Author Q&A with Elle Mitchell

  1. What are some of your hobbies?

I am an artist who plays with all mediums. Sometimes you can find me slicing 3d-prints, other times you can find me focused on my miniatures (often made with trash or bits of packaging). I love coming up with ways to connect my art to my books, like featuring characters that are missing in my book on the back of a milk carton pen holder. But also, I’m super into seeing something in the store and making something similar that fits my vibe. It’s a big money-saver and makes me really cherish the items in my home. I also love to read. No genre is off-limits; I don’t even have a favorite, really. And I’m an avid gamer.

  1. How do you deal with writers’ block and/or the urge to do anything else but sit down and write?

I’m fortunate not to have ever had writers’ block. But oh how I have the do anything else feelings. 

I just do something else. It’s as simple as that. If my body is telling me it’s not the time to write, I know I won’t produce my best work. I could force myself to write, maybe fall into fatigue or edge closer to burnout, and have a lot to edit later. Or I could take a break, watch a movie, get tea with a friend, take a nap, make a pillow, whatever. Just listen to myself. There’s a reason the warning bells of we aren’t up for it are happening. Most of the time, it’s medical—whether physical or mental. I am chronically ill, and I know what pushing can do. Days of going backwards for 100 words is not worth it.

  1. What’s the biggest literary project you’ve ever taken on and what did you learn from it?

My latest book has 62 pieces of fiction in it. Each has a miniature related to it. It was a massive undertaking, as each piece was meant to be either much longer or a full-length novel. It was part of therapy. I went in trying to get out of my own way, and I did that. I had too many ideas. A problem that doesn’t sound bad until you try to sleep and ten novels are screaming to be written. It wasn’t until I finished that I really saw how good it was for me. It was one of the best things I’ve done for my mental health ever. 

I saw how healthy purging ideas can be—even when they aren’t what you originally imagined they would be. It was an act of not being too hard on myself, really. Stories can be told in so many ways—even ones that aren’t out there yet. I knew that, of course. But I hadn’t put it in the context of me. Giving myself permission to write whatever came out was a big learning curve. Until my book, there was no such thing as a book with stories and miniatures connected to them. It felt good keeping myself healthy and sharing something new with the world at the same time.

  1. What do you believe is the key to fostering a creative and inclusive classroom environment?

I think approachability is extremely key. No one knows what someone is going through from looking at them. If they want to share themselves through their work or in the questions, I am open and would love to hear it. If not, I hope that my writing prompts will encourage them to practice at home. I’m disabled, as is my husband, so I understand how important it is to show up with empathy and an open heart and mind.

  1. What kind of support or resources do you provide your students?

I have handouts as well as a QR code with reliable research websites and much, much more.

  1. How can a student make the most of their time in your course?

Participate. That doesn’t necessarily mean share aloud or speak up. I understand that doesn’t work for everyone. But whenever I put a timer on for writing, if the students are trying—writing, jotting down notes, doodling a house or character’s hair—then they will get a lot out of the course. The handout will serve as a reminder of the jargon we discuss, but the act of practicing what we’re talking about will really lock in the knowledge.

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