Refreshed from a wonderful sojourn in Perth and Freemantle I’m still feeling romantic so today I’m interviewing Elizabeth Martin – a writer of RomCom – romantic comedy for the uninitiated. Knowing how busy Elizabeth is as a writer, wife, mother of three boys and a GP; I decided on a whirlwind tour, all expenses paid, to Paris. After all it is the capital city of romance and I thought it might prove inspirational.
We’ve taken in the sites and sounds; the wine, the coffee, the croissant, hot chocolate, more wine, a crêpe Suzette, some champagne, crusty French bread and some more wine. Now it’s time for a cruise on the River Seine. My French isn’t what it used to be and now we have a very nice young gendarme asking us to follow him. We giggle – no problem – he’s gorgeous!
He’s brought us to the police station, “For your own safety,” (spoken in a very sexy French accent).
So … I shall conduct the interview whilst the very nice gendarme, whose name is Claude, plies us with hot strong coffee in the vain hope it will restore a level of sobriety. Hic! Excuse me it must be something I ate. Elizabeth collapses into giggles and just to let you know – the floor is moving.
I take a deep breath as Elizabeth takes a large gulp of coffee and we begin. I ask Elizabeth what she’s currently working on.
“I’ve just finished my second novel The Teahouse in the Lime trees which is the sequel to my debut romantic comedy The Coffeeholic and the Café. It’s being edited then I’ll send it out there, with fingers crossed.” Elizabeth scrabbles in her bag and pulls out a note book, “This is the blurb I’m working on, which is almost harder to write than the actual novel.”
I totally agree!
“Coffeeholic Claire, blissfully in love, answers an ad for her dream job – as a travelling companion to Italy the home of food, culture, art, fashion and of course coffee. Things seem perfect when Tom announces he too has a job in the home of coffee. But her plans unravel quickly, Claire finds herself in Dimbulah, Far North Queensland, the home of nothing. Without Tom it’s like she’s lost her taste for everything, even her taste for coffee. That is until Paul arrives on his glittering Ducati. Heir to the Dimbulah farm, Paul’s enthusiasm for life is infectious. He ignites in Claire a passion for the beauty of the area, the food of the tropics and the ‘other’ drink, tea. Will Claire be seduced by this suave charmer and his tea drinking ways? Will Claire remain loyal to her first love? Will she ever get to Italy? And can a Coffeeholic really drink tea?
In this joyous sequel to the best selling novel the Coffeeholic and the Café we follow Claire on a journey further than she ever imagined.”
I don’t know about you but I’m hooked. Elizabeth goes on to read some of the comments from her readers,
“Twice as many antioxidants as The Coffeeholic and the Café and a third of the caffeine – Dr Toogood.”
It must be good. Two more before we move onto Elizabeth’s recent successes.
“A type of gothic lemon delicious – Matt, Cairns Post food critic.
I laughed, I cried, I had to make myself another cup of tea – Rosie.”
Hook, line and sinkered. Onto recent successes. Elizabeth says, “Last September I was one of the winners of the Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette and Reef Writer’s short story and poetry competition with my poem Silent Slices. More recently my publisher Boolarong Press designed a new cover for The Coffeeholic and the Café and will re-release it under the title All you need is love, and coffee.
Elizabeth goes on to tell me that her best moment so far as a writer was when she attended the Tropics of the Imagination conference shortly after completing her first novel. “I met my publisher whilst drinking coffee in the break. She asked if I was a writer and I gave my first ever pitch to a publisher. She liked my story, gave me her card and we rejoined the lecture. I don’t think anything else sank in for the rest of the conference I was so excited.” Elizabeth pauses and goes on to say, “I remember thinking if this is all that comes of it, it was all worth it. Ever since The Coffeeholic was published I’ve had many great moments speaking about books and writing to other readers and writers. I feel very privileged to be part of the Cairns writing community; to be able to talk with people who take writing seriously. I’ve heard and read some amazing pieces from some very talented writers.”
Claude returns – he thinks we are safe enough to be allowed back onto the streets of Paris – we decline his offer of more police station coffee and head for the nearest coffee shop. The sun is shining, amidst the hustle and bustle of Paris we stumble upon Kooka Boora (yes there are Aussies involved); ordering two very sturdy espressos. Feeling a great deal more sober we move onto worst moments. “I used to keep a diary as a teenager; something every aspiring writer should do. I guess now it’s called blogging. I used to show my diary to my girlfriends (that’s now called Facebook) and I’m not sure that was a good idea. My diary was also read by my mum and even the local police.” Elizabeth explains, “I was minding my friend’s mother’s house and the cats got out and I left the backdoor open for the night so they could get back in and then I went out. A neighbour noticed the open door, hadn’t seen my friend’s mother for a few days, so called the police. The police thinking they had a possible missing woman case read my diary which was beside the bed. They smirked when they told me. After that I stopped writing everything in my diary and hid it.”
Elizabeth looks a little pensive as she admits the other worst moments as a writer are the ongoing self doubts caused by listening to the harsh critic-within. “A great victory for me was overcoming that inner voice and just getting things down on paper. I’m thicker skinned now but not much.”
Elizabeth’s advice to an aspiring writer is fairly simple and straightforward, “Write a diary. Or blog. Keep notes, but don’t worry about where you keep them just write them down so you get in the habit and the thoughts don’t clog up your creative flow. Call yourself a writer if you write or have an urge to write, not just if you are published. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”
I too am in the habit of writing thoughts down in random places. The joy is unexpectedly finding them – it’s like a gift to yourself.
Finally, replete of all things French Elizabeth says she writes because like every writer she is compelled. “I feel better if I do.”