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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Author Interview: Elizabeth Marshall

Today I am pleased to present to you all the eighth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the sex-scene averse Elizabeth Marshall and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: I like to start by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Elizabeth: Being a mother to five children I don’t have the time to allow rituals into my writing. Mostly I am a reactive person, writing when, where and on what I can; this does include the back of cash till slips, newsletters from school (apologies to my children’s schools), scraps of paper and bar mats.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Elizabeth: I don’t see an old building and admire it just for its architecture. I see a place where people lived, gathered, worshiped, laughed, cried or grieved. I cannot walk down an alley in an ancient city without seeing the ghosts of its people. I feel a certain nostalgia and empathy for these faceless folk, a need to recognize their existence and to immortalize them in the telling of a story. Not all the folk I imagine in those dark alleys become characters in my books but if you could step into my creative mind that is what you would see.

Paul: In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Elizabeth: Without a doubt not having a reliable editor for my first book. Editing is an essential part of a book’s production and requires a different set of skills to writing. I don’t believe that authors should edit their own work, nor should they be expected to. An author’s job is to write the story, but to make that story presentable, an editor’s skills are necessary. Finding a dedicated, professional and reliable editor is one of the most challenging aspects of producing a book and I implore anyone thinking of self publishing to carefully choose an editor for their books.

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Elizabeth: I see an opportunity and grab it – if I am sitting outside the school gates waiting for my children and don’t have my laptop I use my phone to write. If we are shopping and I have a shopping list and pen in my hand I jot down anything that comes to mind. If we are in a pub and there is a bar mat lying around, I’ll write on that. I just write whenever and wherever I can snatch valuable minutes.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Elizabeth: That I can’t write sex scenes – they all end up sounding like a pornographic instruction manual. The ‘Highland Secret Series’ has reached a point where I can no longer avoid including a few such scenes. To this end I have resolved to conduct in-depth research and to perfect my writing skills in this area. Immortal Shadows, the 4th book in the series, will either end up providing great hilarity at my expense or a genius twist on instruction manuals.

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Elizabeth: Very rarely do I plot my stories. Mostly I get an idea and run with it. They are usually complex ideas and, as I have said before, rarely do they fit into a mainstream genre, but then whose life does? Certainly not mine.

Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Elizabeth: I certainly do and most of it is conducted in an ancient pub in York’s city centre, called ‘Ye Olde Starre Inne.’ It’s a tough job - but then someone’s got to do it.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Elizabeth: I am about to release a compilation of three short stories called Beyond Time. It is the second book of the Highland Secret Series. I have now finished writing the third book Entwined and it too is due for release very soon. The whole series is based on myth, magic and history. It is a complex tale of entwined lives and twisted fate, alternative realities and dark risings all set in Scotland and York.

Paul: What inspired you to write this book?
Elizabeth: So many things come together to inspire a story but ultimately my imagination was sparked following a visit to the village of Glencoe and many exciting adventures in York.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Elizabeth: I am working on a non-fiction mystery adventure guide to York, more for friends’ and family’s entertainment than anything else, and it is a lot of fun to write. I have written three short stories which I am currently compiling to form the second book of the Highland Secret Series.

Paul: What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Elizabeth: My favorite part of writing is the creation of the story, bringing the characters and their lives in my head to life. I love the friends I have made through writing too and think they are probably the most valuable thing I have gained since I started writing. I don’t think there is anything I dislike about writing.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Elizabeth: No party tricks I am afraid but I do love adventures, mysteries and exploring. Walking through hills and mountains with my husband and I dream of buying a motor-home and writing my way around Britain.

Paul: Well thank you, Elizabeth. It has been a privilege talking with you and I wish you all the best for a successful future.

About Elizabeth Marshall: Elizabeth Marshall is the writing alter ego of a lady born in St Mary’s Hospital, at the Marianhill Monastery, in the province of Natal, South Africa and was brought up in a small, rural Natal village surrounded by a large Scottish farming family.

Her primary education was delivered by Nuns from the monastery in which she was born. Through secondary school into adulthood, Elizabeth’s life centered on a love of music, reading, writing and history. 

After Elizabeth married she settled in the UK with her husband. She has worked at the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School in England, Nottingham Social Services in England and is currently a Director of an IT Project Management Consultancy.

Elizabeth lives in the city of York, England with her husband and children. She spends her spare time with her head in a book or her fingers on the keyboard writing one.

Elizabeth's Blog: ElizabethMarshallWrites

Elizabeth on Twitter: @em_writes
Elizabeth on Facebook: Elizabeth Marshall
Elizabeth's latest book: When Fate Dictates (Amazon)


  1. Thank you for the kind opportunity to appear on your blog. I had a great time answering your questions. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

  2. What a wonderful interview!! I can relate on many levels: importance of a good editor, jotting down ideas on scraps of paper, and the bluntness of a sex scene. A little confession of mine is that sometimes I have a hard time reading my own sex scenes. Obviously my kids weren't magically created via immaculate conception so I can't deny that I've done the activity, plus, I wrote the book, but alas, my face always heats up and I squirm--just a little--when I read over them.

  3. Bless Rose. Thank you so much for your kind comment. You made me smile:-) and I am really relieved to know that I'm not the only one who finds sex scenes challenging to write:-) It does make me wonder how EL James does it though. Especially as she has two young boys. I guess it is something that comes with practice. Much love and hugs. x

  4. Great interview, as if any interview with Elizabeth Marshall could be a bad thing...she is so classy!!

  5. C.C. you are a very sweet and kind friend. If only I had half your talent in bringing dark fantasy to life. x Hugs and lots of love. x

  6. Great interview Elizabeth. As for the sex scenes, I had to google how to write them. Can't wait to see how yours turn out!

  7. :-) KKrafts Thanks so much for your kind comment. x I had to smile yesterday actually because I sat down at my laptop with the idea that I would attempt to write a sex scene. Got as far as the first kiss and my two youngest children fell into a scrap about who was going to play on the scooter. (they have one each for some unknown reason they both wanted the same one at that moment) Suddenly my romantic sex scene turned into a death defying action scene, lol. x Reading it back was hilarious:-) x Wishing you a wonderful day with much love and hugs. x