Saturday, July 19, 2014

Love of all things historical gets Lizzie writing

Hi Lizzie, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

Lizzie Tremayne in action
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
     I've always written professionally as a veterinarian, but secretly desired to write novels. In high school, a wonderful English and History teacher inspired me to write, but it was put away until long after I'd finished veterinary school and become an equine veterinarian… 25 years after. An injury offered me the home-time to take my fledgling writing seriously, and I grabbed at the opportunity, but it wasn't until I'd written about 50,000 words that I began to believe I could actually do it!  I think that's why NaNoWriMo makes such a difference to some people! Putting 50K words down on paper, not to mention doing it in 30 days, inspires huge self-belief! I definitely see writing as my new career, although I'm spoiled for choice, being qualified as both an equine veterinarian with a specialty dental practice and a high school science/bio/chem/physics teacher! My current love and next full-time career, however, is writing!

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?
     I prefer to write in the historical genre. I've always felt a strong attraction to stories of the past. The Dark Ages, Elizabethan times and the Old West equally held me enraptured, even as a beginning reader. I'm told I began sounding out the words in the Prince Valiant cartoon strips as a pre-schooler, when all I could otherwise read was "The cat ran up the tree." Perhaps it was the romance of a time different from that in which I lived that hooked me, or perhaps it was my desire for a link to those in my past, or to how I fit into the world. When  I began researching and writing historicals, I found I was seeking answers to questions in my own history and present. My discoveries have helped me become more comfortable with the person I am.

     For example, several towns in the West define themselves as being part of the Pony Express Trail. As a child, the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder enhanced my understanding of the westward-moving American pioneer, the peoples and lands they encountered, and how the settlers dealt with adversity. In A Long Trail Rolling, my first novel, Aleksandra is the daughter of a Polish immigrant trapper family in 1860s USA. She must survive when she is left alone in the world, and becomes a 'boy' rider for the famed Pony Express. Her adventures offer snapshots of life in the Rocky Mountain wilderness and overland throughout Utah Territory. Although the ‘Pony’ lasted a mere eighteen months, it still captures the imaginations of thousands of people internationally. I use the 'Pony' as a vehicle to show attitudes and interactions between my hero/heroine, other settlers and the American Indians.

     In my second novel, A Sea of Green Unfolding, I show historical aspects of 1862 San Francisco Bay Area, from Redwood City, via La Honda, through to San Gregorio, and 1863 New Zealand. In it, I show why Redwood City grew so quickly and how it was named. After my characters travel by barque to New Zealand, readers are offered aspects of New Zealand history which are not taught in primary, and only rarely in secondary schools.

     As I pore over old documents, I aim to make the unearthed information palatable to someone who might never pick up a book of historical fact, search out an old battle record or travel to a remote graveyard to read the inscription on a tombstone. Can I offer readers some inkling of what happened in their own town or country to give it the unique flavour it carries today? Some idea of why a certain town emerged when it did, or shed light upon why a particular society developed the way it has? Perhaps it will provide a puzzle piece allowing someone to open previously closed doors of the past, permitting healing of hidden societal wounds that prevent peaceful cohabitation.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s? 
     I've just completed my first novel, A LONG TRAIL ROLLING, a Western historical adventure with romantic elements. It comprises a saga of the Old West with a multicultural cast of the people who made up America, and would likely interest adults or young adults who like the Old West, American history, Indians, horses, immigrants, and the Pony Express. This novel was a finalist in the HMB Great Beginnings Contest at the RWNZ Conference last year and is currently a finalist in the RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award, a full novel competition, with the winner to be announced at the annual conference in August!

     In the story, seventeen-year-old Aleksandra Lekarski, alone and running to prevent her pa's killer from obtaining a secret which could allow world domination by the Czar, conceals herself as a 'boy' Pony Express rider in 1860's Utah Territory. Her 'Californio' boss Xavier Arguello has a spirit to match her own—along with a mutually undeniable attraction—and together they overcome the evil that threatens them. I plan to self-publish as soon as the edits are completed.

     I am two-thirds of the way through my second novel, A Sea of Green Unfolding. In this sequel to A Long Trail, Aleksandra and Xavier journey to adventure from the California of 1862 to the turbulent wilderness of New Zealand.

Who are some of your favourite authors?
     The following authors have shaped my world and my writing. I hope to do justice to my favourite writers by placing A LONG TRAIL ROLLING somewhere between Phillipa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon, Jean Auel, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?
     I am passionate about my teenaged boys, my partner, horses, dogs,  my hobby farm, medieval re-enacting (fencing, horseback archery, sewing kit), kayaking, carriage competition driving, gardening, singing, cooking and my other life as equine veterinarian with a specialty equine dentistry practice. Following an injury, I work part time at equine veterinary dentistry and part time at high school teaching Science/Bio/Chem/Physics. I REALLY love writing!

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?
Just do it. Avoid listening to the naysayers… Do NaNoWriMo, join a writing group! I've found the RWNZ here in NZ to be the most positive, encouraging group of ladies and gents I've ever met! Just DOOOOOooooooo it!

     Seventeen year old Aleksandra Lekarski, alone and running to prevent her pa's killer from obtaining a secret which could allow world domination by the Czar, conceals herself as a boy Pony Express rider in 1860s Utah Territory. Her "Californio" boss Xavier Arguello has a spirit to match her own—along with a mutually undeniable attraction—and together they overcome the evil that threatens them.


         Mr. Jackson stood waiting for her before the log cabin, holding a striking Palouse Indian pony with a pure black coat other than his white blanket patterned with black spots. His dogs circled around Aleksandra when she dismounted, the little brown bitch's lips drawn back into a toothy grimace of a grin while she quivered and wagged her whole body ingratiatingly. The station keeper took only a moment to slip the mochila onto the stallion, sign her time card and check for mail before Aleksandra was off again with a pat for the bitch and a wave.
'I call him Scout!' he called out after us, as we rode away.
Scout wasn't tall, but he was a powerhouse. He hit a long trot up that steep and rocky incline to the summit, never faltering, never looking to the side. Her heart sang. She felt blessed to have such incredible horses to ride, and actually get paid for it. 
 Lookout Pass, she reminded herself as she passed the summit, looking north to see the distant white tops of the Onaqui Mountains and thought again of her papa and the fossil he'd fossicked for her from its rocky ledges. Beginning her mile-long descent at a trot on the handy little horse, she was absentmindedly fingering the fossil inside the medicine bag hung about her neck when she felt the first arrow whizz past her head.
Aleksandra's heart stopped as she flung herself to the left side of the Palouse's neck into a Cossack hang, lying flat against his side.
'Yah! Yah! Let's go, Scout!' she shouted and threw the reins at him.
He needed little urging to run full tilt down the steep and treacherously rocky trail as the yells of Indian warriors filled the narrow valley. The arrows came hard and fast from the southwest, like a mad bunch of hornets.
Smart, she thought, with a hint of a wry grin. The Indians had placed themselves between the trail and the setting sun, so Aleksandra couldn't see her attackers in the glimpses she stole from beneath Scout's neck of the world whizzing past. With the ground only three feet from her head, the scent of sage filled her nostrils when Scout crashed through a clump of brush. Briefly considering what she knew was akin to suicide, climbing back into the saddle to pull a gun from her saddlebag, she tightened her lip in a grimace and stayed put, trusting far more in the pony's speed and handiness to save them. Knowing her full weight hanging off to one side had to put the stallion off his best, she tried to stay out of his way, keeping as still as possible, tucked down on the side of the skidding and leaping beast. Praying the cinch would hold, she sent fervent thanks to the pony selectors for their choice of horses. How I would love to have my bow and arrows, she thought, but I only need to get us through to Doc Faust at Rush
     The Palouse interrupted her musings as he threw up his head and reared, angrily trumpeting and shaking his head for a moment, nearly dropping Aleksandra, then resumed his headlong rush down the hill. When he carried on, she heard whistling sounds with every breath and turned her head forward to see where the noise was coming from.
     Then she saw the arrow.

About Lizzie
 A LONG TRAIL ROLLING my first novel, is newly completed and in the throes of final edits before it is self-published. I am halfway through my second, A Sea of Green Unfolding. They are both historical fictional adventures with romantic elements set in the 1860s, and range from the Old West of Utah Territory, via California to New Zealand. I love history and what it can teach us, and my stories involve the history, the people and the horses that shaped these places today. When I'm not writing, I can be found with my family at our hobby farm in a lovely river valley in New Zealand with our horses, dog and other assorted animals. I might, however, be playing at medieval rapiers or horseback archery, sewing, kayaking, carriage driving, singing, cooking, working part time as an equine veterinarian (veterinary dentistry specialty practice) or teaching high school science.

Mostly, though, I’m writing! I look forward to your visits to my blog and to hearing your thoughts on the above.

Twitter: LizziTremayne
About Me
Justum Perficito ... Do Right and Fear Nothing


  1. "A Sea of Green Unfolding" -- I like that title! Best wishes with your writing!!

  2. Great interview Lizzie. Your hunger to write is inspiring. I hope other writers read this blog post and realised what can be done with determination. Two novels in two years? Fantastic achievement.