I really enjoyed her tale of The Adventures of Katie Button and wanted to know more about the author. So, let's get comfy and get to know Lizzie.
Hello Lizzie! It's great to have you here. Please tell us a little about you and your non-writing life.
Most of my time is spent working in a primary school in East Sussex as a higher level teaching assistant which allows me to teach in the teacher's absence. I'm married to Ralph, 12 years this year. We met whilst both working at Harrods. We have a 17yr old son, Ethan who is learning to drive. When not writing, I love going out for walks along the south coast, meeting friends for lunch or just cake, baking, reading and watching films. At the moment I love the Marvel superhero films and The Hobbit films. I could watch them all again and again. I'm part of a quiz team with my friends and we play once a month where we do tend to lose rather badly, but we have the best giggles at our silly answers and the best table picnic. I adore cats. They're one of my favourite animals and we have a ginger and white cat called Indi who is rather accident prone with too many trips to the vet. I guess he's taking after his adventurous namesake, Indiana Jones.
When was the first time you decided to write and what was the first piece you wrote?
I stumbled upon Five Sentence Fiction after setting up my blog in 2012. The prompt was 'Wicked' so I thought about a highwayman. He's the best kind of wicked. But a story in five sentences? That was a challenge.
I can appreciate that! Writing very short stories in a group situation is a massive, and often quite stressful, challenge for me, Lizzie- though I've personally never been part of a writing group of any kind. What I produce is brilliant for the rubbish bin but I'm sure that practising in group sessions can hone writing skills. Did you have a regular reading audience for your first writing?
Oh yes. The Five Sentence Fiction community back then was encouraged to read and respond to other entries and they did. Their words really inspired me and spurred me on to join in weekly. I also made some wonderful friends from that first story, true friends of which one I have met face to face. And to think I was really nervous in posting that story to my blog. So glad I did.
I'm convinced that immediate feedback from fellow blog writers was wonderful to have. What impetus did that give you to write longer fiction?
After the wonderful comments and the challenge of Five sentence fiction, I committed to write for every weekly challenge. From there, I found other flash fiction sites and a wonderful community of writers. I found I could write a story in only 100 words or up to 750 words. I loved these challenges. The comments continued to come and of course I read other entries which also helped my writing skills.
Before we discuss your longer writing, what kind of books do you like to read?
I started reading Agatha Christie from a young age, after devouring all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved crime fiction! This led to Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson. After a while, I needed something different and went for Sophie Kinsella's 'Can You Keep a Secret?' just based on the cute pink cover. Oh my gosh. I laughed so much! I've read all her books now as well as reading Lisa Jewell and Jane Green. Chicklit is my favourite. It's warm, funny, down to earth and real. Since writing flash fiction, I have read many indie authors too, which is making me explore different genres. In fact, the last 25 books I have read have been by Indie authors. Oh and I love autobiographies or biographies especially Marilyn Monroe; last count was 17 in my collection which is still growing.
I'm so pleased to hear that you're exploring lots of different genres, Lizzie. Since joining the Crooked Cat fraternity, my reading has been across a variety of genres and I'm finding they're excellent reads. Do you think your choice of reading material has influenced your own choice of writing genre?
Definitely. I guess I'm a bit of a romantic at heart, and adore a gorgeous, sexy leading man. As long as the girl isn't a walkover, making dramas and situations out of nothing. She has to have a purpose other than falling in love.
I already had the highwayman from my Five Sentence Fiction who I adored and wanted to do more with. I don't know how or where the idea came from but I had agreed with fellow writer friends to write for NaNoWriMo and signed up with not much more than a highwayman. I knew I wasn't confident enough to write a full length historical novel and thought about what I actually knew and what I loved to read and Katie Button sort of grew from that. Although she did start out as Emily - but Hubby said he had heard of Emily Button, a doll or something. Low and behold, after googling Emily Button, she was a doll.
The plot revolved around bits of history I love and knew something about and the names had to match those times in history as well as their characters. And the title? It was a working title for NaNo and by the time I'd finished, it kind of stuck and worked without giving too much away.
Who would you hope plays the characters in a movie version?
You need to visit my Pinterest board. I have them all mapped out. Of course, being British, I have to have British actors. I can't cope with British actors taking on American accents (apart from Hugh Laurie) or vice verse. There's so many wonderful British actors out there. So as much as I love Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, sorry. For Katie, I would have Emilia Clarke (Daenerys, Games Of Thrones). There's some really bubbly pictures of her and I really see Katie in her. For James, the gorgeous Henry Cavill (The Tudors) and for Jack, the gorgeous Richard Armitage, from Robin Hood where he played Sir Guy, swoon!
Yes, I have visited and they're fabulous photos! Did you have it all planned out before you wrote Katie Button or did the characters take over the storyline and surprise you?
They took over! I don't really have a plan. I have an idea and see where it takes me, or where the characters take me.
I think you're like me then and more of a 'pantser' author than a 'plotter'. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Tricky. I love them all which is why I'm writing a sequel as there is a story still to be told. I would have to say I had the most fun writing about Katie. She inspires, surprises, has mishaps, makes me laugh and has an infectious, bubbly nature. A close second would be the highwayman; just oozing mystery and sex appeal.
What would your characters say about you?
Ooh, that's interesting. Jack would tell me to just go for it, be a bit more adventurous and live for the moment as I'm too safe. He doesn't like safe. Safe is boring.
Katie would encourage me to spend more of my hard earned money on boots and shoes. She'd tell me my brownies are the best and would share a few mojitos with me as we read 'heat' together. I think we'd be best friends, discussing the merits of Chris Hemsworth's lack of costume as Thor. I think she'd say she could trust me, confide in me.
James would say I need to push myself, believe in myself and do what makes me happy.
What do you like best about writing? And what’s your least favourite thing?
When the characters come to life and start speaking to me; that's the best as then their story flows. Least favourite? A blank mind. I need to go and do something else at that point for stimulation. A walk along the coast or in the forest usually does the trick. A whole page of words which does nothing for the story or characters where I've just waffled and lost track is awful, although pressing delete is rather satisfying.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I'm reading The Friendship Tree by Helen J. Rolfe on Kindle and I'm reading Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner, in hardback. It was a bit bulky to carry on holiday so it's kind of taken a back seat.
Quick fire answers now:
What makes you laugh?
My friends: especially those times where we cry with laughter. Everyone has to have at least one of those friends.
Your favourite place to visit?
The south coast and London.
Your favourite food and drink?
Chocolate; any, unless it has nuts or coffee in. Pepsi Max, sometimes with a little dark spiced rum. But on its own is so good, bad but good.
What would your friends say is your best, and your oddest, quality?
One of the qualities friends would recognise in me is having a good sense of humour, that at times could be seen to be odd due to some of the things I might find funny. My oddest quality? Being over sensitive. Not sure it's classed as odd but at times it's a pain and I shouldn't take things personally or to heart.
Buying sites: Smashwords
Thank you for such great interview answers, Lizzie. I wish you the very best with your writing - current and future.