I recently had the pleasure of reading Ten Fingers Touching, the debut novella by Ellen Roth. While I received a hardcover copy in exchange for my review, all opinions are my own.
Roth has written a romantic fairy tale for women reminiscent of the classic stories we read and loved as children.
The love story between Martak and Marianna is set against an epic battle between Good and Evil, much like the romances in ancient Greek myths.
Roth’s writing is beautiful and poetic. I absolutely love her descriptions of the characters and the settings. The only writing that feels a little awkward are the love scenes between Martak and Marianna.
I personally don’t see the point of trying to write a steamy love scene with only flowery euphemisms. Roth’s book stands out from other romances due to its breathtaking illustrations. John Blumen created all the artwork for the cover and the chapters. The artwork really helped bring the book alive.
Roth was kind enough to answer a few of my questions to share with the readers of Enchanted Conversation! Below is my interview with her.
Who are your favorite authors and artists? Did any of them inspire Ten Fingers Touching in some way?
When I was a child, I was given a large fairy tale book with beautiful illustrations. It was filled with original fairy tales that were French, German, Danish, Russian and Japanese translated by Marie Ponsot and illustrated by Adrienne Segur. I loved this book as a child, and I cherish it as an adult. It was inscribed "To Princess Ellen on her 9th birthday with fond wishes for many, many hours of reading and dreaming." I lived inside this book and savored every story and every illustration. It was the most beautiful thing I owned and it provided me with endless hours of pleasure.
While I loved all the stories, I was especially drawn to those by Hans Christian Andersen so I would say that he is my favorite author!
I was an art major in college. I have an MFA in museology (museum studies) and early in my career, I was an art therapist, so art and creativity have always been an important part of my life. I enjoy and appreciate a range of artistic styles, but I'm awed by the works of the 17th-century Dutch masters and in particular, Jan Vermeer. I love his realism, attention to detail and dramatic use of light in genre paintings which are the same characteristics that drew me to John Blumen's digital illustrations of characters in imaginary worlds.
My love of fairy tales was inspired by great story tellers like Hans Christian Andersen. But my goal in creating Ten Fingers Touching was to write a fairy tale for grownups that was beautifully illustrated like a children's book, i.e., a storybook for adults.
Which fairy tale do you love most? Do you like any of the modern twists or adaptations on it?
My favorite fairy tale is "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen. I have read several versions of it but there is nothing like the original story by the original author...pure, simple and elegant.
When did you first start writing Ten Fingers Touching? How long did it take from the initial spark to the beautiful published book today?
I started writing it many years ago, but I never had the time to write the story that I really wanted to tell because, at the same time, I was growing my company. All my energy and creativity was going into building a successful business. In 2012, I downsized my company in order to carve out more personal time for myself. Between 2012 and December 9, 2014, I wrote and published the book. I worked with an editor, illustrator, professional reader, grammarian; my book club, who were test readers; my family, who also provided critiques; and a custom printer to ensure that the paper was high quality, the illustrations retained their luscious colors and luminosity, and that the dust jacket felt smooth and sensuous. I wanted to write a story and, at the same time, create a work of art. The finished product is a dream come true!
The illustrations for Ten Fingers Touching are absolutely stunning. How well did John Blumen bring your vision to life? Has his art affected how you imagine your own characters?
John is a master illustrator, and he breathed life into the characters as I imagined them in my head. We worked very closely together engaging the following process:
He read the book, and then we discussed which chapters would have full illustrations and which would have spot illustrations.
He would do a drawing, and then we discussed it in great detail.
Then he tweaked the illustration based on my suggestions for changes.
We went through this process multiple times for the cover and each illustration. But there were also two instances when I loved aspects of his illustrations so much that I tweaked the text to conform to the image! It was a wonderful collaborative process and I am so grateful for his talent.
I know you just published Ten Fingers Touching, but can your readers expect more from you? Have you considered writing another novella or a collection of short stories set in the same universe?
Thank you for your kind words. It is a great compliment when a reader seeks more. My next goal is to write the screen play! I would like to see Ten Fingers Touching made into a movie, and I think it lends itself to the big screen. When I wrote the story, I pictured every scene. In fact, that's how I write. I see the image in my head, and then I describe it in words as opposed to writing words that create images!
I also have a great idea for a children's book that I would like to develop, and additionally, I'm considering writing a story where the main character is loosely based on my mother, who passed away seven years ago.
So, at the moment, I'm not certain about a sequel for Ten Fingers Touching! One step at a time!
I’m so grateful Roth took the time to answer my questions for my fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a new romance unlike any other, check out Ten Fingers Touching by Ellen Roth.