IndieView with E.C. Hibbs, author of The Winter Spirits

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? I love the creative freedom it grants me. Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Elin Kåven, Mari Boine, Jonna Jinton and Sophia Jannok were all on the playlist. Don’t assume the work ends when you’ve finished the book. Each draft only took a month or less, but there were about 12 drafts and edits, so all in all it probably took the equivalent of a year to complete. For The Winter Spirits, I listened to a lot of Sami joiks and Swedish kulning, so I was always surrounded by true Arctic inspiration. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? I learned about the Finnish legend of the northern lights: a magical fox creates them by sweeping up the snow with its tail. It’s a step I never skip. Whenever I’ve also been at my day job, I tend to do about five hours writing in the evening, but on days when my schedule is clear I’ll start in the morning and keep going for as long as I can. Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? It’s been a pretty gradual process. But the ultimate theme song for the entire story is ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Keiino. E.C. What are you working on now? When did you start writing the book? About Writing
Do you have a writing process? Do you have a target reader? The descriptions of the Northlands. Someone who has an interest in winter, magic, shamanism, or even Frozen would probably enjoy it! In a tiny little Victorian village that was only a street long, out in the middle of nowhere in Cheshire, England. “If you build it, they will come” very rarely applies. Later this year, the two sequels to The Winter Spirits will be coming out – The Mist Children and The Night River. I love fairy tales and creepiness, finding joy in the little things and unabashedly being myself in all my weird and wacky glory. And behind her composed facade, the Spirit holds secrets of her own…
About the book
What is the book about? It’s a Spirit realm in the sky, and the whole point of it is that nothing there has a physical form. I loved that image so much that I knew I had to use it. Even if you release your story through an indie publisher, there’s still a lot which you need to do yourself and take responsibility for. This one has a corner shop and a pub as well as the postbox. Those beautiful pastel colours, the air sparkling from the ice in it, the way the trees bend under the weight of the snow… capturing those images was very important. Then, after taking a few weeks to get some distance, I do a massive edit at the end. I also drew on shamanism and the cultures of the indigenous people of the Arctic, though the story isn’t meant to represent any of them. All the characters are a melting pot of people I know, aspects of my own personality, and a collection of other influences which have been molded into something new. When the polar night begins, a young mage called Tuomas accidentally pulls the Spirit of the Northern Lights out of the sky. About thirty miles away from my childhood home; still in a village, but slightly bigger than the other one. Hibbs, visit her website, check out her account on Instagram, and like her Facebook page. I decided the best route was to release the rest of the books independently to ensure they got to my readers. I’ve designed most of my own covers, plus some for other authors such as David Fingerman, Donna Milward and Donna Marie Girouard. I have a few Sami friends from Finland and Norway, and having experienced their culture first-hand, that had the largest impact. Because I have my real-life experiences of living in a place just like that, it wasn’t very hard to create the frozen wilderness. During my first trip, I learned about the Finnish legend of the northern lights: a magical fox creates them by sweeping up the snow with its tail. I also have a new dark fantasy in pre-production which I’m hoping to start writing in summer. As for my day-to-day process, I work very intensely – once I know what I’m writing, I can write it fast. Where did you get the idea from? They need to learn how to work together, not just to set things right, but also to defeat an enemy who has set his eyes on Tuomas. This year I want to really focus on connecting more with my readers and letting them see the person behind the books, as well as continuing to create more valuable content on YouTube. Luckily, as well as being a writer, I’m also an artist and graphic designer, so I was able to do all the work myself. Alongside his feared icy companion and the mysterious wandering mage Lilja, Tuomas begins a quest across frozen tundra and into ethereal Spirit realms. The story went through a few different people to get it as polished as possible. What came easily? I’m still hoping to sign with an agent in the future, but ultimately, I decided that releasing The Winter Spirits independently was the best option. Yes. It helps me to make sure my three-act structure is in place and balanced, figure out where the chapter breaks need to be, make sure every character arc works and every plot thread is tied off. If so can you please describe it? It usually takes a few years for an idea to be ready enough for me to start planning how I’m going to bring it to life. However, his own fledgling power gets the better of him, and he accidentally rips the Spirit out of the sky, trapping her in human form. Do you outline? Yes. I loved that image so much that I knew I had to use it. This story would appeal to teens, young adults, and people in their 20s who love fantasy, with a sprinkle of mythology and nature thrown in. So be prepared for what comes afterwards, budget accordingly if you need to, and grab it by the horns. I tend to write one chapter a day, and do a quick edit of the previous one before I start. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? I’m very fortunate to be able to spend my winters in Finland, so my love of the Arctic and winter played a major part. Then I know it’s time to pass it over to a fresh pair of eyes. But most people who know me will say the two Lumis are pretty different! I have a few interviews lined up and signings will be happening at some point – I’m just waiting for confirmation. I call my readers the Batty Brigade, because we’re all a little ‘batty’ on the inside, and together we’re a wonderful little army who aren’t afraid to be different. It’s a story of acceptance, coming of age, and inner discovery, wrapped up in ice and snow. Once you lay the groundwork for yourself, it will be much easier to manage and to find your tribe out there. Did you hire a professional editor? It is a time of beauty, magic and danger. I can’t write without music. But I don’t let the outline restrain me. So trying to describe it; how one feels when they enter it, the way the Spirits move and communicate without speech – that was a challenge, but an enjoyable one! Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? Those sections turned out to be very lyrical, and I love when my writing takes on a beautiful flow like that. The best ways to stay in touch with me are on social media, and I also have a mailing list which you can sign up for on my website. When I’ve got that nailed down, I’ll research as much as I can – sometimes for another couple of years, before I begin the first draft. I’m basically a typical Ravenclaw! Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? I’ll do several of those huge butchering edits and rewrites, until I can read through the entire manuscript and not see anything else that doesn’t feel right. Hibbs – 23 February 2020
The Back Flap
If you sing to the Spirits, be prepared for their answer…
The Long Dark has come and the Northlands will not see daylight for two months. This is where I’m ruthless because I can see the whole picture in front of me for the first time. I’m also going to be releasing all three of them in audiobook, which will be the first time I’ve ever ventured into that market! It was like writing a love letter to a place, season and way of life that truly speaks to me. But a terrible shadow lingers just out of sight, its gaze fixed on him. How long did it take you to write it? I’m probably what you’d get if Wednesday Addams, Alice in Wonderland and Tinkerbell were thrown together! When the Spirit of the Northern Lights steals his best friend’s soul, apprentice mage Tuomas is determined to find help. The passages set in the World Above. If I stuck to it religiously, I think it would suck out a lot of the joy and humanity. And if you’re a one-man (or woman) army, you will also be much more than just the author. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process? End of Interview:
For more from E.C. For example, there is a character called Lumi, which is one of my nicknames in real life. What would you like readers to know about you? Do you listen to music while you write? But putting her back – and, by extension, saving his best friend, who she has incapacitated – turns out to be a steep learning curve for the two of them. I only write one novel at a time, but I’m always working on at least five more in my head. June 2016 – because of course, the best time to write a very wintry story is in the middle of summer! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? But they are definitely their own people as well. Aside from the houses, there was only a postbox and phone box, and it was my job to bring in the wood and coal for the fire. I use it as a guiding hand, so I can let the story breathe naturally while still keeping the writing tight. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? My first two books were published with a small press back in 2012 and 2013, but when the company closed, I was in the middle of a series. Get your copy of   The Winter Spirits from Amazon US or Amazon UK. Where do you live now? Silence falls with the snow, and the Spirits roam the three Worlds. About You
Where did you grow up? About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents?