Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Matson, Author of Historical Fiction Novels

You’ve now written four novels, each with a historical theme either up front or in the background. What draws you to doing historical research?
Historical research has always been my first love, more specifically, the history of America. As a child our family made several moves due to my father's military service, and being of a curious nature, I quickly discovered each new home brought about a new set of history. In fact, in college I received a major in the subject purely by accident because I had taken so many of the history courses.

My family says I write because I must have an outlet for all the research. I suppose what draws me into doing such are the stories hidden between the facts, the stories the people who are gone might sit and tell us if they could do so. As odd as it might sound, I can spend hours in a cemetery wondering about the folks beneath the stones, wishing they had a button on the tombstone which I could push to hear their tale. 

Have you been to the locales you’ve used for your books or is it purely research?
Regarding the locales, for the most part, yes, I have been to many of them, having lived many years in Hawaii, the setting of 'Tuffy'. In regards to 'The Favor', I have visited the Mississippi area several times. The same can be said about 'Pieces of the Past'.

I love visiting historical places, museums, graveyards, etc. As for the Oregon Trail ties in 'The Contract', that Trail is one my daddy and I always talked about following and one I have a great interest in. I hope to take that trip someday and thus touched on it in 'The Contract' and traveled back in time upon it in a story I plan to publish at a later date. 

When did you start writing?
Oh goodness, it seems as if I have been writing forever. I had columns in our high school paper and then in college I had a terrific Creative Writing professor who encouraged me to share my writing. Publishing my works, however, is another story.

After college I got married, had a son, and was engrossed in a both life and a teaching career, life sort of took up any spare writing time. It wasn't until after I retired and my son was grown, I met a wonderful man who inspired me to take up writing once again and this I did more as a hobby than with the mindset to publish.

When did you feel you were ready to take the plunge and publish a book?

Whenever a friend or family member had a birthday I would give them a printed out copy of a tale I had finished. When I hit a milestone birthday, I decided to forgo the planned trip to Disney World and use the money to give my supportive family and friends a surprise gift-- publishing Tuffy without telling anyone and sending it to them around my birthday. They were thrilled, however; now I received requests to publish The Favor, then Pieces of the Past, and the same with The Contract, as each were someone's favorite tale. 

What inspired you to write your novels?
Regarding inspiration, well, each story has its own. Tuffy came about when my neighbors gave me an old, rusty, olive drab painted wheelchair they had found at a yard sale. The more I sat in it, the more I wondered about the person that might have used it. One thing lead to another. It was a similar type of inspiration for The Favor. We all do favors for our friends and that got me thinking about what would be the greatest of all requests.

Pieces of the Past is the favorite of many of our “War Between the States” friends. My husband and I are Civil War re-enactors. Just sitting around the cook fire or watching a battle unfold presents all sorts of ideas. I also have a passion for old houses, old barns, and like the stories hidden in a cemetery. I wonder about what the old, forgotten walls would say if they could.

I can't pin down how The Contract came about, but I believe it was inspired by one of the characters in the book, Carl, who came out of nowhere and just started talking. 

I was recently chided by another writer not understanding the difference between self-publishing and print-on-demand services with a publisher. What would you say your publisher, Xlibris is?
I would say Xlibris is a combination of both, as the writer,you retain all the rights, and whenever you need copies of the book, you have them printed.

Do you consider yourself an indie-writer?
Indie - writer? No, I consider myself an author, a writer, a tale spinner, plain and simple. There seems to be some stigma regarding those who self-publish, something I was unaware of when I set out to print my novels. Well, in short, it does not matter how one publishes, it is the story being told that matters. 
Could you go over what exactly Xlibris provided for you?
Xlibris provides a variety of service packages, giving the author full rights and creative input. You pay upfront accordingly. They will design the cover for you, however, I had a photo for each. The photo on the front of Tuffy was taken by my great aunt during a visit to Hawaii. The photo for The Favor I took on a trip through Mississippi and Louisiana, while the cover of 'Pieces' was a contest I ran on Facebook. Readers voted on the sunset cover for The Contract, so I had ideas I wished to use. Before the cover went to press I was asked to approve or change. Only when I was happy with it did it go to print.

Who provided editorial services for you?
As for the editing services, they do provide it, and I did use them for Tuffy, however was not satisfied. They were expensive and I do not believe they understood certain dialogue. Sadly, editing has proven to be the most frustrating part of the process. I know my weaknesses and trust others who assist to be good at what I am not. This has not proven a very reliable method, however, each time I learn something and believe each novel has gotten that much better. 

What has been the most enjoyable part of the publishing process, other than seeing your book in print?
The most enjoyable part, outside of seeing my book in print? I would say the delight I get in hearing that my readers have enjoyed the story, found an escape from their daily grind. I am blessed in the fact that nearly all my readers are repeat buyers who cannot wait for the next novel to drop.

Do you belong to any critique groups?
I do not belong to any groups, per se. However, Authonomy is one of my favorite critique groups online. There you can post your whole book, if you wish, and the readers can give you feedback. Most of those reviewers are fellow writers. 

I see you are also a member of That is a new blog site for me. How did you hear of it? How have they helped you in your writing?

I discovered Agent Query after I published Tuffy and started thinking about finding an agent. There are a great deal of helpful forums or help areas on the site, all geared towards the 'traditional' ways of publishing. For me personally, has been the most helpful.

On your website you refer to Writer’s Digest judges. Was this part of a writing contest?
Writer's Digest holds a yearly contest for self-published authors. Their review of my writing was very helpful. It was exciting to read notes, from those who truly know the art form of story telling, saying they enjoyed the books. 

What are some of the best pieces of writing advice you’ve received from either editors or agents?
I suppose that came from my father, who always told me to believe in myself and whatever it was I choose to do, then follow through to the best of your ability and no one can say you did otherwise.  

What are some of the most productive ways you’ve promoted your books? You do a giveaway on Goodreads for your books, but how does it work out in getting actual book orders?
Goodreads giveaways get folks talking, as does the attending of festivals, book clubs, or posting pages of a story. Offering story related trinkets, free shipping, my web page, and announcements on Facebook, all seem to help as well.

However, the most productive ways of promoting my books is word of mouth. If folks like what they read, they will tell someone else. The trick is getting them to read the book to start with. All of the items mentioned help to draw attention to the fact. 

If you would like to know more about Elizabeth’s writing or to buy her books, here are some options. her website, her blog, or Facebook.. You can also find more about her on Goodreads and Authonomy. When you buy her books directly from her site the books will also be personally autographed – not an option with regular purchase at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

If you would like the opportunity to win a FREE BOOK...Sourcebooks has graciously offered a giveaway of one copy of A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware. If you would like to win a copy of this book please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the this book or this discussion with Ciji Ware by clicking here..

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chris, just wanted to thank you for doing such a great job on this interview! You put a lot of thought into it and it looks wonderful!

    Thanks again!
    Elizabeth Matson, Author =^,,^=