[Interview] Elizabeth Barone – “Writing is a War”

Internet is a beautiful place, sometimes. I virtually met American writer Elisabeth Barone in 2010, through different websites she was running at the time. She was writing already, I don’t think she ever stopped. Flash forward to 2013 :  Novels, series, horror, drama or coming of age… Elizabeth is unstoppable, and her enthusiasm for all things writing is contagious! She kindly agreed to talk about  her debut novel, the beautiful and moving Sade On The Wall,  about her life as a self-published author and the joy and struggle of being a writer . This is the first Geek Pessimism interview…let’s take a ride!

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 Sade On The Wall is your debut novel. How did you come up with this story?

I was shy and quiet in high school. I was often like a fly on the wall. Everyone felt comfortable talking about their problems in front of me. I knew a lot of people who were into some crazy stuff. They were good people, and I always felt frustrated that I couldn’t save them. I watched quite a few people I knew and loved ruin their lives.

Then, a couple years after graduating, I found out a friend overdosed on heroin. I had no idea she was even struggling. I’d seen her less than a year before, and she was telling me about her infant daughter and how happy she was. Losing her ripped through me and our circle of friends.

I took all of these feelings and sat down with them. It wasn’t really a conscious effort. I knew I needed to write another novel, and I had a character: a girl who is watching her friend drown. Piece by piece, I began to put all of these things together. It was kind of cathartic, in a way.

What is your first memory about writing stories?

It’s not my first, but one of my favourite memories is sitting at my mom’s typewriter. She used it to write papers for her Associate’s, but every once in a while she would let me write stories and newsletters. My sister and I used to sit at the kitchen table and take turns writing and illustrating. If I couldn’t use the typewriter, we did it by hand. We mailed these stories and newsletters to family members.
 Can you tell us a bit more about the “New Adult” genre you mentioned on your blog?

New Adult is like an age category, similar to “Middle Grade” or “Young Adult.” New Adult books are for people ages 18 to 26, and explore the issues you deal with in that age group. There’s a lot of NA romance, and then there’s the gritty side. I’ve always been attracted to the darkness in life. As an adult, I’ve learned that it’s because there is always hope. I’ve known for a while that those were the kinds of stories I wanted to write, but didn’t have a label. I know a lot of people hate labels, but in the book business, you’ve got to give readers something to go on.

I’m focusing my writing now so that my books are about characters in their late teens to mid-twenties, struggling with becoming adults. There’s no handbook. People just expect you to grow up when you turn 18, but it’s not that simple.

Right now I’m working on the first novel in a series. Readers ask me all the time if there will be a sequel to Sade on the Wall. I truly think her story is over, but I have lots of other stories to tell.

elizabeth barone
You are a self-published author, and one of the top 100 Amazon best-selling writers (well done!) How do you work around this? Do you think “traditional” publishing is dead?

Thank you! I’m still happy dancing about that.

I love self-publishing and the indie community. There are a lot of great people willing to help each other. At the moment, I have a part-time job that just covers my bills and a little extra. I’m focusing really hard on my writing career, writing at least 3,000 words a day and sticking to a production schedule. I plan to release something new every month for the next three years.

I’m often exhausted, but I feel fulfilled in a way that I’ve never felt before. My goal is to quit my day job and be a full-time author. I’m getting closer every day.

I think that publishing in general is going through some fundamental changes, similar to what we saw with the music industry when iTunes got super popular. I think traditional publishers will struggle as they find their way in this new world, but they’ll figure it out. The industry will stabilize.

There are lots of options for authors these days. I think it’s an exciting thing, not something to fear or hate. Readers have thousands of books available to them, with a constant flow of new releases. It’s a good time to be a bookworm and an author.

 

Do you have a writing routine?

Does “sort of” count?

I usually work at my part-time job smack in the middle of the day. So, I try to get up at 9:30 every morning and get a head start on my writing. I write 3,000 words a day, no excuses (except sometimes, but as long as I did some writing, I let myself get away with it). While eating breakfast and drinking my coffee, I can get about 1,000 words written.

If I’m working that day, I have to quit at that point and go get ready. If I’m off, I keep writing. Usually, I end up getting distracted by something. I often don’t finish my word count goal until late at night. I’m trying to get better at this, but honestly, a few months ago I was lucky to squeeze out 1,000 words a day. I found it hard to get into a routine, especially while working around the day job. I’ve made a lot of progress.

 Geek Pessimism is a lot about comics. Do you like this medium? What’s your favourite character?

I love comics! I plan to learn how to write them someday.

Right now, I’m behind on everything. I read The Walking Dead, of course, anything James O’Barr, Kick-Ass and everything in that franchise, and recently started reading East of West. I also read Buffy the Vampire Slayer but am super behind on that. It’s a little embarrassing, actually.

I’d have to say that my all-time favorite comics character would be Rorschach from Watchmen. I also really loved Tyreese and Abraham in The Walking Dead.

All of my favorites die.

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What’s the one advice you’d give to a struggling writer?

Writing is a war. There will always be things trying to convince you to stop writing—whether those things are your own mind, your parents, or a soul-sucking day job. Don’t stop.

Even if you have a bad case of writers’ block, write about it in a journal. Keep a record of all your ideas, goals, and dreams.

I think when you’re a writer, you live and breathe it. You can’t not write. Your soul goes into shock or something. Keep writing, if only for your own wellbeing.

And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

 

You can follow Elizabeth on her website and read Sade on The Wall here .

 

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