TDQ: What made you want to be a writer?
Ellingsen: I’m a voracious reader. While I’ve done a lot of other things in my life, job-wise, I’ve always come back to writing. The written word is the greatest thing in the world (next to Disneyland).
TDQ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Ellingsen: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try” – Yoda (obviously, he didn’t give me that advice personally, but it was inspirational, nonetheless).
TDQ: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
Ellingsen: “If your writing thing doesn’t pan out in five years, consider another career” (I won’t say who gave me that advice, because they’re probably going to read this).
TDQ: Who are your influences?
Ellingsen: Theodore Roosevelt is probably my biggest influence. He was a sickly, asthmatic child who nobody thought would amount to much. He went on to become a boxer, a cowboy, a noted explorer, a decorated soldier, a writer, a conservationist, the police commissioner of New York city, the 33rd Governor of New York state, and, of course, the 26th President of the United States. On a side note, the teddy bear got its name from him. Needless to say, he was a pretty busy guy, as well as incredibly inspirational.
TDQ: What advice would you give to somebody trying to write a novel?
Ellingsen: My advice is along the same lines as the best advice I’ve heard, which is, don’t “try.” Do it. And do it for yourself. Obviously, you need to keep in mind that you are writing for an audience, but make it something you’re proud of, even if nobody ever reads it.
TDQ: Quick: Dean Koontz or Stephen King?
Ellingsen: Really? Stephen King. Absolutely. Dean Koontz is a great writer, don’t get me wrong. But Stephen King still scares the crap out of me.