Thursday, 4 June 2020

CWD Member Interview: Willow Banks/Elizabeth Chapman

Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Todays interview “Willow Banks” 

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

  • My name is Elizabeth Chapman. The pseudonym “Willow Banks” grew once I established indie publishing business Elephant House Press (and imprint D.O.L.L.). I wanted to keep my own craft separate. The name “Banks” was on my husband’s side of the family and “Willow” comes from my favourite childhood film.
  • I live in South Australia with my amazing husband and our beautiful newborn son. My husband has always been incredibly supportive of my writing, which now gives me the freedom to carve out time in our new life for it. I’m so blessed that he values it as my calling. 
  • I have completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts majoring in Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide and last year began a Master of Divinity, which I’m in no rush to finish (especially now with our little man!). I hope to use this newfound knowledge to season my writing. 

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I currently write Christian contemporary women’s fiction. I have dabbled in fantasy, suspense, and even children’s writing over the years, but ultimately I feel drawn to women’s stories and to connecting with a female readership. I hope my work inspires them on their faith journey. 

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

Authors Jeanie Wood and Jenny Glazebrook were kind enough to read and provide endorsements for my debut novella The Battle for Harenburg Hill. Poet Elizabeth Snow (aka Jade Wyatt, my kindred spirit) has been my go-to person for all my writing adventures, in fact the third book of my fantasy trilogy Shamira - Trinity (published under my maiden name) was dedicated to her. As for who I would like to read my work… anyone for whom it will make a difference. If it encourages just one person on their faith journey, then that is enough. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I’m a morning writer and I prefer long sessions of writing than short stints. Of course, that has completely changed since becoming a mother. Now, I just have to take what I can get. My greatest challenge at the moment is having the mental capacity and focus for writing due to sleep deprivation. However, what helps me the most is keeping the focus of my work on the Lord. The Battle for Harenburg Hill was a completely different process for me. It is the most faith based work I have ever written. It took two weeks of brainstorming and five whirlwind days of writing and being in God’s Word (pre-baby, of course). I keep a journal for each of my projects and this one was filled with passages of scripture and hymn lyrics. I also create a soundtrack for each of my projects so this one involved beautiful worship music. By the end of the writing and editing process, I could see the Lord’s fingerprints all over it. There was no way I could have written that way without Him at the heart of the project, so I’m looking forward to seeing how He adapts my process with our new life. 

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really identify with her approach to creativity. Some of her spiritual speculations have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but reading it through the lens of faith, I learnt a great deal. I have the audio book as well as the paperback and listen to it repeatedly. 

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

It would have to be Jade Wyatt. She has been my companion on this journey for the last six years. We fall in love with each other’s characters and hers is the opinion I trust the most when it comes to my work. Also, I highly respect her writing. Her poetry is exquisite. As a novice to poetry myself, her natural expression absolutely inspires me. 

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?

My writing goals are to finish editing my manuscript The Watson Women, inspired by my late Gran, and to learn to balance writing with motherhood with a new project. The only way I’ll achieve them is to be intentional in setting aside time for my writing and to remain in prayer and seeking God’s direction. 

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

My faith has become the heart of my writing. It’s the reason I write. I believe God has called me to this vocation.


  1. Good to read of your interesting journey, Elizabeth. and to hear where you hope you head in the future as you follow God's call on your life. So glad you have those support people around you, but with all that's going on for you right now, I have to say a comment my lovely 'soul friend' Joy used to say often to me often has come to mind--'Be kind to yourself'! God bless you and your little family.

  2. Thanks for a great interview, Elizabeth. Wonder Woman Willow, juggling all those challenges and changes! You'll do it, I'm sure, especially with such a supportive spouse. I've also been watching developments at Elephant House Press over the last year or two with delight. Curiously, my grandmother was a Watson from a strong Christian family whose evangelical and other pursuits were remarkably influential in various spheres of life. I praise God for their faith-filled legacy. Blessings to you and yours.

  3. Love this interview. And Elizabeth, you are truly inspirational. I love that you are continuing to use the gifts God has given you. After reading your other works, I can't wait to read The Watson Women. I know God will give you the time you need to write. Incidentally, I wrote the first draft of most of my novels while my children were between the ages of newborn and 8 years. Having children added more depth to my work rather than taking away from it and sometimes God can direct our creative minds even better when we feel 'out of control' or tired. Writing becomes our worship and God can use it to restore our souls. May His face shine upon you and your family!

  4. Hi Elizabeth, from a fellow South Aussie author. I think I was in the Intro to Christian Ministry class with you at Tabor last year :) It's great to read about your writing projects, publishing and family. I wish you joy with each of them. And like Jenny's comment above, I found some of my greatest writing moments with newborns too, so I hope it'll be the same for you. I wish you all the best with the MDiv too. The Covid-19 developments have thrown some curve balls in my study path. It's surely a strange 2020!

  5. So lovely to read this, Elizabeth, and I really like your photo! I love it that we share a strong desire for girls and women to be encouraged. Looking forward to seeing how God unfolds His purposes for you and for Elephant House over the months and years ahead. Praying He shows you the 'just right' balance as you juggle work, writing and mothering. Enjoy the journey!

  6. Great to meet you and learn a little more about your writing journey, Elizabeth. I love your pseudonym, by the way. Willow was one of my fav childhood movies too. And my aunt married a Banks, so I have a few Banks family members scattered across Australia. Not sure there is any relation, though. :)