Okay, it’s me again. This interview is with Elizabeth Wixley, author of In The Devil’s Own Words. Again, this was done last year and apologies go out to Elizabeth for the delay. I know I should be spanked, I know … any volunteers. (kidding)
With that said, let’s get the interview started. Welcome Elizabeth to my blog.
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. I was born in England and although I enjoy travelling my heart belongs to this rock situated in the northern hemisphere. From the very beginning I have been a dreamer, loving books and all forms of creative thinking. During my much younger life I expressed myself through painting and music and attended art school to develop my skills. These days if I pick up a pencil or a brush it is to crate dragons or monsters.
One of my other passions is history. I love the stories of ordinary people’s lives and how they survived against all odds and in dire circumstances. I am amazed at the resilience of people. At the age of sixteen I ran away from home and there followed an unsettled period in my life where I lived in many areas of the UK. From my various adventures I gained a great deal of knowledge about ancient cultures and the emotional literacy of people today and how they negotiate their way through life.
Interacting with nature is important to me, so I am often to be found roaming Dartmoor and of course, I am compelled to drop into any old pub I come across to enquire about their ghosts. Perhaps because I live on a very wet island, I find that I am drawn to water sports. I am mad about the sea and rivers, so my favourite item of clothing is my wet suit.
My working life recently came to an abrupt end, due to government cut backs, when my whole team was made redundant. I worked for the Local Education authority where I supported children who had often experienced trauma in their lives. I often wonder how those young people are coping now without much needed support.
My journey through life has often been bizarre with many twists and turns but it has provided me with great material for my stories.
Q. What is In The Devil’s Own Words about?
A. My book ‘In the Devil’s Own words’, is a multi-layered book but may also be read on face value as a fantasy adventure. It is set in contemporary Britain but my characters are sucked back into the medieval period. Although it is an apocalyptic tale it differs in feel from many I have previously read. However it is the same in that it addresses the age old question about good versus evil and nature verses nurture.
It starts with the discovery of a mysterious book and two skeletons buried under the floor of the village pub. From that point the four main characters, a group of dysfunctional teenagers, are drawn into a dark world where to survive they will need rise above their issues and work as a team. However, the question is, are we ever ultimately able to escape our environment and upbringing?
Q. The main character is Isobel Miller. What is she like?
A. Isobel is fifteen and at an age where she is exploring who she is and how she fits into the world. At the beginning of the book she appears as a truculent self exorbed teenager who is angry at having to move home yet again. She feels lonely, isolated and lacks a sense of belonging.
Isobel then meets firstly Peter and then Oswald. These youths are also outsiders experiencing feelings of loss. Peter for a lost childhood due to sickness and Oswald because of the death of his mother and the absence of his father’s love. Due to the cataclysmic events that are occurring all round her Isobel embarks on a journey of self-discovery where she is forced to dig deep and very quickly discover the strength of her true personality.
Q. What do the characters Peter, Oswald and Ariel add to The Devils Own Words?
A. Peter and Oswald are almost as important as Isobel in this story. Their lives are equally affected by the reactions towards each other. Their lives revolve round like marbles in the hand of the Devil. Ariel is important because she is less resilient and not able to make the best choices in response to the unfolding events.
Q. Who was your favorite character?
A. It is hard to say who my favorite character was. I am fond of them all and still miss them. I liked Isobel grandfather as he appreciates a good spine chilling tale. I felt for the main characters took on a life of their own and became very real to the point where I wanted to cry out to them, to warn them when they were making a mistake. My real love was for a certain member of the monster race and Lance the golden eagle.
Q. Who was your least favorite character?
A. I suppose I would have to say my least favorite character was the Bishop of Dover, Francis but it is great fun writing about such an evil person. Some of the subsidiary adults I don’t like as they are slimy and self-serving. I suppose my least favourite were the politicians.
Q. What was the hardest part of In The Devil’s Own Words to write?
A. The first draft of this book was surprisingly easy to write. It was there waiting for me, I just had to grab it from the ether. However, I knew from the beginning that this book was always going to be special for me as it is based on a magical place where I once lived and I was therefore anxious to do it justice. Perhaps because I have moved round so much certain environments have a heightened meaning for me.
Q. How did you get yourself psyched up to write about tragedy, disaster, and the Devil himself?
A. I didn’t really have to get myself psyched up at all. I think I am quite a dark and deep thinker. The real world is far more scary and cruel than mine. The arrogant part of me wanted to issue a warning ‘that if we aren’t careful this is a world in which we could be heading’. Also I enjoy delving into the corners of life and exploring ideas and what if’s.
Q. What would draw a reader to In The Devil’s Own Words?
A. ‘The Devil’s Own Words’ is not a predictable book. You might think that you have been given all the information but will be surprised at every turn. The reader won’t really get all the answers they want until the last page. I have written the type of book I would like to read and have entered a world I would like to explore. Anyone who enjoys exploring the mystery and magic of our universe will relish this story.
Q. Will there be a sequel to In The Devil’s Own Words? If now, do you have a current work in progress?
A. There will be a sequel but I have taken time out and am currently writing another book which is in a similar vein but I felt like I needed to allow my characters to settle for a while in my head. We have unfinished business and there is much more to come. This is just the beginning.
Q. Do you believe in the supernatural? Or things that go bump in the night?
A. I believe in anything and everything. I like to keep an open mind as what I do believe is that none of us humans have the answers, yet. I am just nosey and like to spy through the window and see what is out there. There is nothing in this world that enriches our lives more than a good mystery or a spine chillier. We all need to be transported from our mundane lives into the realms of what might be possible.
Q. What inspired you to write In The Devil’s Own Words?
A. My inspiration for my book comes firstly from that magical place where I once lived. It is load with meaning and mystery for me. When I lived there I was about the same age as Isobel and strange, inexplicable things happened there, some of which I have included in my book. You asked in the previous question whether I believed in the supernatural and I found that hard to answer. I don’t think it is as simple as that by reading my books people will understand what I mean. Sometimes it is about a place, the whole picture. It is hard to describe the impact of a certain place in time in a few words.
Q. You are a self-published author. What made you decide to go it on your own?
A. I am a self-published author because I wanted the freedom to express myself how I chose. I don’t feel comfortable writing books to fit in with a publishers view on how things should be. I believe in creativity and honest expression and perhaps self-indulgently I wanted to write things that I felt were important to me and other likeminded people.
Q. What advice do you have for writers just starting down the writing path towards publishing a book?
A. My advice to any writers starting out would be to follow your heart. The creative process is about exploration and discovery not fitting into someone else’s ideas of what is correct. It will be the hardest thing you probably ever do, similar to bringing children into the world. And it is not the writing in itself that is difficult but getting your voice heard above the noise.
L.M. David: Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth. I wish you all the best with your writing endeavors!
Elizabeth Wixley was born in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom but moved house many times during her childhood. Eventually she left home and slept rough on a beach in Cornwall. A year later she found herself in London where she attended Camberwell School of Art.
Finally, she ended up in Bristol where she began working fulltime for the Local education Authority, supporting children experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties back into mainstream education. At the same time she was bringing up two sons as a single parent and studying for a degree at the University of the West of England.
Creative arts have always been Elizabeth’s passion, whether visiting galleries, painting or writing. Now she enjoys nothing more than sharing a good story with others.
In The Devil’s Own Synopsis:
Moving house has become a way of life for fifteen year old Isobel Miller. Her father is an Army Major; her mother, a middle aged, pregnant, chain smoking alcoholic. But the move to the village of Langham could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. To the truculent teenager it might as well have been to Timbuktu. Isobel is resentful of the baby, angry with her mother for dragging her away from civilization to live in a village which has no street lighting, let alone any decent shops.
The only light in her miserable existence is her grandfather, story-teller elite, her savior. And when one of his macabre tales is mentioned in the local paper, Isobel is drawn into the depths of evil and devil worship. Her world, and that of everyone around her, turns upside down.
The cause? A mysterious book, an omen, which once opened and read starts a cataclysmic chain of events, and their lives are filled with tragedy and disaster. Salvation comes in the guise of three other teenagers-Peter, Oswald and Ariel-and the four form a bond so strong nothing can tear apart-nothing except maybe the devil himself!