Sunday Spotlight: Tara Ellis, Author of Bloodlines

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting us today is Tara Ellis, the author of the Young Adult, Science Fiction Forgotten Origins Trilogy. She answered questions below about her works, life and pets and also agreed to a giveaway!

About Tara

Author Tara Ellis lives in a small, rural town in Washington State, set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys the quiet lifestyle with her husband, two teenage kids and several dogs.
Tara was a firefighter/EMT (yes, you read that right) and worked in the medical field for many years, before committing herself to writing young adult and middle grade novels full-time after life threw the MS curve-ball at her. (she still dabbles in teaching CPR)

She grew up on sci-fi, was a devoted Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fan, and has since found a love for conspiracy theories. This background, combined with a wild imagination has led to The Forgotten Origins Trilogy. The first book in the series, Bloodline, was named 'Indie Book of the Day in Oct, 2014' and voted as 'Top 50 Indie Books of 2014'. (

Hi there Tara! Tell us about your Forgotten Origins Trilogy!
This should be the easiest question, right? But for all the countless hours I have spent telling the story…I still don’t have a canned response as to how to sum it all up. It’s epic. It’s not at all what you expect and really, I don’t think there’s another young adult series out there like it.
The Forgotten Origins Trilogy is most definitely sci-fi, but it also spans several other genres, including; mystery, thriller, horror, dystopian and supernatural. It’s told first-person, from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Alex. She’s your typical teen, although very down-to-earth and level headed, thanks to her father. He was killed during a mugging two years before the story starts, while her parents were on vacation in Egypt. Her dad was full Egyptian, but was born in the States due to his own parents being there for work. They eventually returned to Egypt, and he chose to stay, though his ties to his heritage were strong. Yes, this becomes very important to the story later on.
Why? That’s what makes this trilogy so unusual. But first, I have to tell you about the meteor shower. That’s where the first book, Bloodline, begins. It’s a historic event, and Alex’s dad had been pretty much obsessed with it. While it totally lives up to everyone’s expectations, it also releases a viral plague on the world. One that changes most of the population into something…well, I don’t want to give it all away, do I? ;)
From there, the story becomes more complex. It involves ancient, secret societies, pyramids, crystal skulls, and conspiracy theories brought to life. One of my pet peeves are any parts of a story that makes you go, “Oh, come on!” I go out of my way to make all aspects of the back story believable. All of the ancient Sumerian texts, Native American legends, biblical stories and other various religious beliefs quoted, are real. The way that I tie them all in together, and the secret societies, are my own creations. I did a LOT of research, including how viruses work, and DNA structure (and its manipulation).
I hope that I have imagined a story that anyone who enjoys the genres I listed, will find both intriguing and entertaining.

What first attracted you to the sci-fi genre?
This answer is easy! I’ve been a huge sci-fi fan my whole life. I’ve always had a wild, vivid imagination. My first memories of television were of watching the original Star Trek with my dad.
I just love to get lost in it. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. There’s something about the unknown that attracts me, and taking it and making up a different reality is the ultimate journey.

What do you think makes your trilogy special?
I’ve already named a few things, but a big one is the fact that rather than your typical trilogy, where each book seems to lose a little steam…I really believe each of my books is better than the last. I love Bloodline. It’s my ‘first’. But I’ll admit that Heritage (book 2), is better. I got braver about developing the characters and exploring the story more. Then there’s descent (book 3). I absolutely love this one. I didn’t want it to end. I was actually crying as I wrote the last lines (just a little), because I had become so attached to both the characters and the stories.
Another major point is just how original it is. It’s been described as a cross between the DaVinci Code and Indiana Jones. I find that a lot of YA stories out there hinge on the love interest. I need a story with more meat than that. (my books are a ‘clean’ read)  I need one that makes you think and question what you know as reality. I feel that I’ve achieved that with The Forgotten Origins Trilogy.

Tell us about your favourite character in the trilogy.
I don’t want to come off as cliché, but I have to be honest, and say Alex. She really seemed to take on a life of her own as I was writing, and I was even surprised with how her character developed. I think she is incredibly believable. Flawed. Scared. Smart and tough, but also vulnerable and desperate at times. By the end of Descent, you look back and think about her journey and who she’s become…it’s both sad and thrilling at the same time.

I read that you have been a firefighter and worked in the medical field, do you think such careers have influenced your writing?
Absolutely. There are a couple of situations where this comes into play. I have taught CPR for going on fifteen years, and I am proud to say that the scenes that involve this insight are extremely accurate. I’ve been on some pretty traumatic calls as a firefighter/EMT and have experienced death first hand as a support officer. I incorporated this knowledge into how the characters dealt with things, and I think that realism translates into a believable experience for the reader that elicits some strong emotions.

You’ve had some really good reviews on Goodreads; tell us about a piece of feedback which really made you smile.
There was one review in particular that really touched me. She got the story. She connected with the characters and understood the over-all message in the trilogy. Here’s a small excerpt: “…Page after page you're just enveloped in this tale trying to get to the end wondering if it'll end with that bang it started off with. I really did feel this story was about freedom, keeping our humanity, faith, and last but not least, friendship and family. Nothing in this world is worth giving up all those things or giving up on. A wonderful message for anyone who has been through any type of adversity. You really can do anything as long as you have faith & are fighting that good fight.” – MissezMathis, Amazon/Goodreads
To have a complete stranger read my creation, and get that from it, is a feeling that made it all worth it. I relied on books as a child to help me deal with stress and a reality that wasn’t always someplace I wanted to be. To be able to extend that is something I cherish.

I read that you’re also a photographer, tell us more about that!
Yes, I am! I suppose that if you were to measure success by profit, then I would say I am more successful as a photographer. It’s pretty much funding my writing. I mostly do landscape and nature photography, and then sell canvas prints locally and at craft fairs. However, I’ve been branching out more lately into portraits.
I’m sure you and your readers are familiar with #1 New York Times, best-selling author, S.C. Stephens? She wrote the amazingly successful ‘Thoughtless’ series, and just released ‘Thoughtful’. I had the absolute pleasure of taking the head shot for her new book! (If you look at the photo at the back of Thoughtful, you’ll see credit given to Tara Ellis Photography) She is actually a HUGE inspiration to me, as an indie author. She’s one of the rare ones that broke through and made it. She’s also an incredibly nice person, and I’m so happy for her!

I’ve also incorporated some of my photography into my book covers. Mel, at Melchelle designs, has created all of my covers and I just love her work. The background in Bloodline is one of mine, and for Descent, I used my daughter as a model! I had such a specific image in mind that I had to set it up. (It involves a rifle) Everyone had said that the model from the stock art used on the first two looked like her, so we went for it, and I think it turned out perfect!

Here are a couple of examples of my work. This first picture is from down the road near my house. There were some trumpeter swans hanging out and I waited until the weather was just right! The second picture is of my daughter, and I manipulated it a bit to use it for some advertising for the series.

What should we look out from you in the future?
I’m currently working on the third book in my other series. It’s a middle grade mystery series, similar to Nancy Drew or Trixie Beldon. I’m really loving this one, too, and it’s very easy for me to write. I’ve also started to record and produce my own audio books. So far, I have Bloodline and The Mystery of Hollow Inn (book 1 in the Samantha Wolf Mysteries) out. I plan on producing the whole trilogy by this summer. I’m happy that all of the reviews to date have been good! I’ve done some theatre and a lot of story time, so the narrating comes naturally. I’m telling you though, the mastering/mixing is a lot of work!
My goal is to have the first five books in my kid’s series done by the end of this year, and…I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from the other world that I created for too long! I have plans to write some novelettes, told first-person from five of the other characters in the Forgotten Origins trilogy. The stories will pick up where the trilogy left off, in the dystopian world left behind. I might then do another full length novel, going back to Alex, and incorporating all of the stories from the novelettes into it.

You say you have dogs, I love asking about pets! Tell us about them.
What a great question! I always like to talk about my ‘other’ babies. The first-born is Baxter, and he’s an adorable, cinnamon colored Miniature Poodle. I have to confess that I based the dog in the trilogy, also named Baxter, after him. Although they are different breeds, the personalities and traits are much the same. If it feels, as a reader, that Baxter is an awfully well-rounded character for a dog…that might be why!
My other doggy is named Daisy, and she’s a Schnoodle. That’s a mix between a schnauzer and a miniature poodle. Also super smart, if not a little neurotic. She is definitely a one-person dog and she chose to attach herself to me.
Unfortunately, we just had to say goodbye to our longest-standing family member, Scooter, just over a month ago. He was an Australian shepherd mix, and although he wasn’t very…intelligent, he was VERY loving and we miss him dearly.
We also have an incredibly cool, sixteen-year-old cat named Spine, and a bearded dragon named Henry. He LOVES crickets.

Is there anything else you want to tell my readers at Confessions of a Bookaholic?
Yes, there is! I would just like to invite your readers to give my trilogy a try. I realize that there is a literal sea of books out there. I’m also an avid reader, and so I know how hard it is to find the gems simply by browsing. Finding good indie books are even more difficult, because they often don’t have the thousands of reviews to help the reader decide.
I recently made my trilogy available as an ebook box set, so not only is it more affordable, but because of the length, the free sample on Amazon allows you to read the first twelve chapters of Bloodline! So in addition to the 50+ reviews on Amazon that the trilogy has (with a 4.8 average) you can read almost half of the first book for free and decide for yourself if it’s worth the purchase.
I would also like to invite any reviewers to personally contact me about getting a review copy. I’m always more than happy to gift my books for the sake of an honest review.

I want to thank you for this opportunity to connect with your readers, because it really does make a difference. The hardest part of being self-published is reaching an audience, and getting to share my story with them! Please don’t hesitate to visit my various sites and leave feedback, I love to hear from other readers and authors.

About Bloodline:
Sixteen-year-old Alex has always suspected her father’s death wasn't random, but she never guessed how deep the mystery runs or what it involves. When a rare meteor shower is followed by a highly contagious infection, the people she once knew so well start acting like they have a similar purpose that doesn’t include her. Alex can now only rely on her friend Chris and loyal dog Baxter as she plunges into a strange, new world predestined since ancient times. Wandering the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, deciphering cryptic messages left by her father, desperately searching for a cure-will Alex have the courage and faith to even survive?

Find the Trilogy on Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | Facebook | Website | Audible | Free Sample 

Tara has agreed to not one but two giveaways! The paperback giveaway is for the US ONLY but the other is international, feel free to enter both if the requirements allow it but you can only win one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to let Tara and I know what you thought of the spotlight in the comments!

If you are an author and want to be spotlighted drop me an email. Don't forget to share my spotlight posts wherever you can, it's really important to support the lesser known author community! Also if you want to be included in my scheme then you need it to be popular enough for you to have maximum publicity!

If you do share my scheme let me know where and I will post an endorsement of your blog/book/anything in exchange on my Twitter account.

9 People dared to comment.:

Igzy Dewitt said...

Well done, fun, and factual. I'm not much of a Young Adult reader, but I do love science fiction and fantasy. Great post Emily, and good luck to you Tara.

Hunter Murphy said...

Great to meet Tara and to hear about this trilogy and writing. I really appreciate what Emily is doing here on "Confessions." :) Well done.

Tara Ellis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Ellis said...

Thank you! And a BIG thanks to Emily for providing such a great platform! As an Indie Author, this type of support plays a huge role in helping us find our readers. There are a ton of books out there, a lot of them good, so I always appreciate a chance to connect. :)

Rupert Copping said...

This trilogy sounds fascinating. It is sure to appeal to young readers everywhere. Unfortunately I am no longer young, but there are plenty of readers who are and many of them will be eager to read Tara's books!

Liza Shaw said...

This like tight up my street, I'd love to review it if I win.

imogene dacanay said...

I would really love to have this. I will definitely make a review too

Sarah Stuart said...

Hi Tara
I loved Bloodline, as you know. I reviewed it a while ago. I see now how you wrote the "reality" behind the fantasy so convincingly.
Publicity is a huge problem for Indie authors, though Emily has a great idea going here. Connect with me on Twitter @sasspip & I'll follow back and retweet.
Best, Sarah.

Anonymous said...

well done Tara! I was thinking of using my daughter for my book cover too btw - teenagers are so gorgeous!

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