AUTHOR INTERVIEW 46


Eleanor Wagner

United States, New Jersey

Age 55


Eleanor Wagner has served twice on the Romance Panel for the Milford Authors and Writers Festival. Recently, she was named on Fran Briggs Best of Winter Reading 2019 List and has had one of her investigations featured on “Paranormal Caught on Camera.”
Her second book, Sussex County Hauntings and Other Strange Phenomena, was her first non-fiction novel. Sussex County Hauntings and Other Strange Phenomena Part II is the second book in her series on hauntings in the county.
She is currently working on Warren County Hauntings and Other Strange Phenomena and Sussex County Hauntings and Other Strange Phenomena: Part lll. Her first children’s book, “Jeanine Beane Meets Mavis the Camel” is due out in the winter of 2020/2021 and is part of a childrens’ Second Grade reader series.
Eleanor Wagner started out as a city girl, born and bred in the Bronx, but she has long become a country girl at heart living in the beautiful countryside of Sussex County sharing space with horses and cows. She spent years releasing her ‘inner child’ by portraying Pennywhistle the Clown for children of all ages.  Aside from writing, in her spare time she likes to sing, read, hike, swim, garden, and spend time with her family which is comprised of her five kids (two daughters and three fur babies) and her husband of 30 years.  She has always been a daydreamer and finds joy in the tiniest of things.
She’s happy as long as she can write, and she’ll write about anything that ignites the writer within. She finds great joy in being able to take her reader along on the journey with her.
Who would ever think that Sussex County is haunted? Something is definitely stirring in the buildings of Sussex and all around the county, and the stories about them can be found within these pages if you are fearless enough to read them. Have the dead returned to their beloved hometown to recover something they lost? Or, have they never really left at all? Read individual true accounts from average men and women like yourself.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?

Eleanor Wagner: The most difficult part of my artistic process is finding enough time in a day to do everything I want to with my writing. It‘s not simply writing and publishing a book and working on your next project. It’s so much more than that. Once the book is published, an author must take it upon themself not to rely soley on the platform advertising the book for purchase. An Author must sell and market themselves to the public in any way possible. No opportunity to do so should be overlooked.

Romelia: DOES YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER?

Eleanor Wagner: My family is very supportive of my writing career although it can take its toll on them at times. I am literally on the computer every time I get whether it be for writing my books or for marketing it in various platforms. This naturally takes away from the time I spend with them. I have had to juggle and balance work and family life in order to accomplish my goals.

Romelia: IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AS A CHILD OR TEENAGER TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER AS AN ADULT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Eleanor Wagner: I wouldn’t do anything differently as a child to become a better writer, but as an adult, I wouldn’t have waited so long to get my first book published. I literally wrote my first book over twenty years before I actually submitted it to a publisher. I think it was the fear of rejection that kept me from doing so. In hindsight, everything happens for a reason and so, when I finally did get my book published, my children were full-grown and more independent and able to care for themselves hence allowing me more time for writing. Had it happened earlier, it wouldn’t have been possible to write as much because I was focused on mothering and raising my daughters.

Romelia: HOW LONG ON AVERAGE DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

Eleanor Wagner: My first book took me a year to complete. My second book took me a year. My third book took me six months. The reason for the difference in times from one to the other simply was time availability and the need for speed. There was such a demand for the second book in my haunting series that I moved on a quicker schedule to get it out. With the onslaught of the Covid pandemic, I actually was home more and so had more time to devote to the manuscript. The third book In the haunting series was due out this winter, but I’m also working with the schedule of my editor, who happens to be my daughter Viktoria-Leigh and with her having a full-time government job, her time is precious and scarce. I have had to be patient with her editing the manuscript this time around. I am hoping to release it early in the new year. An exciting thing, though, is my first children’s book, “Jeanine Beane meets Mavis the camel,” a second grader reader series is due out this Christmas provided the illustrator is able to produce the final product in time.

Romelia: DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?

Eleanor Wagner: I absolutely believe in writer’s block! After writing my first book, “Dream a little dream,” a supernatural love story, I began writing my second supernatural love story. I had the beginning, middle and end all planned, but at one point hit a wall – writer’s block. After going to a local writer’s group and tossing ideas around, the light went on in my head and I got the idea for the haunting series. I put it out on social media to get some feedback and the response was overwhelming. I knew it would be more than one book, but never did I imagine the extent of the series. Before I knew it, I was bombarded with haunting stories from over seven counties in the area where I live! In addition, I was able to pick up where I left off on my supernatural love story and am close to completing that one, as well.

Romelia: AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THEMSELVES A WRITER?

Eleanor Wagner: A person can call themselves a writer after they have written their very first poem, story, screenplay etc. Whether they can call themselves a good writer is a different story. That, I feel, is left up to the readers and with authors with the reviews they receive from their readers.

Romelia: WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU SEE BETWEEN A WRITER AND AN AUTHOR?

Eleanor Wagner: A writer is someone who is compelled to continually write for pleasure. An author, I feel, is someone who actually creates and publishes a novel or screenplay.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU PROCESS AND DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS?

Eleanor Wagner: It is a huge disappointment for me to see a negative book review. When I got my very first one, I actually questioned the reader as to why, especially since all my reviews were five stars, but never received a response from them. I realized then that no one can satisfy everyone and sometimes a reader has an agenda. For example, I have interviewed hundreds of people for my hauntings series. Not every story makes it into the book. I have told people though that if their story doesn’t make it into one, don’t fret for it may get into another. After the first book, a disgruntled interviewee that didn’t make it into the first book punished me by giving me a bad review. It is what it is. I can’t allow it to consume me. The majority vote is the one I look to for authority on the actual truth, so I am believing the ‘five star’ rating is the actual truth about the level of ranking for my book and not the occasional negative one which could be given by an individual for obscure reasons.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

Eleanor Wagner: I feel the most difficult part of a writing process is the editing and receiving other individual’s critiques on my work. With the editing, it seems endless at times so it becomes tedious and critiques can be tough to accept at times. A writer must learn to remain openminded and accept peoples’ ideas and suggestions and weigh them on their merit when making changes or adjustments to a manuscript.

Romelia: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING OR WHEN DID YOU START?

Eleanor Wagner: I have been writing since I was in the seventh grade of school. My teacher, Mrs. Marion O’Connor, inspired us to write a poem for an assignment. I wrote about ghosts and goblins. I still have the poem till this day! Once I got the writing bug, it never went away. It continued to grow. I wrote poetry consistently and then started writing short stories. In 1992, I got the idea for a novel and “Dream a little Dream” was written.

Romelia: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WRITER WORKING ON THEIR FIRST BOOK?

Eleanor Wagner: If you are a new writer, be patient. Take your time. Ask questions of other writers. Join writing groups. Accept constructive criticism and allow it to help you learn and get better at writing.

Romelia: WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?

Eleanor Wagner: A good beginning, middle and ending are imperative. Grammar and spelling are extremely important, but without a doubt, a good editor is top priority. There is nothing worse or more annoying than reading a book someone has written that is overflowing with grammatical errors. It is enough to make me put the book down. The only time I will finish such a book, is if I am reading it for a writer friend. Then, I will try to tell them in a nice way about this problem in the hopes they will correct it if they want to be taken seriously in the writing world.

Romelia: WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU – THE PLOT OR THE CHARACTERS – AND WHY?

Eleanor Wagner: Not sure why it is, but for me the plot comes first and characters later when I am writing an adult novel. I think it’s because I am looking for a story that is going to grab the reader’s attention. Once I think I have it, I can build upon it with characters I create. Believe it or not, though, when I wrote my children’s book series, it was totally opposite. I had the character in my head and all her friends, and then I decided what the story would be about. For example, “Jeanine Beane Meets Mavis The camel,” plays upon the children’s song, “sally the camel.” I knew who Jeanine Beane was and who all her friends were, I just needed to put them into a fun story that would capture the attention of a second grader. Sally the camel seemed the perfect idea to incorporate into a story about Jeanine and her friends.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?

Eleanor Wagner: In order to develop my plot and characters I first need to begin with a simple premise and build upon it from that point on.

Romelia: WHEN DID YOU FIRST CALL YOURSELF A WRITER?

Eleanor Wagner: After I wrote my first poem in the seventh grade and didn’t stop writing from that point on.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS AN AUTHOR?

Eleanor Wagner: Social media is an extremely important tool for me as an author. It allows me to connect with my fans and people all over the world. It also allows me to find people to interview for future books. I have an author facebook page, an author Instagram, a linkedin page, a tumblr, a twitter account and a mewe account. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday I faithfully post something to each of these platforms. In addition, if I have something to remind my fans about, I will post it on an off day. Also, it is a great tool to get the word out about my books for those who wish to read them. Lastly, I am able to take part in author takeovers and zoom meets about my books and background.

Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART OF PUBLISHING?

Eleanor Wagner: My favorite part of publishing was being accepted by a publishing firm to publish my first manuscript. That, in itself, was very gratifying. Knowing that the publishing world thought I was good enough to publish was thrilling for me. I was with my publisher for five years, but recently broke away from them, because I felt they weren’t doing enough for me as far as the marketing end of things go. They were good in the beginning, but got lax as time went on. When a fan reached out to me about being unable to get my book on Amazon, I investigated the situation and found out the publisher wasn’t replenishing the supply of my book, so when someone went to order it, it was ‘out of stock’. Also, I had to constantly inquire as to where my profit check was. When I finally broke away from the publisher and began self-publishing, I realized I have control of my own destiny. I have done a far better job marketing myself even though they had me on more platforms! In addition, I control the money end of things for me! I make all the decisions and it has been a huge success!

Romelia: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO AN AUTHOR WHO WANTED TO DESIGN THEIR OWN COVER?

Eleanor Wagner: If an author wanted to design their own cover, I would say to them, depending on the type of book, to ensure they research it properly. For example, the cover for my first book was created by the publisher. The cover for my two haunting books are photographs I took of two places I held paranormal investigations in. they are great photos and were perfect for the covers. As far as my children’s book is concerned, I knew I wasn’t artistically inclined enough to do it myself. I am very crafty, but I didn’t want the cover to look cheap or cheesy, so I put out a post on social media in search of an illustrator. Funds were an issue, so I reached out to college students looking for experience who I could pay but not a ridiculous fee. That is how I found my wonderful illustrator, Kiana Kerton, who is working on my children’s book series.

Romelia: HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Eleanor Wagner: So far, I have written three adult books and seven children’s books. ”Dream a little dream” is my supernatural love story. ”Sussex County Hauntings” and other strange phenomena: part I and II are my books on hauntings in my community. “Warren County hauntings and other strange phenomena” is due out soon. ”Sussex county hauntings” and other strange phenomena: part iii” is due out next spring. “Jeanine Beane meets Mavis the camel” is the first in my second grader reader series. I already have “Jeanine Beane and the monkes on the bed,” “Jeanine Beane meets Rudolph the red-nosed meanie,” that are ready to go to the illustrator and three others in the series in editing mode. My second supernatural love story is currently in the works.

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK DID YOU HAVE THE HARDEST TIME WRITING?

Eleanor Wagner: The hardest part of one of my books to write was the ending. I wanted it to climax but end well but needed to concentrate on exactly how to do it.

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK WAS THE MOST FUN TO WRITE?

Eleanor Wagner: I really enjoyed writing about the crazed killer in my “dream a little dream” book because I was able to go the extra mile. With him, nothing was off-limits, so it enabled me to go to town with him. I also thoroughly enjoyed sharing my own personal experiences with hauntings in my ghostly series.

Romelia: WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST AND WHY?

Eleanor Wagner: This is a hard question to answer in that I have only written one fiction book and I created the characters in a mix of personalities – I suppose I can relate to Victoria Sheldon in “Dream a little dream” in that she is a strong woman and it comes out when she really needs it to. My other two books are non-fiction and I tell my stories in them, as well.

Romelia: IF YOU’RE PLANNING A SEQUEL. CAN YOU SHARE A TINY BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR IT?

Eleanor Wagner: I have many of my readers that have asked for me to write a second book about Victoria Sheldon and Kyran Cornell from my “Dream a little dream” book because they are so likable. When I wrote the book, I never intended it to have a sequel or be a trilogy. Recently, I thought about the possibility of maybe making a sequel to the dream book. To be continued…..

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Eleanor Wagner: I was a children’s musical party clown for over thirty years. my clown name was pennywhistle – a derivative of Stephen king’s pennywise from the “it” story. Obviously, pennywise was evil and my pennywhistle was not, but I was such a Stephen king fan, I felt compelled to make a tribute to his incredible story writing.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Eleanor Wagner: I have served twice on the Romance Panel for the Milford Authors and Writers Festival. Recently, I was named on Fran Briggs Best of Winter Reading 2019 List and had one of my investigations featured on “Paranormal Caught on Camera” where I was interviewed on national television. Aside from writing, in my spare time I like to sing, read, hike, swim, garden, and spend time with my family which is comprised of my five kids (two daughters and three fur babies) and my husband of 30 years.  I have always been a daydreamer and find joy in the tiniest of things.

I’m happy as long as I can write, and will write about anything that ignites the writer within. I find great joy in being able to take my reader along on the journey with me.

Some things I hate about the world is that it’s so unfair and people simply can’t see it. The way humans treat animals and children saddens me to the core. they are innocent and love unconditionally and should be treated with love in return.

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