January 2022, guest author Elizabeth Holland
Elizabeth was one of my first blog guests in December 2020. Now just over a year on she has another book out 'Behind Closed Doors' 10 short stories dealing with the brutal truth of mental health. I have to confess I haven't read it yet but I have read and enjoyed Elizabeth's thriller 'Finding You'.
When did you first start writing?
Looking back, there’s no definitive moment when I started writing. My parents have stories I wrote as a child. I have a childhood memory of winning a writing competition at school when I wrote about the day in the life of a servant girl. When I went off to University, I lost my love for writing and creating other worlds. After finishing my masters, I started a job that I absolutely hated. At the same time, my dad was in an accident (a tree fell on him. Thankfully, he’s still with us) and I realised how quickly our lives can change. I quit the job and started doing some freelance writing. My mental health was already suffering. Then a few months later, I caught a sickness bug (I suffer from emetophobia). In the months following, I hit a real low with my anxiety and depression. I spent days in bed just wishing there was an easy way out of life.
When I had first quit my job, I had started a blog about gluten-free cooking. One day, I poured my heart out on my blog and the response was amazing. From there, I kept blogging. I would set myself little challenges to go out and then I’d come home and blog about it. The support was amazing, and it was nice to know that I was giving hope to others in my situation. I think this was when I found my love for writing again. I also think I owe my life to writing. Slowly, I rebuilt my life.
Anyone who has freelanced will tell you getting work is tough. Many days, I had nothing to do. I kept glancing at the first chapter of a story I had written on my desktop. One day, I decided I had nothing to lose by carrying on the story. It was the October that I was ill, then I dedicated the summer to writing. I don’t think I’ll ever publish that story because it means too much to me. It was pure escapism involving a girl named Isabell who moves to Wales and opens up her own cafe.
I’ll be forever grateful to writing for saving me. I know not everyone has the luxury of dedicating a summer to writing, and so I want my stories to be an escape for those feeling the same way I was.
Your books vary in genre from romance, thriller and short stories. Are there any themes that come up in all your writing?
The pursuit of happiness is the theme that runs throughout all of my books. In some shape or form, each character is searching for their own happy ending. Their journeys may vary, but the outcome is always the same.
Tell me more about your current work in progress.
I’m going back to my roots with my work in progress. It’s similar to The Vintage Bookshop of Memories, but with more of a focus on romance rather than finding yourself.
You talk openly about your mental health. What benefits does writing have for you?
Writing allows me to escape from the world and my mind. October is a tough month for me. In 2020, I wrote and edited Christmas at The Vintage Bookshop of Memories and it proved to be the perfect distraction. It’s a sickly sweet Christmas romance, and I did that on purpose. The story was my escape, and it’s designed to be an escape for others.
How has the past 18 months been for you in relation to the pandemic?
It’s been incredibly tough, but amazing at the same time. Without the pandemic, I might not have written The Vintage Bookshop of Memories. It gave me something to focus on and I dedicated every second of my time to writing, editing, and marketing it. The pandemic had an incredibly negative impact on my mental health. However, it also forced me to consider medication, which I feel has really helped me. I’m grateful for the experiences it’s given me, but it wasn’t easy.
What future ambitions do you have?
One day, I’d love to walk into Waterstones and see one of my books on the shelf. I have lots of book ideas floating around in my head, so I just want to keep writing. I’ve not queried for a while but I think it’s something I’d like to start again. As much as I love self-publishing, I do eventually want to go down the traditional publishing route.
Is there anything in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
As I say, I’m going back to my vintage routes with my work in progress (it’s not the same series). I have a few book ideas stemming from the one I’m currently writing. I have a fascination for the past and items that have lived through many generations.
Do you have any advice for those reading who might like to start writing?
Just write! I know, all writers say this, but it’s honestly the best piece of advice I can think of. Once your story is down on paper, then worry about how to make it the best it can be. Everyone started somewhere. One day, your favourite author just sat down and started putting words to paper.
Lastly, how might my readers keep in touch with you?
I spend far too much time on Twitter, so that’s probably the best place to find me!
Author Website/ blog https://elizabethhollandauthor.com
Mental health blog https://anxietyandliz.com