My latest author interview over afternoon tea is with Elizabeth Merry, who released a collection of interconnected short stories back in April. I will be sharing a review of “We All Die in the End” next month as part of Indie Only Month here at Sammi Loves Books, but today I am pleased to be able to put my ten reading and writing questions to her.
So grab a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit or slice of cake, then sit back and relax and read the interview…
Thanks so much for taking the time to join us for afternoon tea today, Elizabeth. To begin with, for those who don’t know you or have yet to discover your writing, please introduce yourself.
Hello. My name is Elizabeth Merry. I am originally from the north of Ireland but have lived most of my life, very happily, in Dublin. I raised my family here and am now free and easy again and able to devote time to writing and blogging.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer?
All my life I have been a voracious reader but the first time I realised that writing was a possibility for me was when my daughter was about four. I asked her to tell me a story and she said no, I should tell her one. So I did, and the story grew, and it occurred to me that I might write it down. And so began . . .
Where do you find your inspiration?
Anything I have ever written has begun with a picture in my head; a man on a beach, smoking and staring at the sea, or a boy sitting in a window seat, reading. I don’t know where these images come from – but I’m very glad they do!
Can you tell us about your writing process? What’s the first thing you do when you get a new idea?
To begin with I just make notes. I find out about the man on the beach or the boy reading, and slowly the idea grows. At this stage more characters appear and then I write an outline, which I may, or may not, stick to but I need it there all the same. It helps to give pace and shape to the story.
In your opinion, what’s the best and worst thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is getting that first draft finished. I always find it stressful; I work slowly and in short bursts. But the best thing then is editing, shaping and polishing – I really enjoy that process and could (and do) spend hours at second and third drafts.
What projects have you been working on recently? What plans do you have for the future?
In April just gone, I published an ebook on Amazon, “We All Die in the End”. It is a collection of interlinked short stories, not all written at the same time, but all in the same place. I did a lot of work on them and linked them together, so a support character in one story might become the main character in the next. I enjoyed working on that project.
At the moment I am working on a collection of poetry. Many of the poems have been published in literary magazines and now I’m arranging them in chronological order, beginning with childhood . . . I will call it “From There to Here”.
Many authors are also avid readers. Who are some of your favourite authors? Can you share with us some of your favourite books?
I’ll have to start with Dickens – I studied “David Copperfield” at school (long ago) and have read it at least twice since. So many wonderful, unforgettable characters! I also love Annie Proulx, Donna Tartt, Joseph O’Connor, and my current top of the list – Patrick de Witt.
If you were only allowed to own three books, which three would you choose?
Three books? Well, I’d have to have “Catch 22” because it makes me laugh so much. And then I think, Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosophy” for when I’m trying to make sense of the world. And . . . “David Copperfield” a book to get lost in.
We love quotes at Sammi Loves Books. Please share with us one of your favourite quotes from one of your own stories or poems, and explain why you chose it.
Here is my favourite quote from my own work – it’s a haiku about my mother. She is nearly ten years gone now but I think about her a lot, and my hands remind me of hers.
“My hands kneading dough
become your hands in cloudy
puffs of wheaten flour.”
Another thing we love at Sammi Loves Books is afternoon tea. If you could have afternoon tea with any author or fictional character, who would you choose and why? Just so you know, the table can seat four, so feel free to fill all available seats, but don’t forget to leave one for yourself! 😉 Also, where might you have this afternoon tea and what is being served? You know, so we can all enjoy it…
well, let’s see . . . I’d like Patrick de Witt but I think he might be a quiet man and wouldn’t talk very much. So, Joseph O’Connor for sure – author of the novels “Star of the Sea” and “Redemption Falls” among others. He has also written many non-fiction books which make me laugh out loud – e.g. “Inside the Head of the Irish Male”. And Dervla Murphy, prolific travel writer from Co Wexford. She travelled the world on her bicycle and would be full of stories. Finally, Oscar Wilde although he’d probably take over and no one else would get a word in. And we’d have our afternoon tea in Florian’s in Venice because Dickens loved it and Venice is my favourite European city. It would be coffee instead of tea with all sorts of pastries and little cakes, and a small glass of Grand Marnier. And outside the orchestras would be tuning up for the evening and the sun would be shining hot and I would never want to leave.
Thank you so much for the interview, Elizabeth. I so thoroughly enjoyed your answers especially your description of afternoon tea in Venice. It sounded magical! And the haiku about your mother was both moving and beautiful – thank you for sharing it. Wishing you every success with your short story collection and all future projects!
And readers, don’t forget…As I mentioned in the introduction to the interview, I have a review forthcoming for “We All Die in the End”, so keep a look out for that in July!
Connect with the Author
My name is Elizabeth Merry; I was born in Bangor, Co Down on the north east coast of Ireland and I’m the eldest of six sisters, four of whom still live in Co Down where I visit them often. I have lived most of my adult life in Dublin. Here I raised my family who are all off now, living their own lives, although I see them every week or so. I began writing many years ago, mostly short stories for children, and then I tried a novel which was published but is out of print now. I am considering re-publishing it myself on Amazon but I will do some re-writing first.
Here is a short list of publications:
Short stories for children in the National Press in Ireland.
A play for children broadcast on RTE Radio 1 in Ireland.
A novel for children – The Silver Tea-Set – published
by Glendale Press, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin (no longer in business).
Several poems and short stories published in various literary magazines.
I am now an Indie Author and recently published “We All Die in the End” on Amazon, available on both sides of the Atlantic. This book is a re-working of short stories so they are all linked together, same town, same eccentric characters.
At present I am working on a collection of poetry, “From There to Here” which charts my life to date, and as I said, I will have a long look at the previously published book for children which I will probably re-name “Ghosts in Trouble”.
I can be found:
If you would like to be interviewed as part of Afternoon Tea at Sammi Loves Books, check out this post.