Elizabeth Earle talks about her first published book, the processes she went through and the dark experiences that inspired her to write it…
Your name and age.
My name is Elizabeth Earle, I’m 23 and from Warwickshire.
Book name, publication date, who book is published by.
Tartarus is avaliable 7th August 2012 and published by Canaan-Star Publishing.
Is this your first book? If not, how many other books have you published?
Tartarus is my first book to be published, but I have many in the backline waiting to be revealed.
What is the book about?
Tartarus is about an alternative Britain where everything that goes bump in the night has been discovered to be real- witches, demons, vampires- you name it. After a bitter conflict between the supernatural and the humans for two years, the “Freaks” agree to move into the underground city of Tartarus with the agreement they live by their laws- and the humans don’t interfere.
But Diane’s Stillman’s sister is brutally murdered years later, and she is convinced that someone from Downstairs in responsible. With Government becoming deaf and dumb to her pleas for help, and constant Night Terrors of a figure she calls, “The Man”, Diane moves to the decaying world below to track her sister’s executioner herself.
But eyes follow her in choking black ink of Tartarus and something is determined to find her first. Unknowingly hunted for being last of the mysterious Stillman bloodline, and finding herself auctioned off as a blood-whore to a possessive Vampire Lord, Diane finds herself starting to evolve into the very thing she’s afraid of.
I am fascinated about the horror genre- the idea of a genre being based on such a primal instinct intrigues me, and felt most meaningful to myself. I was inspired by writers like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker for their ability to transfer the deepest fears of their subconscious and put it onto paper. I hope that my own work echoes this method.
When did you start writing/what gave you the idea to write a book?
I started writing Tartarus in 2007. Tartarus was inspired by the constant night terrors I had suffered since I was a child, which developed into Old Hag’s Syndrome when my cousin, Jonny, was killed in a car crash. I had repetitive terrifying nightmares about Jonny with hellish images of demons and a person whom I nicknamed “The Man”. The Man always seemed in control of these dreams and would taunt me with the image of Jonny. It was after awakening from one particular terrifying sleep paralysis that I decided enough was enough. I would expose The Man in all of his gruesome glory and put physical form to some of the things he had put me through. I wanted to put down all of my nightmares in one place, and Tartarus was born, which incidentally is the Greek word for Hell. I created a heroine, Diane Stillman to battle these demons for me and made my memories, feelings and experiences hers too. Tartarus is a place of demons, and it’s where I put mine.
How long did it take to write? Was it difficult to fit around family life or a regular job?
I wrote it whilst studying for a Degree in Creative Writing, so I was able to throw myself into it entirely. It wasn’t hard to become obsessed and my research into Night Terrors and Old Hag’s Syndrome became a routine around writing Tartarus. It took me 6 years to perfect the story. I would leave Tartarus and go back to it after a year, re-read and re-edit it, spending time on developing the characters, the plot, changing things until I thought enough was enough- it was time to bring Tartarus to the surface.
It was difficult to throw myself back into Tartarus for the last time, just because it had been a long time I had visited a place so dark. I had almost forgotten my demons. Tartarus was my cure for Night Terrors, and I was afraid of undoing that work. But with writing the sequel, I had to face that I would have to reface my demons, because Diane Stillman’s journey wasn’t over.
How do you feel about writing a personal book about yourself? Did you set out to write a totally personal book or did things just turn out that way? Were friends and family surprised or shocked to read it at first?
The book is completely personal, which people may think strange it being a book so far from reality. Every memory of Diane’s is my own. Jonny is such a strong instrument throughout the words and heavily inspired me with my writing. I had to tell his story. It was a way of putting all of those memories of him into one place where they wouldn’t be forgotten, however painful. These nightmares couldn’t be brushed away. The Man put me through hell and I refused to let those experiences dissipate.
I was concerned about my family at first, it would be revealing how I really felt about the death of Jonny, show the depths of my soul almost. I would be exposing my darkness to everyone, and in a way that makes me feel vulnerable. But as a writer, I have to write something I can relate to. I have to understand the heroine. I have to put my soul into my writing else I find it difficult to care, and as an author I feel as though you have a responsibility to write something true.
My family have been very supportive, and although I’m sure they’ll get a shock when they read it, I hope that it will help them understand me a bit more. Jonny will always be immortal within our hearts, but now he will be immortal through the written word and will be made known to all. He always loved the attention, so I’m sure he’d be giving me a thumbs up now.
How did you get published? Did you approach a literary agent first or go directly to a publisher?
I went directly to a publisher called Canaan-Star, a new self-publishing company. I saw that they were accepting submissions, and took a deep breath and sent the submission. I was astonished when they accepted me, and I was determined to make Tartarus a success. I had sent the submission of Tartarus to agents in the past in its early stages, and I did a lot of research before considering to send it off again. I decided I wanted to do it on my own, that the words would sell themselves. I wanted to push myself and see what my determination could achieve, so decided to do it all without an agent.
Was it hard to get published?
As Tartarus is the first in the series, I am glad that I’ve had such support from my publisher. I was very lucky to be taken on, and as the publisher was fairly new in the business, only kicking off in March of 2012, I felt a kind of link that we would start out on this new and exciting journey together.
But Tartarus has given me the confidence to send out one of my other finished novels to an agency and to hopefully be taken up with a Traditional Publishing house. Writing is my life and I am determined to shed light on the other adventures I have in stall for the public. I hope that this is only the start.
Any advice for other book writers?
To keep going. Don’t get arrogant and do your research. Take advice and research the industry you’re getting into. Self-publishing is good if you have the drive and motivation to push your book. Self-doubt is destructive. Always believe in your ability and if you can get an agent to take you on, then all the better. It’s always good to try it alone just to give you a wonderful experience of self-accomplishment, and to understand the business.
Any other influences to your story?
This story is based on the shoulders of real fear. Night Terrors and Old Hag’s syndrome combined to release a stream of my unconsciousness, spilling out inner demons and darkness of the soul. I am 23 years old and I am determined to put substance to the nightly figure that had tortured me all of my life. The book helped me put chains of the demons that haunted me and made the grieving process of a dear family member easier to bear. And if “The Man” is real, and he decides that he doesn’t like that I’ve exposed him to the world, he’ll have to just take it up with me tonight.
Alternatively have you had publicity for your book? If so, what publicity?
My biggest success to date has been a whole page in the Daily Mail! The story of the inspiration of the book has been published in the Coventry Telegraph, Tamworth Herald and is to be published in the Nuneaton News. I felt it was important to let my local newspapers know- Warwickshire is the place that made me who I am. I felt it was prominent to share the word with them.
I am to do a book signing in Waterstones in my local town of Nuneaton on the 27th of October, home town to the famous writer George Eliot. With any luck she’ll be there in spirit giving me a nod of approval.
Where your book is on sale?
Elizabeth’s book is on sale worldwide and is available to order online in Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and all other major retailers.
You can find more information about her book on;
Have you recently published a book? If you would like to be featured in Author Spot, contact us here: Author Spot
Meanwhile, if you have Old Hag Syndrome and would like to sell your story to a newspaper, magazine or TV, contact our specialist sister site Featureworld