Meet the Winners: Liz Colter
I’m just getting to know my fellow winners in this year’s L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, and it seemed natural to facilitate the process with a series of blog interviews. Last week, the 2012 Gold Pen Award winner, Tina Gower, was kind enough to drop by. This week we get to meet 2013’s second quarter winner, Liz Colter.
Stuart: Welcome, Liz, and thanks for joining us. To start us off, why don’t you tell me what got you into writing?
Liz: Genetics, I suspect. I already knew that my maternal grandfather (a doctor and Church of England minister) wrote and had a novel published, and that my brother wrote non-fiction. It wasn’t until I was partway through my first novel, though, that I found out my aunt had published, my brother secretly wrote fiction as well as non-fiction, and my mother had written stories just for herself off and on much of her life (she’s since been published as well). I am, however, the lone speculative fiction writer of the family.
Stuart: Deep roots! Now I’m curious to look up this Grandfather.. So you got started, and now you have the considerable validation of the Writer’s of the Future win. Along the way, how have you evolved creatively?
Liz: I set out to learn writing as a craft part way through my first novel due to some feedback from a local author. I joined a 10-week online workshop and have continued to learn ever since, brazenly utilizing better writers than myself as mentors and beta readers.
Stuart: Good writers borrow, great writers steal, eh? And the best learn from everyone and everything. So are you more pantser or plotter?
Liz: Definitely pantser! Can’t write an outline to save my life, especially on longer material. I start with an image more often than not, then get a rough idea of a setting, character, beginning and ending. At that point I have to start writing. Unless I set the characters in motion, the creative process just puts on the brakes. The characters more or less write their own story from there, I just transcribe for them. I’m glad I’m a pantser. I love being surprised by the story elements that evolve as I write.
Stuart: I hear you. I was very much the same way at first. So when you are out their discovering, where do you do work? What’s your writer’s cave like?
Liz: A small spare bedroom where my desk and my husband’s desk are so closely adjacent, they almost touch. I daydream of a property with a writing studio separate from the house. A little one-room, cabin-style cottage with a kitchenette, a gas fireplace, and large desk. And, yes, I’ve wasted a lot of valuable writing time thinking about this.
Stuart: Ha! I deny that a writer’s thinking time can ever be wasted – by Grapthar’s hammer I say! I know the draw though. Once I saw a London attorney who works in a tiny “sphere” in his backyard. So aside from writing, what’s your background?
Liz: I have a pretty varied work history, including being a paramedic, attending the San Diego fire academy and farming with a team of draft horses. I’ve also worked as an athletic trainer, Outward Bound instructor, dispatcher for a concrete company…hmm, what else?
Stuart: What? No warp drive mechanics? That’s a pretty robust resume, and you know, I just read one of L Ron Hubbard’s writing essays in which he proposed going out and getting a job just to gain material for writing. You may be further ahead than you imagine.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Liz: OMG, both. I’m such a geek. Watching the original Star Trek series with childhood friends along with reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy at 10 were what got me started down this life-long path of loving speculative fiction in all its forms – movies, TV, and prose. Have to say, though, that some of the later incarnations of both disappointed.
Stuart: Well, now we have the chance to infuse the genre with out own ideas, don’t we?
Speaking of which, do you ever dream about writing?
Liz: Not often, but I do get daydream-like flashes of odd images, which frequently become the genesis for a story. I also occasionally dream really great speculative plots that I think “wow, that would be a great story” when I half-wake, and then can never remember them later.
Stuart: Oh I HATE when that happens! When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?
Liz: Stuffed animals. Never was into dolls.
Stuart: Interesting. I’ll bet those animals went on some wild adventures! Well thanks, Liz. I can’t wait to meet you in person in April, and I know we’ll all be watching your career.
In addition to her short stories, Liz has two completed novels out making the rounds and a third still in progress. She blogs at http://ecolwrites.blogspot.com/