A Literary Appointment and A Spot O' Tea!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

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If you have been keeping up with this blog for a while, you may have noticed that, ranking among my favourite blogs, is Elizabeth Rose's blog, Living on Literary Lane. Elizabeth shares great book reviews, beautiful poetry, bits and pieces from her books, and inspirational posts on topics such as music, writing, and faith in a refreshing and inspiring way which I have fallen in love with ever since coming across her blog more than a year ago.

A month ago, I asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to drop over to this little literary lounge of mine, as we discuss different literary topics and her debut novel, Violets are Blue which she recently self-published.  It so happened that she had been planning on doing a blog tour during August, celebrating her novel's publication, and so we decided instead that I'd host the interview during her blog tourAnd without asking, such a pleasant afternoon cannot but include a spot o' tea, some luscious fruits (such as strawberries and cherries) and cake too of course! 


So now, my dear friends and bloggers, without any further ado, I would like to introduce you to:



 Miss Elizabeth Rose

1.     Hello, Elizabeth! Thank you so much for being on this interview with me today. To start this off, could you tell us a little about yourself? (Short bio etc...)
            Hello! My pen-name is Elizabeth Rose, but I am also called Elizabeth, Lizzy Rose, or just plain Lizzy.  First and most importantly, I am a follower of the Most High and seek to live every day of my life in accordance with 1 Corinthians 10:31. I am an admitted bookworm, my ideal afternoon being one spent in a cozy nook or tree, with lots and lots of books, the thicker the better. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, whether it be in the form of journaling, dramatic installments in my siblings’ edition of The Pickwick Portfolio (any guesses as to my favorite book as a girl? ;)), poetry, or novel-writing. In May 2012, I was privileged to be given the opportunity to self-publish my first book, Violets Are Blue. In my free time, I take dance classes at a Christian studio, watch period dramas with my sisters and mother, bake all sorts of fattening delicacies, and obsess over Les Misérables and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
2.      At what age did you first discover a love for writing? Was there someone or something that influenced you to start this journey?
            I am unable to pinpoint an exact date, but I have loved words for as long as I can remember. I have been journaling since the age of six, and am currently in my seventh journal. Around age seven or eight, I would often wander around my backyard, writing simple four-verse poems about whatever was before me. My father is a writer and has always encouraged me down this path, planting the seed of a love of writing in my heart from a very young age.
3.      Without giving too much away, could you be persuaded to tell us a bit about your newly released novel, Violets Are Blue?
          Violets Are Blue is a telling of the friendship between two fourteen-year-old girls, Lillian Prescott and Violet Bradshaw. Living in Eastbourne, East Sussex in the early 1900s, they have been friends for the entirety of their lives. Their tightly-knit bond seems apt to break, though, when Violet’s parents make the pivotal decision to move the Bradshaw family to America. Vi and Lilli determine to keep up their friendship by exchanging letters, Lilli telling of affairs in their hometown, and Vi sharing her trials in a new country. Not many months after the Bradshaws move to America, Lilli sends Vi an elated epistle, informing her best friend that the Prescotts are planning on coming to America on the most splendid ship of that era, the “unsinkable” R.M.S. Titanic. While we may know the tragedy of the Titanic’s end, neither girl can know the peril that awaits them, and what a test it will be for the both of them.
4.      Isaac Newton was known to have said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Who’re the literary giants or “Greats” that have inspired your writing and perhaps even your own life?
         Oh, such a hard question! ;) My two favorite authors of all time are probably Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis; the former because of her uncanny ability to correctly portray the human heart, and the latter because he explains such deep spiritual truths in a manner easy to understand. Other authors whose literary works I favor include Louisa May Alcott, Baroness Orczy, Charles Dickens, and most recently, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. One can never have too many books!
5.      How does your Christian faith affect your writing in general and is this novel overtly Christian, or is it written more subtly on Christian principles and influence?
            I believe that my Christian faith plays a part in all of my writing, whether it is overt or not. My relationship with Jesus is such a key part of my life — it seems to make itself known no matter what I write. In relation to Violets Are Blue, the Bradshaws and Prescotts are openly Christian, and prayer, daily Scripture reading, and references to Biblical truths are not uncommon in their respective households. Although not all my books will be this way, they will all have Christian principles exemplified.
6.      In the process of writing, there are many different methods which writers use (i.e. outlining vs. writing and letting the plot sort itself out). What way do you most use?
            I’d like to say I outline, but truth be told, it is a rather frustrating process for me. The tedium of it wears on me after a time, and I much prefer to sit down and just write the book itself. I always have at least a margin of an idea as to how the ending will turn out, but the middle can be a mystery. Figuring out all the twists and turns along the way is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.
7.      Aren't those twists fun! Ah, but what part of the writing process do you dread the most? As a dual question, can you tell us what your favourite part is?
            Editing is my least favorite part. The story is all written out, and I am required to focus on the little technical details — there is no scope for the imagination in that. J As to my favorite part, any time throughout draft one, if I am writing well and not experiencing writer’s block, is enjoyable for me. Getting the first hard copy of your book isn’t disagreeable, either. ;)
8.      Being a homeschooler in a large family, how do you fit writing time with schoolwork, chores and family time as well as other activities?
            I must admit that although I love scheduling my day out, it does not always turn out the way I intended. I try to keep disciplined and finish my chores and schoolwork before I get on the computer to write, but when Inspiration calls and I have an incredible scene that is simply itching to be typed out, it can be hard. I also dance over ten hours a week, which lessens my writing time considerably. Late nights and early mornings are when I find the most time, so naturally, they have becoming my writing hours.
9.      Can you tell us a bit about your new writing project(s) you’re working on now?
            I have several snippets of plot dancing through my brain at the moment, but the three most significant ones I will share below:
The Great Unnamed Novel (my NaNoWriMo 2011 project)
Writing stage: Stagnant since December 1, and will remain so until I find the inspiration to continue it.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Time period: The Third Crusade
            A naive young woman who wants nothing more than to marry well and sit in the lap of luxury all the rest of her days. A son who would defy his father to pursue something he believes in with all his heart and soul. A man willing to give everything — even his life — for a cause. Told from three different perspectives, this book shows the many effects of war and how it has the power to uproot the deepest bonds and change dramatically even the most stubborn of hearts.
The Window (summer writing project with my sister)
Writing stage: Mentally outlining, doing research, gathering ideas.
Genre: Fantasy
            Azin can’t remember why she was put in this frigid institution. She can’t explain the nightmares she has each night of her deceased parents begging for mercy in a cold and lonely dungeon. She will never understand why members of her household are required to whisper at certain hours of the day, why she never has seen a ray of sunlight in all her life. Her only solution to these questions is ducking her head and accepting what comes her way with as little complaint as possible. Zelina, a fellow inhabitant, shares Azin’s inquisitive nature. Though opposites in personality, the two girls are drawn together through a strange course of events that catalysts their quest for answers and ultimately, the truth about the world outside.
Rifles in the South Field
Writing stage: First draft
Genre: Historical Fiction
Time period: American Revolution
            Calm, efficient, and organized, Susannah Dixon has had everything in her life under control since the day she learned walk. Even her mother's tragic death by influenza when Susannah was ten years old has not shaken this young woman's foundation. Now the mistress of her family's plantation in colonial Georgia, she takes pride in the fact that her father trusts her completely with all affairs of the household, including planning meals, organizing the house slaves' chores, and the like. But when the Georgia militia is called up and Mr. Dixon is compelled to help in the fight for freedom, Susannah begins to notice cracks in her seemingly perfect world. Can she manage to keep the large plantation running during her papa's absence, or will she be forced to ask for help for the first time in her life?
10.  My! How those stories pique my keenest interest, Elizabeth. I would love to read them one day! Back to discussing your debut novel, I understand you self-published Violets Are Blue. Can you tell us why you went that route instead of the main-stream commercial publishing way?
            I finished my second draft of Violets Are Blue in March of 2011. When I had printed it off in a bewilderingly large stack of 8x11 copy paper, my father took it to a friend of his who happens to play a role in the publishing world. This literary agent read over one hundred pages of my manuscript and made some critical suggestions on how to improve it. He would have loved to help us publish it, but his business mainly involves nonfiction for adults. He suggested that we go with Amazon’s CreateSpace program, since it is relatively inexpensive and simple to use. He also informed us that when it comes to publishing houses, the more the author does on her own to promote the book, the better. Since we hoped to have VAB released in April 2012 (the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic), this seemed like the best route to take. My sister and I hosted a year-long event leading up to the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking called Unsinkable. The book agent told us that if we sell 3,000 copies on our own, it will catch the interest of a large publishing house. So, that’s our goal for now. 
11.  The Titanic’s sinking was a very important and tragic marine event in history. But what made you decide to build a story around that ‘unsinkable’ ship and the circumstances surrounding it? Are there any historical facts, gleaned from your research while writing Violets Are Blue, which you’d like to share with us today?
            Two things drew me to write a book about the Titanic. For one, this tragic marine event has always fascinated me. The fact that the Mayflower made it across the Atlantic Ocean — and the Titanic didn’t — is a great testament to human pride and the truth behind the words “pride cometh before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”. It was a horrible night, but it was also a night on which the principle of “women and children first” was put to the test. Brave men stepped aside, sacrificing their lives for the sake of their wives and children. Tragedy and triumph were mixed together into a story that can only be described as unforgettable — who wouldn’t want to write about that?
            Secondly, I’ve noticed that a lot of stories about the Titanic’s sinking portray characters who were onboard the ship at 11:40 P.M. on April 14th, 1912. While this is no doubt an interesting topic, I wanted to take a different approach. We are used to hearing about the emotions of the passengers as the ship went down; what about the families and friends in New York, all eager as they awaited their loved ones’ arrival . . . only to discover that the Titanic had struck an iceberg and slid beneath the ocean’s surface, leaving little over a third of her passengers alive? It was uncharted land, a new twist on the classic account that everyone seems to know already.
12.  Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one do you connect with and love the most?
            This is going to sound extremely cliché, but Violet Bradshaw is my favorite character. She is very much my twin: one of her favorite pastimes is letter-writing, she refuses to give up those she loves without a fight, and she has a quick and fiery temper. I didn’t intend to model her around myself; it came quite naturally, actually. The only difference is that she possesses lovely blonde curls, while my hair is brunette and wouldn’t curl if my life depended on it.
13.  Could you be persuaded to share three excerpts from some of your works?
            My pleasure! Here are a few of my favorites . . .
            “In some ways, life was very different in America, and in other ways, it was no different than in had been at home in Eastbourne. Our normal schedules were the same, but our surroundings never failed to change things just enough so that I always felt out of place, as if I was teetering on the edge of a tightrope between England and America, belonging to neither and an outsider to both.”
— VIOLETS ARE BLUE

            “Perhaps that is so, but you are quite enough! I canna imagine if the whole world were filled with lasses who had the same capacity wi’ their tongues as you seem to posses.” I pretended to shiver. “Such a thing would be . . . unthinkable.”
            “That is a shame.” Elena shook her head slowly. “For you men are the ones who will have to satisfy yourselves with your own thoughts the majority of the time. We can talk amongst ourselves, but ever so often, a gentleman desires a pretty girl in whom he can confide.” The girl was silent for a moment, and then she added, her tone strangely cold, “I suppose you will marry someone quiet when the time comes.”
            “Hardly. I could very well marry someone wi’ a sharp tongue.”
            “I’m afraid there are only a few,” she replied. “You will have to look for quite some time.”
            “A good wife is worth a long search,” I replied softly.
— THE GREAT UNNAMED NOVEL

            “How much longer?” Lilli asked quietly. She didn’t have to say anything more—I knew what she meant.
            “Mum said no more than two weeks. She wants us to leave as soon as possible.”
            “And your father?”
            “He agrees with Mum.”
            Lilli sighed and flopped back on the bed. “That means we have only two more weeks together. Do you think you’ll ever come back to visit?”
            “I don’t know… It’s an expensive journey, and not one that can be made often. I may never—”
            “—see you again,” she interrupted, finishing my sentence sadly.
            “Will you write me?” I asked.
            “Every day!” she replied eagerly.
 “Really?” I asked skeptically, taking the pillowcase off of her pillow. “Every day?”
             “Well, I’ll try, anyway. Will you write me?”
            “Of course I will.” I threw the pillow at Lilli. “You know that.”
            “You mustn’t leave out anything,” she insisted, catching the pillow. “I want to hear just what life is like in New York.”
            “And I want to hear about everything that is going on here in Eastbourne,” I replied, “even if you say the same thing a dozen times.”
— VIOLETS ARE BLUE
14.  What would you most like your readers to take with them from reading Violets Are Blue?
            I have several answers to that question, actually. First, I’d like them to understand that pride can be the ultimate downfall, and that man can never grow to be more powerful than God. Second, it is possible for a family to go through hardship and still remain a loving, perfectly functioning family. Too many stories these days are wrapped around a broken family, and the end always results in the family either changing or accepting that “this is the way our family is”. And what sort of an ending is that? It took the author an entire book to get his characters to the point at which they should have been on page one! I think it makes a book far more interesting when the family members can rely on each other and face the storms of life together from the start. Last but certainly not least, I would like my readers to understand the age-old truth: God always has a plan, whether we realize it or not. It may sound trite because of the many times it has been quoted, but it’s very true, and a valuable lesson everyone needs to learn.
15.  And finally, do you have any helpful tips or advice that you’ve learnt and you’d care to share with fellow young authors like us?
            It has been said multiple times, in many different tongues, but it bears such weight that I will say it again: READ. Read continually and thoroughly. Read the books that are centuries old — they have stood the test of time. Next, WRITE. You must learn to carry over the excellence from the books you read to the books you write. And finally (this one’s the hardest of all), KEEP WRITING. Don’t stop when you get discouraged; persevere, and you will be rewarded.
Thank you so much for featuring me, Joy! It has been a pleasure. 


*****
Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to answer my many questions here on Fullness of Joy! I am looking forward to reading Violets are Blue and enjoying your future works as well :). God bless!


My pen-name is Elizabeth Rose, but I am also called Elizabeth, Lizzy Rose, or just plain Lizzy. First and most importantly, I am a follower of the Most High and seek to live every day of my life in accordance with 1 Corinthians 10:31. I love all sorts of books (the thicker the better), am convinced that Irish Breakfast tea is the closest thing this world will get to heaven, dance until my feet ache (and love every minute of it), stay up until all hours writing, wear pearls at every opportunity, and obsess over Les Misérables and The Scarlet Pimpernel. In May 2012, I was privileged to be given the opportunity to self-publish my first book, Violets Are Blue. 

To get to know Elizabeth more, click on this link that will lead you to her lovely blog: Living on Literary Lane

4 sweet note(s):

  1. Wow, Joy those were great questions!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through them. Loved your answers, Elizabeth!

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  2. Thank you, Gabrielle! This blog tour of Elizabeth's has been great fun :). Weren't her answers spot on fantastic?

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  3. Excellent interview, Joy! I can tell your questions were well thought of :) Love the picture!

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  4. Thank you, sweet Annie! It was truly an enjoyable time to have Elizabeth over for tea and a chat...
    Ah, isn't the picture beautiful? I found it by way of a post from Elizabeth's blog :).

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body..." ~Proverbs 16:24

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