We had a good chat with our friend, tutor and acclaimed local author Lizzie Page. Lizzie has released a series of successful books based in the WW2 period (including the recent ‘The Forgotten Girls’), taking the reader through heart wrenching stories set in an uncertain time. We wanted to find out more about the journey of a published author and what Lizzie likes to read! Lets hear what Lizzie had to say….
Can you tell us a bit about your career and what steps you took in the build up to becoming author Lizzie Page?
“I’ve always loved reading and writing and tried writing books several times before I got published. In 2017, I sent off a Manuscript to lots of agents and after several months, one got back saying she would love to represent my work. Unfortunately, we couldn’t sell that novel, but I got stuck in again and next time, with my agent’s support, struck lucky.”
What advice can you give for writers who are keen to get published?
“Perseverance is the biggest thing – you have to be resilient and thick-skinned. There isn’t an author out there who hasn’t been rejected, you have to be prepared to pick yourself up and start over again and again. Take criticism, listen to advice, and don’t wait ‘until you have the time’ – You’ll NEVER have the time. When I’m very busy, I write in 20 minute sprints, then 20 then 20 – before you know it you’ve got 1000’s of words.
- Toni Morrison: 40
- Mark Twain: 41
- Marcel Proust: 43
- Henry Miller: 44
- JRR Tolkien: 45
- Raymond Chandler: 51
- Richard Adams: 52
- Annie Proulx: 57
- Laura Ingalls Wilder: 65
- Frank McCourt: 66
- Harriett Doerr: 74
- Harry Bernstein: 96
….No, you’re not too old to publish your first book. Age is a bonus when it comes to writing. You’re never too late to get started.”
Who/what are the biggest influences for your writing? How do you research for a book?
“I am the biggest influence on my writing – I want to get better and better at it. This means I do read a lot, and I read with a writer’s eye – so rather than just enjoying a novel for its story, I’ll deconstruct it as I go along – how did they do that? – why did they put that there? – etc. I admire loads and loads of writers including: JK Rowling, David Sedaris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Hilary Mckay, Elizabeth Buchan – so many!
Research can be a simple way to stop writing. For me, story comes first, details second. So I tend to research ie. google stuff as I go along. The danger is disappearing down a rabbit-hole of interesting but irrelevant stuff. You want to wear your research lightly – no mistakes, but no over-loading the reader either.”
What is your favourite book and why?
“I’ve got many favourites depending on mood or time – a book I think I will always love is The Paris Wife by Paula Mcclain. It’s a beautifully written study of relationships, and it’s the book that made me think I’d love to write like historical fiction so it set me down my writing path. I read it at a very happy point in my life so I tend to feel happy when I re-read it.”
Reading is so important, what are the benefits of expressing yourself through writing and what do we gain from reading?
“I love reading, and I believe regularly getting into other people’s heads is great for increasing empathy and understanding of the human condition. It can be a great escape, or a great way of exploring or inhabiting different worlds. Also having the words to express yourself is really important and there is a correlation with the ability to express yourself clearly and better mental health. Having said that, if reading is not your passion, that’s ok too – There are plenty of other things to do for entertainment, education or insight. Reading should be a pleasure!”
We leave you with Lenny (Lizzie’s dog) showcasing hit book ‘The Forgotten Girls’!