Marc Weston here. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an actor. I once used to keep a low profile until I met my wife, Liz Graham. Things sort of changed then, so here I am. Great to be with you all and I’m especially pleased to introduce Liz Martinson. Liz came to writing late in life and has had the happiest childhood and married life ever. I talked to her about this and she thinks growing up and living in the countryside has fuelled her sense of adventure, and love and knowledge of the countryside, all of which feature in her books. When she met her husband, she reckons her SAS course began and was compounded by having twin sons who both turned out to be as adventurous as their parents! Liz used to teach and finished her career working with special needs children. She’s done a creative writing course with Lancaster University, too. Loves cats, photography, reading, being outdoors, exploring, and… wait for it… triking
- Without giving us spoilers introduce your latest and greatest novel or work in progress and let us know which it is and if it’s a WIP let us know when it goes live.
My last book was a complete change for me as I normally write a sort of soap opera romance set in modern times, but this one was historical, set in 1876, in rural Yorkshire. We have a Duke who has already suffered an unhappy marriage, made worse by the fact it had been engineered by his wife, father and step-mother, to avoid scandal… but I’m not going to explain what that was all about! The Duke has just returned home after a long absence and intends to keep a mistress, a low profile, and run his estates, but his step-mama hasn’t finished with him yet and arranged a house party where he meets the heroine. She is independent and most definitely does not want marriage. This is because she will lose her money and her freedom and even worse, her long-held and very unladylike ambition to be a horse breeder. How The Unexpected Alliance works out is something you must wait for in great anticipation! It’s in submission now so keep your fingers crossed for me. If it’s not accepted, I think I’ll publish it independently.
- What do you like best about the main character in your latest and greatest WIP from above?
I like her because she doesn’t want to marry for status, title, money or anything else and because she wishes to retain her independence.
I like him because he’s light-hearted but concerned about the people he has responsibility for, and isn’t a conventional man.
- Tell us a little about one of your side characters from your latest and greatest or WIP?
The main side character is the stepmother and as the story progresses, you discover she’s not a very pleasant lady and has a deep regard for propriety and position, which cause harm. In the end, as all bad step-mamas do, she receives just punishment.
On the other hand, the heroine’s parents are down-to-earth and sensible, her aunt and uncle caring and careful of the heroine’s well-being, her cousin, while somewhat thoughtless, is a good friend. The maid, elevated to the position of lady’s maid, is an endearing mix of the wide-eyed country mouse and determined to serve retainer.
- How did you come up with your idea for the above story?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I’m not a great planner of any of my novels. I think I came up with a hero and heroine who were against marriage and went from there. I often find my characters will dictate to me, even when I start the day’s writing with different intentions. I love it when that happens!
- What was your writing plan for this book or WIP?
Answered in the previous question I think. I come up with an idea and start writing and see where I go. I maybe have a couple of things I want including, and I certainly keep note son hair and eye colours, ages and such like, but I’m the sort of writer who writes by the seat of their pants – otherwise known as a pantster
- How do you handle writer’s block?Go away and do something else. Usually a walk or a bike ride. Sometimes simply reading a good book. Sooner or later my subconscious will push something to the top so it gets picked up by the conscious mind. If it was a block in the book I’m writing, I’ll then continue with whatever has surfaced. If I hadn’t started anything, whatever comes into my mind gets considered, tossed around a bit, and then usually that’s enough and I’m off.
- Do you have a secret writing ritual and what is it?
I’m afraid not. I like to be on my desktop, with a mug of water to hand, and some sugar-free sweets to occasionally suck. I used to enjoy music but not anymore.
But no lining up of sharpened pencils, or setting things out in a certain way.
- What is your writing snack?
A cup of green tea and a rich tea biscuit mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and evening. Sugar-free sweets and water the rest of the time.
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read. We don’t have a television and I was brought up a reader by addicted-to-reading parents who have passed it on to me. I also like to go for trike rides. I used to walk for miles but I no longer can, so my beloved trike, known as The Beast, has saved my sanity.
I talk to my husband, fuss our two cats, listen to music, take landscape photos ad go line dancing once a week.
- What is your favorite season and why?
They all have merits! But I like temps between 16 and 22C, no wind or a gentle breeze, and sunshine best so I maybe prefer a UK spring, summer, and maybe a little bit into autumn. If autumn and winter are still, cold and frosty they can be beautiful months as well.
- What is your favorite genre to read and what do you like about it?
I read romance, and generally love it if it’s not a high steam level, billionaires, or sheiks! I also read a lot of psychological thrillers too.
- Do you have a writer’s mission statement? What is it?
I want to make people happy when they read my books.
- What do you listen to when you write? How does it help to put you in the mood?
I used to listen to Springsteen, Bryan Adams, and Bon Jovi. Then I moved on to classical. Now I prefer silence but if editing, I might have some classical piano music on very quietly in the background
SEPTEMBER QUESTION OF THE MONTH
What was your biggest failure that you turned into a success? In life, or in writing?
In life, I wasn’t a great one for school and had been accepted by teacher training college unconditionally, so I ended up leaving a grammar school with terrible A-level results. And then I turned down the chance of a fourth year at college to gain my BEd in favour of going with my then boyfriend to where he’d got his first job. My personal tutor basically told me I was a fool and it would never last.
I’m still with him fifty years later, and now have a Master’s degree as well!
In writing, I don’t think that’s happened. There’s stuff I’ve put to one side and then something gets accepted and I’m surprised. Worth keeping everything, even writing you maybe see as a failure.
FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/SallyFreytag
Website: https://lizmartinson.wixsite.com/website (but will soon be changed to https://lizmartinson.wixsite.com/author