Each Thursday in 2018 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.
Today's interview Elizabeth (Lizbeth) Klein
Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
Good question. I was born in Mudgee, New South Wales, after my mother almost died carrying me for too long. My parents were refugees from Hungary who settled under the hills of a small village called Charbon. When I was in primary, I didn’t speak English very well and my schoolwork suffered terribly. In those days, there was no outside assistance for kids with language problems like there is nowadays. But it was during those early years that my love for the written word grew with a fierce desire. I loved reading—just couldn’t do it very well—and I would borrow truck-loads of books from our tiny, local library. Ironically, I ended up becoming a primary school teacher and taught in Sydney for nineteen years. I also tutored at four learning centres for nine years and lectured at the Jannali Community College, which I loved. A little over three years ago, we bought a caravan, a new car to tow it with and left that old life behind. Sorry, I think that’s more than three.
Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?
I started writing seriously after I married Malcolm because he generously allowed me great swathes of free time. Plus the Lord kept directing me to leave full-time work, which I eventually did. I began attending the Sutherland FAW and a Monday morning writing group which met at the library. It was at these meetings that I began to connect with others of like mindedness, especially a friend called Jodie. We encouraged each other and as a result, we soon began to publish articles. These small, wonderful steps led to larger successes until finally, lovely Rochelle from Wombat Books contracted two of my young adult fantasy books. At present, she has a third.
|Book 1: Firelight of Heaven|
Now, having travelled for just over three years, I’ve published lots of plays, short stories, poems and articles. This year I was contracted by Five Senses Education for my book: Comedy Theatre for Upper Primary, with provision for two more books for lower high school and lower primary, which I’ve almost completed. I’m also occasionally contracted by Blake Education to write for them.
Writing is in my soul. God placed it there as a seed and it’s growing.
Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
Although my two novels were written for young adults, surprisingly, many adults love reading them as well as children as young as ten years old. But I would love more Christians to read them and not reject the genre of fantasy. I see all fiction as someone’s fantasy; mine merely incorporates elves and fantastical worlds and amazing characters that aren’t always human. Fantasy is a lovely language, a language of the deepest part of me. Perhaps I’m dreaming, but it’s impossible to dream without myths and wonderment.
Tolkien said it this way: “the Gospels contain … a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. ... But this story has entered History and the primary world; ... It has pre-eminently the "inner consistency of reality."
|Book 2: Greenheart of the Forest|
Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
Generally, I set my eyes upon finishing one text at a time—however long and laborious that may be—before starting a new project. Scenes become ‘large’ inside me before I write them or move onto the next scene or chapter. By that I mean that what I wish to write has to be ‘seen’ in my imagination first. I must see my characters, hear their emotions in their speech, feel the terrors and ecstasies of their journeys and perils. I must become one with them before setting out.
Challenges? There are some. Because we are modern-day pilgrims living in a caravan and travelling all the time, weariness hampers the writing process. Computers, modems and cords all have to be packed away from my tiny workspace here in the van.
Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
One book that springs to mind which has been like a gold nugget when, as a young, inexperienced writer, I wanted to know how to show, not tell. That book is called, How to Self-Edit (To Improve Your Writing) by Di Bates. It’s wonderfully filled with practical, step-by-step activities to help a budding, novice writer understand his or her craft. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
One writer I admire is Jeanette O’Hagan, fantasy writer and fellow lover of far-flung places. She has written some excellent fantasy books. Paula Vince’s stories are wonderful too.
Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
My present goal is to complete the lower primary book of plays that I am currently writing for Five Senses Education. I have so many fresh ideas for future projects that I’d love to write, but time and circumstances keep them at bay. I’d love to write a children’s book about Merlin, who is such an enigmatic historical figure of myth and legend. But writing is such a slow process. One must be patient.
Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
Actually, my love for Jesus is woven easily through my Bethloria series like a red woollen thread of His sacrifice for us all. Writing fantasy allows that thread to be seamlessly melded with other themes that non-Christians can enjoy without being struck by an overly Christian feel. The Holy Spirit can work with the offerings we present. He is in us after all.
Here is a lovely quote by Tolkien I found today:
“And in that very moment, away behind in some far corner of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed reckoning nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.”
Oh, please check out my website: bethloria.com.au
Elizabeth (Lisbeth) Klein is an Australian author who writes for children and young adults. She loves life, laughing, lounging and lumpy chocolate. Also, fantasy movies that make you cry at the end because they're beautiful. She is the author of the Bethloria series, the first two books Firelight of Heaven and Greenheart of the Forest published, as well as plays, poems and short stories.