Recently I gained a Twitter account – strictly for B&L business (well that’s what I told myself when I got it) – and most of my followers inhabit the literary world, funny about that…or not, I guess it’s no big surprise really. I decided that with my Twitter life well anchored in the literary world it may be some fertile new land to source interesting new authors to interview.
And on that note, allow me to introduce Eliza Green, a motivated and passionate Irish author who took some time out to answer some questions for us. She’s a little excited because this is her first interview, and I am excited too – it gives me the warm and fuzzies and makes me smile when I have the honour of being the first interviewer, or the first in some respect. It makes me love this job all the more.
You hold down a day job, you’re writing a novel and you are blogging. How do you juggle it all?
With an enormous degree of organisation! I’m a very methodical person. I like to make time for the things I enjoy as well as my obligations and that means I have to plan out my day. Sometimes I know what work I have on and during my lunch break and after work, I take the opportunity to write. Of course, I need to get the balance right, so sometimes when work is busy I lay off the writing or blogging. Other times work is slow and I mentally think through my next chapter or my next blog post.
A lot of your blog entries involve sharing your experiences and tips with writers. What made you choose to blog about all of this?
As a newbie writer, I would never presume to know everything and the day I stop learning from others is the day I don’t care about what I’m doing. I appreciate the help others are willing to give and although I’ve only been writing for two and a half years, I’ve already put my work out there with agents and publishers.
My experiences might help someone else to avoid the mistakes I made or spur them on to complete their own work. It’s like paying it forward to others. I’m getting great advice from other bloggers so I want to share my own experiences in the hope it might resonate with someone. If they get something out of what I say, then that’s all that matters. That part of it is really important to me, because we’re all trying to do a job to the best of our ability and we all need to look out for each other. Writing is a lonely process. You need to know you’re not the only one going through something.
Do you think blogging is helping you achieve your writing dreams. If so, how?
I had recently read a book on why blogging is so important to a writer. It is part of building a profile for yourself, isn’t it? It’s a way of saying to others ‘Hello I’m here. I’m writing a book and if you like what you read in my blogs, maybe you’ll buy my book one day.’ I also write about current science facts and technology stories that interest me, because the genre for my trilogy is Science Fiction. It’s not only an introduction to me as a writer but to the person behind the stories. I’m writing about what I enjoy.
Becoming Human is the first book in your trilogy. What can you tell us about it?
It’s a futuristic story about two races that want to occupy the same planet. One is already living there and the other – the human race – wants to locate there. Future Earth is becoming uninhabitable so the government on Earth has been tasked with securing the future survival of the human race. It examines the good and not-so-good side of humanity; the desperation within all of us that can drive us to do almost anything and our innocent, more compassionate side that naturally empathises with other living beings.
Self publishing is an option you are considering for Becoming Human, what can you tell us about the self publishing process?
When my first round of submissions didn’t yield anything, I had decided to self publish. The first step for me at that point was to have my work professionally edited. My editor, Averill Buchanan, not only copy edited my work but taught me how to write better. As a writer, you can’t be objective about your own work. You have to be honest and accept that your work is probably not as good as you would like it to be. You can get help on the cheap by asking random friends to critique your manuscript, but realistically, you won’t learn anything unless you pay for professional help.
The next step after the multiple edits is Cover Design. You need to think about how you want your book to look. Don’t be fooled. Appearance is everything. You might have the best written book in the world, but customers shop with their eyes. Your product has to look appealing.
The next part of the process is typesetting/formatting, whether it’s for printed or ebook format. You might choose a Print on Demand company like CreateSpace or ask a printing company to do the work for you. You can upload the formatted ebook version directly to sites such as Kindle Direct Publishing.
My editor gave me a book which details the entire process from start to finish. It’s called ‘Self Printed – The Sane Person’s Guide to Self Publishing’ by Catherine Ryan Howard. It really shows what you have to do to self publish.
At what point do you think you would decide to self publish?
Until recently, I had my mind set on self publishing. That was before I set up a blog and Twitter account and found tons of advice on how to write submission letters, how to approach agents, what events to go to if you want to meet publishers and agents directly. Now that I have a better product, I would be crazy not to try again. If it doesn’t work out, I will self publish. Science Fiction is not an easy genre to break into, even though I read somewhere it is the second largest genre read by customers.
You have entered Becoming Human into a 2011 competition, can you tell us a little about that?
It’s a female only novel writing competition by Mslexia.They are based in the UK but the competition is open to anyone across the globe. Submissions are only up to the 30th September but they run other competitions and are well worth a look.
What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I was reading the Stephenie Meyer ‘Twilight’ series and I really admired her ability to create and sustain suspense. I started to wonder whether I had it in me to write. Then I read somewhere that Stephenie had no previous writing experience. Curious, I got out my laptop and started writing. I had two stories in my head – Becoming Human and a General Fiction one. As I wrote, I found that the words just flowed in a natural way. I had tried many things in my adult life, but never felt passionate about any of it. Writing is the first thing that really sparked an interest in me. I used to sit at my computer and wonder where the story was going to go. I would get excited then quickly realise that I had to write it. As I did, I would laugh, smile or cry. I completed the General Fiction one first and at that point, I knew I could be disciplined enough to write.
It has often been said that lots of writers are also voracious readers. What are you reading at the moment?
‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had seen a trailer for the film and thought ‘Hmm, that looks interesting.’ But the story on screen seemed to veer off into a love story. I like depth and stories just about love don’t interest me. There needs to be something darker going on. So, I refused to watch the film and decided to give the book a go. I’m half way through. It is written in a conversational way, as a recollection of memories.
Of all the things you have learned through this journey what do you think is the most important lesson you have learned that you would like to pass along to other aspiring writers?
Keep writing, always try to improve your work and learn from your mistakes.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Sitting in an idyllic hideaway writing full time.
What does being a woman mean to you?
We have different battles to overcome. In the literary world, it might be our battle to be accepted as Crime, Science Fiction, Thriller writers when some people only want to pigeon-hole you.
Women have to work harder. Being a woman for me means having the ability to step back and look at things in a different way, bring another perspective to the table.
Thank you so much for your time Eliza. It’s been a pleasure!
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!