Interview with Elizabeth Elson
When did you first start writing?
My mother encouraged my sisters and me to keep a diary, and to this day I keep a journal of my thoughts. I used to write stories and teenage love poems and hid them beneath my underwear in my dresser drawer so my mother wouldn't find them. Later I wrote verse and won some poetry contests, but I never got serious about publishing until I took early retirement from teaching and finally got the time needed to write.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is an historical, Always the Music, based on the life of Cosima Liszt, an illegitimate child born to Franz Liszt and his mistress, a countess. Cosima led a fascinating life, always in the shadow of great musicians: her father Franz Liszt, Han von Bulow the renowned conductor, and Richard Wagner. Cosima's story, largely unknown except by musicians, is a remarkable example of overcoming despair and rising to great heights.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am a traditionally published author under my real name, Joyce Elson Moore, but I thought my Women in History books lent themselves to more global readership, so I decided to publish them as digital books under my pen name, Elizabeth Elson.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a reader writes to tell me that reading one of my books got her through a difficult time, or when someone writes and tells me they didn't know history was so interesting. These reader comments make the hours of work worthwhile.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Aside from my writing, my friends and my wonderful family and my old girl boxer dog make every new day a blessing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I often wonder myself, when at day's end I think, what did I accomplish? So much of my time is consumed with writing that each day is packed full. I love to cook. I'm a vegetarian and I use my Turkish cookbook often, as well as my book on monastery soups. I enjoy a bit of gardening (not too much in the Florida sun). I love to travel and have been to Europe a few times. I also went to Istanbul and later joined a small group of adventuresome souls on a Turkish gulet cruise in the Mediterranean. I use my treadmill and do hatha yoga to make up for the hours of sitting at the computer. At night I read, both for research and for the two book clubs of which I'm a member. My French is improving, thanks to my lovely French teacher who comes every Tuesday. At night I write in my journal and then sleep well.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Because I write historicals, most of my reading is confined to research, but a lot of what I call pleasure reading is for my book clubs. I think it's good for an author to read in genres sometimes different from the ones in which they write. I get Historical Novels Review and some of my reading comes from those reviews. Also I read a magazine of French culture and it has book reviews. I frequently order those.
What is your writing process?
When I get excited about a plot, I make a feeble attempt to do character sketches and an outline, but what I return to most often is my Excel timeline. This is necessary because I write historicals. When I can no longer keep myself from writing, I begin, and the story pours out until I have my first draft. What they say about first drafts is true. It really is nothing like the finished book will be. So then the revisions begin, the hard part of writing, and the most critical part. When I think the manuscript is good enough for other eyes, I send it to a Beta reader, then to an online group of published authors. After their comments I revise and revise until I'm satisfied. Writing really is revising.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I learned how to read with my older sister reading Little Engine that Could. I memorized the words and can say most of them to this day. Later, I remember divine summers spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries and the Bobbsey Twins books. I practiced piano a few hours each day so my reading time was limited. I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read.
How do you approach cover design?
I want a professional cover so I rely on my web designer. We work together until I have the perfect design. She studied art history so she knows where to find the good stuff. I'd never put up a book with a design of my own.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nexus 7 and it works fine for me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'd rather be writing, but I know that authors can no longer depend on their publisher to do all the marketing. I've found that goodreads is an easy and fun place to contact readers. I go to Facebook some too, and I keep my web page updated.I send out newsletters twice yearly. I'm not crazy about social media because it's a time suck but I do what I can with the time I have.
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Books by This Author
Always the Music
by Elizabeth Elson
Always the Music is based on the life of Cosima, Franz Liszt’s illegitimate daughter. Burdened by life in the shadow of three musical geniuses, Cosima decides to embrace happiness, a plan which scandalizes Paris and Berlin salons. How she succeeds and how her decision affects the world of music is a compelling tale of one woman’s courage and love.
Theodora of Constantinople
by Elizabeth Elson
This novel, based on the life of Theodora, is set in the back streets of Constantinople and the vibrant court of Emperor Justinian during the waning days of the Roman Empire. Disgraced after performing a lewd act on the Hippodrome stage, Theodora begins a journey that brings her from the depths of despair to the arms of an emperor, but an ancient law forbids their royal marriage.
Julia, Daughter of Rome
by Elizabeth Elson
This is the compelling tale of Julia, only child of the Roman leader Octavian, who inherited his power from the slain Julius Caesar. When Julia’s father discovers her adulterous affair with Marc Anthony’s son, the lovers are forced to make desperate choices that scandalize the Roman elite and change the course of history in the Republic.