Date Published: 3/4/2014
Average family. Average job. Average existential crisis.
After thirty boring years, nothing about Cora Riley’s life has measured up to her childhood dreams of being truly extraordinary. It’s too bad that the night she decides to seek out her specialness she crashes on a rural highway.
Cora wakes in the clutches of the Mistress of the underworld who sets her a seemingly impossible quest. If she wants a second chance at life, Cora must find her way through the dozen heavens and return to the castle in three days.
With the help of an unusual guardian angel named Jack and a little boy named Xavier, Cora navigates the afterlife doorfield and quickly learns that gods and monsters are very real indeed. Terrifying and tempting obstacles litter her path; only the power of belief – in the Otherworld, in her companions, and in herself – will return her to the land of the living.
Writerly Inspiration: Two Giants in Ellie Di Julio’s Literary Lineage
No author exists in a vacuum. (Except maybe Stephen King.) They each have a rich lineage of writers stretching out behind them, traceable through their reading history and visible in the timbre of their work. It’s not a conscious modeling – that’d be appropriation as opposed to inspiration– but rather a heritage they carry forward.
Francesca Lia Block is primarily a young adult author whose style can best be described as fairytale love letters to the magic-seeking teenager. Her books are short but intense, dealing with urgent desire and filled with fantastical prose-poetry, rhapsodizing about love and Los Angeles.
A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.
- from Weetzie Bat
I always come away from her work like I dropped some mind-altering substance that makes you feel woozy in a good way. She’s taught me a sense of wonder and how to be poetical with description of both emotional and physical landscapes.
Terry Pratchett writes the incredibly popular 40ish volume Discworld series, famous for its sprawling and detailed fantasy world, compelling and memorable characters, and wry and poignant humor. His style embodies British understatement while touching on big ideas like spirituality, morality, and race.
YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"
MY POINT EXACTLY.
- from Hogfather
I’m constantly finding some new joke or concept I missed before – his work is that well-layered. He’s taught me to use unexpected humor and well-rounded characters to drive a story, which makes writing way more fun.
It’s nature balancing nurture. I contribute whatever inborn talent I have on the nature end; Block and Pratchett contribute the nurture through my enjoyment of their work. Writing inspiration comes from many places, but for me, there’s no truer source than looking along my own literary lineage and tipping my hat to the writers that shape me.
Ellie Di Julio is a nomadic writer currently living in Hamilton, Ontario with her Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike husband and their three cats. Between nerd activities like playing Dungeons & Dragons or watching Top Gear, she enthusiastically destroys the kitchen and tries to figure out what it's all about, when you really get down to it. She also writes urban fantasy novels riddled with pop culture references and sexy secret agents.
Her first novel, Inkchanger, could easily be considered Forgotten Relics #0, and as such, rewards readers of the rest of the series, sort of like watching Thor before The Avengers. Her second novel, Time & Again with Kyeli Smith, has nothing to do with super powers or secret agents but is very cool nonetheless.