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As in, what I am passionate about? I have running, nature, kids, challenges, reading… in my writing. But I don’t write about them, per se, as much as I weave them in. I guess I am rather passionate about raising my children well and the books are, to some extent, an expression of that.
Do you listen to music when you're writing?
Absolutely. It helps drown out the world. I queue up a Pandora station—depends on the mood I want to hit in the writing—and go. I find that vocals are OK to listen to when the words are really flowing, but if I am struggling at all, I have to listen to classical. Otherwise I just end up listening to the lyrics.
Can you describe your dream home?
I’ve always thought a Spanish-style home with an interior patio would be great. Maybe with a good-sized, corner office/studio for me to work in. I like having a space for everything, so there would be a space for a small dojo/dance room, a space with exercise equipment, a family zone, a nice sitting area, big, open kitchen (we spend a lot of time in the kitchen). Space to move around, but not too much to not be able to hear each other shouting. I would like a decent sized yard. Maybe a half-acre. Enough so the neighbor’s barking dog won’t drive me too crazy. And close to good running trails. I like the CA coast a lot, but I am afraid living there would ruin the joy.
What is the first curse word that comes to mind? How often and why do you use it?
Shit. Usually converted to “Oh-shin.” Ocean. Kids…
How would you spend ten thousand bucks?
Paying off my debts getting my books published! And then I’d take my wife and kids to Hawaii.
What are 5 things within touching distance?
Keyboard, pen and paper, glass of water, weekly planner, lamp.
Do you have a crush on anyone?
Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.
While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.
The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.
Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?
Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?
Excerpts from Elf Hills © 2014 by S. S. Dudley
From the Prologue:
This fairy tale, as you might have guessed already, takes place on a hill. Or, rather, on many hills and a mountain or two in Northern California, near what people call the Great Valley. One hill in particular stands out, though, because that is where everything started. It was a nice hill; well rounded, not too high, not too low. It was distinctly a hill, snuggled up against a mountain like a nursing cub to its resting mother. For the most part this hill was well-dressed with dark green oak trees and tall grasses, usually yellowed and dry except for the four or five wet months of the year. Along one side, a seasonal creek slipped out and down into the plain. Here the vegetation—red-stemmed manzanita, prickly blackberry bushes, and other shrubs—was thick and difficult to move through.
From afar, the hill was not remarkable; it had many siblings stretching to the north and south as far as the eye could see. This hill was special, though. For one, a strange—some said magical—copse of trees stood near the base of the hill where the creek emerged. These trees were short, had long, dark-green leaves, and bore bright yellow fruit that, if eaten, were said to imbue a person with the strength of ten men. For another, the hill was haunted. On certain nights of the year a white light would shine from the very top of the hill. It was brighter than the brightest star; brighter even than a full moon, perhaps, and it cast long shadows across the plain. The first people that lived in the area told many stories about that hill, the light, and the spirits that lived there.