Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Author Spotlight: Author Spotlight: Elissa Malcohn (Part 2)

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 15•10

This is part 2 of an interview with author Elissa Malcohn.  To read part 1, go here.


When she is writing, Elissa will often find her focus through music.

“Music is muse fuel for me.  My story “Another Place” is set in Ecuador, but it’s named after a track by the Japanese fusion jazz group Hiroshima.  Their music just fit the story, and I had that track on auto-repeat as I wrote.  John Adams’ “Shaker Loops” fueled “Arachne,” which originally appeared in Aboriginal Science Fiction in December 1988 and was reprinted in Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory.  My playlist for Deviations ranges from Beethoven to Bronski Beat.  I can point to musical works that served as themes for individual scenes and characters.  When I’ve gotten stuck, I’ve sat in silence and waited for the right piece to play in my head, because that told me what to focus on.”

When giving advice to younger, writers, Elissa often suggests that they write crap.

“Nothing is wasted . . . crap is wonderful.  Yes, you will write crap. Crap is good. Crap will ultimately take you where you want to go, if you keep at it and have faith in it, even when it frustrates the heck out of you. And — probably the most important message of all — you are not alone.

“Not worrying about the quality of what you’re writing also gives you tremendous degrees of freedom.  Polishing can come later.  Even unfinished pieces have merit.  Maybe they’re meant to be finished at a later point in time.  Maybe they’re meant to provide nuggets for some other work.  Maybe they’re meant only to clear enough space for the story or poem or whatever piece you really want to come through.”

When she’s not writing, Elissa has also gotten “exposure” through her photography.

“I especially like photographing bugs.  Florida has some awesome “tiny wildlife,” as I call them — and some of them are not so tiny!”

She is a frequent contributor to Bugguide.Net.

“The members have been terrific in helping me identify species.  Thanks to the Internet, my photos have gotten pretty far-flung.”

Elissa’s photos of webworms have been used by the Estonian Environment Ministry, photos of crabs have been used by the Marine Education Society of Australasia’s “The World of Crabs,” and a mole cricket was used by Gardening in South Africa.

Non-bug photos have been picked up by the Environment News Service, This Old House, Schmap, and more.

“I also do digital photo collages, an outgrowth of my mixed-media art,” Elissa said.

Elissa will appear at Spooky Empire (Orlando) and Necronomicon (St. Petersburg) in October.  She will also participate in does an annual three-part writing series at the Citrus County Library in Florida.

“The series is geared toward participants in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  Our kickoff occurs in October, with a write-in in November and a critique meeting in March.”

You can find Elissa on the web at Her website links to her facebook, twitter and other websites of interest.

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