Interview with Lucy Elliot
Tell us about your latest book. My latest official book is Frank the Gentle Viking, although by the time this interview goes live, I'll have another one on the market called Where Are You, Magoo?
Frank the Gentle Viking is the story of a shy, introverted little Viking who is the youngest of six siblings, and is having a tough time finding his place among his wild and fearsome brothers. It's a story about being true to yourself, and the importance of your family accepting and supporting who you are. With a little of Ferdinand and Aesop's The Lion and the Mouse mixed in.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? I'm sort of feeling my way in the shallow end. Marketing is definitely not my wheelhouse. I published with CreateSpace, thinking that their affiliation with Amazon would just make the books fly out the door. But I've actually had better luck selling copies hand-to-hand in person than online. I'm trying to organize little book events at local book stores. I'm also trying to grapple with a way to make school visits more profitable.
Who are your favourite authors? Dr. Seuss, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, J.M Barrie, and Mark Twain. Also Markus Zuzak. I'd better stop there or I'll go on forever.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers? I don't think it's a quote about writing, per se, but it's a quote I find myself happier if I live by it. It's “This is supposed to be stupid” attributed to the late, great Howard Ashman. He was talking about Little Shop of Horrors, but I find it's sound advice for not forcing your work to be something it's not, and being true to your inner child that knows what kids actually like. I come up with the best stuff when I'm loose, when I'm playing. It's serious work, and it needs to be good, but I'm not trying to write the next Les Miserables! (Victor Hugo: also one of my favourites!) It's a reminder to take a breath, have a laugh, get it done, and move on.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected? Absolutely! This was my first book, I basically learned everything from making this book. (Not that I know all there is to know yet, this was just all over a huge learning experience.) I learned what I was capable of. I learned that I've acquired the artistic maturity to know when something is and isn't good enough. I've learned how to move on from one project to the next. I definitely learned discipline. But most importantly, writing this story and illustrating it made me realize it's what I want to do with my life.
Where can a reader purchase your book? My e-store at www.createspace.com/4325946 Also available on Amazon!
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it. I'm working on a story dummy to pitch to publishers. It's a lot of loud, goofy fun. It's about this character who appears when a kid's about to pitch a fit and basically steals their thunder, so to speak. I'm hoping it will be a good way to show kids how ridiculous tantrums are.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing? It's hard for me to say, since I only have experience with self-publishing. Hopefully this project I'm working on will get picked up by a larger publisher, but I think whether you do it yourself or have one of the big guys do it, it's a lot more leg work than you think it will be even after the book is finished. I think self-publishing is starting to shed some of the stigma of being the route the wanna-be's take as the quality of the products get better and better. So on the one hand, the market is kinda flooded which can make it hard to stand out, but on the other hand, it gives people who wouldn't have a chance otherwise to bring a really great product to people.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer? In a bizarre way, I think it was a combination of Twilight and M*A*S*H, each for very different reasons.
I read the first page of Twilight and thought it was terrible. But I saw what a hit it was, and I when I found out that Stephenie Meyer had never written in her life, I realized that there was no reason I couldn't take a shot too! I decided that I was capable of writing something, I just didn't know what.
The tv show MASH was, of course, a hugely popular classic, but somehow I didn't discover it until college when I got cable. I was totally mesmerized by how good the writing in the script was. The dialog, the character development, the timing of the patter, the wit! I was totally fascinated by how all these elements came together and could have you laughing one second and bawling your eyes out the next. It was so thoughtfully done and so brilliantly controlled and I think I will be chasing that craft the rest of my life.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How? Ha! Sometimes it's hard to tell. I think they're proud of me, and they think the book is cute and that I have a lot of potential. But it's hard to convince anyone something is legitimate when the money isn't rolling in because of it. I think we're all glad I've found a direction. I tried half a dozen different creative fields before I settled into this one, so hopefully my focus will bear fruit and just springboard my career.
I think it helps that I married a creative person. My husband writes and directs plays, so we have great respect for each others creativity and the importance of it in our lives.
What are you currently reading? I've been re-reading Terry Pratchett's Hogfather over the holidays because it's kinda, sorta Christmas-y. Normally in December I re-read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever which is really inspirational for narrative voice and character design. But lately, I've just kept a stack of children's books and concept art books on my bedside table to read before sleep. Reading words excites my imagination, but looking at pictures helps me organize things in my brain, which is a good before-bed activity.
What books or authors have most influenced your life? Dr. Seuss. He showed us all how art and words can be playful and funny and smart and wise all at the same time. The world needs much more of all four of those things. Also JK Rowling. Not just how talented she is as a writer, but what she has done with her fame and fortune is so admirable, especially how she struggled beforehand as a single mother on welfare. I'd like to think that my time spent being creative in the face of being skint broke would give me the same strength of character.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Painting and drawing, working on my illustrations. Taking classes. Going to the beach. And indulging in my guilty pleasure of watching well-written sit-coms with my hubby.