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Get to know author Lizzie Page

 

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’!

A GLIMPSE AT THEATRE LIFE

We are very excited to share that coming up on Friday 20th of March, we are hosting what promises to be an awesome evening with Christine Absalom an award winning actress, and Jules Easlea a Theatre Producer. The duo are lining up a unique evening called. ‘Act 1: Developing Character – from Page to Stage ‘. It will lift the curtain on the traditions and superstitions of stage life, whilst putting you through your paces in a pre-show actors warm ups!. Christine and Jules have shared with us a bit about their vibrant careers and personal experience of the theatre, which we have put together below:

How did you get started in the theatre industry?

Jules – I was extremely lucky to see an advert in a newspaper for an arts marketing job in Chelmsford. I applied with no experience and got the job as the Press Officer. I loved it and learnt everything on the job. From there, I went to work in London theatres and ended up working for the Royal Opera House. There was no plan. I was just lucky, worked hard and learnt very quickly. 

Christine – My love of the stage was nurtured by two fantastic teachers at The Fitzwimarc School – Gerry Usher who ran the School Choir, which I was a part of and really enjoyed, and Ruth Fenwick my Drama Teacher who encouraged and helped me enormously. I was warned against the horrors of a life in theatre, and told that it was an impossible dream, but by some miracle I was accepted into The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and I am as passionate about theatre today, as I was 50 odd years ago.

Christine continued – My first job was in fact at The Palace Theatre in Westcliff. I left school on a Friday, aged 17, and on the Monday started work as a Student Assistant Stage Manager. I was actually an unpaid dogsbody, but I LOVED it all. I loved the smell, the hard work,the people, the whole shebang. After that I went to Drama School, and then straight into a years contract as an actress at The Salisbury Playhouse.

What advice would you give to aspiring actors & theatre producers?

Jules – Do it because you really want to and you believe in what you’re doing. Care about the audience. Want to do your very best. 

Christine – My advice would be listen to your heart. If there is  absolutely nothing else that you NEED to do, have a go. Don’t go into the industry if all you want is ‘to be famous’. It is a great life, but sometimes a very tough one. Take every opportunity to learn new skills, and make the most of your education, you will be surprised by what it is useful to know when you are preparing a role. And as Jules says, care about your audience, do it for them. Be the very best you can be.

What is the most memorable stage production you have seen and tell us about it?

Jules – Twelfth Night. The Globe. With Mark Rylance. He was magnificent. We went backstage to meet a friend in the cast. I was introduced to Mark and I just burst into tears because it was so marvellous. I’m far too emotional to actually be able to perform on stage. 

Christine – Jules and I went together to see Twelfth Night at The Globe. I laughed until I cried. It was so clever, innovative and witty, they took so many liberties with the text, but it all worked to wonderful effect.

Tell us a little more about Jubilant Productions and the work you do as a team?

Jules – We started Jubilant Productions in 2013 as I wanted to work with Chrissie and we both finally had the time and were in the same place. I believe in doing things for yourself and not waiting for others to do things. The 100th anniversary of World War I was looming and it was the perfect opportunity to put together our first performance using poetry from the period. Merry It Was To Laugh There was a joy to work on and had great reviews. We toured nine venues around Essex including two sell out performances at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester. Our emphasis was on the quality of the work and that is what we always strive for. 

Christine – It is a great privilege to work with Jules. She is full of excellent ideas, and energy. We meet regularly and discuss our options and possibilities, and then work together to bring them to fruition. We laugh a lot, but take the endeavour very seriously !

Mark Bradford, local artist & tutor

Mark Bradford is a home-grown professional artist and teacher, and we are lucky enough to host Mark’s classes here at Create98. Mark’s love of the sea is very evident in his oil paintings. But he is also influenced by abstract-expressionism and photorealism, taking his inspiration from artists such as David Hockney, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Rachel Whiteread and Fiona Banner. Lets learn a little more….

How did you get started with painting ?

“As a child I had a love for the outdoors and nature, as well as drawing and painting. I found I could express myself and my surroundings visually through art.  Looking back, I can now see this was also my way of coping with my dyslexia, something which wasn’t diagnosed until into my fifties when I started my degree and teaching. I still use visual concepts to explain thought processes to my students at school and the adult classes.”

What advice would you give on how to get going with ideas and use surroundings to your advantage?

“I have always been fascinated and inspired by the sea; how it moves with the tide and different landscapes formed when the tide is out.  But you don’t have to go outdoors to be inspired.  It’s more about looking at what’s around you in the moment. Even just sitting in your local coffee shop sketching your coffee cup can be a good way of spending half an hour, practising drawing skills.

I always stress the importance of a sketchbook to my  students as a way to work out ideas.  I use the front section for drawings and sketches and from the back I jot down ideas and concepts.  This way you can experiment on a small scale and refer between both which can often result in bringing about an idea for a piece of work.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching art?

“Seeing people ‘get it’ is what I enjoy most. What I mean by this is that often as people get older, they can loose their sense of just trying something out even though it may not work, playing with ideas and different mediums. It’s important to experiment with art that may be outside your comfort zone and not always choose a subject or medium that you have always used.  Quite often people can discover a creative side they never knew they had.”

What is the best show you have seen recently and why?

“Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern. It was a complete sensory and immersive experience, with very little 2 dimensional art and the works contained very important messages about the environment and climate crisis. Art is a very powerful way of portraying /addressing many issues for example; global, ethical, political that can be understood on any level.”

An example of Mark’s photorealism, a painting of his daughter Sophie taking in the waves
Cracking photo of Mark with his buddies in Southend back in the day! Try to spot him…

You can follow Mark’s work on instagram @coffeetimesketch, and why not join him for Tuesday morning ‘Coffee Time Sketch’ sessions at Create98 10am-12pm, accompanied by delicious vegan cake made by Mark’s talented wife Vanessa @vbythesea63!