Today I welcome Elizabeth Martin to my blog.
Another North Queensland writer, Elizabeth’s debut novel ‘The Coffeeholic and the Cafe’ was released by Booralong Press a couple of months ago. I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth at the wonderful Yungaburra Book Fair in October when she and Barbara Hannay very kindly chatted about their writing as part of a small panel discussion. (We even have the same exquisite taste in shoes 🙂 )
Elizabeth, congratulations on the release of ‘The Coffeeholic and the Cafe,’ and on being the Number 1 best seller for Collins Booksellers in Smithfield for three weeks running! Readers and fellow writers love a good ‘Call’ story so how did you get the call to say Boolarong wanted to publish The Coffeeholic and the Cafe?
Thanks, Helene. My ‘Call’ story is very unimpressive. Especially as that is the moment writers dream of when working away at their novel. But the lead up to the ‘Call’ was amazing. I had confessed to a friend that I’d written a novel. She worked at the University (JCU) and suggested I go to an upcoming conference called “Tropics of the Imagination”. I took two days off work to go and felt like a naughty student wagging school. During a break between lectures I stood (drinking a cup of coffee) next to a woman who asked if I were a writer. I almost said ‘No’ then remembered I was! I told her about The Coffeeholic and the Cafe, and she kept asking questions and wanted to know more. She then told me she was a publisher. It was the first time I’d pitched my story to anyone. I was so excited I thought I would faint. I thought if nothing further comes of this, it will all have been worth it. Boolarong Press liked the first three chapters and emailed me to ask for the rest, then emailed me to set up a meeting. The meeting had to wait until after Christmas, and then the publisher calmly told me they liked my book and wanted to publish it. There were no calls involved at all!
A fabulous story, Elizabeth – one of those ‘meant to be ‘ moments 🙂
What’s your writing process? Do you plot out the story, fly by the seat of your pants and just write, or are you a scener who has conversations and situations going round in your head until you write them down?
I find I can only write about 700 words per day. The rest of the day, between the things that fill up my life, I think about what I’m going to write. When I was on a roll with the novel I got quite annoyed I had to interrupt this process and go to work (my day job!) I imagine scenes as if they are a movie played before me, then string them together to make up the novel. I find I have to plot later, to cobble it all together, otherwise I’ve over-thought the process and the story becomes stale even before it’s written. So I’d say I’m a scener with a bit of retrospective plotting.
Your story is very visual and would make a lovely movie! Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have favourite authors who’ve inspired you?
A lot of children’s books give me inspiration! I seem to read a fair few these days and they’re very funny. Especially AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and Dr Seuss. I have a book called Little Wynn’s Giggly Thing which is about a girl who thinks she doesn’t do anything useful at home, but likes making things, which she then hides in a cupboard. Eventually she has the courage to bring the Closet Things out, and it makes the whole household run better. It’s a kid’s analogy for Art. Sometimes as a writer I feel I should be doing something more useful, like the dishes.
I love Australian authors, particularly Richard Flanagan and Carmel Bird, and authors that convey a strong sense of place. Books that aren’t particularly readable can be inspiring too, because it makes me think, I can do better than that! Other writers like Somerset Maugham are so wonderfully heartbreaking they can inspire me to try harder. Most of my inspiration, though, is in snatches of everyday life; a song on the radio, someone’s unusual appearance, a strange looking cloud.
Was your path to publication littered with rejections (as for most writers…) or has your path been more straightforward?
One day I decided, I’m going to face rejection and be a real writer. I had stopped myself from writing so often due to self-editing and censorship. So I entered a few competitions with short stories, and when I didn’t win, felt totally dejected. I told myself “See, you’re a hopeless writer. What did you expect?” That dreadful feeling would last a day or so, but I’d console myself that all writers get rejected. There’s some great stories out there about famous authors who were rejected five million and twenty times and then finally got their break. I sent my novel to about three agents who didn’t want it, and then met my publisher, which I consider a stroke of luck.
While I was waiting for my novel to come out in August this year, I got a book in the mail. A short story I’d sent to a competition 2 years earlier (and hadn’t won, so therefore proof I was a hopeless writer) had been included in the anthology, Great Australian Rabbit Stories, published by the ABC. It was a very good lesson to me, that our stories can have a life of their own after they leave us, and that “rejection” is mostly in the writer’s mind.
That’s good advice! Writers tend to suffer from perpetual angst and yet most of it’s of our own making… What other advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like what you’ve written. Persistence is very important. Most writers are sensitive, but try not to let that sensitivity stop you from sending your work out. Eventually something will happen if you keep plugging away.
Also dream big. I dreamt of writing a novel for a long time. It wasn’t until I dreamt of writing a novel that earned me enough money to buy a house by the ocean that the first dream came true. Maybe if I dream even bigger the house will happen too…! The dream was very important. I focused on it to get me writing, and also as an indulgence when I was away from writing.
Good luck with that bigger house! Seems perfectly reasonable to me except I dream of a bigger boat…
Where to from here? What are you currently working on?
I have started the sequel to my first novel, called The Coffeeholic Finds Another Love, as I’d like to continue Claire’s adventure and self discovery. I’d also like to write a murder mystery set in the tropics, something very different from the first book, written in the third person, but still using Australian places and people as a familiar backdrop. These are grand projects. In the meantime I am working on a short story, and soon will have to contemplate Christmas cards.
Thanks, Helene, for having me on your blog!
Ah the Christmas cards… It is that time of year went the hunt is on for the perfect present. Speaking of presents, one lucky person who leaves a comment will receive a signed copy of The Coffeeholic and the Cafe. We’d love to hear about your favourite coffee/barista/blend.
And for those that live in North Queensland, come and meet Elizabeth at the fabulous Collins Booksellers in Smithfield on Sunday, 5th December, from 11 am to 1pm. She’ll be signing books and chatting about her inspiration.
Elizabeth Martin was born in Melbourne, Australia, and now lives with her husband and 3 boys in Cairns. Elizabeth has been residing in Far North since 2000, and loves a good cup of coffee almost as much as a good old-fashioned romance. This is Elizabeth Martin’s first published novel.
23 thoughts on “Addiction of the perfectly acceptable kind”
That donkey has a lot to answer for 🙂
not for me, Hlelene, Decaf really ought to be renamed Low Caff. there is still some and I feel as though I’ve been kicked in the head by Simpson’s donkey!
Elizabeth, I didn’t realise The Impossible Dream was still running. I love Paronella Park. It’s always on our must see list for visitors – primarily because I’ll use any excuse for a visit:-)
Ouch Cathy, migraines are hell. I have other friends who find caffeine does dreadful things to their bodies… At least there is decaf in the world!
I wish I COULD still enjoy coffee, Helene. Tests have shown that part of my problems with migraine is caused by caffiene, even decaf will do it, so, cofeeless Cathy
Thank you! I can’t wait to read it.
PS Thanks Karly and Suzanne for dropping by Helene’s blog over a coffee. Suzanne, I’d love to hear your call story (or email story) one day. Best wishes with your writing!
Congratulations Sonya on winning the book!!!
Thanks so much Helene for having me on your blog and to everyone for your comments.
I didn’t check into the blog again last night as we had a Xmas function at The Impossible Dream, the story of Jose Paronella and Paronella Park. Very funny and a good night, with great stage props. Very Far North Queensland!
Sandy, I loved The Magic Faraway Tree! We used to play it in the liquid amber in my parents’ backyard in Essendon. We even had a Dame Wash-a-lot by putting a hose up into the branches!
Thanks again for all the comments, and enjoy your coffee! (If you’re in Cairns tomorrow, drop by to say hello at Collins Smithfield)
Sandy, I remember ‘The Faraway Tree’! Enjoy having HD home!
Thanks, Elizabeth, for taking time out of your very busy day to drop by the blog. Look forward to reading your next story:-)
And the names went into the hat and the lucky winner of The Coffeeholic and the Cafe is Sonya!. Send me your postal details via the contact link, Sonya, and you’ll have an early Christmas present!
Thanks for all those who dropped by and the few who made comments. See you back on Wednesday 15th December to meet Maree Anderson who writes the hottest of hot fantasy fiction!
Hi again Elizabeth,
Helene had a recent blog on books she read as a wee sprite and we all had a nice little trip down memory lane digging around in our bookshelves and memories for stories we’d read. One of my favourites is Enid Blyton’s ‘The Faraway Tree’.
Just finished a morning coffee with HD and an almond biccy. Yum! 🙂
Hi Suzanne, it is a great title isn’t it. Have woken up in dire need of a strong latte this morning after a late night… Thanks for dropping by!
I throughly enjoyed the interview Helene. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your journey. I love finding out how another author reaches publication, and especially the call, or email story. Thank you for sharing.
I love the title it’s so catchy. And naturally I love coffee shops and the odd one, two, or more cappuccinos. 🙂
I’d love to be there on Sunday, but unfortunately I’m in NSW. 🙂
All the best with your debut novel.
Hi Sonya, it is a long way to come for a book signing.. Hope you enjoy the book!
Karly thanks for dropping by here and FB! Don’t know whether you need a coffee or maybe just a wine by this time of night:-)
I’ve just got back from drinks at the Air Traffic Control Christmas party and can’t work how I managed it, but I didn’t even score a water let alone a drink… Must have been talking too much… lol
Congratulations Elizabeth and I hope the book is a huge success! It sounds fantastic. I thought I replied but it was only via face book earlier! Doh! Maybe I need a coffee!!!!! Have a great book launch wish I was back up that way to go along!
Ooh, excellent. I’m always on the lookout for more Australian romance authors.
I don’t think I’ll be making it so far north for the signing, but I’ll check out the book!
Steve, I think you should feature in your own coffeeholic book! I’m getting a headache that I suspect is related to the full strength one I had this morning. Or is it that I’m truly addicted and need another???
I think I’ll try that theory out and have a second cup.
You’re right Helene, the kick along is good, and sometimes necessary!
Oh my, Steve, you sound seriously addicted to coffee!! I’d be walking on the ceiling if I had that many in a day…
I have to give a quick plug to my favourite coffee supplier which is NQ Gold operated by the Maloberti family out on the Chillagoe road past Mareeba. Love their coffee and love their roasting shed!
If I don’t have two coffees straight up in the morning I’m useless. In a day I’d polish of six easy. My favourite would be double shot espresso. Perhaps there’s a pattern there? Your book sounds interesting Elizabeth and congrats on persevering with your writing.
Elizabeth, that decaf stuff is over-rated! I’ve just sat down with my second cup for the day and love that little kick-along that it gives me.
Hi Sandy, a busy day on the blogsphere for me catching up on all the goss I’ve missed… There is nothing like a shared coffee and since you two have an impressive fish tank I can see why sitting watching it would be relaxing!
I hope you enjoyed your coffee. It a sounds great way to have it. We have a machine at work that grinds the beans every time you make a cup, so the smell comes and grabs me. I was trying to only drink decaf, but it’s too tempting! Thanks for your comments, and I’m glad you like the cover of The Coffeeholic and the Cafe. At the top of every chapter is a little black and white coffee cup, which I really like.
Best wishes over coffee!
Hi Elizabeth and Helene,
Helene, I just saw you over at the RWA blog 🙂
Congratulations on your novel being published Elizabeth. As I was reading your comments I kept thinking, yep, that’s me, yep, I do that. I’ve given up writing so many times now I’m an expert! I’m afraid my favourite coffee is one I make at home with good old Moccona Intensity, a couple of sugars and a whole heap of pressurized cream on top. It’s even better if my dear other half is home and we can share a cuppa and sit and watch the fish in the thank. 🙂
I love the cover of your book, it engages and captures the eye quite nicely. And now, I’m off for a cup of coffee!!