Elizabeth's writing journey very much follows the same path as her life journey, a part of her from the time she could string words together. Elizabeth's parents read a thousand bedtime stories, but she inherited the storyteller genre from her father, who made up whimsical tales every night, involving them in worlds where the clouds were orange, the water ran purple and giants carried us around in their pockets.
Elizabeth's first written stories, like any child's, were about talking animals, a girl who wanted a horse, the usual. When she was ten, and living in Senegal, she started a piece of fantasy, more of a fairy tale, that was meant to be a chapter book. She may have gotten to 30 pages before fizzling out. She spent much of her childhood in West Africa, were she soaked up the myriad cultures and learned how big the world really is. She was also fortunate enough to visit many countries in Europe and travel widely around the United States.
Throughout her childhood and teen years, she read everything she could get her hands on. The most influential person in bringing her to fantasy was her aunt, who gave her David Eddings, Belgariad for Christmas when she was 11. And, before she was old enough to read Robert Jordan, her aunt would tell her the story of the Wheel of Time while they shoveled mulch into the back of her pickup. (It has been well over a decade since that story entered my life, and I am anxiously awaiting the last book!!)
Her next stab at a chapter book was a smuggler pilot in the Star Wars universe being sucked through a worm hole and crashing to Earth. She was 13 and only managed three chapters. Finally, at 16, she started a story that she saw though. Elizabeth's father had cancer that year, and the story was a way to escape the painful realities of life. He made it thought and enthusiastically encouraged her, asking for chapters as Christmas and birthday presents. She worked on it through high school and finished it as her senior writing project as she did her writing B.A.
The road to publication wasn't easy, as a first time author with no agent trying to a fantasy house. After two years of refused inquiries, she finally got a yes. Her first book was published and released in paperback in November of 2010. The second book is waiting in the wings while Elizabeth works on various other projects.
Element Keepers: Whispers of the Wind
Element Keeper's: Whispers of the wind is my debut novel, a piece of high fantasy set in a world of my imagination. Though the storyline is not the most original ever printed (give a 16 year old a break), I believe t has some fresh twists that make it an enjoyable read. It is a journey of a young man from obscurity to notoriety. Ancient prophecy pegs him as the destroyer of the world, but one young woman believes it could be mistranslated and frees him to flee across the continent. As a side story, his friend, also caught up in the web of the powerful Y'dah, is sold as a slave where he is sure to die in the arena. Fate has another course for him, and he ends up an oil wrestler with a crown. Whispers of the wind is the first half of their story.
Where did you get the idea for Element Keeper's: Whispers of the wind?
I was a bride's maid in a wedding in Saint Lucia for a friend of the family, so my whole family flew down for a week in the Caribbean. I was standing on the white sand beach, feet sinking in as the warm water lapped at my ankles, when I became aware of the wind rustling through the palm fonds. What a great magic base the wind would make, I thought. When we got back to the house where we were staying, I sat down and drew a map on a yellow legal pad with my baby brother's crayons, and so the world was born. It didn't take long to find the story in the world.
I love the cover of Element Keepers: Whispers of the wind. To me, it looks so simple, but it really attracts me to the book and makes me want to lift it up and see what it's about. Who designed it and did you have say in the designing of the cover?
My cover was designed by Blake Brasor, an artist at Tate Publishing. I did have a say in the design. He gave me three to look at, and I picked the one with the hand, though I asked that it be done in black instead of white and have more of the webby business in the background than he originally gave me. I printed all the designs, including the white background with the hand and one that I invented to make it black, and took them around to find out what appealed most to people. As an artist myself, I probably would have gone a completely different direction, but Blake did a superb job and we have gotten a great response to it.
Elizabeth's book history:
*Favourite book as a child?
These questions are always very hard for me because I love so many things. One of the stories I read over and over was The Light Princess by George MacDonald. Actually, I had a collection of his fantasy stories that I loved. He is not very well known for some reason, but he was C.S. Lewis' inspiration for the Narnia Series, which I also read repeatedly. Why did I love it? It was a different caliber of work than your average children's story. I loved the magic of it, but it wasn't some tried fairy tale. There was a large copy at the library with really intricate pictures on every page that I checked out frequently. It was a story that sparked my imagination.
*Favourite book as a teenager?
I read and enjoyed a thousand books as a teenager, many of them fantasy, though I did read a good chunk of the Star Wars books (not the X-Wing series). I liked sci-fi as well, though, when I started writing fantasy, I tried to read only fantasy to say in my groove. I have read David Eddings Belgariad and Malloreon twice, and S. Morgenstern's The Princess Bride three times, but I believe I am most impressed by the detail and sheer scope of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. He is the writer I most try to emulate.
*Book you wished you have written and why?
The easy answer to that is Harry Potter. I would love to have more money that the Queen of England. Then I could write whatever I want!
*If you could be any character from a book who would it be and why?
My runner up book for childhood favourite is one called The Ordinary Princess in which Amy, the princess whose gift from her fairy godmother was ordinariness, runs away to the woods, but ends up needing a new dress, so she goes to work at the neighboring castle. She meets the prince, whom she takes for a page. They end up marrying, becoming king and queen, but they spend most of their time in a moss-covered cabin in the woods, just being two ordinary people in love. I would be Amy, the ordinary Princess with her extraordinary love, happy in a world apart.
Are you currently working on any projects at the minute?
I am currently writing almost weekly posts for a shared-world story, which can be found at http://splinteredlands.com/. My story is called The Hunter's Prey and the thread can also be found on my website. I am also working on a very short prequel for Element Keeper's that will be a free Ebook. There are two or three other stories I have percolating, but not much on paper at this point. I have two very small children who drain most of my energy and all of my creative juices on a daily basis, so writing is a struggle. But I love it, so I persevere.
Thanks to Elizabeth for this awesome interview!