Author interview with Elaine Scroller

I’m’ so excited to have fellow Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) author, Elaine Schroller, on my blog today. If you haven’t yet read Elaine’s work, I highly recommend you start now! I’ve read and loved Elaine’s two historical novels, and can’t wait to dig into her writing process, research, advice for writers, and a peek into what she’s working on next.

Before we get started, here’s a little background about Elaine.

Elaine reads and writes historical fiction to escape writing about computer software and to travel to other places in time.

Her degree is in History, which gave her the perfect training for researching specific places and events in Dare Not Tell and The Bravest Soldiers. She’s traveled to all but one of the countries in the books and visited all the sites where the story takes place, some more than once.

Elaine grew up an oil brat, and attended high schools in Algiers, Algeria, Northwood, England, Clear Lake City, Texas, Beirut, Lebanon, and Kingston-upon-Thames, England. For many years she’s lived in Bellaire, Texas. Elaine and her husband raised their son here. Now they have a rescue cocker spaniel underfoot and travel as often as they can convince their son to look after the dog for them.

Elaine is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Elaine Schroller

Thanks for taking time to come on my blog, Elaine!

First off, I’m a big fan of the Immense Sky Saga. I loved both Dare Not Tell and The Bravest Soldiers. You can see my reviews here for Dare Note Tell and The Bravest Soldiers. Can you give us an overview of the first two books in your series? And what was your original inspiration in writing them?

Dare Not Tell coverDare Not Tell is the story of Joe Parker, an Australian WWI vet, and his American wife Sophie, a WWI nurse. It begins with Sophie and Joe’s chance meeting in 1916 Paris and chronicles their story of love and loss, secrets and redemption up to the threshold of WWII.

The Bravest Soldiers is the next chapter in Sophie and Joe’s story. It’s set in Australia and the South West Pacific Area during World War II. The book features Sophie and Joe, their sons Sam and Jean-Luc going off to war, Marianne Ryan who leaves France for Australia just before war breaks out in Europe, plus visitors from the US, a new romance, and a trio of children whom life has treated very unfairly. There’s a dog too, because I’ll always include a dog in my books. At its heart, the book is about how the women who wait at home must be the bravest soldiers.

Honestly, the first glimmers of inspiration came from episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, an Australian TV series set in 1929 Melbourne. Miss Fisher, a lady private investigator, was an ambulance driver for the Belgians in WWI. The detective she works with and his constable happen upon a crate containing ammunition for Browning automatic rifles – the first machine guns – made by the Americans in WWI.

What was most interesting to you about the historical research for these novels? What is an element that surprised you most?

Serendipity. Photographs. Poetry.

Despite being a History major in college, I had only a fuzzy knowledge of US participation in WWI, and no idea the Australians fought in WWI. I discovered Americans and Australians have a long history together during the 20th century.

The Bravest SoldiersAs I poked around the internet to learn more about Australian involvement in WWI, I found a photo of Australian Lance Corporal John MacQuarrie and a small child smiling and saluting each other.

MacQuarrie’s uniform is so new that he doesn’t even have his battalion’s color patch on the sleeve yet. His boots are still shiny. His puttees aren’t caked in mud. The hope, enthusiasm, and good faith that “it would all be over by Christmas” is clearly evident in the smile and salutes.

I fell head over heels in love with this photo.

The soldier became Joe Parker. The toddler became his two-year-old son Sam.

Then I found a poem called The Things They Dare Not Tell, which is about secrets that everyone keeps but that no one dares to tell anyone about. It was perfect for a sensitive soul who’d seen and done some really horrendous things in wartime.

Then a visit to the American Cemetery in Paris informed me that although WWI began in September 1914, the US didn’t enter it until April 1917. In the interim, thousands of young Americans volunteered for the French and Belgians as ambulance drivers, pilots, aid workers – you name it. The American Hospital in Paris turned its facility and personnel over to the French government to treat French causalities.

Sophie became one of the nurses at the hospital. She lives with a fellow nurse who is married to a Frenchman and who has a young son called Jean-Luc.

At that point, I knew Joe and Sophie had to meet somehow, become friends, and share the wartime burdens they faced.

What surprised me the most was that the more I learned, the more Sophie and Joe took shape in my imagination. I’d never experienced anything like having characters residing in my head!

I know you are also an avid reader of historical fiction. Why do you think historical fiction appeals so much to readers?

A desire to escape everyday life. To vicariously travel to other places and times. Experiencing it all through a talented writer’s words is as good as being there but with penicillin and better plumbing!

One of the best things about being an indie writer is finding fellow travelers – like you – on the journey. What appeals to you most about being an indie author? What is most difficult about the indie author journey? What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?

I love being able to write about what interests me. Life is so short that it’s a joy to forge my own path. Of course, there’s a down side – having to do everything to find readers, promote books, get covers designed, etc., etc. It’s a never-ending list of things indie authors must do and learn about publishing and promoting books, often with little outside help.

As for advice, learn and absorb everything about writing that you can and then keep the bits that make sense to you. When you stumble, and you will, dust off your knees and keep trying.

What is your favorite aspect of writing? What do you find the most challenging?

Piecing together disparate facts, history, ideas, character traits, getting inside my characters’ heads. Making it all make sense is the most challenging thing!

What is your writing process? Are you a plotter, pantser or something in-between?

I prefer to plot, although sometimes I’m content to write by the seat of my pants. I’ve written some of my best scenes when I’m utterly exhausted and discouraged with by plotting and I just let it all pour out as I type.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Thinking about what I could write about next! Honestly, all my previous hobbies have fallen by the wayside since I started writing ten years ago, except traveling (mostly to France and England) with my husband.

We both belong to Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Historical Novel Society. What do you think WFWA, HNS and other professional writing associations offer to authors as they develop their careers?

Making lots of writing friends is so important – not least because you realize you aren’t the only one going through all the highs and lows inherent in creative work. There’s a wonderful sense that you’re part of a tribe of like-minded people and the tribe looks out for its own.

What advice would you offer to aspiring authors as they strike out into the writing life?

Just start writing. Accept that whatever your write will probably be terrible at first. My favorite writing quote is something along the lines about shoveling sand into a box so you can build a castle.

Anything you’d like to say to your readers?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending your precious time reading what I’ve written. I’m so humbled when I remember there are a million books you could have chosen and you chose mine.

What projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m writing the third book in the Immense Sky Saga. All of the characters from Books 1 and 2 will be there and the story will take them from the period after WWII and loop back up to WWI. I’m also plotting out shorter pieces that I’d like to publish as a companion to the books.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Elaine! Tell us how readers can find your books and stay in contact with you.





Dare Not Tell

The Bravest Soldiers



  1. Elaine on January 19, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    Kimberly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting my to your blog! I love traveling the indie author road with you!

    • Kimberly Sullivan on January 19, 2024 at 1:43 pm

      SUCH a pleasure to have you on my blog, Elaine, as a fellow indie author friend and reader/fan of your work. Can’t wait until your next novel!

  2. Evelyne Taylor on January 19, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    Wonderful interview. I so enjoyed reading The Sky Saga, books 1 & 2. Great writing!

    • Kimberly Sullivan on January 19, 2024 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you, Evelyne. lad you enjoyed the author interview and, like you, I’m a big fan of The Big Sky Saga, too! Looking forward to the next…

Leave a Comment