10 questions with Liz Mills
Reading-wise, I am open to try almost anything, though my favourite books have fitted neatly into the Historical Romance category. I like Regency, Edwardian and American Western romances particularly.
When it comes to writing, my characters set the scene; so far, they have each chosen a unique setting. The Natalie Tereshchenko novels have given me the greatest challenges, requiring an enormous amount of research into Russia and its history, while ‘A Song For Joey’ and the Tapestry Capricorn books take place during my own lifetime.
Is there anything (drink, food, writing tools etc.) that you can’t write without?
You know, I was going to answer ‘no’ to that, then I realised that, though I could always manage with just a pen and paper, I actually rely on my computer a lot. Almost all my research happens online - I don’t know what I would do without the internet. Then I gather my thoughts in a project-management program called yWriter, which helps me to lay out the story, keep tabs on my characters and write the first draft. And finally I export the rough book into my chosen word-processor, Open Office, for all the revisions and editing that follow. So, yes, I really couldn’t live without a computer.
As for food, drink, etc., I forget all about them when the ideas are flowing. It’s the best diet going.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
(Can I skip this one please?) -> Okay, I'll make an exception for you. ;-)
What do you like most about being a writer?
Undoubtedly, it is the chance to be someone else. Through my characters, I live another life, see the world through different eyes. It is this that keeps me writing.
Tell us a little about yourself and any hidden talents that are totally worth mentioning.
Gosh, what can I tell you? I am approaching my seventieth birthday; I live with my author husband in Sussex, England. I like cats, music, sunshine and wildlife. I started writing my first novel when I retired from paid employment at the age of sixty-five, and before that I did everything from farm work to hotel receptionist.
Talents? Well, I make a pretty fantastic Toad-in-the-Hole, I play bass guitar (I was in a rock band for a while), and I used to be quite good at painting and drawing, though I haven’t done that for years. That’s about it, really.
If you were sent away to a deserted island, what 5 things (yes, 5 instead of 3) would you take with you?
Can I take a laptop, please (solar powered, of course) so I can continue to write? And a guitar, Shampoo and conditioner (the salt water plays havoc with your hair, you know), Seeds (so I can grow my favourite vegetables), and an endless supply of Mayonnaise.
Any favourite books and authors? Sorry if choosing is a difficult task…
It’s not terribly difficult, actually. There are half-a-dozen authors who have influenced my writing, either by inspiring me or by teaching me:
Gabrielle Kimm - The Courtesan’s Lover (my favourite contemporary author - her books are, as far as I am concerned, the epitome of historical fiction);
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice (the book that inspired me to start writing);
Douglas Adams - The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (I love his wit and the scope of his imagination);
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg - California Angel (the one book that I read again and again and again and again);
Terry Pratchett - Monstrous Regiment (or any other Discworld novel);
Jeffery Eugenides - Middlesex (I learnt many of my writing skills from this book);
Paperback or eBook?
Both. I love the feel of a printed book in my hands, but eBooks are so convenient.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
I always smile when I remember this. When I finished ‘Natalie Tereshchenko, Lady in Waiting’, I had intended to (literally) ‘close the book’ on Natalie. But no sooner had I published it than I started to think about a new plot! The ideas were pouring out, and I knew I had to continue the story --and so ‘Natalie Tereshchenko, The Other Side’ was born.
Do you have any advice for other authors or aspiring writers?
It feels awfully pretentious for me to give advice; I am still so far from success. But there are three things I can say:
One - Do it! Start writing now, and don’t stop until you are done.
Two - Polish your skills. Be the best you can be. Really understand the language you write in, and learn from the writers you admire.
Three - Be yourself, don’t try to copy others or ride the latest trend (be inspired, of course, but also be unique).