Elizabeth Hurst is from West Cumbria, UK and now lives in South Warwickshire. She was a voracious reader as a child but only started writing seriously in 2012. She has just published a novella called Siren Spirit as part of a series she is writing. She also writes erotic fiction under a pseudonym.
At what age did you realise writing was going to mean something in your life?
It started relatively recently for me, actually. I dated a guy for a while and he had a creative writing degree. He encouraged me to give it a go and it snowballed from there. The guy is history, but the writing stayed with me and went from strength to strength.
What is your writing routine? Has it changed over time?
Initially, I lacked confidence, so it was very much in fits and starts. As I’ve become published and my belief in myself and my work has grown, I have found that a routine works very well for me. I’m an early bird, so I typically wake around 5am and sit at my desk and get in an hour or so before work each day, then continue when I get home. Weekends, I tend to do the same but work until about lunchtime, then use the afternoon for reading or other activities.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I would have to say no, not really. I have the opposite problem: too many ideas! The Lost Souls series will continue for a little while yet, certainly I already have ideas for the third book in my head. The hardest thing is keeping those other ideas quiet while I concentrate on the job in hand.
You recently published a novella. Tell us how that came about and how long the writing and editing took?
In its infancy, Siren Spirit started life as an erotic short story. However, I realised it was much more after spending some time with a friend of mine at a writing retreat in Brittany. It took about four years from start to finish, but that included long periods of ignoring it while it collected dust in a drawer. I’m hoping to get book two finished much faster that that!
Tell us the benefits of writing a novella and if you have plan to write a full length novel in the future?
Many writers say they have so much information in their heads that they don’t know when to stop writing. I tend to have the opposite problem: my style is very succinct. I think it’s perhaps because of my business degree, as I was taught to write reports in such a way as to impart the maximum amount of data in the minimum number of words. So, the idea of a novella was based more about the number of words rather than any lack of plot. The Lost Souls series will continue in the same way, although the books may become a little longer on occasions.
I do have plans to write a full-length novel in a completely different genre. It’s a dystopian tale about a future time when corporations run every aspect of everyone’s lives. During my degree, I encountered business law for the first time, and I was struck by how difficult people’s working lives used to be, many years ago. I wanted to explore what might have happened had the trade unions not been around to protect employees. What lengths would corporations go to in protecting their profit margins, when there are no laws in place to prevent them? It’s a scary place.
You write erotic fiction under a pseudonym. Tell us about that? Do you write differently under your pseudonym?
My pseudonym is Kitty Mulholland. I treat her almost like another character, in that I have created a libertine persona for her, which you can read on her website.
I always write my erotica in the first person narrative. I think it brings the reader much closer to the action and gives them a sense that they’re reading someone’s private journal, for example, which adds to the naughtiness. I always bring lots of emotion into my erotica too. Not always romance as such, but it’s important to me that the sexual acts are driven by emotions and not cold, clinical events. I want my readers to imagine themselves in that situation, so I try and think about how they would feel if it was happening to them.
Do you think the appetite for erotic fiction has grown since the hype around Fifty Shades of Grey?
That’s a good question. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg story, in my opinion. Readers have been frustrated for a long time about writers shying away from the bedroom action in romance novels. It’s widely recognised as very poorly-written fiction, but one thing that EL James did for us was to bring erotica into the mainstream and challenge the prudence of some authors.
Readers don’t want to be left at the bedroom door and have it politely closed in their faces. They want a ringside seat, to smell the aroma of arousal and see the contorted orgasmic faces of the characters they love when they’re enjoying themselves. Who are we to deny them that?
What projects are you working on at the moment?
The Plain Truth is book two in the Lost Souls series. I’m working on the first draft of that at the moment, hoping to have it published April or May 2016. I already have a seed of an idea germinating away in the back of my mind for a third book too, so there’s plenty of work to do for that.
Kitty has taken a bit of a back seat in 2015, but she has another collection of short stories due out in early 2016, as well as a novel in the early summer too. There’s possibly a non-fiction work due out later in 2016 about her libertine lifestyle. Stay tuned for that!
What would you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?
People often ask me why I chose to self-publish. It wasn’t that I consciously chose to self-publish, but that I wanted to get my material out there and into the market. For an unknown author, the traditional route is painstaking and takes a frustrating amount of time, for relatively little gain. Traditional publishers will still expect you to maintain an active online presence on social media to create a following, the only thing they can bring to the party as far as I can see are their contacts and networking.
For me the question is: why wouldn’t you self-publish? It’s hard work, sure, but you keep control of everything and you can keep up to 70% of your royalties on Amazon. It’s a no-brainer. My best advice is to get yourself a business plan in place before you start anything at all, and keep your expectations realistic.
What do you like to read?
I’m not a fan of horror as such, and I don’t tend to read autobiographies, with the occasional exception. Other than that, everything goes. I’m always in the middle of three or four things at the same time, all non-fiction but one. I’m currently reading A Death In Calabria by Michele Giuttari, along with a great book called Holy Sh*t which is about the history of swearing throughout the ages and hysterically funny in places. I always have my nose in books about writing too. Chuck Wendig is a great mentor.
Where do you write?
I have a spare room which has a desk rather than a bed and three bookshelves. I write my first drafts with pen and paper though, so I often write sitting up in bed, or in the living room on my lap. When you have a full-time job as well, it’s important to be unplugged at times and away from a screen.
LadyNicci comment: I met Liz at a writers’ conference in Dublin in June 2015 and we had a good chat and a bit of fun making our way through the Pride parade that was happening right outside the window. I admire her dedication to writing and she shows that you can turn to writing at any age – it is a skill that we can all learn and acquire. I was delighted to receive Liz’s book Siren Spirit in the post. It’s beautifully presented and would make the ideal companion for a train journey or quiet sofa time tucked up at home. She combines historical fiction, romance, mystery, erotica and the supernatural in a fast paced novella. It will be interesting to see how she continues the Lost Souls series, which is a fantastic concept to be working on. Are you a fan of erotic fiction? Have you had success at writing novellas?
How I write is a weekly blog post series published on Sundays on www.ladynicci.com. The posts aim to give a voice to writers, published, unpublished and everywhere in between, to help and encourage other writers. If you would like to take part email firstname.lastname@example.org with How I Write in the subject line.
Siren Sprint is available to buy on Amazon