Title: Set You Free
Author: Elmer Seward
Published: May 20, 2017
Publisher: Bay Rivers Publishing
Content Warning: Some mild profanity and references to torture and murder (however there is no graphic violence).
Deena is running from a dangerous past. When she finds herself in a small fishing village tucked away on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, she thinks she is finally safe. While there, she discovers a journal that weaves a story of secrets, passion, and unrequited love. In its pages, she discovers the answers to her struggle with the shadows of her own past. In the end, those shadows close in on her and threaten all that she holds dear.
Excerpt from Set You Free by Elmer Seward
I am one of the walking dead. Not as lucky as those flesh-eating monsters that roam the earth eternally. No, my flesh-eating monster lives within. It roams at will, minute by minute. Consuming me from the inside. Stealing what little life is left. My monster? The Big C. Advanced stages. No treatment. What do you do when you’re a nobody from a little nowhere town who’s accomplished nothing and has no family? What do you do when you’re told to “put your affairs in order” and you have no affairs? What do you do when the sum and total of your legacy is secrets and lies?
The Writing Life Interview with Elmer Seward
When you first begin writing a new book, is your main focus on the characters or the plot?
When I begin writing a new novel, I focus on characters and plot simultaneously. My novels are stories of individuals who are struggling with life shattering events that have left them broken, defeated. Their lives intersect at a point where they are confronted with a common problem. By helping each other overcome this common obstacle they find renewed hope. To write a story like this, you must know the characters’ past, their strengths, and their weaknesses at the very beginning. You also need to have the plot clearly developed early on. Before I start writing, I have a good idea of who the characters are, the challenges they will face, how they will interact to resolve those challenges, and how the resolution will affect each one.
Describe your writing environment.
The answer to this question is really odd. I can’t write with the TV on or with people talking in the background. However, I listen to music constantly while writing. It doesn’t distract me and actually helps with creative production. This is also true when I am editing for content. However, when I’m editing for grammar, I must have complete silence. I even read the material aloud to help me catch missing words or awkward constructions. I know it sounds strange, but it works for me.
Tell us about your process for naming your characters. (How much importance do you put on names? Do your characters all have names before you write?)
Not all names in my novels are chosen with a purpose but most are. This is true for the two main characters in Set You Free. Set You Free wouldn’t be classified as a Christian novel, but the title and a number of references in the book come from the Bible. Deena’s name is a variant of the name Dinah. In the Old Testament, Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was defiled by Shechem. In retaliation, her bothers Simeon and Levi killed Shechem and all the men in his village. I’ll leave the story connection up to the readers. On the other hand, Blake’s name is not a biblical reference, but it’s questionable derivation fits in perfectly with the story. The name Blake may come from the Old English “blac” which means dark hair or skin. It may also come from the Old English “blaac” which means light hair or skin. Blake, like the origin of his name, is a bit uncertain. He is a good man, but his emotions sometimes cloud his judgement, leading to decisions that he comes to regret. There is a dark turmoil within him that is hidden from most others in the story. Dina and Blake are both characters who are trying desperately to find some faint light in the blackness of their past.
How do you decide on your book’s title?
Book titles usually reveal themselves to me during the writing. I start out with a “working” title but somewhere in the process of writing the real title becomes apparent. For example, Hearts in the Storm started out as The Lost. As I wrote this story about these two heart shaped necklaces that had been separated by a storm, it became obvious to me that the necklaces were a physical representation of the two hearts of the main characters that had also been broken and lost in life’s catastrophic storms. The characters’ attempt to reunite the two necklaces during a hurricane paralleled their own attempts to make their own hearts whole. On more than one level, this was a book about hearts in a storm. The title made perfect sense.
If you could bring any one of your characters to life, which would you choose and why?
This is an extremely difficult question to answer. It’s like asking, “Which of your children do you love best?” Seriously, writers have a close bond with their characters. How do you choose? There’s Sissy (Hearts in the Storm) who loves her brother but rages at his inability to move forward with his life after a tragic accident. Then she feels guilty for not being more understanding. There’s Eli (Dreams of the Sleepless) whose controlling and cantankerous personality masks a broken life and a loving heart. There’s Enos (Set You Free) who is intellectually challenged but has a heart that more than makes up for any deficiency. There are too many others to mention. But the winner is Duck (Hearts in the Storm). I am fascinated by this heroic man who has been driven to his knees, not by some brute, outside force, but by his own guilt and self-doubt. The tagline for that novel reads, “The most destructive storm rages within the heart.” Surviving that storm is the greatest triumph.
About the Author
Elmer Seward was born and raised along the Chesapeake Bay in southeast Virginia. Growing up, the cemetery behind his house was his playground. The metaphorical theme of death and rebirth that figures prominently in his novels is probably influenced in some way by the time that his mother heard, through the screened window, a small voice crying for help. Rushing from the house and through the yard, she discovered her all-too-curious six-year-old son at the bottom of a freshly dug grave. In that moment, he discovered that trouble is much easier to get into than it is to get out of. Sometimes we need help getting out of the hole that we jump into willingly.
He is blessed to have a large blended family. He is also the reluctant servant of three crazy dogs, a Maltese, a Japanese Chin, and a BruMaltChiYorkie. All of these strongly influence the characters and events in his novels; however, his beautiful wife, Mitzi, is the true inspiration for the tender hearted but determined women in his stories.
He is the author of two previous novels, Hearts in the Storm and Dreams of the Sleepless.
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