Ellie Collins is an award-winning, teen author who wrote her first book at the age of eleven. Now in High School, she has already published three books.
Filled with a deep love of Greek Mythology, the ancient stories inspire her modern tales of relatable teen characters.
She keeps busy on both the gymnastics team and trampoline and tumbling team, as well as her normal school work and piano lessons. Yet, still manages to find time to write her books.
I can’t wait to see what books Ellie write next!
Interview with Ellie Collins
What kind of books do you like to read?
To be honest, I’m not really much of a reader. I have ADHD and dyslexia, so it makes reading a little more of a challenge for me. I have to REALLY like a story for me to actually enjoy reading it. Now that I think about it, though, pretty much every book that has been “good enough” to make me actually want to read it has been a fantasy of one sort or another.
What is your favorite book of all time?
That’s really hard to answer. I’ve met a few fantasy authors since I became an author and they all wrote REALLY good books, so I don’t think I can decide on just one.
When did you start writing?
When my mom nagged at me. It was the end of the summer before I started 6th grade. Mom walked into the living room and said, “Ellie! It is time to get Off. The. Xbox! You’ve been on there All. Day!” Of course, my response was to whine, “Well, WHAT else is there to dooo?!” (because, let’s face it; there’s usually nothing much to do at home other than video games).
She said, “Why don’t you write me a story?” I thought about it for a second and asked, “Well, what would I write about?” She said, “I don’t know. You like Greek mythology; why don’t you write something about that?” Mom said later that she expected me to write a few sentences and beg to get back on the Xbox. Nope.
That’s how Daisy, Bold & Beautiful was born! I’m mad, knowing I could have gotten away with just writing a paragraph, but as much as I hate to give credit to Mom, I’m super happy it worked out the way it did.
How exciting was it to publish your first book when you were in sixth grade?
It was pretty exciting! But, I guess it’s pretty exciting to publish a book, no matter when you do it. It took me a little while for the excitement to really sink in, though. At first it just felt surreal.
What do your classmates think about you writing books?
Not much. I was a little embarrassed to bring it up in school, so I didn’t talk about it much. At gym we’d talk about it and my friends would offer ideas about the different stories. Mostly, they’d want to be mentioned in the books. Most of my characters are named after my teammates.
Do you feel that your teachers treat you any differently after you published several books?
Not really. Like I said, I don’t really bring it up in school much. I’d say if the teachers treat me any differently, it’s to help me with my dyslexia.
Is it easier or more difficult making friends in school after writing several books?
I’d say it can be hard to make friends at school anytime, whether you’ve written books or not (especially when you have ADHD/dyslexia). I really had a hard time finding friends in middle school. I’ve always been able to make friends pretty easily at gym (and gymnasts from other gyms when I’m at meets) and I’ve made a lot of great new friends when I go to book signing events (mostly authors), but middle school was the worst.
It has been a lot easier to make friends in high school. Of course, I haven’t actually BEEN to high school yet, but I’ve made a lot of new friends online who I met in class. I look forward to actually seeing them in person someday.
How has the support of your family helped in your writing?
Oh, there never would have been a single book with my name listed as the author if it wasn’t for Mom. As I said before, it was her nagging that started the whole thing, and she has played a huge role in every part of the writing. She taught me to break the process down into fun steps so nothing feels overwhelming.
First, I’d come up with the god or goddess I wanted the story to be about. Then I’d come up with a moral of the story I wanted my story to focus on. Each of my books has the moral of the story that I associate with the moral I got out of the main stories I’ve heard or read about each god or goddess.
For instance, I felt like the story of Persephone (and Hades) is about Persephone learning to stand up for herself, and the story of Aphrodite is about how you can’t force someone to love someone else. Then I’d write up a rough outline of my story. Finally, I’d write up character sheets – details about each of the main characters (everything from age, height, eye color and hair color to favorite foods, relationships with family members, favorite subjects in school, etc.). Every character had stuff listed that would never be revealed in the stories (like one of my characters helped to care for her severely handicapped sister).
Finally, I’d start recording what I wanted written. My original plan was to write out my story and Mom would type it out for me, since she types a lot faster than I do (except with texting – I text MUCH faster than she does). That didn’t work out too well because I never seemed to have time to write much. It also didn’t work because Mom can’t read my writing. So, to solve both of those problems I recorded myself on Mom’s phone (because this was before I was allowed to have a phone of my own), telling the story I wanted typed, chapter by chapter. I’d record the chapters in the car on the way to practice, Mom would type them up while I was in practice, then I would read over what she typed (or she would read it out to me) and I’d tell her any changes I wanted.
That process makes everything go pretty fast. Daisy, Bold & Beautiful started in late August and it was done before Christmas! And because Mom was always in the car with me when I would make my recordings, she would be able to interrupt me with questions about things like exactly what I meant or what I thought the character might be thinking when he or she was doing or saying whatever I wanted them to do or say. That was really helpful in Mylee In The Mirror because all those characters were in high school, so I didn’t have as much in common with them as I did with the characters in Daisy, Bold & Beautiful (who were all my age).
Then, of course, she did all the typing, which was huge, because I can’t spell well at all and grammar is definitely not my friend. My editor, Mr. Geez, is great, but I don’t know if he would have been able to make heads or tails out of what I sent him if I had done all the typing. Note: Mom is typing out what I’m telling her to write right now. [Wave from Mom] My dad helped, too. He did the artwork for all the covers. It was a lot of fun working with him, coming up with the designs and always having the final say on decisions we made.
What inspires your writing?
I’m really interested in all types of mythology, but Greek mythology is probably my favorite, and that’s where I’ve gotten all my inspiration from.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I think developing the characters is my favorite part. My true passion is art, and instead of just drawing a person I’m able to create them inside and out, which is just so cool when you think about it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Like I said, I started writing Daisy, Bold & Beautiful at the end of summer (so late August, I guess), and that was done just before Christmas. I started Mylee In The Mirror right after my competition season was over (so early June, I guess) and I was able to finish that before school started (because I had more time during the summer). I wrote Mad Max & Sweet Sarah the following summer. So, I guess 3 months or so is the answer to your question.
What is your favorite thing about Greek Mythology?
What ISN’T to love about Greek mythology?! The gods and goddesses are such interesting characters and the stories are amazing! I don’t think I can decide what I love most about it; I just love it all!
Where did the idea for Daisy, Bold, and Beautiful come from?
Persephone is my favorite goddess, so as soon as I knew I was going to write anything, I knew I’d want it to be about her. Like I said, I wanted to have the same moral of my story as the one in Persephone’s story, so that’s where the idea started. I wanted someone to learn to stand up for herself, but I didn’t want her to stand up to a bully. I think sometimes it can be just as hard (or harder) to stand up to your friends as it is to stand up to a bully.
Are any of the characters in your books inspired by or influenced by any real people in your life?
Definitely! Many of my characters share names with people in my real life. Some of those characters are a lot like the real people, some are not like them at all. It’s fun to mix that up a bit. Sarah (in Mad Max & Sweet Sarah) is named after my sister, but she’s totally me. It made her fun and really easy to write about. I had to laugh, though, when I got a book review that said something to the effect that Sarah developed from an annoying character to someone much more likable throughout the story. LOL!
Do you have any exciting new books coming soon?
No. I have another story in my head that I’d love to share, but like I said, art is my true passion. This summer I taught myself how to use a few types of animating software (Procreate and Photoshop) and I’ve just been having so much fun with that that I’ve set my next story aside to share another time, maybe.
What is your favorite part about connecting with readers?
I think I write for myself just like I do art for myself – it’s all about the need to create. It’s always awesome, though, when someone enjoys what you’ve created. It’s so validating!
What books are on your current reading list?
I’m not reading anything “for fun” right now. I’m just concentrating on what I have to read for school. I read slowly and it takes a lot of energy, so I tend to not read much during the school year aside from whatever is assigned by my teachers.
What do you like to do in your free time when you are not writing?
Like I said, art is my passion, so I draw and animate whenever I have a free minute. That being said, I don’t have a ton of free time. I have school and gymnastics practice is 3 hours/day, 4 days/week. When I’m not at the gym or drawing, though, I’m a total gamer. I just got a VR set for my birthday and I LOVE it!
What are your goals and dreams for the future?
My dream is to become an animator. My dad works for Xbox, and maybe I’ll make video games like him, but maybe I’ll be more like a YouTube animator or maybe I’ll work on animated movies. There are so many cool choices and ideas out there; I get so inspired and excited just thinking about it!
If you could travel to any fictional book world, where would you go and what would you do there?
Oh, that’s an easy one – ancient Greece, of course! Since that’s not possible, though, I’d be willing to make do with a trip to “present day” Greece. Mom? Did you catch that?