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Interview: Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows, Author of Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit

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Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows is the author of Alexander Drake’s Extraordinary Pursuit, a tale of mystery and imagination.  You can visit her at www.azrapithsbooks.com

When did you first know you could be a writer?
I don’t have that perception just yet. Perhaps I’m a little too new to the publishing world for such a title. I see myself as someone who loves to write and has a fantasy world looming in my brain.

What inspires you to write and why?
Well, the obvious answer is my kids. Watching them play pretend all day makes me want to write into the evening. When I have a story unfolding inside the itch to get it out can be overwhelming.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Fantasy!! The only limits are my own imagination. It goes beyond a comfort level. There is something therapeutic about escaping to another world for a while.

What inspired you to write your first book?
When my son was born I toyed with the idea of writing short stories to read to him. Little did I know I had an entire series resting in my head. One day I stopped toying with idea and actually sat myself down in front of the computer to write those short stories. My son was six months old and a really good napper. What started as a short story transcended to The Azra’s Pith Series by the end of the first chapter.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
My childhood experiences; I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother at her house in Washington. She lived in a wooded area right over a lake. We would be outside creating adventures until it was too dark to see. Once I started writing the story flowed. I almost could not stop myself. Try to imagine years of day dreaming spilling out through your fingers. Imaginary characters I had been carrying around with me since childhood finally had their place.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?
I watch my kids grow and create their own memories. Their unique personalities have found their way into Azra’s Pith starting in part two of the series. The urge to complete the story keeps me going. Even if it never sees the light of day, it has to be finished. It’s like a friend tugging on my sleeve; especially if I go too long away from my laptop.

What made you want to be a writer?
Aside from my family, writing makes my heart happy. Once I started there was no stopping. These days it is a necessary outlet.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
The editing process is tough. It can be never ending. There is always something to be improved or corrected. I still find myself obsessing over Alexander Drake — kicking myself over parts that could have been better. It’s enough to make me nuts!

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
I learned a lot about my writing during the most torturous part — editing. I learned, well… that I have a lot to learn. I intend to never stop learning and improving; it’s all part of the fun. The quest is never over! I have also learned to take criticism and rejection. I’ve chalked it up to a healthy character building experience.

Do you intend to make writing a career?
Of course! I would love to spend all day immersed in my stories. The promotion part is tough. I wake up each day with my fingers crossed.

Have you developed a specific writing style?
I tend to have a straight forward and clear-cut style because I’m writing for youngsters. I want to keep it entertaining and exciting.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?
I think my strength was my weakness as a kid. Being shy and awkward enough to find comfort in my own imagination has served as the backbone of my stories. Another strength (I’ve really had to work on this) is having a thick skin. Getting critiques and reviews can be brutal. I remind myself to stay detached from the outcome and write because it makes me happy.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
When the words stop coming so easily I step away from the computer and play pretend with my kids or take a walk. Gardening seems to help too. I try to maintain a healthy balance to keep the creative energy flowing.

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