Edward Eaton, Redux: this prolific author brings three stories of mystery, sorrow and vanity to our world

Author Ted Eaton has had a busy year, publishing not one, but three works–and it’s only August! His first book, Rosi’s Castle, has been quite a success, and the second book in the series has just been released. We had him here last year, when he was first published, and we’re delighted to feature him again. But I’ll let him share all his wonderful news!

Thanks for being with us today, and welcome back! First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Hi, again, Babs.

I’m Ted Eaton (actually, Edward Eaton). I live in Boston, MA. I grew up in West Virginia, and my family has for generations been from North Carolina and Virginia. I consider myself a southerner. I like to joke that Boston is a great place for southerners because here, like in the south, ‘Yankee’ is a bad word.

I have a wife, Silviya, who works as a hospital administrator. I have a little boy, Christopher, who is eight and who drives us crazy.

I used to have dogs. I love dogs. What I do not like is taking care of dogs. They are time consuming and limiting. Christopher wants a dog. Right now, we live in an apartment that does not allow dogs, so we have an excuse. When we get our own place, especially if it’s a house with a yard, we will have to come up with another excuse. Christopher does not really follow my reasoning: “Why should I get you a dog when I will be the one who takes care of it?” Anyway, he and I need to come to an agreement as to what is a dog. Right now, he really likes those poufy dust-bunny dogs, like Yorkies. Small enough for him to manage. I like Beagles and Labradors. Sturdy dogs that make noise when strangers are around. I used to have a Lab. I never locked my doors. I always said that if someone was going to get past an angry barking seventy-pound dog, then they were going to get into the place anyway and probably knew what they were after.

I have a PhD in Theatre History. I do some academic writing, but my fiction and poetry is not inherently related to theatre. Some of it is (like the plays I wrote). The way I look at history and the way I structure pieces comes from my graduate work. I certainly do not think that a degree is necessary for a writer. An education, though, is (I do not necessarily mean an ‘academic’ education). Part of that is because writers need some maturity and life experience, a sense of perspective.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

Well, I have had a busy summer. I have had three books released through Dragonfly.

A few years ago, my verse drama, Orpheus and Eurydice, was published by a small publisher in England. They have since closed (without paying me, by the way). I was planning on self-publishing Orpheus and Eurydice this summer just to make it available. I asked the fine people at Dragonfly if they could give me some advice. They took a look at the piece and decided that they would be happy to have it as part of their catalogue.

Plays are shorter than novels. Much shorter. Hamlet is only about 30,000 words, and it is a remarkably long play. So, I suggested that they might want to make a two-play anthology and publish my play Elizabeth Bathory, which was performed by a small theatre here in Boston a few years ago. Dragonfly took a look at that play and decided that while it shared some themes with Orpheus and Eurydice, it was stylistically very different (not verse, for one thing) and intended for a different kind of audience (Elizabeth Bathory was written for a Western audience; Orpheus and Eurydice was written to be performed in the Middle East—we had censors come to rehearsals to make sure that the two girls playing the leads were not too close to each other, and we caused a small scandal when they touched briefly at the end). So, they suggested that they release them separately.

At about the same time, my editor sent in the final copy of Rosi’s Doors, Book II, Rosi’s Time. Dragonfly said that they could release Rosi’s Time in the same release window as the two plays, or, we could wait until the winter for a release. I am impatient, so I said that I would opt for a summer release. Of course, what that meant was that I had three very busy weeks doing proofs for three volumes. That is exhausting work. You have done proofs. It can be mind numbing.

You aren’t kidding!! And three at once? You’re a real trouper!


Rosi’s Time. Book two in my series. Rosi has learned about her family secret and is now responsible for it. Unfortunately, she is not the only person who learns what the family secret is. Her enemy from Book 1, Kirk, is back in full force. He leads Rosi and her friends on an exciting and dangerous chase through America’s history. Rosi must also find a way home, if indeed there is still a home to go to.

Orpheus and Eurydice. In Orpheus and Eurydice, two young lovers travel from idyllic Greek glades to the fiery pits of Hell, from the brink of ecstatic joy to the depths of despair. This story is based on the one from Classical Greece, but with a few twists thrown in just for fun. The poem is written in verse. Actually, it is written in Haiku inspired triplets. Each verse follows the syllabic form of Japanese Haiku. The work is not, though, a series of thematically connected Haiku. It is dialogue that follows the specific form. This was quite well received in Oman when it was first produced. The expats in the audience enjoyed the use of language. The Omanis enjoyed the story (most were unfamiliar with it), found it rather shocking, and cheered the villainous Persephone at the end.

Elizabeth Bathory. She killed hundreds to stay young and beautiful forever. The punishment? It worked. Based on a true story. When Elizabeth Báthory discovers that the blood of maidens will keep her young, she sets off on a bloody killing spree that lasts for years and results in the deaths of hundreds. When she is finally caught, she is walled up in her own castle. There, every young and beautiful, she is denied the love and adoration she so craves. Then a young priest, looking for fame and advancement, comes to save her. Will her need for his flesh be stronger than his need for her soul?

The last pieces are theatrical works, though they are both highly readable. Orpheus and Eurydice probably a bit more than Elizabeth Bathory.

What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

I wrote each work for different reasons. I wrote Orpheus and Eurydice because I was running a small theatre at a university in Oman. Because of the general level of English my actors had, we had to do some fairly simple things. Light comedy. Two of the actresses (who would eventually play the main characters) asked me to find something a little meatier. Had I been in the States, I would have dug into my library and found something I could have cut up and cleaned up for them. I was not, so I could not. I thought about Orpheus and Eurydice as a subject. They liked it. When I hit on the verse style, it all started moving from there. In the end, I had three native English speakers (the student who played Eurydice, a professor, and another professor’s daughter) and three native Arabic speakers in the play. It was well received.

Elizabeth Bathory was first written with a specific actress in mind—a Russian television actress named Anastasia Melnikova. She loved the piece, but ultimately could not get the funding (or something like that). A small theatre in Boston did an even smaller production of it. I love the piece. There are some really meaty parts in it. This is certainly not a family-oriented play. Elizabeth has some pain in her past, but it is not used by her to excuse or mitigate her actions. Her only regret is getting caught. She was a real person. For whatever it is worth, it is a play, not a work of history. I know where I stray from the history. But I do stray.

Rosi’s Time. Daria Rega, the professor’s daughter who was in Orpheus and Eurydice, read an early draft of Rosi’s Doors: the Battle For New Richmond, which has since become Rosi’s Castle, Rosi’s Time, and Rosi’s Company. She loved it. She strongly encouraged me to pursue it. After some time, I found Dragonfly Publishing. They encouraged me to take the one book I’d written and divide it into three books. Daria would probably recognize the book she read in these three, but only just. I had to make a lot of changes. Rosi’s journey follows the same path, but many of the obstacles are different now.

How would you best describe your books?

Fun. Readable. Entertaining.
I hope that readers will grow as people when they read my stuff, but I am not trying to change the world. I do not have a social agenda or a political agenda (or, if I do, they are not in my writing). I do not mind challenging readers, some. I play with language to some degree. There are plenty of literary and pop culture references and allusions in my works, but they are epiphenomenal.

What do you like to read when you have the chance?

I have an eclectic taste in literature. I go through phases. Historical fiction (especially ancient Rome) is always a safe bet. Mysteries are good. High fantasy (Tolkien) or good space opera.

Desert Island question? Fantasy/Sci-fi. These genres probably should not be lumped together, but publishers and bookstores do, so I get to, as well. I get my Tolkien, my Conan clones, my David Weber (I like his military stuff, especially), and Heinlein (Starship Troopers is one book I read every couple of years). I would miss a lot (Colleen McCullough, Robert Graves, James Clavell), but you did ask me to choose.

What’s your favorite form to write?

Plays. I have an extensive background in the theatre. I could write in just about any style and still write playscripts. Thank God I do not need to choose one style or genre or medium.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

What I like the most and like the least are essentially the same: the solitude.

When I write, I am the boss. My publisher and editor might disagree, but I really am. The act of creating a piece of literature is something I do alone in my study. The characters do what I want them to do, believe what I want them to believe. The words used are the ones I think of. By the time it gets to my editor, the creation is done. There is still a lot to do, to polish, but no one looks over my shoulder and micromanages what I write (I suppose that can happen with some writers, but has yet to happen to me).

Then again, I get little feedback until I am done. Yes, I have prepublication readers, but there is only so much I can ask them to do for me as a favor. I am very careful about discussing what I am writing with anyone. My wife and my reader Brian are pretty good. Few other people are. My two readers, like my editor and publisher, want to make my work as good as it can be. Other readers, however educated and literate, tend to want to tell me to do what they would want to do. Immediately they start telling me what I should read, who wrote something similar, what they think the characters should really do. When I do not take their advice, they are offended. Since I am not writing best sellers (yet), I am not getting immediate feedback or cloying praise from an agent.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I did attend a reading group briefly. It was started by Brian, whom I mentioned above. I enjoyed the experience. However, Brian and I both came to the conclusion that we were the ones who were interested in producing written works, while the others were more interested in the idea of being writers.

Websites. Well, there is The Clan Elves of the Bitterroot site—one of the best sites on the Internet.

How kind of you to say so!

Really, I am a bit old school. I read books. I studied Aristotle and literary structure in grad school. Other than explaining certain industry standards, how-to books on writing are not saying anything new.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

I love music and use it sometimes to help me with problem solving. Music, though, tends to be a distraction to me. I prefer to turn it off during composition.

Tell us a little about your path to publication.

Like most writers, I tried the big guys first. I got tired of form letters rejecting me. Even more depressing were the personal notes telling me how clearly talented I was. Everyone gets those. They are meaningless. Meaningful is: we want to publish your book. It is like asking a girl out on a date. If she says how sweet you are, but she has a boyfriend (or has recently broken up with one) and would love to stay friends—it is a rejection; it is personal; and she does not want to be friends.

I looked long and hard at smaller, POD, houses. Some of them are simply vanity presses. I am too vain to use one of them. I also do not have the money to self publish.

Dragonfly and I courted each other. They were not interested in bringing in anything new at the time, but we started talking, emailing. We ‘flirted’ with each other for some weeks before I even sent them any part of the book. Even then, their reader suggested not publishing it. The publisher disagreed. At about the same time, another publisher offered to publish the book in one volume. It struck me that Dragonfly was spending more time trying to make my book better; the other publisher apparently wanted to publish it ‘as is.’ Not that it was not brilliant ‘as-was,’ but it is better now.

What’s your favorite thing about the books featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of them?

My last year has pretty much been spent working on the three Rosi’s Doors books. Then I went into overdrive to polish and prep the plays. I do teach college part time (me and Indiana Jones), but my job has recently been ‘writer.’ I like that.

My favorite memory of each of them is opening the box with my first copy in it. I am a firm believer in eBooks. I love them. Those readers who wax on about the mystical connection between the reader and the paper are full of nonsense (I am using my polite vocabulary here). However, there is something really cool about walking into my living room and seeing my four (soon to be five) books spread out on the coffee table. Okay, it is pretty cool to see my book in someone’s queue, but it is not quite the same. I understand that on a certain level, the existence of e-copies of my books make them essentially immortal; however, there is a feeling of permanence to seeing a hard copy.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

Right now, I am working on several pieces.

Hector and Achilles is a verse drama. It has been written in the same style as Orpheus and Eurydice but is much more ambitious, not only theatrically, but thematically and structurally. I am several drafts into it. In fact, on this very day that I am writing this sentence, the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble will be doing a reading of the play. I have worked on several of their shows before and will go and listen to their reading and their comments.

Last Call. This is a verse novel. It is about a group expats and locals in Oman that gathers together at a hotel bar the night before Ramadan (during which all the bars and liquor stores in the country are closed). It is a story of damaged people who damage those around them. The verse form is similar to that of my two plays; however, it is narrative rather than dramatic.

I just began another verse novel. I have no title for it—or, rather, I have had several titles, but none has stuck. It is about the Civil War. I do not want to describe it too much, yet. The verse form is based loosely on the classic Tamil poetic form of Kural.

Those sound fascinating, particularly Last Call. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

A study at a major university was recently done. The conclusion was that reading my books (and those of Babs/Lyndi) will make you smarter, richer, better looking, a better lover, and your spouse better looking.
So, what are you waiting for?