Read Raw Ltd

 

Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland

 

Featured Author

 

Elizabeth Reeder

 

 

 

 

What first inspired you to write? 

 

I really have no idea why I started to write.  It wasnít a single moment.  It was as if my love of reading transformed into the need to try to get ideas and stories down on paper.  (As a child I was your stereotypical reader, curled up just about anywhere with just about any book).  I started writing after a friend told me to just do it and I did, just to see if I could.   And then that tough, involved and very exciting process of figuring out what something is, well it was addictive ósomething about how the writing can be creative, reflective, and totally made up.  Iím quite a practical person in real life, but in the writing Iím incredibly playful, free and daring and I have the sense that I can do anything. 

  

What inspires you now?

 

The whole process.  Having an idea, or starting to write and hearing something in the words and how theyíre put together, an image, an idea and knowing thereís a story there, or a shorter piece.  I often start with a sentence, one that gives me enough concrete details to build on, but also with an elusive quality so it provides a lot of movement and options.  The novel Iím currently editing started with the line:  ĎTexís leg drags and like his inheritance holds him back; Flo is freer having neither, she doesnít have a limp and she certainly wonít be coming into any money.í   After writing a few other things, Iím coming back to this novel to do a final edit and I love re-entering a world Iíve created, and being able to change things, and see how they affect the whole story. Iíve just killed off a character, itís sort of unexpected and itís exciting to see how the impact ripples out through the story. 

  

What advice would you give to a new writer?

 

Just get started.  Have fun.  Figure out how you write, the way you edit, learn to love the unknown, that feeling of being lost in the midst of something, and do everything in your power to gain the skills you need to know you can get yourself out of any tough spot. 

  

What are you writing?

 

 Iíve just finished a number of shorter pieces, including a modern fairy tale, which was very exciting to write.  Iíve always loved Angela Carter and it was a chance to put some of that love into a very very different type of story.  Now, Iím making edits to my next novel, Fremont.  And then I have a novel-in progress, waiting in the wings to be picked up again and completed. 

  

What are you reading now?

 

I usually have more than one book on the go at a time, at least one novel and usually one non-fiction book about writing or process or essaying.  Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck; The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald and The Poetís Freedom by Susan Stewart.

  

Who is your favorite literary character?

 

 This is a tough question, for although I love characters, the nitty gritty difficult characters, I almost always think that any successful book has an ensemble, or itís the way a story is told that pulls me in.  Lise in The Driverís Seat is twisted, problematic and impossible to pin down; Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird is innocent and knowing and a great storyteller (via Harper Lee, of course!)óin both these books itís also the structure of the story and its telling that get me every time I re-read them.  

 

What future projects do you have planned?

 

After I finish the edits Iím working on, Iíll go back to a novel in progress Iím working on called Those They Buried with Their Bare Hands.  Iím about Ĺ way through it and itís got lots of death, architecture and fire in it.  And a bit of home-stilled prairie whiskey. 

  

What interests do you have outside of writing?

 

I run and do pilates, love to cook and eat, and travel around Scotland quite a bit.  The highlands and islands are always stunning and unsettling, and I have also grown increasingly fond of the Cairngorms.  I have a sourdough starter and a weekly habit of making bread and/or baking, although Iím not overly fond of wheat, so go figure why Iíve chosen breadmaking.  The act of keeping the sourdough starter alive (by mixing in flour and water and air) is called Feeding the Mother, which I find somehow disturbing and charming.  I love crappy tv and movies, for entertainment and to give my brain a rest.  Have been known to watch marathons of tv series like Battlestar Galactica or Modern Families. 

 

 Any last words of wisdom?

 

 If you want to write, just write.  Read everything and anything, learn how to read like a writer.  Take risks and take responsibility for what you write.  Have a lot of fun on the page.  I believe in having robust and kind self-editor, who helps you keep the faith in the midst of failures and setbacks, but also keeps you questioning yourself and how youíre working and the decisions youíre making.  No one is infallible and we are all learners, we can all improve our writing and how we put it out into the world.  Celebrate your successes. 

 

 

Bibliography

Short Pieces

Numerous short pieces published in literary journals and anthologies.  Some stories, a drama and abridgments for BBC Radio 4, including a full Womenís Hour Serial (Standing Still Running), and an elegiac story Ďattendanceí published in Kenyon Review and Gutter. 

 

Novels

Ramshackle

Freight Books, April 2012

http://www.freightbooks.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

Roe is like any other fifteen year old suburban Chicago teenager. Her only worries are schoolwork, keeping up with her wayward best friend, and whether or not she should sleep with her boyfriend.

Then her adoptive father, a locksmith, disappears one winterís day without explanation. As Roe tries to find out where he is and why he left, her past unravels, revealing secrets and lies that will change her future forever.

 

 

Fremont

Kohl Publishing, October 2012

http://kohlpublishing.com

 

All my biographical and bibliographic information can be found on my website:   ekreeder.com 

 

 

Ramshackle Ė extract from beginning

 

I see us at the table on Friday night. I pick my nose and I put the booger under the table like itís gum. Then I move to the side, away from him. Maybe he shifts closer to me again. Maybe. But I think thatís me adding something to the memory that just didnít happen. Heís telling me the story of Old Mrs Morseís ancient door, worrying a key in his hand.

I replay the image again and again. It feels like a memory Iíve always had, but itís only a day old. I see the scene: the table, the keys heís working on, the book Iím pretending to read, and I see it: he looks down so as not to cry. I wipe my snot under the table and move away. It is too much, me moving away from him. He wants to say, ĎI have something to find out, something to find. Itís important.í He wants to say this and knows he canít.

He stands up and when he hugs me goodnight, it takes every ounce in his body not to squeeze me tight, not to have his grasping hands leave marks on my arms. His hug is simple, everyday.

ĎArenít we going to read?í

ĎYouíre too old for that, arenít you?í

And I am, have been for years, but he smiles and when I get into bed he spreads out at my feet, on the comforter. Iím reading aloud, itís a cold January night, and the lake has frozen for the first time this season. Branches brush against the window and my dad falls asleep on my

  

 

Fremont Ė Prologue (That Damn Map)

 

In a Midwest state that will remain nameless, in a place offering up tipping cows and crackling corn fields, stands a small town, one manís ever hopeful claim to fame, where a thin river gurgles a course behind the townís historic main street and continues west past the only hill in this otherwise pancake-flat place.  Now on this hill, in a mock-antebellum house that is falling down around the moving mass of bodies they call family, live the Fremonts, and on the rather dull, scuffed wall of their entrance hall, hangs a map.  This map, handmade and huge, has been and will always be, incomplete. 

The map represents the somewhat united states of the Fremont family.  Each state, made up of carefully carved and painted plywood, is attached to the others, and to the topographically detailed and interpreted blue wall with superglue and is about the size of a dozen finger-painted hands.  Texas, being slightly larger by nature, is the size of big menís hands. 

And although the story lives here, above this moody river, as Hal and Rachel and their kids go about the business of being a family, the story starts in the diner where Rachel Roanoke and Hal Fremont, in a fated moment, meet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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