Hi Elizabeth! Welcome and thank you for taking time to talk with us today. I just finished reading your latest The Deadly Portent and had a few questions and comments for you.
For our readers new to you, how long have you been writing?
I’ve always written, but it’s about 30 years since I took it up professionally. I’ve been published for about 22. Writing is a second career, taken up after acting in theatre.
What inspired you to pick up the pen (or sit down at the computer) one day and create characters that capture the imagination?
I’m delighted you feel they do capture the imagination! If I go back to the start, I am pretty sure it was fairytales that inspired me originally. My first story, written at the age of 10, had all the classic ingredients - prince and princess and a menacing plague for the hero to handle in order to win his bride.
Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?
I wish! It’s mostly hard graft, and since the pay is intermittent, it’s also quite tough for most authors to keep the wolf from the door. Probably true of all the arts, except for those few at the top of the game. But it’s a worthwhile price for the pleasure of doing your dream job.
What is the most glamorous thing you’ve done as an author?
For two years I was the PR officer for the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and there were a couple of glitzy lunches when I had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with some very glamorous and well-known authors.
With two series and a host of stand alone novels, are you a plotter or pantzer?
I used to plot extensively in my early days, but I’ve learned that things change during the writing process and new ideas are thrown up. I do work to a rough guide a few chapters in advance, but I never know how things are going to turn out, so I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle.
If you could be a character in any of your books who would it be and why?
I’d love to be Francis’s mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Polbrook, who was a major character in the first crime novel THE GILDED SHROUD. She’s got the status and age to do and say just what she likes and no one can interfere. Sometimes I think it would be great to have that sort of freedom! Although I’m sure there are also severe restrictions too.
Looking over the past year, what has been the best moment for you in your writing career?
The day THE GILDED SHROUD was published. It was such a thrill to have the book advertised all over the internet and I was so excited at being published in this new genre.
What do you enjoy doing with your spare time, your non-writing time?
I lead a pretty busy life outside of personal writing, so there isn’t a great deal of spare. Would it surprise you to hear that I like to relax with a good book?
What prompted you to write the Lady Fan mysteries?
Ottilia had been on the back burner for years, but I was a little nervous of trying to write crime because I love the genre and was so impressed with the writers I admire. When I found myself getting stale with historical romance, I finally bit the bullet and plunged in.
If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for lunch, who would it be and what would you eat?
Shakespeare. I love his plays and his unmatched ability to plumb the human condition. I’d introduce him to Indian food, because he was a great innovator and I think he would appreciate something spicy and different.
You’ve gotten the call, a Hollywood producer is going to bring The Lady Fan series to the big screen. Who do you cast in the major roles?
I find this so difficult, but I think I would go for David Tennant as Francis, Kristin Scott Thomas as Ottilia. Both are a little old for the characters, but Tennant has the look and he can play anything, and I think Scott Thomas has a certain enigmatic calm that would work for my heroine.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m writing book three of the Lady Fan series, where Ottilia encounters a beautiful girl who turns out to be mentally unbalanced. It’s an enigma because Ottilia isn’t sure whether or not a murder has been committed, but she is highly suspicious when she finds out about the cross-currents of emotion surrounding the girl, in the oddball characters who have returned from a Barbados sugar plantation.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank you for inviting me to talk about my work. Writers love to talk writing! Always a pleasure to be given the opportunity.
Thank you for taking some time with us today!
A bit about Elizabeth:
An avid reader from an early age, Elizabeth Bailey grew up in colonial Africa under unconventional parentage and with theatre in the blood. Back in England, she trod the boards until discovering her true métier as a writer in her thirties, when she fulfilled an early addiction to Georgette Heyer by launching into historical romance with Harlequin Mills & Boon, and fuelling her writing with a secondary career teaching and directing drama, and writing plays into the bargain.
Now retired from teaching, and with eighteen romances published, Elizabeth has switched to crime. Still thoroughly involved in her favourite historical period, Elizabeth placed her female sleuth in the late Georgian world of intrigue, elegance, aristocrats and rogues, where privilege rubbed shoulders with the harsh realities of making ends meet.
Elizabeth occasionally directs plays for a local theatre group where she lives in West Sussex. She also finds time to assess novels and run a blog with tips to help fellow writers improve. More information at elizabethbailey.co.uk