Storytime for Grownups – Author Spotlight: Ellen Weisberg, author of ‘Angel Rock Leap’

In cooperation with Waldorf Publishing, we are proud to give you more insight into some of the finest authors of fiction and non-fiction in the literary world today. In this interview, we introduce you to Ellen Weisberg.

How did you get your start in the literary world? I have a bit of a long, convoluted answer for this. I do cancer research full-time, and I’ve always tried to balance the intensity of the work with some kind of creative outlet. For years, I did part-time radio broadcasting, and even transitioned to broadcasting full-time while still keeping my hand in research as a part-time endeavor. Then I became afflicted with a Parkinson’s-like condition that adversely affected my speech. The condition, called oromandibular dystonia, not only forced me to quit broadcasting, but it rendered me unable to speak normally for about a full year after its onset. I went back to research full-time, but still felt like I needed some kind of creative release to give me more fulfillment and make me more productive in the lab. I’d always loved writing and illustrating, and these gradually took the place of broadcasting and gave me something I could throw myself into while I waited out the uncertainty of not knowing if and when the dystonia would stabilize. I’ve written a couple of novels that are at least in part influenced by real people I met during the years I worked in radio. Broadcasting had another influence on my writing, though, and this stemmed from the fact that I was doing weather reports for a meteorologist and part of my job had involved doing live reads for the Associated Press. As many of the reports I did featured tracking areas of high pressure and low pressure systems and describing weather patterns across the country, I was forced to quickly- and thoroughly- learn U.S. geography. This knowledge served me in developing, with my husband, a geography series for children that was initiated with a geography book about the United States. Our books have also been influenced by the adoption of our daughter, Emily, from China, as this is the theme of one of our geography books. We also published a children’s picture book that is based on Emily.

Can you tell us a little more about what you do? I do leukemia research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School. After not doing broadcasting for around 6 years, I returned to very part-time weather reporting around 5 years ago. I do reports for a dozen or so stations once or twice a week and have been able to continue to do this despite the still existing challenges of the speech condition. Writing is my biggest pleasure and passion, and I do everything I can to make time for it no matter how filled my schedule might be. My husband and I wrote the majority of our children’s books years ago and had them published by two small independent presses; they have recently been revised and rebranded by Waldorf Publishing. The novel, ANGEL ROCK LEAP, was written more recently and was the first book of ours to be published by Waldorf.

What is your favorite part about being an author? Writing gives my pain a purposeful destination.

How do you get your inspiration? E-mails, phone conversations, and texts with people suffering from the same spectrum of maladies as I suffer from.

Of all the characters you’ve created, which one would you like to see come alive on the silver screen? Justin, from the anti-bullying fantasy, FRUIT OF THE VINE.

What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your career? Getting a query letter returned to me from a literary agent with the word “swamped” written on the outside of the envelope.

Can you tell us a bit about your book? What was to become the final, published version of ANGEL ROCK LEAP was actually the joint effort of my husband and myself. I had started FAWN’S LEAP, as it was originally named, a little over two decades ago. I wrote pretty much whatever came to mind at the time while wearing headphones and listening to the same two songs over and over again by Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots. The immediate outcome was a story that seemed to me to come across as painfully contrived, disturbingly violent, and with a quality of writing that was wince-worthy. With the help of an English major friend around a decade ago, it went through a half-hearted revision before I pretty much gave up on it and didn’t give it another thought for another ten years. Then it magically resurfaced when we moved, and I took this as a sign that perhaps I should consider writing again. I decided to give it one more try and attempted with every ounce of determination I could muster to sculpt it into something that didn’t make me want to crawl into a hole and die. I tried combining my youthful, late 20’s-something idealism with hard-earned middle-aged realism and synthesized- during a weeklong family visit- the bulk of what is now ANGEL ROCK LEAP. My husband helped edit it and contributed some important factual information.

In ANGEL ROCK LEAP, protagonist Sarah discovers there is a fine line between love and repulsion, friends and enemies, and sanity and lunacy.

Can a person’s life really be over at just 19? Sarah challenges this notion when, after flunking out of school, she decides to return to her hometown to try to gain a better understanding of what might be holding her back in life. Home is the hardest place for Sarah to teach herself to stop being a victim. But it is also likely the most important place to do it. She uses her newfound knowledge about herself to pull others out of similar crises, as love is rediscovered and friendship is borne out of adversity.

Angel Rock Leap is riddled with lost and broken characters, each guilty of hurting those around them because they, themselves, hurt. The story is Christian principle-based, with particular emphasis on the idea that hurting people hurt people.

What is your next big project? To try to sell the books!

Anything else you’d like to add? Thank you kindly for this interview, Adam.

 

Several of the books published through Waldorf Press can be found at your local library. The Palm Beach County Library System has dozens of electronic books, printed books – both novels & non-fiction, audiobooks, and DVDs or Blu-ray discs to help you understand how powerful reading can be! Travel to your closest branch or find them on the web!