Apr 25, 2016

Seven Days in the book world with Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is the author of the New York times bestseller Code Name Verity and novels Rose Under Fire and Black Dove White Raven and the Lion Hunters series. She holds both a pilot's license and a PhD in folklore and she (like me) was a bell ringer (I haven't rung a treble in a very long time) Elizabeth and family live in Scotland but she will be attending the Symposium on Books for Young Readers at BYU this coming July.

Here is Elizabeth's week in her own words.

"I am the world’s most sporadic reader, and the reading I do is bound up not only in my own writing but in social interaction. Last week was pretty typical and, I suppose, gives you a good slice of my life as a writer… Though maybe not a TYPICAL slice of life as a writer!

Friday: Finished the second draft of my current Work-in-Progress and sent it off, a week late, to publishers in the USA, Canada and the UK. I then began re-reading the entire thing on my Kindle, highlighting plot-holes and typos. That’s what I spent the weekend reading – interspersed with Jo Walton’s Farthing, also open on my Kindle, which I’m reading partly for pleasure and partly out of professional curiosity to see how she went about writing a mock-Agatha-Christie-style mystery novel.

Saturday & Sunday: more of the same, and – ta dah! – I finished the proofreading of my own book.

Monday: After an email exchange with one of my publishers, I received an unexpected telephone call from my “expert reader” or fact-checker. This is a woman who’s been hired, at my suggestion, to advise me on the background and setting of my current manuscript. I was delighted (and a bit apprehensive!) that she’d got in touch with me directly, and we spent half an hour going over her very thorough notes for the first third of the book.

Tuesday: And now for something completely different! I’ve been Skyping with my brother on a weekly basis and we are in the middle of John Bellairs’s middle-grade ghost story, The House With the Clock in Its Walls, which I’m reading aloud chapter by chapter each week. This is, hands down, the SCARIEST STORY I HAVE EVER READ. First published in 1973, this book TOTALLY stands the test of time, and even though I’ve read it about twenty times it STILL gives me chills. Incidentally, Harry Potter fans would probably like this one, as it features wizards with PhDs living in the modern world and a very relatable, youthful, overweight and bullied hero who dabbles in the occult.

Wednesday: Once a week I join another writer friend for a work session at a hotel halfway between us. (This is the gracious venue: the Winter Garden of the Crieff Hydro  ) This week I was making notes on Bruce Myles’s Night Witches, a book I’ve just finished reading as background research for a non-fiction project. In between this note-taking, I’ve been working my way through another book for similar research, Reina Pennington’s Wings, Women and War. Both these books are about the incredible exploits of the young women, many of them only in their teens, who flew as bomber and fighter pilots for the Soviet Union during World War II – or as the Soviets called it, the Great Patriotic War.

Thursday: A day of talking to schoolchildren about my own books, and meeting other authors to talk about theirs, at the YAY!YA Scottish children’s book festival in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow. I and my fellow writers gave ten short but sweet readings to an assortment of 200 students over the course of the day. It was exhausting but exhilarating! On my return home, I found myself sorting through the stack of 200 unread books which just collapsed next to my desk. I’m trying to be brutal about getting rid of them, but I couldn’t help diving into P.E. Leathem’s The Short Story of a Long Life, which I ordered for another writer friend who was researching Leathem’s mother – I accidentally acquired two copies and kept one for myself. Leathem’s rambling style is charming and I’m greatly enjoying her tales of pig farming and being a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during World War II!

That brings us back to Friday! As I was finishing this post, the phone rang – it was my fact-checker letting me know that she’s finished her full set of notes and that she enjoyed the manuscript! (And she had some excellent suggestions for it, too.) So that’ll be me back to revising next week. And I’m still working my way through all these half-finished reads."

Elizabeth's week in nutshell

Farthing 2006
The House With the Clock in Its Walls 1973
Night Witches 1981
Wings, Women and War 2001
The Short Story of a Long Life 2009

Code Name Verity is available now 9781423152880

More at

No comments: