What inspires you to write?
Cendrine Marrouat: Life and the lessons I learn from experiences — good or bad.
David Ellis: I try to take a little from everything and everywhere. A lot of my inspiration comes from my own passions, I think that if you have varied interests then you will never run out of inspiration. Song lyrics, music, TV shows/films, nature, love and friendship, connecting with people and animals, all of these things stir up emotions inside me that want to come out as pieces of creative writing. They feed my drive and my desire to write at all costs, if I did not write I would feel empty and that my life was lacking meaning.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
Cendrine Marrouat: I worked as a journalist, art critic, and content creator for several years. Now, I only work as a part-time writer, because of the many (other) things that I do.
I only write more or less when I feel like it, which helps put less pressure on myself. I have actually become a better writer as a result.
David Ellis: I used to have a career in Financial Services but that came to an end after seventeen fruitful years. At the moment, I write on a part-time basis but I have always hoped to turn it into a full-time career. With the work that I do with Cendrine, I feel that this could easily become an achievable goal. All writers wish they could be full-time if they enjoy it as much as we do but they still have to take on other jobs to pay the rent and bills or to look after their families.
I would definitely say though that due to my increased output over the last few years, my writing has improved because of practice and honing my craft. You need to do it regularly if you want to maintain consistency and continue improving/evolving to keep your work culturally relevant and interesting to readers.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Cendrine Marrouat: I started my career as a poet and dabbled into playwriting. A few years later, I fell in love with photography.
My philosophy of always challenging myself has allowed me to perfect my style, become more comfortable with my own voice, and release projects that have made me feel successful.
David Ellis: My first forays into writing started out as writing spoof song lyrics and I wrote a couple of hundred of them! I think I was rebelling against the lack of creativity available in the jobs I was previously doing. I enjoyed working in teams and with people but as is the case with a lot of regular “day-job” employment, I did not find the work mentally stimulating.
After crafting so many spoof songs, I began to realise that my writing could not be contained by typical song structures and after participating in a local Writers Circle, those song lyrics became poetry. This poetry went against everything I had written in the past, I ultimately discovered an awakening passion for inspirational, romantic and humorous writing. I definitely feel like I needed the life experience that I gained over these crucial years to give me the foundations and character that were and still are vitally necessary for my writing. I’m constantly exhilarated when I find new ways to be creative and to explore the potential of my writing. If anything I have become even more creative over the years and I cannot get enough of it!
What have you written so far?
Cendrine Marrouat: I have written more than 30 books so far, including a play, photography collections, and many poetry books, with a strong focus on haiku.
David Ellis: I have written multiple books of freeform and found poetry, a collection of short stories, inspirational quotes, many marketing/journal/workbook guides with Cendrine (along with our co-authoring books of new poetry forms and photography collaborations) and I have even published a Fifty Shades of Grey parody too!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Cendrine Marrouat: I settled on self-publishing because I knew how difficult it would be to get a traditional publisher. Not that I did not have faith in my abilities. I was actually skilled enough to take care of some of the most important publishing steps, including cover design and manuscript formatting. Finally, a little research revealed that traditional publishers rarely take care of book marketing and promotion on behalf of an author…
David Ellis: I tried to get an agent a few years back after I won an award for my debut poetry collection but none of them would touch me because of my initial focus on poetry. I also tried some traditional poetry publishers but they only had extremely limited publishing slots available. It was then at that point I decided to self-publish, which I initially found daunting but then I completely fell madly in love with the process. I get to decide on how the book will look, what the cover will look like, the formatting/editing and like Cendrine says the marketing too – you totally end up becoming your own business owner!
It has been a dream of mine to become traditionally published but sadly because of the finite amount of opportunities that are available to writers nowadays, you really have to consider taking your career into your own hands. This means looking at people like Amazon, who make self-publishing a breeze. There is a downside in that you will still be competing for attention against other writers but that is exactly why I choose to help, support and promote others, as they will do the same for you and me someday!
How do you market or promote your books and what strategies (e.g. social media, email, blog tours, etc.) have demonstrated the most success for you?
Cendrine Marrouat: I have self-published books in several genres. I am used to creating a specific strategy for each release. What works for one product may not work for the next.
With that said, there are a few tactics that will never disappoint. One of them is using Twitter as a search engine; the results are often better than what I would uncover through Google Search. Two others are press kits and book trailers.
David Ellis: I know one strategy that did not work out so well for me and that was giving away lots of free paperback copies of my debut book for people to review! It cost me a lot of money and did not yield the results that I hoped for. I would strongly advise people against giving away paperback copies because you will soon find it impossible to recoup the money that you will spend on the books and postage, along with losing out on royalties for yourself. Thankfully plenty of places allow digital copies to be sent out now in exchange for reviews.
I would totally agree with Cendrine, I would say that book trailers are extremely important, along with visual snippets/quotes/positive reviews from the book that are paired with beautiful artwork to catch people’s attention. If you are not comfortable using software to make your own marketing material then I would seek out people that are comfortable doing this and get them to do it for you. Also, you need to put in the legwork and do as many written interviews and podcast interviews as you can to get the word out there. Build an audience by writing short, entertaining, informative regular blog posts and let them know all about your upcoming books.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Cendrine Marrouat: Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography is a unique project that features the works of three members of the PoArtMo Collective, a collective of artists that I founded in 2019.
Two of us are professional digital photographers. However, we are all indebted to the pioneering days of photography. The book celebrates those days through digital images and poetry.
In part 1, Hadiya Ali “recreates” the timeless photographic styles of photography masters Irving Penn and Karl Blossfeldt. Part 2 features some of my reminigrams, a type of digital image that I invented years ago. Finally, in part 3, David Ellis shares a series of pareiku poems (Auroras & Blossoms’s visual poetry form); each piece is inspired by archival images.
Watch the video trailer here.
David Ellis: Cendrine & Hadiya use their own magnificent photography skills to provide unique pictures in this book. I myself turned to vintage photography to stimulate my muse. My contribution is to tell stories with both words and pictures. The blending of all of this between us is charming and seamless, I’m sure it will attract a lot of people who want a visual art book and subtle poetry to complement it too.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Cendrine Marrouat: The book did not involve much writing on my part, since I contributed digital images. But I was blown away by how well each part gelled with the other two.
David Ellis: Apart from working with two extremely talented photographers, the thing I most enjoyed about writing this book was being able to use gorgeous images from the past and weave them into a contemporary visual poetry form that Cendrine & I co-created. This project contains such a wonderful blend of styles, both visually and on a creative writing scale. I wanted us to be able to tell entire stories with the images and with short, simple poetry as well. I think we have created something extremely heart-warming and special.
What one person from history would you like to meet and why?
Cendrine Marrouat: Leonardo da Vinci. He was a genius, so I would have loved to pick his brain!
David Ellis: Funnily enough I wanted to pick him, you pipped me to the post Cendrine! I would therefore like to choose any one of the romantic poets of the 1800’s, there are so many to choose from that I adore. I would love to pick their brains and witness how their muses worked on any given day. I am old-fashioned in a lot of ways, particularly in some aspects of my writing, so I think we would have got on famously and enjoyed each other’s company!
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
Cendrine Marrouat: I think I would like to reverse the incredibly high level of negativity the world is suffering from right now.
Actually, David and I are already trying to do that with Auroras & Blossoms. We created A&B in 2019 with two important goals:
- Promoting family-friendly, positive, uplifting, and inspirational art; and
- Giving artists (ages 13 and over) of all levels a platform where they can showcase their work and build their publishing credits. We are a paying market.
We run a magazine, regular submission calls for anthologies, a monthly show, an artistic movement (PoArtMo), PoArtMo Collective, and a series of guides for authors and artists. We have also created several poetry forms.
We believe that art is key to changing perceptions and making the world a better place. That’s why Auroras & Blossoms exists.
David Ellis: I think people should respect one another more. I would like to see less negativity, more innovation and collaboration. We only have a finite amount of time on this planet, we should be creating more positive experiences for everyone, in every aspect of our lives.
We change the world around us by being the leading lights for other people to aspire to do wonderful things. Be humble, generous and work hard whatever your vocation, let the reward be the good things and inspirational vibes that you put out into the world.