Categories: Arts & Culture

First time author quickly cranks out novel

Local author C. Elizabeth

What can you do in 11 days? Take a nice Caribbean cruise. Remodel your bathroom. How about read a book?

Two years ago, a local woman wrote a book. That’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment when you consider that 46-year-old C. Elizabeth had never written anything or even taken writing classes before in her life.

“I never aspired to be a writer. I’m not a writer by any means. Well, now I am.”

Absolute Obsession, her novel, is not a small book either, bursting the bindings at more than 450 pages.

How did she do it, all while maintaining a full-time job as a paralegal?

“It was just there,” she replied, matter-of-factly. “I honestly don’t know where it came from.”

She describes the whole sequence of events leading up to writing the book like being hit by a flash of lightning. It started with the very end of the book suddenly coming into her head back in November 2009.

All that she had to do was start from the beginning with that finale already laid out.

“The book worked its way backwards — literally backwards — in my mind. I honestly thought I was losing my mind. The characters created themselves. The plot created itself. I had 93,000 words bouncing around in my head.”

The book is about 42-year-old Rose Gerbaldi. Married for more than 20 years, she has come to a kind of mid-life crisis and she sleeps terribly. Tired of her usual routines and petty irritations with her husband Jim, she starts to focus on a fantasy that revolves around an attractive 30-year-old British actor named Michael Terrance.

She decides to write a fan letter to the star and, as fate would have it, he suddenly becomes a presence in her life. The two strike up a wild love affair, leading them both on a path that makes them question everything.

To go from the ending to a completed manuscript, Elizabeth simply sat at her kitchen table and typed away on her computer night after night. Her family just went about its business, unaware of what she doing. Within two weeks she had finished a first draft and still no one really knew about it.

“I was feeling really, really silly. I didn’t want to tell people I wrote a book. ‘Are you crazy? They’re not going to believe this.’”

All she had to do then was spend more time on editing and refining, changing a few details here and there, which gave her a chance to break out her thesaurus. That process was slower and took longer but it did help her discover that she actually loved words. Eventually, she started talking to her family about it but without saying exactly what she was doing.

“I didn’t come right out and tell them. I’d get stumped somewhere on an edit and the words just weren’t flowing. I decided maybe one of those guys could give me a better word. They all looked at me a little strange.”

Keeping up with her do-it-yourself attitude, she then researched publishing houses that she could submit her manuscript to. If you thought that everything comes easy to this firebrand, think again. Every author has a horror story. Elizabeth’s real fight was just in postage getting out those query letters, what she calls “the dreaded of all things in the world.”

Since she finished her edits last April and started sending out the queries, she has received about 100 rejection letters. The latest one actually came just a few days ago and gave her a good laugh.

“I wanted to email them back saying, ‘So sad for you’!”

The good news came a few months ago with a request to tone down the sex scenes. In the end, nothing was changed. Now, Elizabeth is gearing up to do book signings and appearances to promote her work.

Feeling positive and optimistic about the whole experience, she also let slip that she finished a sequel to this book, although it took her a lot longer — about a month-and-a-half. That title is already at the publishers but it hasn’t yet been accepted. Another sequel is already under way. She has thoughts about a fourth book but it isn’t related to this series.

For all of her success in just doing what she felt in her heart that she had to do, Elizabeth has one piece of advice for other struggling writers: “Just keep writing” and don’t fall out of practice or else you’ll lose it.

That doesn’t seem likely to happen with her any time soon.

Absolute Obsession

By C. Elizabeth
Wings ePress Inc.
476 pages

The author will be conducting a book signing on Saturday, June 4 from noon until 4 p.m. at the St. Albert Chapters.

Copies on sale for $18.95 on site or purchase at www.wingsepress.com for $16.95 (USD). Kindle version available for $8.95 (USD) at www.amazon.com

Visit www.celizabeth.ca to learn more about the author and book.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.