Wednesday 22 May 2013

Guest Author Interview - Elizabeth Newton

In today's guest author interview we meet Elizabeth Newton, you can read what she has to say below:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I was born in Adelaide and I have a pretty ordinary life. I have done Calisthenics, ballet, learnt the piano, gone to school, graduated from uni with a teaching degree, met a few famous people, and travelled as far as Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. But in an ordinary life, you have the opportunity to see the world in weird and wonderful, extraordinary ways. Especially when you’re a Christian, and a writer.

I suppose it was natural for me to become a teacher and a writer. Because as a little girl, I was either writing all kinds of stories about my teddies, princesses and later on, exciting alien encounters; or lining up my dolls and teddies in my bedroom teaching them how to spell and do sums on a little blackboard that came from the cubby house. The only thing I’m not doing that I would have loved to get into is acting and singing on stage, but I guess you can’t do everything.

Besides teaching and writing, I am active in my church, playing the piano and drums (not at the same time), writing a few songs now and then, and my brother James and I lead the youth group. I love my church and I love the youth group. We’re called Grace Youth and the encouragement I’ve had from them regarding getting my stories published has been wonderful. (Some more than others), but from a particular girl called Laura, who I am proud to say is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She is also, in a sense, my constant companion with me on the Captain’s Train. She appears genuinely interested in and entertained by my stories... I suppose she’s being honest...

Getting back to the exciting things that have happened in my life, there’s something I should have put right at the top. Although you could look at it as though I was saving the best untill last. And that is the fact that I know my Saviour, Jesus, loves me and died for me and because of that, I get to be called friend and daughter of the Most High. Everything I am, I owe to Him. And if I’ve done or achieved anything good and worthwhile in my life, it’s because He daily gives me strength, courage, motivation, comfort, inspiration and encouragement, not to mention my abilities in the first place. If I get any acknowledgement and praise at all for the books I’ve written, glory be to God, the Author of creation, time, the universe, and my life.

What first inspired you to start writing?
That’s a difficult question, mainly because as mentioned earlier, I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember. I guess I can say that just my imagination has inspired me. And I believe my imagination has come from my Creator, God. When I think of some cool, weird, complicated, exciting, romantic, entertaining story line, or maybe a quirk for a character, or even just a one-liner that sounds good, I MUST write it down and use it. Otherwise, I would get all frustrated or confused as to why I would think of such an idea in the first place. I would see it as rejecting a precious gift if I sat back and didn’t do anything about my imagination. I’m not saying that my imagination is far more superior to anybody else’s, (because I’m sure it certainly and most definitely isn’t), but it’s just my attitude towards it – that itching desire to have an adventure that entails space and time travel, villains, danger, romance, unlikely teams and unlikely heros. But since I’m probably not going to find myself in this situation in reality, I remedy my ache for it by ‘having’ the adventures on paper. And I must. Otherwise, I think I’d go sane.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Just in my bedroom at home. I live with my mum, dad and brother. And sometimes that’s annoying because I’ll be riding this awesome wave of creative juices and the next thing mum calls out, “Tea’s ready and it’s going cold!” Ever since I became published, I’ve had little encouraging/inspirational messages blue-tacked to my desk like “It is safe to be me”, “Let the magic begin”, and “Use every word as if it cost a thousand bucks” (by Penny Brown). Whenever I go on camps with my church or trips with my family, I’ll always either take my laptop or my notebooks and lots of pens and I do love writing when I’m away. But mostly in my little humble bedroom.

If you could write anyone's biography, whose would it be and why?
Interesting question. The first person that comes to mind is Jesus Christ because He’s such an awesome guy and I’d love more people to know about Him and what He did. But is that a cop out of the question? I’m not sure.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
For me, writing my stories is the closest I get to having the adventures myself. (Although I get a little jealous of my characters sometimes for being the ones who are actually doing it.) So I would say the thing I enjoy most about writing is probably the very thing I started writing for – having an adventure. It’s fun to be able to go anywhere or anywhen in the universe and in history. And I feel privileged to have such a vivid imagination that I actually do end up with a sort of a feeling that I’ve been there and done that, after writing about it.

And the least?
When after the umpteenth time of editing it and your friends and family editing it, you still find the odd mistake in the final, published, printed, paperback copy.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Go for it!

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am planning number eight of the Train Flight series. I have just finished writing number seven, but five, six and seven all need to be revisited a little way down the track before I even think about submitting them. So in as-yet-title-less number eight, the Captain and his passengers find themselves in London during WW1 – 1915 to be precise. And I can’t say much more for two reasons, 1. I don’t want to give too much away, and 2. I haven’t quite worked out everything that happens in the story yet. All I know is, it involves poison gas, footmen and parlour maids, war soldiers, sinister conversations and several pots of tea... with lemon.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The latest one published is the fourth Train Flight story called “Furry Friends” In Furry Friends we are in the present (well, the main character Evie’s present, which is actually now back in 2011). The Train was supposed to be landing on some distant planet to show Evie some weird and wonderful flora and fauna that one would never see on Earth, but because the Train’s navigation system has packed up, they wind up on Earth, not too far away from Evie’s Adelaide home. But the Captain’s intention of showing Evie and the other Train passenger Paulo something weird and exciting isn’t a total wash out. There is an unexpected catastrophe which has all of Adelaide on alert and the Captain, Evie and Paulo find themselves deeply involved, especially when a teacher at a nearby primary school says on National TV that it must be aliens. She is a perfect stranger, but she has called the Captain by name to come and help. This story was literally inspired by a humorous response invented by a good friend of mine, Simon, when we were playing the game “Balderdash” with some friends at a camp. The acronym was P.U.F.F. which actually stands for “People United to Fight Frustration”, but Simon and his team-mate Jock guessed that it stood for “Potentially Unfriendly Furry Friends”. We all laughed, and for some reason, it stuck in my mind as a story idea. What these potentially unfriendly furry friends are… you’ll have to read “Furry Friends” to find out.

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Thanks to Elizatbeth for sharing her thoughts with us, on Friday we welcome Robin Leigh Morgan to the hot seat.

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