My guest today is author Elizabeth Revill, please make her feel at home.
Welcome Elizabeth, thank you for joining me here today. Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself including where you are from?
I was born in Birmingham but my family is Welsh. My mother managed to nip across the border for my brother but didn’t make it with me. I now live in North Devon on a farm in a beautiful part of the world in the S.W. of England, with my husband Andrew, border collie, Pippin and Ashton our tabby cat. I started life as an actress and was the proud winner of The Carlton Hobbs award for BBC Radio and worked extensively and consistently in radio and theatre for many years with some television and film credits until my son came along. Then I returned to my second string of teaching while he was growing up, teaching English, History and Special Needs before moving onto sixth form college and lecturing in A Level Theatre Studies, BTec Performing Arts, Voice and Speech and General Studies. I have always written and write in a variety of genres and mediums. I am an optioned screenwriter and produced playwright. Writing is my passion and I was fortunate enough to give up teaching to write full time.
Can you tell us about your book and how you got started on them?
I have 13 published novels and I am working on another. My first novel Killing me Softly was cathartic as it laid a lot of ghosts for me resulting from an horrific experience on a train where I was confronted by a man wielding a knife. Using this experience has led to a series in this thriller series, Prayer for the Dying, God Only Knows, Would I lie to you and book 5 Windows for the Dead has just been published. My passion has been for my Llewellyn Series set up to and through WW2 in Wales, Whispers on the Wind, Shadows on the Moon, Rainbows in the Clouds and Thunder in the Sun. But I have a number of Stand Alone novels, The Forsaken and the Damned and Against the Tide, both historical, Sanjukta and the Box of Souls a fantasy adventure and The Electra Conspiracy a fast paced, action thriller recently rereleased. I am currently working on the sequel to Against the Tide, which was highly acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society.
What made you decide to write books?
I have always written. I used to entertain my cousins with stories as a child and when I was teaching I loved to create stories to link with school work. I initially wanted to write for children but it was a very difficult field to get into and after my confrontation on a train with an attacker I wrote Killing me Softly in 1995 and from there I wrote the rest of the trilogy and once I started I couldn’t stop. If I couldn’t write I’d go mad!
What was your inspiration for your books?
My parents and their lives were a huge inspiration for my Llewellyn series as I wove truth in with my fictional stories creating a strong heroine in Caroline Llewellyn known as Carrie. My work with children and studies of criminology fostered my love of thriller writing as did my passion for reading them. However, The Electra Conspiracy was different as I took the events surrounding Princess Diana’s death and did a massive amount of research speaking to some noted sources and wove them into a work of fiction where Diana was the equivalent of a musical icon, Electra, who was a thorn in the establishment’s side. I hope to provoke people into wondering about what really happened. There are so many unanswered questions I hope that my book will make the reader wonder, ‘ Could this parallel actually contain grains of truth’? Lastly, My fantasy tale Sanjukta and the Box of Souls was inspired by the Cherokee legend Daughter of the Sun and came from an idea from my son, which started life as a screenplay. Together, we created a character with a super power never before seen on film, TV or in a book something unique and original. I am currently working on the sequel to Against the Tide and plan more in my other series, plus sequels to my stand alone novels that’s if I live long enough to write them! I have so many ideas with the muse whispering in my ear!
How do you create your characters?
From the outside in. I begin with a vision of what they look like, how they move and talk, and their names, then get inside their heads. I know what they think and feel, their qualities and flaws and how they came to be ‘them’. I enjoy the fact that I create the set, write the script, design the costumes and play all the roles, in writing my novel. I throw them into difficult situations and watch how they react I see it all playing in my head like a film script.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
All of my novels have elements of truth. In fact, be careful what you say to me as it may end up in print! An idea can be born from a chance remark, something I’ve seen or read in the news and it will trigger a complete story. I’m convinced I have a helper who sits on my shoulder and whispers to me.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
Every character needs particular character traits peculiar to them that they employ when they are in certain moods. For example the knee that jiggles when uncertain or when they bite their lip. Each character has their own foibles, qualities and flaws. They are not interchangeable but unique.
If you have a publisher, what has it been like working with them?
I am with a small Indie publisher and my commissioning editor Sarah Luddington is an accomplished author herself. She is very knowledgeable and helpful but sadly doesn’t have the clout or publicity machines of the bigger companies but she has been very good for me and I don’t have to pay to put myself in print!
Do you have an agent?
I have an agent for my screenplays but not my books. She is Stephanie Rogers an amazing lady and mentor. I trust her implicitly. She has worked extensively in the motion picture industry and was at one time head of development at Universal. She knows what sells and is meticulous in ensuring the completed screenplay is perfect.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
Regarding the Electra Conspiracy the biggest challenge was not being able to credit some of my sources who were too afraid to become involved or have their name attached to the book. I knew I was taking a risk with this material but felt so strongly and passionately about the subject matter that I was compelled to write it.
What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Yes, I write every day. I begin my day by answering emails and then begin work. Obviously there are days when life gets in the way but I endeavour to write every single day. I usually manage 750 – 1,000 words a day. I like to write the story out of me and then the hard work begins with reading, editing, rewriting and making cuts. A valuable lesson I learned from British writer Mike Bullen, who wrote the popular series ‘Cold Feet’, is in his own words, “Don’t to be afraid to kill your babies.” Some of my babies do get killed and recycled in another form in another story. I have learned not to be precious about my writing.
How do you cope with writer’s block?
It doesn’t happen very often but like many writers I have more than one thing on the go and when I come up against a tricky problem I simply go to another project and do some work on that. When I return to the other project, the block has gone and the writing flows once more. I always make myself write even if it is just a few words. I also find going back to the beginning and reading so far can also kick start the project again. But, I am lucky as this rarely happens.
Which writers influence you the most?
I have a wide taste in books and read a huge variety of genres. I do however have favourites. I love Dean Koontz and how he makes the impossible totally plausible. I enjoy Patricia Cornwall novels and those by Peter Robinson, James Patterson and Helen Hollick. I learn from each and every one of them.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks)?
I used to lock myself away in the study but now because of complaints from my husband I sit with my laptop on my knee in the sitting room and i have the ability to block everything else out but hubby feels I am there with him. The TV doesn’t worry me in the evening and in the day I am on my own and I have silence. I find if I play music I want to listen to it and will join in! So, sadly no music for me and yet when I was studying for exams I always played music. Go figure!
You have told us what you like to write, but to relax what do you like to read?
I love thrillers, historical, good detective stories and fantasy adventure, and books with twists.
What plans have you got for future books?
I have to write the sequels to The Forsaken and the Damned, Sanjukta and the Box of Souls and of course The Electra Conspiracy as well as further books in my two current series.
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Three things, one is that people don’t consider it a proper job and aren’t concerned when they interrupt me with a phone call or drop around for coffee. It is especially annoying when I am on a roll and the juices are flowing. Two is trying to get publicity for my work. I find that extremely tough and even with someone working on your behalf there are no guarantees that people will read your books. Finally, so many people lend my books to their family and friends and tell me about it… so although many have read them they don’t translate into sales.
Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?
It was incredibly exciting and now to have 13 on my shelf, well wow! I am as excited with the latest as I was with the first.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that my philosophy is never give up – the only failures are those that do.
Thank you for being my guest today and good luck with your future books