone a writing journal. Rather, for more than a year, I carried around a book, “Writing Life Stories” (Bill Roorbach, c. 2000). I’d dog-ear pages as I read and re-read it, writing notes throughout, ever envisioning and learning from the author of how to make my dream come true. It was only when I emerged from homelessness that I could begin the actual writing process. Today, I own my home with no mortgage and enjoy warm evenings on my front porch as I continue writing personal essays.

What is Community Service Leader of the Year award for? What was your reaction on winning it in the year 2017?

In December 2017, I was awarded, “Community Service Leader of the Year” from Tri-State Freethinkers. This non-profit organization is based here in Northern Kentucky yet is known nationally for its activism to keep church and state issues separate. This group, of which I am a member, is also heavily involved in volunteering efforts at the greater local level. My commitment in helping at soup kitchens, clothing and food banks, and women’s shelters, as well as encouraging others to also volunteer is their reason for thanking me with this award. I was taken aback. I wasn’t looking to be thanked. Rather, it was my way to thank others for all I had received. I used to be on the receiving end. Today, I’m on the giving end, talking with those who are experiencing hardships while giving them a helping hand. Under the About section on my website is a Memberships Page where I tell more about this and other community involvement. (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/memberships-elle-motts-professional-and-community-memberships).

How did you come up with the title, "Out of Chaos?" What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

“Out of Chaos” was a last minute choice for a title, literally. My story lived through many rough drafts under a much different title. Only after the editing and revisions were completed, did I realize I didn’t like my working title. I informed my publisher and it sat nameless for a few days while we brainstormed. Just one day before its release date, it got its title. Chaos is a succinct portrayal of what life used to be like for me, but no longer is, hence, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir.”

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

My writing work schedule is one of those that I fit in anywhere and everywhere that I can, for life can be hectic. I work full-time in a real job yet also write full-time for real meaning in life. It is only normal for my coworkers to see me head off to lunch break with my book bag and writing journal in hand. Commuting to and from work for me involves a good while on the city bus with time spent in my writing and reading. With our electronic age today, for those who prefer to drive, you can drive and record yourself telling a story and then later digitally transcribe your story. When in an especially long shopping line, I pull out my journal and pen and write. It’s all about getting creative, not just with words—get creative with words, time, and space.

How was your journey out of chaos? What it feels like to be living life as a stable, hardworking, independent woman?

My journey out of chaos was challenging. Sometimes I didn’t understand how I could survive. That left me emotionally downtrodden, yet I persevered through action steps. Today, I often shake my head in gratitude that I did survive. A reader recently reviewed my book by saying that I’ve lived nine lives. I agree; perhaps that is why my life out of chaos feels weird, but in a good way kind of weird. More of this reader’s review is on my website at (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/reviews-of-out-of-chaos/)

If you could travel through space and time, where and/or to which time period would you go?

If only I could, I’d travel to Lebanon, Oregon in October 1950 for the annual awards dinner with their local chapter of the Business Professional Women’s Foundation. That was the year my maternal great-grandmother was honored as Woman of the Year. She was my nana and the woman who I strived to live up to when a child. During my years of chaos, I looked to my memory of her in hopes to find guidance of how to come out of chaos. I would like to have been there and then for her proud moment. For lack of going back in time, I have a Dedications Page set up on my website in which I show a picture of her receiving this award. (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/)

What is the toughest criticism you've ever received as an author and how did you take it? What about the best compliment you've ever received?

Criticism? That’s a tough one—my ultimate goal is to connect with my readers, so I’m always appreciative of feedback from those in my writing circles. My toughest times of criticism were likely when getting my book ready for readers. My developmental editor was not at all shy when he saw room for improvement in my manuscript. When my copy editor took over, it was another round of collaboration to make my book reader-friendly. Like with my first editor, I appreciated her feedback and grammar-check.

If you had an apprentice and only one more minute before you died, what are some words of wisdom you would bestow upon them?

I believe the strongest words of wisdom I can bestow on a writer is to write only what you want the world to see. For writers, there is no “take-back.” Even our unpublished works are open to scrutiny and reflection.

Having your writings published in literary journals, a national news magazine, and in anthologies local to greater Cincinnati, Ohio, what are your top five writing and marketing tips?

One writing tip I’d share is that while you can self-edit all you want, never-ever limit yourself to self-editing. Simply having an author friend go over my essay before I submit it to a journal can and does make the difference. Other writing tips are to cut filler words, and to write from your heart, even when writing fiction, as well as to write for others, such as your readers (but) be true to yourself in sharing your true and fictional stories. For marketing purposes, always-always carry business cards and if possible, post cards and small flyers that introduce you as a writer. Countless times, I have engaged in a conversation with someone when “the topic” comes up and I reach for my card and hand it to them. One important marketing tip is to remain engaged with your readers--don’t write, run, and hide.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently dabbling in personal essays, occasionally submitting to literary journals and the like. My big current WIP (work-in-progress) is for my next book, a biography of my maternal great-grandmother (1904-1987) who I knew as Nana and who was an interwoven character in my first book. Even after she died, I was ever trying to live up to her expectations. She was a remarkable woman in any community she lived. Again, you can read more about her on my website at (http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/)

Lastly, what are your thoughts and opinions on AllAuthor and its services?

I was first introduced to your services at All Author when I complimented a fellow author in an online site for her mock-up book banner. She credited you and within a few days I was on-board and am happy. Where to start in the kudos? The site is user-friendly when it comes to marketing tools. There are real people behind the scenes of this place. Some marketing places are out to make money and nothing but. By connecting to people as All Author does, well, that is a step above and beyond which keeps me on-board. Thanks!

Share Elle Mott's interview