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Inquiring Writer

Jul 30, 2012

Writer Ellen Airgood tells stories because she has questions. For her book, Prairie Evers, Ellen created her main character by asking, “What’s it like to leave a much loved home behind? Or have a beloved grandmother move away? How would it be to go to public school for the first time in the fifth grade? Would it be fun to raise chickens?”

“I write toward the answers, using as many good details as I can along the way, and the story is slowly created,” explains Ellen, who knew she wanted to be a writer at age 10. “As I write, I get ideas about the answer—or I should say, answers, because I don’t think there’s just one.”

The idea for Prairie Evers came to Ellen in a unique way. “I was sitting on my bed listening to rain on our tin roof one night when I heard a voice in my head. She said, in a slightly southern accent, ‘Folks said it could not be done, but I did it.’ I grabbed a bunch of scrap paper and started writing.”

But even after that divine inspiration, Ellen had to research, write, and edit for another 10 years to bring Prairie Evers to life. “The book didn’t write itself,” she says. Which is why Ellen offers this important advice to writers: “You have to be stubborn and persistent to make a career of writing. Believe in yourself and never give up.”

Learn more about Ellen and her writing tips on The Studio.