Interview with Elizabeth Baxter, Author of “The Last Priestess”

I’m very pleased to host another independent author this week, Elizabeth Baxter, who either failed to read the warning signs or loves nothing better than a good torturous interrogation process. Join us now in the donjon as we prepare to wring every ounce of information from this unsuspecting victim. We’ll lull her into a false sense of security by asking her friendly questions first…

The writer, I believe, is on the left.

The writer, I believe, is on the left.

Q1: Elizabeth Baxter… I cannot tell you how familiar that name sounds! Probably I’m thinking writer-elizabeth-barrett-browning. But Baxter- was your father named Ted, worked in a news station? Or maybe your middle name is “Raven”? I know what A “baxter” is in a movie-plot, but we don’t want to go there. Are you as sensible and well-grounded as the slang term indicates?

A: Hmm. Sensible and well-grounded are not words normally associated with me (this is the girl who spends her mornings watching Spiderman on the cartoon channel). I think writers need to be a little bit crazy to do what we do. After all, what completely sensible person wants to spend hours locked up in a room with only a laptop for company? I’ve always thought my name sounds old fashioned. Or regal. Add my middle name and it gets worse. Elizabeth Katherine Baxter (sorry, not Raven but that would be kind of cool).

Q2: I’m a firm believer in choice during interviews. Choice One- is the protagonist of your upcoming tale more like Xena (Warrior Princess), Katniss (Hunger Games), Galadriel (LoTR) or Mulan (um, Mulan)? Are we talking “hear me roar” or something more hesitant from her?TheLastPriestessCover

A: Maegwin, the main character in The Last Priestess, is, as you’d expect, a priestess so I suppose she ought to be wise like Galadriel. But she’s actually more of an opinionated, kick-butt kind of girl. And yet, she is forced to be this way by circumstances beyond her control. So I suppose she’d be a combination of Xena and Katniss.

Q3: Do you clearly recall the moment you became a writer? I’d love to know whether one fateful day you squared your shoulders, took a deep breath and started, or if you sort of looked back and realized it had already begun.

A: Yes! I remember it clearly. I was six years old and spent one Saturday sitting in my bedroom writing a story. I don’t know why I did it – it was just an enjoyable activity to me. The story was called The Golden Pheasant and was about two friends, Fox and Deer, who set out to discover what this golden pheasant is that kept appearing in their wood. I even made a cover out of cereal boxes and illustrated it myself. And that was it. I was a writer! I haven’t stopped since. In fact, I’ve still got a copy of The Golden Pheasant somewhere. Maybe it will be worth megabucks one day! (I can only dream).

Q4: That has to be the coolest thing I’ve heard since I was six myself. Choice Two- would you say you are solidly in the “epic/heroic fantasy” camp, or have your plots so far started with real-world folks and crossed over? What do we call that latter sort of writing anyway?

A: I don’t write cross-over fantasy. Sorry, don’t know the correct term. I like my characters to be a part of the world I create. Having said that, some of my favorite ever books have been cross-over fantasies. Take Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. A masterpiece of the genre in my opinion. I’m not sure how I’d categorize my work. It’s epic fantasy in the sense that it deals with big, world-changing ideas but I also get into the nitty-gritty of my characters’ lives and the minutia of their everyday struggles, the things that really matter to them.

 Q5: Are your fantasy kingdoms unconnected? Or do you see many fantasy realms connect to our alleged-real world? If you create a new fantasy setting, how much do you try to think ahead and map it out, or is it more a driving idea that grabs you and things flesh out as you go?

A: Um, the last option. When I create a fantasy world I have a basic idea of the kind of laws that drive it. This informs how the world unfolds in the story. For example, in The Last Priestess, the world my characters inhabit is one of seven worlds that are interconnected. I like the idea that each world has its own natural laws that govern the types of creatures that live there – this idea formed the basis of how I created the world of Amaury and the six other worlds (or Realms as they are called in the book) it’s connected to.

Q6: Now that’s using your head- why couldn’t I have thought of that? Tell us something about The Last Priestess. Is it heading straight downhill like The Last Samurai, or are we going to see the world reseeded with next-gen clerics by the end… like the kids in Mad Max, only with incense?

A: At the start of The Last Priestess, Maegwin’s world has been shattered. She has two options: start anew or let herself slide into a downward spiral of bitterness and betrayal. The story follows this struggle. She faces many choices. She can choose to accept help or reject it. She can choose to forgive or take revenge. She can choose to form friendships or shut people out. So how will the world in The Last Priestess turn out? Well, that’s up to Maegwin.

Q7: They say marketing your own work is a job; do you have any leads on a person who’d be willing to do it for us? I guess you would have no objection to being handed fame and fortune by an agent and publisher! But assuming you’ve done the majority of your own legwork so far; was that an early choice, a voluntary one? And what can you tell us online authors about rolling this rock uphill?

A: I was offered a ‘traditional’ publishing contract for my first novel, Everwinter. After much deliberation, I turned it down to go indie. Why? Well, I did say the words, ‘sensible’ and ‘well-grounded’ couldn’t be applied to me didn’t I? I thought I could have more fun doing things my way. And I was right. I’ve enjoyed every minute, even though it’s been incredibly hard work. As for marketing? I’ve heard it described as throwing bits of popcorn at a wall to see what sticks. Try everything. And don’t give up.

Q8: … ‘scuse me, I was getting busy licking my popcorn… So I look at the artwork on your covers and immediately think, “OK, off to GameStop to play this one.” Is this CGI influenced art? Do you have the same artist, or how did you set about achieving the nice cover art you have?

A: I like to have characters on my covers. After all, they are who the book is about. The jury is out on whether this works in fantasy. Some people don’t like characters on covers. To each their own. I’m fortunate in that my other half is pretty nifty at graphic design. So I show him the images I like and he puts it together. Ta-da! I’d like to claim credit but I really can’t.

Q9: You married the help? My lovely wife did the same thing! {And it was our anniversary on the 10th, too.} Thanks so much for giving us a peek into your craft, Elizabeth. I firmly predict, anyone who likes Peter Parker and Thomas Covenant is going to be writing stuff I like. Be sure to fill us in with the dope on where to find your previous works, and when to look out for The Last Priestess.

A: There’s loads of places you can catch up with me on the internet. Here’s a few:

The Last Priestess: http://www.amazon.com/Priestess-Songmaker-fantasy-novel-ebook/dp/B00B9Z98SA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1360423888&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+priestess

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Baxter/e/B007YTE5YW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1360423917&sr=1-1

Blog (smallblondehippy): http://www.elizabethbaxter.blogspot.co.uk/

Have a great day, everyone!

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About Will

I'm the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales, available at all the major online retailers.

Posted on February 10, 2013, in about writing, Age - Adult, Author Spotlight, Genre - Fantasy Stories, or browse all books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lovely Interview. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. smallblondehippy

    Thanks for having me on the Independant Bookworm. It was great fun!

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