A concert standard clarinet playing, tai chi master and author...Meet Elisabeth Rose.
I have known Elisabeth Rose for some years now and I am thrilled to have a chance to get to know her better. So settle yourself down, grab a nice ginger biscuit for dunking and let's have a chat with Elisabeth Rose...
My dear Ms. Rose, do you take tea? If so what is your preference?
I’m partial to a cup of tea with milk, thank you. I’m delighted to see you have a very attractive teapot. At home I use leaf tea made in a pot and only occasionally use teabags—Twinings Irish Breakfast. My Mum used to say they swept up the dust from the factory floor to put into tea bags. I always find it disappointing in a restaurant or café to be presented with a tea pot with tea bags in it. I do like Chinese jasmine tea and have several mugs with their own infuser insert for green leaf tea.
(Thank heavens you didn't mention Earl Grey...AS)
I had a short lived career playing the clarinet. My father complained I sounded like a “Nadi war horn” (a Kenyan joke, I suspect) and on my last exam, the examiner wrote in block letters “CANDIDATE MUST LEARN TO COUNT”. As I obviously lacked any sense of rhythm, that was the end of me playing a musical instrument. However for you the clarinet is a part of your life. I would love to know more about your career as a musician and the importance of music in your writing?
Gosh, I’ve had students like you! It’s amazing the sounds an inept player can produce from a clarinet — from a ship’s foghorn through a duck to your Dad’s war horn. And teaching someone who has no sense of rhythm is one of the most difficult things of all. (Thanks! AS)
I did a performance degree on clarinet after I left school. I was a member of the 1975 Australian Youth Orchestra and toured Asia with them plus we gave a concert in the Opera House. I never worked in a professional orchestra on a long term basis but I’ve done a lot of freelance playing in pit orchestras for local opera companies over the years. Now I play in a wind trio and we do weddings and functions. I used all that experience in my earlier books because it was the most natural area to start writing in. I invented a fictional orchestra as a basis for different stories — The Right Chord, The Tangled Web, Love On the North Shore Line and Trouble In Nirvana. Strings Attached and Coming Home share a couple of musician characters, Instant Family and Outback Hero feature a guitarist and pop singer respectively. I always try to incorporate some music into my character’s lives, mostly as listeners in my later books.
Your other great passion is Tai Chi. In the public gardens of Asia I have been continually struck by the beauty and grace of this practice. What drew you to Tai Chi and do you think it could help writers?
I’ve always been interested in wholistic exercise styles. I did yoga for about ten years on and off from about the age of nineteen but stopped when I was pregnant with number two. I enjoyed the stretching and the meditation aspect. A friend showed me some Tai Chi movements. I signed up for classes in 1987 and haven’t stopped practising since then. I was immediately hooked. I loved the flowing movement as opposed to the static postures of yoga and the fact that taught correctly, all the movements have self defense applications which give them purpose and meaning. And meditation or Qi Gong is an integral part of Tai Chi as well.
I think I can safely say I’ve retained joint flexibility, have good leg strength and balance and in my early sixties have no back, hip or shoulder problems because of the length of time I’ve been practicing Tai Chi and before that the yoga. I know a range of simple but effective exercises to alleviate writer’s issues — tightness in my back, neck, wrists and shoulders and add those to my daily routine if I feel I need to. Tai Chi has a slow building cumulative effect which comes from regular practice over a long period of time. Short term benefits can be achieved quite quickly but maintaining that routine is most important. Same as writing and musical instrument practice. Do a bit every day.
My husband and I love travel, so there are photos of me practicing in all sorts of places in the world.
(The Tai Ci and Chi Kung Academy has a range of dvds with sets of beneficial Chinese exercises and meditation techniques you can learn without an instructor. www.taichiacademy.com.au)
I would call you one of the quiet achievers of the writing world. Your books have done tremendously well in prestigious contests and you are now writing for several different publishers at the same time. What is a typical writing day like for you?
Thank you for that lovely compliment, Alison. When I wrote for Avalon there wasn’t much Australian reader feedback because the books went into libraries in the US, were hardcover and thus very expensive to buy and ship. I loved writing for Avalon and they seemed to like my style because they bought eight titles. When, in 2012, the publisher sold to Amazon all the Avalon authors had a sudden whole new exposure with the rerelease of our books in e and paperback format. With Amazon’s promotional department behind us we are all reaching a vastly bigger audience.
I was thrilled to sell to HM&B at last, through the new Escape Publishing imprint. The Ripple Effect came out in April and I’ve just contracted Mango Kisses for a November 1st release.
Listen to me—talk, talk, talk and not answering the question! My days are fairly free flowing time wise so I write any time I’m free but I find I can’t write at night. I always reread what I’ve done previously and go back to layer in emotion and context. I write cleanly as far as grammar and spelling goes. I tend to get dialogue down first then fill in around it. I’m not a plotter but once the story starts moving I spend a fair bit of time thinking about what’s going to happen in a story and character arc sense. Characters constantly surprise me.
(And you always seemed like such a quiet person! AS)
I shall pour us another cup of tea and raise my cup to the success of your latest book, E for England, which was released on 1 August. What was the inspiration behind this story?
My daughter often says ‘Mum, you should write a book about this . . .' . Love On the North Shore Line came from one of her ideas and so did E For England. She lives on the seventh floor of a harbourside apartment block in Sydney. It has a balcony, handy for drying underwear on a clothes rack. Trouble is items sometimes blow off and end up down on the ground. This particular time her favourite Victoria’s Secret knickers —bought in the VS store in Washington — disappeared. She went down in the dark to search for them but they were stuck in the oleander bushes out of reach. She proceeded to clamber into the shrubbery and try to shake them down. (‘I wasn’t losing them, they cost a fortune!’) Neighbours on the ground floor had a conversation with their window open about what was making such a commotion outside — a cat? possum? Daughter realized they were talking about her and yelled ‘It’s me!’
My heroine Annie has the same experience right at the start of the book but her assistant is, of course, the hero, whereas my daughter’s was a young married couple with a broom.
(Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! AS)
To find out more about Elisabeth Rose and her books visit her WEBSITE.
E For England can be purchased directly from ESCAPE or from all good online shops
But their friendship is shaken and their resolve tested when Annie’s flatmate, sexy and voracious Leonie, meets Hugh. Annie has no claim on Hugh’s nights, but can she bear to lose him to Leonie? And when Annie’s husband suddenly reappears, will Hugh fight for the family he didn’t know he needed?