Welcome, Liz. Let’s get to know more about you …
What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
Broadly speaking, my genre is mystery. Along with the main storyline, I also focus on the development and psychology of the central characters as well as pertinent social issues. I began writing mysteries because I find them enjoyable to read and watch, and also because nowadays they give so many opportunities for innovation both in plot and structure.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Sometimes. During the year that I was revising Oranges and Lemons, I was also writing a first draft of Yellow Vengeance. I do, however, prefer to concentrate on just one book at a time.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
No, I have never worked with any kind of writing group. Many people find it helpful, but it’s not something that has ever appealed to me. Once I’ve done a reasonable draft of a manuscript, I send it to my agent or editor. I use whatever feedback I get to continue with my revisions. This back and forth process can take up to a year.
Can you remember your first reading book?
No, I really can’t remember. I didn’t read a lot, when I was a child. I had undiagnosed ADHD, so I gravitated more toward TV and active play as sources for stories. That having been said, I do remember reading some of the Nancy Drew books, as well as many of the classics.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
No, I never snack while writing, but on occasion I do drink a cup of coffee. Since I like to take frequent breaks from writing, that’s when I will eat. Those breaks also include things like playing Internet chess and checking email.
It is important to remember to take a break from writing. Stretch the limbs.
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Bombsite definitely. Luckily I have my own study. In one corner is an old kitchen table that I use as a desk. It holds my hand-me-down desktop computer, a lot of books, an assortment of files, and anything else I haven’t managed to put away yet. I make frequent reminders to myself on multi-coloured post-it notes, so they are stuck to any vacant surface. The rest of the room is full of books and musical instruments, but it’s usually in better shape than my desk. Once in a while it all gets too much, so I clean it up. Unfortunately that doesn’t last long.
My clean-up campaigns only last a short while, too!
I’m published in the traditional manner. When I was finished drafting my first book, Red Rover, I researched publishers, and made a list of a few to approach in order of compatibility with my work. I sent out my first query directly to a specific editor at the publisher on the top of my list. To my surprise, she was interested, and asked for a few chapters. Several months later she asked for the full manuscript. Six months after sending my initial email, my book was accepted. Eight months after that, it was in bookstores. My story is not typical; I was very lucky. I do, however, believe that having a strategy will save you time and frustration when looking for a publisher.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy and Sandra Scoppettone. I love reading their books, and I know that my writing would be very different without their passive influences. I could write a whole essay on this, but at the moment I won’t.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript.
It’s true that your writing will only improve if you keep writing on a regular basis. On the other hand, I strongly advise you to give yourself breaks from writing. I do my best work when I go back to a manuscript, after being away from it for weeks or even months. It’s hard to gain perspective both on big issues and smaller things like word repetition, if you never pull back.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Calli Barnow – played by Jodie Foster
Jess – played by Michelle Krusiec
Dewey – played by Darryl Stephens
June – played by Jessica Capshaw
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I have no interesting tale to tell. Sorry. I guess all my storytelling has gone into
I am sure it has!
About the Books:
The Calli Barnow Mysteries are set in Toronto and follow the professional and personal exploits of P.I. Calli Barnow. So far the series includes Red Rover, Oranges and Lemons, and Yellow Vengeance, all published by Insomniac Press.
Liz received a Debut Author Award in 2011 from the Golden Crown Literary Association for Red Rover.
The Globe and Mail predicted that this would be “a series to watch.”
The Toronto Star described Calli Barnow as “immensely likeable.”
More about the books and about Liz at the following sites: