Author Interview: Ellie James

Ellie James is the author of the Midnight Dragonfly series. The second book, Broken Illusions was released May 8, 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin.

It's almost Mardi Gras, but for 16 year-old psychic Trinity Monsour this is no time for celebration. Another girl is missing. Tormented by visions she doesn't understand—of an empty street lined by crumbling old buildings, a terrified voice warning her to be careful, and a body lying motionless in the grass, Trinity embarks upon a dark odyssey she could never have imagined. She'll stop at nothing to better understand her abilities, convinced that doing so is the only way she can make sure the terrifying images she sees never actually happen. But it seems everyone wants to stop her. Her aunt is worried Trinity might discover secrets best left in the past. Her best friend, Victoria, is afraid Trinity is slipping away, her boyfriend, Chase, fears she's taking too many chances, and the lead detective will barely let her out of his sight. Only one person stands by her side, and in doing so, he slips deeper and deeper into her heart and her dreams—blurring the lines of reality and illusion. When the dust settles, one of them will be dead.

Describe Broken Illusions in three words.

Mysterious, romantic, and frightening

What inspired the Midnight Dragonfly series?

Back during the sleep-deprived days after my little boy was born prematurely, I woke up one night from one of the most incredibly detailed, vivid dreams I'd ever had. I'd more than just seen a group of teen sneak into an old abandoned mansion—I'd been with them. I'd gazed into the darkness, and smelled the decay. I'd felt the fear, and the crazy blast of excitement at the prospect of a game of truth or dare. My heart was still racing when I woke up. The images lingered. I kept thinking about what I'd seen, and from the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad? What if she had a premonition? What if what she saw actually happened? What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for?

As I answered those questions, the Midnight Dragonfly books were born!


Why did you choose New Orleans as your setting?

In truth, I didn't choose, at least not consciously. The setting was part of my dream—the city of New Orleans is as much a character in the book as Trinity, my teenage psychic is.

That said, I grew up in south Louisiana and have long maintained a deep and abiding love affair with the Crescent City. I adore the French Quarter and the Garden District, the people and the culture, the hauntingly beautiful architecture. Many buildings there date back 200 years!

If you could choose a supernatural ability, what would it be?

The ability to talk with the departed! I have so many questions for those who have gone before me, not only about where they've gone, but about when they were here, questions I was too young to think about asking before they crossed over. In particular, I'd LOVE to have a good long chat with my grandfather!!

The name of the series is Midnight Dragaonfly and there is a dragonfly on the cover. Does it play a significant role in the story?

Yes! It's one of those serendipity things, actually, where I didn't sit down to write a series with dragonflies playing a key role. But during the first book Shattered Dreams, I needed Trinity to receive a talisman that belonged to her mother, and the image of a dragonfly popped into my mind. I began researching dragonflies and was blown away at how mystical they are, in particular how they represented existing in two realms at the same time—and dreaming. For my teenage psychic, who communicates with The Universe through her dreams, this was PERFECT.

Do you think you'll always want to write stories that have supernatural elements? Why or why not?

Yes! I won't say I'll never write a book without a paranormal element, but my favorite stories are those that involved things that can't be explained. I've had so many mystical experiences in my life, I can't help but believe in possibility. And it's this possibilities that makes the drudgery of life so much more interesting. I can't say that I'm psychic, per se, but I'm highly empathic. By this, I mean I absorb energy from other people. I know if a friend or relative is in a good or bad mood the second they walk into the same room as me. Their emotions hit me with the force of a baseball bat. And it's not just people I know, either. I have a tough time at shopping malls or parties, because there is so much energy zinging around, at times it can be like drowning.

Because of this, I believe we're all connected in ways we don't understand, which fascinates me. These connections, and the unexplained, are part of what I love the most about telling stories.

Do you have a music playlist?

Yes!! Book 1, Shattered Dreams, was written almost entirely to Arcade Fire. The edginess was perfect!

For Book 2, I worked with two playlists: the edginess of Evanescence for some of the more emotional and dramatic moments and then a less intense collection for the rest of the book, such as From the Morning by Nick Drake, New Slang by The Shins, I Think of You by John Gorka, and Time Lapse Timeline by Maria Taylor.

For Book 3... it was all Dubstep!!!

For each book, I cut a CD of the playlist and send it to my editor to listen to as she edits.

What are some of your favourite YA novels?

My favorites all involve action and mystery. The Hunger Games, of course, as well as Tempest by Julie Cross and Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer.

Dating back a LONG time ago, my absolute fave was Island of the Blue Dolphins.

The books I'm most anticipating is Ashes of Twilight by the fantastic Kassy Tayler and The Trouble with Fate by the awesome Leigh Evans.

What do you like most about being a writer?

Seeing what happens next! Every story brings new challenges and possibilities, new characters to get to know, worlds to create, mysteries to solve, love to feel, decisions to make... crimes to commit. Over the years I've found myself delving deeply into human behavior and psychology, to the point where I'm the go to person for family and friends wanting to know why someone is doing something. It's an awesome experience to bring diverse characters together, and see what happens.

What can we except from you in the future?

On my desk next to me are Line Edits for the third book in the Midnight Dragonfly series, Fragile Darkness. In addition to those, I'm exploring possibilities for where Trinity goes next, as well as fleshing out several new series ideas. I'm not sure what's going to bubble up first, but I can promise you lots of action, adventure, mystery, and romance!

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  1. Nice interview! Hadn't heard of this series before, but it sounds intriguing!

  2. NOLA is a setting for so many books right now and every author says it becomes a character in the story. I'm visit for the 1st time in August so I can't wait to see for myself what about NOLA inspires authors.

  3. Great interview. I love hearing about music. I have not heard of that band. I shall have a lookie on youtube shortly. I love that necklace!!! I didn't realise there were 3 books in the series. I was supposed to read book 1, but it went poof!! on Netgalley..darn timer:D




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