What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
~ J.D. Salinger
In October, I am writing about all things autumnal: from art to spooky books, author interviews, recipes, and autumn-inspired writing prompts AND participating in the Two Pages-a-Day writing challenge.
lizabeth Hunter is the kind of author Salinger was talking about. The thought and love that goes into the plots and character sketches of her stories tell you that she would be an interesting friend.
Her answers to my interview questions tell me she’d be a fun friend to get into trouble with!
Why do you write?
I love it! And it definitely helps with the compulsive lying problem. (Kidding.) I love stories. I love character and the exploration of what makes a person who they are. I suppose part of me never grew out of the imaginary friend stage.
Name two mentors who influenced your writing.
I didn’t have a “writing mentor” in the traditional sense, but I can say that my family was a huge influence on me. We’re all readers, and our house was full of books. We often read together. My step-grandfather was particularly influential. He was a psychologist professionally, but he was also a big fantasy reader. He had Tolkien and Lewis and Baum all over his house. Art inspired by books and full walls covered in bookcases. He was an intensely curious person who fed my imagination very early in life.
He also introduced me to Calvin and Hobbes. Enough said.
Name 5 writers (any genre) you recommend.
Paranormal romance: Nalini Singh
Urban Fantasy: Ilona Andrews, Kevin Hearne
Southern fiction: Kaye Gibbons
Literary fiction: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Honestly, there are so many.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read. I travel as much as I can. I still go to music festivals, even though I’m probably too old for it. (I don’t care.) I like cooking for a lot of people. (For my son and I day-to-day, not as much.) I like swimming. My family is large and still very close, so a typical weekend usually revolves around spending time with them somehow.
What does your writing space look like?
I have a giant desk built in the 1930s that was a hand-me-down from my dad. It was his office desk at work until he retired. I love that desk, because it has a lot of history. And surface space. Which means I have room for my clutter. I have my notebooks out and a collection of post-it notes that makes sense to no one but me. I have three large cork boards with visual cues and references for whatever I’m writing, along with random papers and artwork from my son or one of my nieces or nephews. (There are 10.) It’s messy, but not too overwhelming.
Describe your writing process. (Outline? Mind map?)
First off, I want to make clear that this is MY process. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and no one way is more right than another. That said, I am a hearty believer in the pre-writing process.
I will usually let an idea stew for months before I start writing. I don’t write all my ideas down, because it would be too much. I wait to see if an idea sticks with me. If it sticks with me for a couple of months, then I’ll start really brainstorming it, but I still don’t write anything down for another month or so.
When I am ready to write, I either do character sketches first (which I did with Elemental and Cambio), or I’ll do a timeline (which I did with Irin and Genius). After I do both of those, then I start an outline, then a more detailed chapter breakdown. Then another outline. Then a new timeline. It’s kind of a circular process, because as I plan, I revise. All my pre-writing is in long-hand, though I write on the computer.
So when I get to the actual drafting step, the stories are fairly complete. My first drafts tend to be pretty close to the final book.
Which character is most like you?
I think they all have a little bit of me!
In a lot of ways, my characters allow me to explore different facets of my personality, or different points or intersections in my personal journey. I honestly don’t know which one is like me the most. It might be better to ask my sister or my best friend!
Update: My best friend says I’m most like Beatrice, but that could just be the boots. My sister refuses to weigh in. Personally, I think Beatrice is far more clever and interesting than me.
She also has fangs, which I do not have.
Your latest book, The Scribe, is set in Turkey. Why did you choose that setting?
I had initially planned to set it in Israel. I was trying to sleep one afternoon, and I was listening to Loreena McKennit’s album, An Ancient Muse. And as I was kind of napping, I pictured a man, who I knew was very old, walking through the souk in the Old City in Jerusalem. There was a scent I still can’t place that reminded me of the souk. So it was a combination of the senses that gave me the initial idea for the series.
But the more I researched and thought about The Scribe, the more I kept circling around to Istanbul, not Jerusalem. It wasn’t one thing, it was more like seven or eight. I just knew the book needed to be set there. But I’d never been there! So I went. And it was exactly right.
What is your next project?
I’m working on the second Irin book right now, The Singer. Then I’ll be working on the second Cambio Springs novel.
Give 2-3 pieces of advice for writers.
Read and keep reading, though not necessarily in your own genre. I firmly believe that ongoing creativity depends on feeding your mind and imagination, and one of the best ways to do that is with books.Write a lot, always try to be better, but don’t focus on past work. Don’t ever get to a place where you’re not challenging yourself. Once a work is finished, leave it alone and move forward. Don’t dissect the past.Travel, if at all possible. Nothing will open your worldview and teach you about human nature more than travel.
What led you to choose the paranormal/romance genre?
Well, paranormal, because I’ve always been a fan of fantasy and mystery. And romance, because I feel like love and relationships are important. I think romance is often dismissed by “serious writers” when it shouldn’t be. It’s a very complex genre that, done properly, delves into some of the most universal conflicts human beings face.
One of the aspects of your writing that resonates with me is the amount of thought and research that goes into your world building and plot lines. Were you a liberal arts major? What influences your choice of historical era/background?
I was an English major who always loved history and worked in a library in college. (Yes, like Beatrice.) I love research. I’m incredibly curious. The research aspect of writing is one of my favorite parts.
I also love philosophy and language and politics and art. When I create a fantasy world, I get to incorporate all those aspects into the world-building.
Each series is different that way, whether I’m writing about conflicting philosophy all over the world in a series like the “Elemental Mysteries”, or I’m writing about small town politics and family in a series like “Cambio Springs”. Each place has to feel real.
I’m probably going against the grain when I say #9, but he’s my favorite! I think, partly, because he was the Doctor I started watching the series with.
And maybe the jacket, too. You have to love that leather jacket. He had a definite edge.
Jeremy Brett or Benedict Cumberbatch?
I’m a modern girl, so I’m going to say Cumberbatch, though it would probably be more correct to say Cumberbatch/Freeman. I think the Holmes/Watson relationship in BBC’s Sherlock is really what sells the series. Both actors were such brilliant choices.
Ha! Yes, what is it about their coats? Doctor #9 rocked the leather jacket, #10 rocked the trench and speaking of trenches, BC rocks his Sherlockian threads as well. Even though vampires don’t feel differences in temperature, Gio has always cut a fine figure in his designer suits and coats.
Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth, and spending some time at La Belle!
Dear readers, be sure to buy your copy of The Scribe when it goes live tomorrow!
Oremus pro invicem,