I’m thrilled to share my latest interview by the wonderful Nadine. Have I always wanted to be a writer? Do I think readers engage quicker with my story as it’s told by the animals? Find the answer to these and more, right here. Enjoy!
Q1 – Hi Elizabeth, could you tell us a little more about yourself, please?
Elizabeth Jade is my pen-name. I wanted to keep my writing separate from the other things I do, so I decided to use my middle names. This makes perfect sense until someone calls my author name in public and it takes me a moment to realise, they are talking to me. I’m a children’s book author and an animal lover. Animals make much more sense to me than people. This is probably why the main characters in my current series are wolves and huskies. I live in Somerset in the UK with my family and three dogs – two Shih Tzu and one mad Border Collie. The younger Shih Tzu thinks of itself as a Border Collie. Like my dog, I’ve always had a unique take on life, and I was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder) just under three years ago, when I was eighteen. Fortunately, writing is one of those things you can do in the quiet of your own home, so it fits my anti-social Aspie brain perfectly. I’ve also struggled with anxiety and depression for several years, and this combined with Aspergers has been a real challenge.
Q2 – If you were a spirit animal, what would it be and why?
I have a very alert mind. It notices things that people I’m with often miss, and it remembers even insignificant things long after they happened. For this reason, my mother sometimes calls me Hawk Eye. However, I have an almost telepathic connection to most four legged mammals, but I couldn’t say which of these I am most like. In the end, I decided to answer this question using several YouTube tests and came up with two different animals. So, it looks like I’m a jaguar or a wolf – a Jag wolf!
Q3 – Have you always wanted to be an author?
Elizabeth – I’m not sure I ever ‘wanted’ to be an author. It just seemed to happen. I was home educated from the age of seven and I struggled to get to grips with the whole spelling, punctuation, handwriting and imagination thing. I could perform either of these to a good standard as an individual requirement, but I couldn’t combine them together in the same piece of work. So, one day, my mother told me to forget about them and just allow my imagination to flow. She promised not to correct any of the above which was quite a big step for someone with a spelling fetish. Things were a little stilted to begin with, but I began to enjoy the experience and the ideas started to flow. When I first started struggling with depression and anxiety, I found writing was a marvellous distraction. However, once I got started, I quickly found the ideas pouring out faster than I could get them onto paper. They would fight at all hours of the day and night to be allowed out and I now have two large folders full of ideas and bits of stories. Although I am still at the mercy of what I jokingly call ‘The Board of Directors in My Head,’ I have at least developed the skill to send them home at night so I can get some sleep.
Q4 – What was the inspiration behind the story?
The idea for Akea came purely by accident. I like to work with a photo or illustration of my character in front of me. I was searching for an image of a husky for a story idea I had involving a Dalmatian and where the Husky was a secondary character. I came across one photo which felt like the husky was looking at me and telling me her own story. The sensation was so strong that I had to write it for her and ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ was born. I went on to write Akea’s next adventure which should be out this year, and then parts of the next four stories involving Akea and her extended family. Incidentally, the Dalmatian story was never written.
Q5 – Do you also write so you can make sense of thoughts, feelings and the world around you?
Elizabeth – I don’t consciously use writing to make sense of thoughts and feelings, etc. I write partly because I feel compelled to do so, but also because writing is a very absorbing experience. You become so immersed in what you are doing that you don’t really notice the world around you. For me, it’s a safe place to be – a place I am in control of. However, several people have compared Akea’s journey of self-discovery to my personal journey as a young person being diagnosed with Aspergers. So, although I didn’t deliberately write this story to make sense of the world around me, it seems I have subconsciously included my own experience by covering the idea of belonging even when you are different from your peers. Another way in which my autism has affected my writing is in the need to give the animals names that had meanings. This helped me to visualise the characters, and I automatically included the meanings in the book as this was important to me. Later, my editor persuaded me to remove any meanings that weren’t needed as part of the story. I could understand his reasoning on the matter, but even now, I still need to choose names that have meanings even if the meaning isn’t needed in the story. It’s just a quirky part of who I am. Most of the animal names I use in the Akea series are Russian, and the wolves refer to themselves by the Russian word for wolf – volk.
Q6 – Because your story is told through the eyes of a husky, do you think readers engage quicker with the story because of that?
Having the story told through the eyes of the husky allows you to see the world from her perspective and I think this helps you to become more emotionally involved. You feel drawn in and can experience all the ups and downs that she does. I think it’s this perspective that helps adults to enjoy Akea too, despite it being for children. In fact, one of my adult readers left this review on Amazon: “I quickly found myself immersed in Akea, and I practically lived her emotional and physical journey that affected the lives of everyone she met.”
Q7 – Through the story are you highlighting the plight of huskies? And animals in general?
No, I don’t think so, but then I’m never entirely sure what my brain is thinking when it is dictating stories to me. During my research on huskies and husky behaviour, I did discover some interesting information about them though. For example, they are very intelligent animals and easy to train. However, as pack dogs they need an owner who can commit to regular training and who can kindly, but firmly show they are the pack leader. In fact, most husky rescue sites say you shouldn’t get a husky if you can’t commit to regular training. The plight of animals on our planet is of concern to me though. I can remember a story idea arising from seeing a YouTube video about some dogs in a badly run shelter – It was quite distressing to watch. As well as writing that particular story down, I also illustrated it through a video story using Schleich characters, music and subtitles. It came out rather well.
Q8 – Will or is there going to be a follow-up story?
Oh yes! I have finished the manuscript for the second book, called ‘Akea – His Mother’s Son’ which sees one of her children separated from the pack, and you get to follow two story lines through most of the book. There are also several appearances of the legendary Great White Wolf who was only referred to in the first book. This book is now receiving a professional eye and I hope to have it published later this year. I am also three quarters of the way through the third book in the series and have written significant portions of books 4, 5 and 6.
Q9 – Any advice for budding writers out there?
When I first started writing, I had this weird idea in my head that chapters should be a specific length and I would write until I had reached the number of pages designated to the chapter. This was extremely limiting and not a mistake I will repeat. I would advise people just to write and keep writing until the story is all there in front of you. Then go back and edit. Also, don’t be distracted by research. Unless the information is vital to the progress of the story, leave a note to come back to that point later, so you don’t lose your flow – unless you are like me, of course, then you can do three things at once anyway. And finally, make sure your work is properly edited – your reputation could depend on it.
Q10 – Is there anything else you’d like to say? Or talk about?
Having Aspergers and mental health issues can make life a real challenge, but with the right support I was able to make my dream of becoming an author come true. There are lots of talented people out there, including many who are on the autistic spectrum, and I wanted to inspire them to pursue their dreams too.
With this in mind, I donated a copy of Akea to the Somerset Autism Collection at a major library in our area. Akea will be the first book in the collection to celebrate the achievement of someone with autism rather than supporting them with it. I hope people will be encouraged by my personal journey as well as enjoying my book, and I hope people will encourage and support one another in all areas of life.
And finally –
Q11 – Where can people find you and your work?
Website – https://www.elizabethjade.org
Facebook – https://www.Facebook.com/AkeaWolfStories/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/akeawolfstories
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/akeawolfstories.author/
Amazon USA – http://a.co/brQ441D
Amazon UK – http://amzn.eu/flpTTDD
Good Reads – https://www.goodreads.com/…/35448456-akea—the-power-of-de…