Interview: M Elizabeth Tait

I have something a little different for you today! Last week I had an interview with my writing buddy alpha reader M Elizabeth Tait, just about her writing history and where she’s going. It’s gonna be worth big bucks when she’s mega famous, I’m sure!

In case you’re like me and live in an area with spotty internet (or you just don’t want to watch a video with a pretty girl and some lanky slob with bad hair), the interview has been transcribed below for your reading pleasure.

J: Hi. I’m Jill Marcotte. I am here with M. Elizabeth Tait, my beloved Mary. And we’re here to talk about Mary’s writing career. So, can you give us a brief bio? Just tell us a little about yourself?

M: Well, I moved around a lot as a child, so I won’t go into detail there. But essentially I graduated high school from Minnesota, Maple Grove Senior High, and then I went to BYU Idaho for a little while, got married to my fabulous husband, and he uprooted me and took me here to Alaska.

J: Scoundrel!

M: I know, right? So, since then, we’ve lived here for three years now, and it’s been a joy. Kind of… interesting. It’s- Fairbanks Alaska is a very weird place, but it’s an adventure, to say the least. So.

J: That is a good way to describe Fairbanks. It’s unique.

M: Exactly.

J: So, just curious, what’s the earliest writing experience that you can remember?

M: Oh, this is very weird. So-

J: Good!

M: So when I was little, I- one of the earliest memories I actually have is I was about three or four and I hadn’t been to kindergarten or anything yet, I hadn’t learned any of my letters, and I just remember taking a pen and a little notebook and just scribbling lines in there. Like I really wanted to write and I knew there was a language out there- I just didn’t know what it was. So my mom would catch me and we had pages and pages of just like scribbles on a page. I would follow the lines, just these little scribbles. So, it was really funny.

J: That’s cute. I like that. Okay, so, from there, you’re now here. What point are you at in your writing career?

M: Oo, very, very early on. Um-

J: Not as early as that, though.

M: Well, no, not as early. I know the language now.

J: Good! Literate and all?

M: Yeah. That’s the first step, I guess. So, now, I’m kind of just started. I’ve outlined a trilogy that I want to write. I haven’t fully written it yet. But I have scenes here and there and I know where I want to go with it. I’m just still trying to write, work on the prose and actually how I want it to fit on the page. I have an idea of what in my mind I want, but now it’s getting the reader to follow that idea.

J: ‘Kay. So, my next question: the publishing industry can seem very big and mysterious. So for you, as a writer trying to push forward in your career, for you, what’s the most intimidating thing about the industry, and then what’s the most calming, familiar, not intimidating thing?

M: Well let’s start with the intimidating: getting out there and showcasing my work, I think. From in the past, ever since I started wanting this to go somewhere, I actually want my story published. In the past it was, I want to write for myself. I just wanted to sit in a corner and not do anything. So my writings are very much my baby that I don’t want anyone else to see. I don’t want them to critique because it’s my baby. You know? So that’s kind of the scariest thing for me is to actually put it out there and be willing to get critiqued on it and I know it will help me get better at it. I just don’t want to face the music that it’s not what I thought it was. And then the neatest thing about it, I guess the easiest, most what I aspire to is getting… Okay, it’s kind of the same thing: getting my writing out there, having other people read it, other people wanting to read it, essentially, that they would- I mean, it takes a lot for someone to say, “I want to pay money to read this author.” You know? And so that’s kind of the best, I guess one of the best critiques that I could get is that someone wants to get out there and they Google my name or something like that. That’s where I want to be at.

J: Okay, so you mentioned your trilogy. Can you tell us a little about your first book, what it’s about?

M: Oo, this is a very loaded question.

J: The Elevator Pitch.

M: The Elevator Pitch. So my first book essentially is- I akin it to Alice in Wonderland. I really wanted a girl to be uprooted from everything she knows and thrust into this other world. That she needs to find her own way. Not necessarily that her goal is to get back to her home, but she does have a goal that… in this case, she wants to find her brother’s killer. And so she doesn’t really have a big desire to go back home. So in this one, it’s all about her girl power of going and finding this man that killed her brother and seeking revenge essentially.

J: Alright! Sounds adventurous. So if you had- Your main character, her name is…

M: Kalia.

J: And your antagonist?

M: Frosis.

J: Okay, so if you had to, and you do, describe Kalia as an animal, what animal would she be and why?

M: You have some very interesting questions. ‘Kay, I… This is gonna be weird. I would kind of… some kind of… cat. Okay, so she-

J: I was thinking that, like a- a tiger or something.

M: Yeah! Exactly. So, kind of some cat, where you see your prey and… In the beginning, she’s not patient. At all. She would just kind of go and, this was just her character, to run and be like, “Okay! I’m just gonna chase you.” You know? But then as the story progresses, she becomes that cat that sits in the bushes and is all tense and suddenly she’ll just spring on her prey, which is the antagonist. And so she’s just very much this cat that wants it so badly she will be patient for it.

J: So your antagonist, Frosis: what is your favorite thing about writing him?

M: Oh, my favorite thing. I think all of us kind of have this joy in writing an evil character.

J: Wheee!

M: Exactly. It’s very fun. For him, I love writing about his confidence. Because he can go into a room and know no one and suddenly everyone adores him and loves him. Just his charm. To have people follow him, which is a very big tool and very scary for Kalia because she can’t do that. She has a hard time talking to people and so for him to have so many people on his side because of his confidence and his way of talking and bringing you around to his side, is very scary for her.

J: So when you go to write, how do you get into the zone? Do you like stimulating beverages, do you listen to music?

M: I listen to music. I know a lot of authors kind from steer clear of that, because music does change your mood so much, but I have this very specific, calming music that I listen to. And-

J: You don’t, like, turn up the volume for fight scenes or anything? Play techno?

M: Oh, sometimes I do. I do. Sometimes I’ll listen to a little Rise Against or, I don’t know, just some hardcore music when I am writing a fight scene. But normally it’s very moody, like Cerebrellis, Ingrid Michealson, type that, you know, just happy-go-lucky and I can kind of- I have to have some kind of distraction. I need to be able to tune something out to focus, I guess. So kind of it’s a weird strategy, but it works for me.

J: Okay. So, you told us a little about your story. What’s your favorite genre to write, just in general?

M: Oh, definitely fantasy. The one that I’m writing right now is kind of like sci-fi fantasy type, but I do love just straight fantasy. Throw me into a world with magic and girls wearing long dresses, and I’m all there.

J: So is that your favorite to read as well?

M: Yes. Yeah, definitely. I like read what I write. What I enjoy reading is what I write. Kind of what brought me into writing in the first place was I read this quote- I can’t remember who it was, maybe it was Stephen King, but it was something about how when you have read all of the books that you like and you can’t find anymore, that’s the time that you should start writing them. And so that’s kind of what- it was kind of this wake up call. Like I had kind of dabbled in writing before, like a few scenes here and there, imagining this world, but I didn’t actually start focusing on it until I read that quote and I was like, “Oh. That’s why I like writing so much. It’s ’cause I can’t find a story that I truly love. I want to write my own.” So.

J: That’s very cool. Well. I think we’ve had a lovely interview with Miss Mary Tait. Thank you for being with us.

M: Thanks. It was a pleasure.

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