Elizabeth Hull (aka darkspires) came in a close second in the recent 2011 final of the Meager Puddle of Limelight Award for Best opening Line. Elizabeth kindly spared a few minutes to answer some questions about her writing and her contest entry,'The first words Henry Woods heard after his execution were, “You took long enough to get here.”'
What’s the name of the story the opening line is from? [title/genre/wordcount]
IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. It is a horror story. Not my usual thingy.
Tell us a little about it. Is it published? If so, where can folks find it?
It isn't published yet, and I haven't subbed it out to anyone. The story came into being when I was playing on Shock Totem's forum and entered one of their challenges to write a flash story in a week. It had to be based on a picture prompt, which was five houses shaped like knives in a rather hostile looking setting.
How many times did you change the opening line before you settled on 'The first words Henry Woods heard after his execution were, “You took long enough to get here.”'?
It was the first line that gave me the rest of the story. I was stumped until I came up with that.
What’s your preferred genre/wordcount?
My preferred genre is sci fi or fantasy, but I have been know to write horror before. As for wordcount, that is all over the place. I have books, short stories and flash pieces. Mainly, I am working on books, with the flash stories as a bit of light relief. I find writing flash also helps me to hone my long pieces and cut out the fat, so it is something I keep up.
What’s your current WIP?
I have just finished editing and subbing two books, so I guess it is going to be one of the half-finished books. Let's see, I have a fantasy, a sci fi, two urban fantasies and a science fantasy to choose from.
Are you a pantser or an outliner?
Oh a pantser. I have tried to outline and the story gets away from me. I guess I have a general outline of where I am going, but it is in my head.
What are your long term goals as a writer?
I'd really like to get those books published. One of the ones I have just finished is the first book in a trilogy. Now that would be sweet as I have the second book written and am halfway through the third.
Tell us about your very first sale.
I sold The Hurdy Gurdy Man to Emerald Tales a couple of years back. Sadly, that magazine is no longer functioning. It was a fantasy set in Ireland and had the requisite Fae interfering with the local population.
As a reader, does a good opening line make a difference to you?
Very much so. There used to be an online group of published authors that critiqued the opening thirteen lines of short stories. The idea was that this is where the reader is either hooked or lost. I probably read more opening lines than most folks, and it is the first line that makes the difference.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Learn your craft inside and out. The rules are there for a purpose, and you can't break them if you don't understand them.
What’s the worst?
When someone shows me how they would have written the scene. A writer's Voice is their most important tool. Mess with that and the story becomes a fragmented mess of styles.
What was the last story/novel you pitched/submitted?
I have a fantasy out on sub with Carina Publications and I have just entered a science fantasy in the ANBA competition. I have also got a slew of shorts doing the rounds.
What was the last story/novel you read?
The last published novel I read was one by Jeanne Frost. I think it was the third book in her Cat and Bones series. There were also a slew of flash fiction pieces I have just read from Shock Totem's last competition, which is in progress.
Do you belong to a writing/critique group? Why?/Why not?
I am a veteran member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. I joined back in the Del Rey days when it was free. I would recommend belonging to a writing group for the help and encouragement, not to mention the lifelong friends I have acquired along the way.
Where can readers find your work?
Short story, entitled THE HURDY GURDY MAN to Emerald Tales for their February 2010 'Carnival' issue.
Short story, entitled THE SEVENTH CHILD to Emerald Tales for their June 2010 'Midsummer Eve' issue.
Flash story, entitled TIME FOR ALL SEASON to Flashquakes for their fall edition 2010
Flash story, entitled THE LAST AND BEST HISS to Cat's Eye New Bella Anthology. 2012 sometime.
Where on the web can you be found?
This used to be FlashMe Magazine and is now Abyss and Apex.
What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you first started writing?
I wish I had the skills then that I have now.
Is there’s anything I didn’t ask you, that you want to answer anyway?
What got me started writing? I've always been fascinated by the Arthurian legends and came to the bit where the king promised to come back at the time of greatest need. I wanted to find out what happened next.
Who do you think would win in a fight, astronauts or cavemen?
Has to be cavemen. They are on their home turf and can survive in their own hostile environment. Spacesuits might look sharp, but don't do much if a sabre-toothed tiger lands on a person's back.
Elizabeth Hull lives in central Alberta, Canada, with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by.